Driving in Norway is a beautiful experience. Here's all you need to know before hitting the road!
It's easy to underestimate distances and driving times in Norway, the longest country in Europe. From Kristiansand in the south, it will take about 30 hours to reach Hammerfest in the north, for instance!
However, by international standards, traffic is relatively light on motorways and roads in Norway. The main motorways are European roads (indicated with an “E” in front of their number, e.g., the E39), connecting the country together and connecting Norway to other countries.
Bear in mind that some regional roads in remote areas may be very winding and narrow, and you need to use roadside pockets to let traffic from the opposite direction pass.
There are very good motorways (with speed limits between 90-110 km/h) between Oslo and Trondheim, Oslo and Stavanger, and Oslo and Halden (by the Swedish boarder), and also between Trondheim and Bodø. Apart from these, most roads outside the cities are single lane with a speed limit between 60-80 km/h.
Norway offers many scenic drives. Virtually all roads (particularly in Fjord Norway, in the mountains, and in Northern Norway) have some beautiful scenery, and 18 of them have been named Norwegian Scenic Routes.
Expect picturesque nature, award-winning architecture and spectacular viewpoints and rest stops. If nature calls, you can pay a visit to one of the world's most stunning toilets!
Travelling by ferry
It's easy to find a ferry in Norway:
Find routes, check departure times, and get traffic reports, all in one place, on the website of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen).
Some terminals also have webcams that show if there are any queues.
There are more than one hundred petrol stations with LPG across the country. The most common connection is a Dutch bayonet. Many stations provide a universal adapter that will work regardless of your car’s system.
You can hire a car in most cities and towns in Norway, as well as at airports around the country. You can book your car through a car rental company online, in person at car rental offices, or through a travel agent. We strongly recommend that you book in advance, especially during the summer season.
AD: Check rates and availability at Auto Europe. At Rent-A-Wreck, you can find great car deals at reasonable prices. Why not spend the night on the road in a van from Arctic Campers? – they have a variety of vans for all seasons.
Driving and drinking do not mix, especially not in Norway. The law is very strict, and penalties for driving under the influence are severe. The legal limit is 0.02% blood alcohol and applies to the driver of any motorized vehicle. Medications that you must not take if you intend to drive are marked with a red triangle.
The use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited. Using a phone while driving can land you in a lot of trouble and lead to an expensive fine (!) – even if you don’t have an accident.
Easy on the brakes
Brakes may overheat on long downhill stretches. To avoid this, drive in a low gear. Any braking you do will then require less force and your brakes will stay cool. When driving uphill, watch the car’s temperature gauge to avoid engine overheating.
Norway is investing massively in electric vehicle-friendly infrastructure and incentives. With more than 17,000 charging stations and 3,300 rapid chargers spread across the country, there is no need for 'range anxiety'! Hotels increasingly offer electric charging, sometimes for free.
You need to have Norwegian registration plates for an EV or plug-in to use parking spaces and other special facilities reserved for such vehicles. For the latest rules, check the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association.
The easiest way to find a charging point is on ladestasjoner.no's map. To make sure you have access to the charging stations, register with the major providers in advance – usually through an App on your phone.
In case of an accident
In case of a breakdown or accident, all vehicles must have at least one high-visibility vest, a warning triangle, and third-party insurance.
Emergency telephones can be found on mountain stretches and in tunnels. For 24-hour salvage or technical assistance, three of the largest roadside assistance companies in Norway are:
NAF: (+47) 23 21 31 00
Falck: (+47) 02 222
Viking: (+47) 06 000
Lights on at all times
Dipped headlights are mandatory at all times, even in the middle of the brightest summer day. This includes mopeds and motorcycles. If your car is a right-hand drive, you must use black triangles on your headlights to avoid blinding other drivers.
Note that weather conditions can cause mountain passes to close, especially during heavy snow and strong winds. Some of the higher mountain passes can experience snowfall and frost, even when there are summer conditions in the lowlands, particularly in April/May and September/October.
You can find information about closures on the Norwegian Roads Administration's website. The information is in Norwegian only, but their interactive map will help you. Here, you will also see any roadworks and ferry times.
Pedestrians and cyclists on the road
Norway has a human-oriented traffic culture that puts pedestrians and cyclist first. Pedestrians who want to cross the street will expect you to slow down or stop at zebra crossings, and cyclists may not always follow traffic regulations. Please show consideration for all road users when driving.
Fuel prices are high due to global supply issues and environmental policies. Prices may vary from place to place. The distance between petrol stations can be great in the mountains and other remote areas, especially in Northern Norway.
There are many toll stations in Norway, almost all of which are automatic. All drivers, regardless of nationality, must pay Norwegian road tolls.
Seat belts and car seats
Seat belts are compulsory for both driver and passengers. Children under 36 kilograms or 135 centimetres in height must use a car seat.
In general, the Norwegian speed limit is 80 kilometres per hour, except for in built-up areas or town centres, where it is 50 kilometres per hour unless otherwise stated. It can be as low as 30 kilometres per hour in residential areas, and as high as 110 kilometres per hour on certain dual carriageways and motorways. Of course, certain conditions may warrant much lower speeds, for instance in low visibility or on slippery roads.
Heavy vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes) and vehicles towing caravans or trailers may not exceed 80 kilometres per hour, regardless of the local limit. Camping cars under 7.5 tonnes are exempt from this rule and can follow the same speed limits as other cars. If a caravan or trailer is not equipped with brakes, the maximum speed is 60 kilometres per hour.
Studded tyres are permitted from 1 November until the first Sunday after Easter Sunday. In Nordland, Troms, and Finnmark, studded tyres are permitted 15 October–1 May. Studded tyres may also be used outside these periods if the weather and road surface conditions make it necessary.
If studded tyres are fitted to a car weighing under 3.5 tonnes, they must be fitted to all four wheels. Vehicles with a permitted total weight of 3.5 tonnes or more must carry snow chains if ice or snow is expected. These snow chains must fit the vehicle’s wheels. Snow chains can be bought at reasonable prices. Studded tyres can be rented.
Many cities charge a fee for driving in the city centre with studded tyres, in order to limit pollution.
If you want to drive in Norway and have a driving licence issued in an EU/EEA country, you can use it in Norway for as long as it is valid. Driving licences from most countries outside the EU/EEA can be used in Norway for up to three months.
When hiring a car in Norway, you may need to have held the licence for at least one year.
Are you crossing with a ferry on your holiday in Norway? Most ferry journeys in Norway are paid through AutoPASS, the automated system for collection of road and ferry tolls.
Don't want a prepayment agreement? With FerryPay you can pay automatically with a credit or debit card, per ferry journey.
Be prepared, there may be queues in the summer months. For the most popular ferries, it is recommended to book in advance. This includes the Geiranger–Hellesylt and Lauvvik–Lysebotn connections in Fjord Norway and Bognes-Lødingen and Bodø-Moskenes in Northern Norway in particular.
Approximate times based on the shortest route on major routes:
Oslo-Trondheim (Østerdalen route: 6 hrs 25 mins, Gudbrandsdalen route: 6 hrs 45 mins)
Oslo-Bergen (7 hrs)
Oslo-Kristiansand (3 hrs 45 mins)
Oslo-Stavanger (7 hrs)
Oslo-Nordkapp (25 hrs)
Stavanger-Bergen (4 hrs 50 mins)
Bergen-Ålesund (7 hrs 30 mins)
Ålesund-Trondheim (5 hrs 40 mins)
Trondheim-Bodø (9 hrs 30 mins + 4 hrs by ferry to Lofoten)
Trondheim-Bodø via Kystriksvegen (You can drive the Coastal Road Kystriksveien in a day or two, but we do not recommend this. If you are on holiday, you should have at least 5-7 days to stop and explore the area).
Trondheim-Tromsø (16 hrs 20 min)
Bodø-Tromsø (8 hrs 15 min)
Tromsø-Nordkapp (9 hrs)
Tromsø-Kirkenes (10 hrs 15 min)
Use the NAF travel planner to check travel times to your destination (n Norwegian only, but their interactive map will help you). You can also use Google Maps or Apple Maps.
Take advantage of top offers
See our selection of trusted companies that work hard to make you happy all through your trip.
Car rental options in Norway
Use our list below or see Auto Europe for car rental options and prices.