Getting Around Norway
Domestic flights are operated by Norwegian (www.norwegian.com), SAS (www.flysas.com) and Widerøes (www.wideroe.no). A comprehensive network of scheduled services links numerous domestic airports. Norwegians are among the world's most likely to choose this mode of transport for getting around their own country due to the long distances involved, and the terrain, which makes surface transport slow.
Norwegian domestic operators tend to offer competitive fares, so if you shop around you’re likely to find that air travel costs little more than the equivalent rail or bus fare. Charter sea or land planes are available at many destinations. Reduced fares are available for families, children under 12 years of age, groups and pensioners.
Visit Scandinavia/Nordic Airpass: valid on SAS domestic routes within Norway as well as flights between Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Explore Norway Ticket: allows two weeks of unlimited travel on domestic Wideroe flights between late June and late August.
The road system is of variable quality but is supplemented by numerous car ferries across the fjords. While the majority of roads are open year-round, the smaller mountain passes are often blocked during the winter, often at short notice. Despite the paucity of fast roads, traffic is generally light apart from in the capital where traffic jams are a daily occurrence.
There are also countless tunnels and the country is home to three of the world’s 10 longest road tunnels, including the longest – the Lærdal to Aurland, which is 24.51km (15.2 miles) long. Hazards include sharp bends and steep gradients, particularly on mountain roads, and the country’s large moose population can also prove dangerous if they are attempting to cross.
Contact Vegtrafikksentralen (tel: 175; www.vegvesen.no) for the latest traffic conditions.
Side of the roadRight
Norway’s road network is comprehensive and most roads are good quality, but speed limits are low and there are hundreds of tunnels to navigate, many of which require a toll fee. In the winter, many of the mountain roads are blocked by snow and ice – often at short notice.
Many mountain roads are steep with plenty of hairpin bends to navigate, so aren’t advisable for inexperienced drivers or the drivers of campervans and caravans. Additionally, Norway’s abundant wildlife, though beautiful, can prove a hazard on the roads with moose proving a particularly nasty customer in a crash.
Available in airports and most towns, but costly; if you’re planning a long hire, it’s worth thinking about picking up your car in neighbouring Sweden where rental rates are considerably cheaper. Low speed limits, difficult roads and parking, and high insurance make public transport more practical and convenient.
Numerous international car hire companies operate, including Hertz, Avis and Budget. The minimum age for car hire is 19 in Norway, although some companies may insist on a higher minimum age (up to 25).
Travelling by taxi in Norway can be hugely expensive and is usually unnecessary thanks to the excellent (and cheap) public transport system. They are, however, easy to find and can be picked up in the street or from designated ranks, and booked by phone. Most taxis are metered and all taxis operated by registered companies such as Oslo Taxi, Norges Taxi and Taxi Sør accept credit and debit cards. Drivers usually speak English.
Some tourist offices, campsites and hostels rent bikes out to tourists. If you want to bring your own, it’s worth bearing in mind that most buses, express ferries and nonexpress trains will charge an excess baggage fee to carry them while express trains won’t take them at all. The Nor-Way Bussekspress (express bus service) also regards bikes as excess baggage and charges the equivalent of a child’s fare to carry them.
Norway has a very reliable, extensive bus network and numerous long-distance coach operators, the biggest of which is the Nor-Way Bussekspress (tel: +47 8154 4444; www.nor-way.no) which links most of the major Norwegian cities.
The Lavprisekspressen (tel: +47 6798 0480; www.lavprisekspressen.no) runs from Oslo to Stavanger via Kristiansand and between Oslo and Trondheim. It's considerably cheaper than the Nor-Way Bussekspress, and you can only buy tickets online.
The minimum age for driving is 18. Tolls are charged on certain cross-country roads, underwater tunnels and in certain cities such as Bergen, Oslo and Trondheim. There are severe penalties (usually involving imprisonment) for drink driving. Fines for illegal parking are high and fines for speeding even higher, so keep an eye on your speedometer, and watch out for speedboxes. Seat belts are compulsory.
Children under 12 years of age must travel in the back of the car. It is obligatory for all vehicles to drive with dipped headlights at all times. This includes motorcycles and mopeds. Carrying spare headlight bulbs is recommended. The national speed limit is 80kph (50mph) but drops to 70kph (43mph) when going past houses or businesses. In residential and built-up areas, the limit is usually 30kph (19mph). On some dual carriageways and motorways, it's 110kph (68mph).
Foreign-registered cars must display an oval nationality sticker, and UK registered cars are also required to carry a vehicle registration form (Form V5) which is available from the DVLA. Snow chains or winter tyres are advised during the winter (however, most urban areas now levy a toll on vehicles with studded tyres). More information on driving in Norway is available from the Norwegian Automobile Association (NAF) (tel: 08505, in Norway only; www.naf.no).
An International Driving Permit or national driving licence and log book are required. A Green Card is strongly recommended (if you have more than third-party cover on your domestic policy). Without it, if you have motor insurance in your own country, you're allowed the minimum legal cover in Norway; the Green Card tops this up to the level of cover provided by your own policy.
Nearly every town in Norway has a network of local buses which operate around the city centre and outlying areas. The train network covers most major cities, while the capital Oslo also has metro, ferry and tramway services. Tickets are pre-purchased and self-cancelled, and there is one hour's free transfer between any of the modes.
Bergen also has a good bus and tram network, a funicular and an aerial tramway giving access to two of the surrounding mountains. Trondheim has a comprehensive bus network, and one tram line linking the city centre with Lian, a major ski centre high above the city.
NSB (Norwegian State Railways) (tel: 8150 0888, in Norway only or +47 6105 1910; www.nsb.no) runs all rail services. The main internal routes are: Oslo-Trondheim (Dovre Line); Trondheim-Bodø (Nordland Railway); Oslo-Bergen (Bergen Railway); and Oslo-Stavanger (Sørland Railway).
Overnight sleeper services operate on some routes, including the Oslo-Bergen, Oslo-Trondheim and Trondheim-Bodø lines.
You must reserve seats on express trains. There are buffet/restaurant cars on some trains, and sleepers on long-distance overnight services. Heavy luggage may be sent in advance. Children under four years of age travel free; children four to 14 years of age pay half fare.
NSB also operates a minipris ticketing system. Minipris tickets must be bought at least one day in advance, and are non-refundable but can give you savings of up to 75% of the standard fare. See www.nsb.no/en/our-tickets/minipris for more information.
All coastal towns are served by ferries, catamarans and hydrofoils. The Hurtigruten (Coastal Express) (tel: +44 20 3603 7112, in the UK; www.hurtigruten.co.uk) from Bergen to Kirkenes (near the Russian border) is a 12-day round trip that leaves daily and stops at 35 ports on the west coast.
Various ferry trips are available (half price in spring and autumn). There are also numerous companies operating cruises on Norway's spectacular fjords, including Norway Fjord Cruise AS (tel: +47 5765 6999; www.fjordcruise.no).