I adore cities where you can easily move around on public transit, but Norway isn’t one of them. I mean, public transportation is wonderful for city travel, but what about rural travel? In Norway, you’ll need a car.
Luckily, driving in Norway is a fantastic experience, and I recommend it to all visitors.
As a result, if you’re travelling with others and want to see as much of Norway as possible, you’re better off hiring a car.
Because public transportation is expensive here, and because the cheapest accommodations are generally beyond the main tourist districts, renting a vehicle is an excellent alternative for budget tourists. Renting a car in Norway might save you money on both transportation and lodging.
I’ve lived in Norway for six years and spent most of my childhood summers here (seeing relatives), so I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about renting a vehicle and arranging a road trip in Norway.
With Norway’s unending natural beauty, it’s hard to have a terrible road trip here, but here are my best recommendations for making it epic.
Norway Tours! My top recommendations for locations to visit (both on and off the beaten path), the best times of year to visit, how long to visit, the best hotel choices, transportation, what to eat, what to take, and how to create the perfect itinerary are all covered in two 95-page booklets.
The good news is that hiring a car in Norway is much cheaper than taking public transportation. Plus driving in Norway is incredibly easy, as the roads are all well-maintained and there’s very little traffic. The bad news is that it will still be costly.
A car hire in Norway will cost more than in southern Europe, where a car may be rented for around $50 per week. But! You may also get amazing prices on vehicle rentals in Norway if you reserve early.
So, I used to constantly use Auto Europe to compare pricing, but now I always use Sixt. They always have the best pricing in Norway, thanks to their promo coupons. Click here to check current pricing and save 10% (click here to save up to 35% if renting for a week or more).
To save money on petrol, choose for the smallest, most fuel-efficient automobile you can find.
Because Norway is so enormous, you’ll probably be driving a lot, therefore I always go with unlimited miles. Or at least get 200-300 kilometres every day, depending on your plans.
And don’t worry, winter tyres are required in Norway. But not everywhere in Europe. My family has leased automobiles in Germany in the winter and gone up to Norway. And driving in Norway with all-season tyres is a nightmare!
Toll roads in Norway are controlled by AutoPASS, which automatically photographs your licence plate and bills you at the end of the month. This happens automatically, so you don’t even need to slow down.
After your journey, your Norwegian vehicle rental provider will cost you. If you have questions regarding when you will be billed for toll roads, contact the automobile rental provider.
Paying Norwegian tolls with a non-Norwegian car is a bit more tricky. AutoPASS will invoice the vehicle’s registered address.
You can speed up the procedure by registering with Euro Parking Collection (EPC) and accessing your bills online. If you’re driving a foreign automobile in Norway, I highly suggest it! If you forget, you’ll get an invoice instead.
The most often asked question regarding driving in Norway is how to utilise the car ferries.
No, you don’t need to (and typically can’t). Arrive 15 minutes before the ship departs to assure a seat, however I often arrive right before it departs and am almost always allowed to board (I think the only exception would be in July when Norway is more crowded).
The ferry is normally paid for as you drive aboard. There will be a credit card reader at the ferry entry, so when you drive on, stop, roll down your window, and pay by card.
If no one is taking payments while driving, someone will take payments while on the ferry (either in your car on a short ferry or in the passenger room on longer ferries). I believe you can only pay by card — I’ve never seen someone pay cash for ferries in Norway.
Someone will wave you on and direct you to your parking spot. Everyone exits their automobile and enters a shared space. If you’re confused whether or not to wait in your car, follow the crowd’s lead. In the cafeteria, you may buy sandwiches, hotdogs, waffles and coffee.
If you’re travelling with someone prone to motion sickness, be aware that Norwegian roads are quite twisty. In fact, I’m always a bit carsick while travelling in a vehicle or bus.
But sea-bands have truly helped me. They don’t look like they should work, yet they do! You can get these at most pharmacies in Norway, or you can get them from Amazon here.
Driving in Norway during the polar night is also a major concern.
Northern Norway has polar night in the winter, which means it is dark for much of the day. While the sun doesn’t rise in mainland Norway for a few hours each day, you may still enjoy the stunning scenery. In fact, I think the arctic night hues are stunning and worth the journey.
The roads are dark with few lamps, but the margins are constantly marked with reflective sticks, making them easy to find.
In Norway, we must always keep our headlights on, even on sunny days, however you can use your high beams when it is truly dark (just remember to switch them off while passing another car!).
This is a biggie. Should you drive in Norway in the winter if you’ve never done so?
Of course, you must decide for yourself, but I can offer you an overview of driving in Norway’s snow.
As previously said, you will need to rent a car from Norway (or the Nordics) as we all have winter tyres. In reality, most automobiles in northern Norway have studded tyres for ice conditions (you can ask your rental company for a car with studded tires).
Expect a lot of snow and ice on the roads! We don’t salt our roads, so they’re usually constantly covered in snow and ice throughout the winter. Sure, trucks will still plough and grit the roads, but driving in a snow storm means driving on heavy snow.
This isn’t as terrifying as it sounds. Many of my friends experienced their first snowfall while driving across Norway. Most importantly, do not drive too fast and use the brakes as little as possible to avoid skidding.
Either slam on the brakes or downshift instead. No worries about automobiles behind you — it’s better to be slow than to get into an accident.
Similarly, starting a car in the snow. To avoid the wheels digging into the snow, gently use the throttle. You should be fine if you slowly exit your parking spot.
If you become trapped in the snow, just wait for a passing car to aid you. Larger automobiles have equipment to lift other cars out of the snow, which happens frequently in Norway. So wait for aid!
If you must pay for parking, there will be a metre or you may use the EasyPark app. This software works in every town in Norway, north and south.
Downloading and setting up the app (including your payment method and vehicle licence information) ahead of time is highly recommended. Instead than going back to the metre or paying in advance, the app allows you to change your parking period.
With all those mountains and fjords, even short distances on a map can take a long time to cover.
Luckily, Norway has several airports, many of which provide international flights, so plan your trip to Norway before booking your flights. If you can’t locate a direct trip to the place you want to visit, look into internal flights.
Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Troms, Trondheim, Lesund, and Haugesund have the most international airports.
Fly into Stavanger to tackle Preikestolen, Kjeragbolten, and Trolltunga, Norway’s most famous treks. (Bergen is closer if you simply want to do Trolltunga.)
Fly into lesund if you want to see Geirangerfjord, Trollstigen, and the Atlantic Road.
Fly into Troms or Bod to view the Northern Lights, Arctic, and Lofoten.
Please click on the map below for a breakdown of the region’s key attractions and links to my blog postings on each area.
Norway has some spectacular roads, but also some monotonous ones. And you don’t want to spend too much time in tunnels, which Norway has a lot of.
Use the National Tourist Routes map to identify Norway’s most picturesque highways. The website is a bit glitchy and I still can’t get the map to load on my phone, but it’s worth taking out your laptop to look at because every route featured on it is certain to be wonderful.
I usually examine the map before leaving on a road trip and attempt to take as many tourist routes as possible. That makes 15 out of 18 routes. In fact, driving in Norway is one of my favourite things ever!
VARANGER: The extreme north of Norway feels absolutely remote. This is one of my favourite spots to drive in Norway, especially in the summer when it is one of the few places without people. Also, throughout the summer, reindeer roam the roadways! Just don’t hit any.
This lovely northern route may be coupled with the Varanger scenic route. My whole road trip schedule, including Varanger and Havysund, is here.
SENJA: Although popular, Senja is still far less congested than Lofoten and the southern Norwegian fjords. Beautiful mountain peaks make this one of my favourite places to see the Northern Lights in the winter. My winter vacation to Senja (with the greatest lodging) is here.
ANDYA: A calmer option or complement to Lofoten are the Vesterlen islands. It’s also a great route in the winter for whale watching, the Northern Lights, and the most magnificent pink sky during the Polar Night. Here’s my guide to the Andya path in Vesterlen.
LOFOTEN: This is often regarded as Norway’s most picturesque road. Lofoten is Norway’s cod fishing capital, with jagged mountains rising out of the lake and beautiful red fisherman houses.
Lofoten is a popular tourist destination, but the stunning mountain vistas and red cottages are worth the crowds. My site has plenty of Lofoten guides, but start with this one on arranging a Lofoten vacation.
HELGELANDSKYSTEN: I love the Helgeland shore! I adore Helgeland so much that I moved here. Many islands dot the Helgeland coast, with comparable jagged mountains to Lofoten but significantly fewer tourists.
I highly recommend Lofoten if you want to get off the beaten track. My Helgelandskysten guide is here. Summer is great, but winter in Helgeland is lovely.
The Atlantic Ocean Road is one of Norway’s most renowned highways. This route connects islands and was extremely costly to build, thus Norway heavily promoted it to attract tourists.
It’s clearly one of Norway’s most spectacular roads, but not the best – maybe #10. The terrain is comparable to the Helgeland shoreline and Lofoten, although not as spectacular. You may read about my drive along the AOR here.
GEIRANGER–TROLLSTIGEN: If you only have time to visit one destination in Norway, I recommend Geiranger–Trollstigen (you can find my other recommendation here).
Trollstigen is known for its hairpin twists, but I prefer the mountain vistas from the summit. And Geirangerfjord is one of Norway’s most stunning fjords. My guide to the Geiranger – Trollstigen route is here.
SOUTHERN NORWAY’S GAMLE STRYNEFJELLSVEGEN: Because the route travels high into the mountains, it is only open in the summer. Read about my driving adventure on Gamle Strynefjellsvegen.
RONDANE: This is Norway’s driest region, and the landscape is truly unique. I wrote about my journey to Rondane National Park here.
SOGNEFJELLET: This path from Bergen takes you up into a bleak alpine scenery.
AURLANDSFJELLET: The magnificent Sognefjellet path leads into Aurlandsfjellet, a stunning fjord location west of Bergen. You may read about my driving and camping adventures on Sognefjellet and Aurlandsfjellet here.
To the north (or south), the Valdresflye picturesque route is an excellent choice if you don’t have time to take a number of ferries along the coast. On my travels from southern Norway to Trondheim, I used to use this route. More about my Valdresflye picturesque drive here.
GAULARFJELLET: To spend more time on the fjords, take this path up Gaular Mountain. Stay the night (or numerous nights!) here. Here’s my guide to the best lodging around Sognefjord.
HARDANGER: The fruit trees along Hardangerfjord are in flower in the spring, but you may drive this road any time of year. Here’s my account of driving the Hardanger picturesque road.
I used to live near Hardangervidda National Park, but this is one of my least favourite of the 18 Norwegian beautiful roads. Yes, you’ll get to drive up Hardangervidda, Europe’s biggest plateau, but the route itself is a crowded roadway. If you take this route, I recommend stopping along the way to climb into the park. You might also catch the boat to Hardangervidda.
RYFYLKE: This is one of Norway’s most renowned drives. You’ll pass two of Norway’s most popular treks, Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) and Kjeragbolten, before reaching Trolltunga. This drive is included in my Norway trip guide.
JREN: Sadly, last. Why is this one of Norway’s picturesque routes? It’s shockingly uninteresting. This is just a busy route along the shore, not really picturesque. Unless you’re going from Kristiansand to Stavanger, I’d skip this.
Of course, not every gorgeous road in Norway is on the list of National Tourist Routes, so ask the locals! Norwegians love to brag about their gorgeous nature, and I feel like I hear about a new drive every week.
I utilise Couchsurfing to connect with locals (even if I don’t plan to stay), but you can also discover individuals on Facebook or other social media.
Traveling by automobile to Northern Norway in the winter allows you to chase the Northern Lights!
Keep an eye on the weather and the aurora forecasts, and aim for clear skies with views north. It’s worth pausing along your way to check the sky (you can tell by checking at a map).
It includes the best places to see the Northern Lights in the Nordics and when to see them, my top accommodation choices, tour options and tips for chasing the Northern Lights (including my favourite apps), photographing and filming them, what to pack for your trip up North, and other exciting Arctic activities to try.