Buying a SIM Card in Norway

In Get Connected by Dave Dean18 Comments


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Majestic glaciers and snow-capped mountains, deep fjords and sprawling forests, Norway is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

It’s also one of the most expensive, with everything from food and activities to transport and accommodation likely to set you back far more than you’re used to.

Free Wi-fi is common, including on trains, but it’s not everywhere. Fortunately, given the eye-watering costs of everything else, Norwegian mobile costs are relatively affordable.

It’d be quite a stretch to call them a bargain, but in the land of the $28 burrito, staying connected is one of the few things that isn’t going to make your bank balance cry out in horror.

Like almost everything else in the country, it’s also a simple, straightforward process.


Note: Norway is part of the European Economic Area, which means it’s affected by the European Union’s which introduced new roaming regulations in June 2017. These “roam like at home” rules effectively ended roaming charges across much of Europe, meaning you’ll usually pay no more for calls, texts, and data in other EU countries than you would in the country of purchase.

Only certain types of Lycamobile prepaid plan are eligible for free roaming, however. Be sure to check the details below if you’re planning to use your SIM elsewhere in the region.


Companies


  • We recommend Lycamobile for most travelers

There are three cell networks in Norway, operated by Telenor, Tele2 and NetCom. Telenor has the best coverage, followed by NetCom.

A few companies resell service from one of those providers. I opted to go with Lycamobile, which uses the NetCom network, since it had the best combination of cost and coverage.

How


Purchasing was very easy, not least because there was a little foreign exchange store that also sold SIM cards a few metres from my hostel in Oslo.

The vendor spoke good English, and after showing my passport and providing my hostel address, I had a new micro SIM card in a few minutes. There were no forms to fill out.

Since the card came with no credit, I purchased a top-up card at the same time. The instructions to activate it were in Norwegian, but easy enough to follow, and I received a confirmation SMS immediately.

Activating the data package I wanted required sending a code shown on the in-store brochure.

The only challenge was finding the correct APN settings. I didn’t get a data connection with the standard settings, and the vendor didn’t know the details. In the end I was able to use my hostel’s Wi-fi to track the information down, which was:

APN: data.lyca-mobile.no
Username: lmno
Password: plus



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Costs


The card itself was free, and 99 NOK (~$13) buys a reasonably small data allowance of 600MB, valid for thirty days.

If that won’t be enough to last your time in the country, Lyca also offers 1GB for 129 NOK and 1.75GB for 199 NOK.

If you need to make calls and send SMS as well, you may want to buy the 99 NOK “Smart S” bundle. It includes 100 minutes of calls to several EU/EEC countries including Norway, 100 texts, and 200MB of data. Just add an extra data package when you need it.

Note that only Lycamobile’s “Smart Plans” include free EU/EEC roaming. If you’re heading to other countries after Norway and want to roam, you’ll probably want to go for one of those plans.

Honestly though, they’re not great value. You may just want to pick up a new SIM in your next destination instead.

Lycamobile’s site has more details on all of its current plans.

Topping Up


You can buy top-ups almost anywhere you see a sign for Lycamobile. In Oslo, at least, that seemed to be every other block.

Just as when making the initial purchase, you’ll receive a card with a top-up code. First load the credit onto your SIM with the included instructions, and then send the code to renew or activate whichever package you need.

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Coverage and Data Speeds


HSPA+ speed and coverage were both very impressive. Download speeds in Oslo were among the fastest I’ve seen on a 3G (HSPA+) connection, and didn’t change much in Bergen. Although uploads were far slower, they were still quick enough to make a video Skype call without a problem.

The coverage area was far better than expected. I often had full signal even in mountains with no sign of habitation during a cross-country train trip, or on a boat trip through the fjords around Bergen.

Lycamobile 3G speeds in Oslo

Lycamobile HSPA+ speeds in Oslo

Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.

About the Author

Dave Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 20 years, and a geek for even longer. When he's not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken-down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.

Comments

  1. I live in Oslo, so I just opt for a payment plan, but this is very handy info for when traveling friends are coming to town.
    But $28 burrito? Where the heck did you go? 😛

  2. Author

    Hahaha — to be fair, the $28 burrito isn’t my story, it’s one I heard from Anthony (another writer on this site). Given that I’d walked past TGI Friday’s about an hour before writing this and seen a $30 chicken burger on the menu, though, it didn’t seem much of a stretch. 🙂

  3. Author

    Yeah, there were so many better alternatives, especially in Oslo. It was a bit tougher to find affordable, decent food in Bergen, but we discovered a couple of places.

  4. woah, $30 chicken burger!? shite, no wonder tourists think Oslo is expensive! Best burger in town is half that price and beef!

  5. i think is quite realistic statement, between 25-50$ is normal to spend in Oslo (even for burito) if you go to a restaurant… for fast food between 10-20$… so yeah eating out is expencive in norway (2-3x more than in eu) and its not considered best practice for everyday. I eat and cook at home and same quality food if i go to restaurant is above 30$, rest is crap… now do the math 🙂

  6. Thanks for writing this post. I am going to Norway in a few months and plan to get a SIM card (and data) as well.

  7. Hey Dave,

    Thanks for this short, but helpful article.

    My friend and I are traveling to Norway and taking a roadtrip to fjord-land for 7 days. Super stoked! However, we’re looking into getting a SIM card with data so we don’t get completely lost while driving through Norway.

    Do you have a suggestion on how much data we would need? We’ll only be using it for directions. All the airbnbs we’re staying at have wifi so we can do the heavier stuff when we get there.

    Thanks for any feedback!

  8. Author

    I’d highly recommend using the offline features of both Google Maps and Here Maps, where you download some or all of the map data for the country ahead of time over Wifi. They both now support driving directions even while offline.

    If you do that, you’ll be able to reduce your data use a lot. You might even be able to get away with no SIM, but if you want one just in case, a few hundred MB of data will be enough for your week if you leave the data connection turned off when you don’t need it.

  9. What were some of the places to eat in Bergen that you liked? We will be there next week.

  10. Author

    I love how this SIM card article has gone off on a food tangent! In Bergen I liked Hot Work (Asian fusion meals, inexpensive by Norwegian standards) and a few of the food stalls at the weekend market beside the harbour.

  11. What is the speed in Tromso and Alta? I am planning to visit these two places in November.

  12. Hi Jhan,

    How did your mobile phone/navigation work? Did you have enough coverage and data? I’m about to do the same thing (4 days around the Sognefjord). I’m planning on following Dave’s advice and getting one SIM card in Norway, and on our other phone using Google Maps offline.

    Tom

  13. Can I use Whatsapp once I get a SIM card for my phone after I arrive in Norway?

  14. Where was the place you bought the lyca sim card? I’m in Norway ad can’t find it anywhere! ?

  15. Author

    The foreign exchange store I mentioned was a few doors down from the Anker Hostel in Oslo.

  16. Thank you so much for your informative post! Landing in Bergen and was wondering if we can get a SIM card at the airport in Bergen? Thinking of renting a car and heading straight to Stavanger. Your advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  17. Author

    I don’t think there’s a mobile phone store at Bergen airport. There may be a kiosk/convenience store that sells SIMs, but I don’t know for sure that there is (or which ones they’d sell). Sorry!

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