Go shopping in Sweden

It’s not too long before you realize that living in Norway is expensive, especially when it comes to food. When it comes to the grocery store, you may also find it has less selection than your home country and at about double the price, or more. So, one must be sneaky to survive in Norway, at least to feed oneself.

We do this by making a trip down to Sweden, where the selection is larger and the taxes much lower. This is also basically the only tax avoidance that’s allowed by Norwegian society. And it is delicious. Of course, there are some quotas on what you’re allowed to bring back into Norway. This is especially true around the most popular products of alcohol and tobacco products.

Once this became a thing (and was even given a nickname of ‘harryhandel’) an unsurprising thing happened. The Swedes, ever the exporters of things, set up huge malls right at the Norwegian border. Now countless Norwegians cross the border to pick up their bacon, cheese, snus, and candy in bulk.

This survival trip is most relevant to those who live in Southern Norway with close access to the border. For everyone else, you’ll have to get your deals at the airport in the duty-free stores.

The Shopping Spree Across the Border

  1. Cost of Living: Norway consistently ranks as one of the most expensive countries in the world. High prices for goods and services are driven by a strong economy, high wages, and a significant cost of living. This makes everyday items, such as groceries, clothing, and electronics, more expensive in Norway compared to many other countries, including Sweden.
  2. Border Proximity: Norway shares a long land border with Sweden, making it easy for residents in the southern parts of Norway to make quick day trips or weekend getaways for shopping. Cities like Oslo, the capital of Norway, are in close proximity to the Swedish border, making cross-border shopping accessible.
  3. Lower Taxes: Sweden often has lower value-added tax (VAT) rates than Norway. This means that many products in Sweden are subject to lower taxes, leading to more competitive prices. Norwegians can take advantage of these reduced tax rates when shopping in Sweden.
  4. Shopping Centers and Outlets: Swedish cities close to the Norwegian border, such as Strömstad and Töcksfors, have become shopping destinations for Norwegians. These towns feature shopping centers and outlet stores where Norwegians can find a wide range of products at lower prices.
  5. Grocery Shopping: Groceries are a significant expense for most households. Norwegians often head to Swedish supermarkets, such as ICA and Coop, to purchase everyday essentials at more affordable prices. The savings on groceries alone can make the trip worthwhile.
  6. Alcohol and Tobacco: Norway has strict regulations and high excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products. Many Norwegians take the opportunity to stock up on these items in Sweden, where they are often cheaper.
  7. Special Offers and Discounts: Swedish stores and outlets frequently offer special promotions and discounts, attracting Norwegian shoppers looking for bargains.

Challenges and Considerations

While shopping in Sweden offers potential savings, there are several factors for Norwegians to consider:

  1. Travel Costs: Depending on the distance, travel costs, such as fuel and tolls, can reduce the overall savings. However, some shoppers are willing to make the trip for the savings on specific items.
  2. Customs and Import Regulations: There are limits to the quantity and value of goods that can be brought into Norway duty-free. It’s essential for shoppers to be aware of these regulations to avoid penalties.
  3. Time and Convenience: Traveling to Sweden for shopping requires time and effort. It may be more convenient for some to shop locally in Norway, even if prices are higher.


Shopping in Sweden has become a cost-effective strategy for many Norwegians looking to reduce their everyday expenses and find better deals on a wide range of products. The proximity of the border and the allure of lower prices make cross-border shopping a practical and popular choice for those in southern Norway. However, shoppers must weigh the potential savings against travel costs and consider the time and effort involved in making the trip.

How to Get Around Norway

Here is how you can get from point A to point B in Norway using several different modes of transportation.

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