A quick guide to driving in Norway

Driving in Norway can be an experience for life. Spectacular scenery greets you wherever you drive. From picturesque coastal villages in the south to hardy arctic settlements in the north, from the vibrant capital of Oslo to the wild mountains. There is something to take your breath away around every corner.

But driving in Norway is not for the ignorant. To get the best out of your experience, you need to know a few things. And that’s where this Quick Guide to Driving in Norway comes in.

Norway is a long country, if you tried to drive south to north in one stretch it would take over 30 hours. And during that thirty hours, you might meet every type of weather, terrain, and scenery you can imagine. In a country where conditions are unpredictable, it is best to do your homework before you start. With the help of this quick guide, we’ll put you on the right track to a wonderful road trip in Norway.

Places to visit by car in Norway

Any guide to driving in Norway wouldn’t be complete without a few tips on where to go. But in truth, you can go anywhere. Norway is blessed with some of the most spectacular natural beauty on the planet. From the fjords in the west to the archipelago of Lofoten in the north and everything in between. Norway is a beautiful country and the perfect place for a road trip.

VisitNorway is the official tourist information bureau and has some good tips on where to go. The 18 Norwegian Scenic Routes are particular journeys that have been chosen to showcase some of Norway’s stunning views. The government has given these routes special attention so that besides the scenery you might also find a few surprises along your route. 

Rules of the road in Norway

Before you set off, you need to know the rules of the road. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration, or ‘Statens Vegvesen’ in Norwegian, is the government body responsible for all things road-related. If you’re planning a road trip in Norway, familiarize yourself with all their requirements.

Speed limits in Norway are generally 80 kph outside of built-up areas and 50kph inside. But don’t get caught out, there are exceptions and your speed can be as low as 30 kph in residential areas and as high as 110kph on some motorways (mainly around Oslo).

There are a few things you need to know. The first—you cannot drink and drive. You shouldn’t be anyway because alcohol and cars don’t go together. In Norway, they don’t mix at all. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.02% which basically means, if you’ve had a drink, you’re not driving. This also means you should be careful in the morning after. Many an unthinking driver gets caught that way.

Road tolls are common in Norway, and it’s the primary way of financing new road projects. If you’re hiring a vehicle, it will already be equipped with an electronic toll identifier so you don’t need to worry. If you’re bringing your own vehicle (or have hired outside of Norway) the easiest way to deal with tolls is to register before you arrive.

A couple of rules that can sometimes catch people out: The law requires dipped headlights on all the time, whether it’s bright sunshine or not. The other one is that on some smaller roads you must give way to the right. So, if you’re not on a main road, it’s best to keep an eye out.

Winter driving in Norway

Driving in Norway during the winter is a special experience with mountain ranges covered in snow as far as the eye can see. But it can also be dangerous for the unprepared. 

Winter tires are mandatory, and it is a good idea to use those from premium manufacturers because quality differences can be huge. Some mountainous roads are completely closed during the winter, and others can be closed due to weather. Make sure you plan your trip beforehand so as not to get caught out.

The public road administration has a dedicated site for keeping up to date with the latest road status. Unfortunately, the information is only available in Norwegian. But if you dial 175 (when you’re in Norway) you can get updates in English.

If the weather or road conditions are poor but not bad enough to close the road, you can sometimes drive in a convoy. Familiarizing yourself with the rules and etiquette is recommended.

Please, don’t underestimate a Norwegian winter. Conditions can be brutal and change rapidly, so it is always wise to be prepared. Keep food, drinks, and warm clothing in the car. A snow shovel and one eye on the fuel gauge are also good practices.

Driving a recreational vehicle in Norway

VisitNorway has some excellent information and useful tips for anyone planning a road trip.  Their guide to camping and caravanning is a good starting point if you are planning an RV trip. As well as tips and information, they have a guide to almost every RV and camping site in the country, and direct booking links.

A particular point to make for RV drivers: Norwegian roads can be small. Norway is a very long country, with a sparse population in rugged terrain. That’s a combination that makes road construction challenging. As a result, there are lots of roads that are not only incredibly twisty but also make passing oncoming traffic a close affair. If in doubt, it’s best to check your route before you set off to avoid any interesting surprises.

But those roads are also what makes a road trip in Norway so much fun!

Driving an Electric vehicle in Norway

Norway is arguably the best country in the world to drive an EV. With a complete nationwide network of charging stations, reduced tolls for EVs, and the fact that the electricity comes from renewable sources, it means Norway is the EV capital of the world.

Vehicle rental firms all have electric options for you to try, so why not give them a go? Just be sure to keep an eye on the range. EV ranges can be affected by many things which makes the estimate you get in the car just that, an estimate. Always have a little extra to spare before the next charging point so you don’t get caught out. And remember, this applies doubly so in the winter. Cold weather has a major influence on batteries and the range can be almost halved.

Closing remarks

Before finishing off, I thought I’d include a couple of interesting driving-related facts about Norway

  • In 2019 Norway became one of the first countries in the world to legally require all new commercial buses and minibusses to be equipped with an alcolock.
  • Norway is one of very few countries to specifically mention people skiing as a type of pedestrian in their rules of the road.

No matter where you’re planning to go, or the type of vehicle you’re planning to use, Norway has something for everyone. A road trip is a perfect opportunity to explore the thousands of kilometers of tarmac available. Just don’t forget to stop and take in the sights.

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Erik is the creator and editor of Planet Norway. Born in Trondheim and currently living in Oslo, Erik knows the ins and outs of Norwegian History, society, and culture. His idea for starting planet Norway came about when helping his foreign fiance to settle in Norway.