overview of driving in Norway

Driving in the Nordic countries

Driving around Norway takes you to places outside the cities and where public transport is limited or infrequent. This is a good way to travel if you are interested in seeing Norway's natural scenery. Traffic is safe, speed is modest and most roads have little traffic. Drivers should allow plenty of time for the drive and for frequent sightseeing stops. Long distances, particularly in the south-north direction and through the complicated fjord landscape, means that driving takes time. A drive for instance along the full extent of road E6, Norway's main road, takes about a full week. Visitors should not underestimate the difficulties of driving in Norway during the winter.

Norway offers a range of scenic drives and the road authorities have selected a number of national tourist routes that are particularly recommended. Along these routes facilities are installed to make the trip more enjoyable and practical for visitors.

Svalbard and Jan Mayen are mainly roadless, and are not included in this article.

Understand edit

Each twist of the road opens up a new panorama, Øksfjorden, Finnmark.

In the cities there is generally no need for a car, due to the robust public transit network. Also, parking is a challenge in the larger cities, and can be expensive. Further, some city centres (such as Bergen and Oslo) may be confusing to navigate for the first time visitor due to many one-way streets. Despite traffic rarely being heavy, congestion generally happens in and around cities (during rush hour around Oslo [roads E18 and E6], as well as Friday afternoon out of Oslo, around Easter holiday).

However, Norway's top attractions are outside the main cities. A car will get you to remote corners without railway and with limited or no public transport, affording the flexibility to stop at will, visit less crowded places, and change plans. The ever-changing rugged landscape, Norway's top attraction, is best experienced by moving around at a leisurely pace; captivating natural scenery is in general not limited to predetermined places. While some towns are widely known as cruise ports, other areas are equally nice. Most roads offer a good or excellent view of the surrounding landscape through the car windows. There are few motorways and most roads are ordinary two-lane undivided where one can easily pull over for a break. Outside cities traffic is often light even on main roads. During summer there is almost 24 hour daylight anywhere, and in the north the sun never sets, allowing visitors to do sightseeing drives at any time.

Driving rules and conventions are relatively well-observed in Norway, with the traffic being (statistically) among the safest in the world. Driving is generally easy as traffic is calm, and most drivers are disciplined and law abiding, although moderate speeding is common on highways. Fatality rates have been steadily falling for 50 years, 2020 had the lowest number of traffic-related deaths since second world war despite ten-fold traffic. There are many winding and narrow mountain roads in Norway, and wild animals and winter weather demand attention from the driver, but there are relatively few accidents even under difficult conditions.

Distances edit

North cape 2518 km from Lindesnes (south cape)

Visitors frequently underestimate distances and driving time in the Norwegian landscape. This is not helped by online map services and satellite navigation (GPS) apps sometimes underestimating driving times as well (they at least provide accurate distances). Norway is wider than Britain and has about the same area as Germany, but distances between the north and the south are much greater. Finnmark, Norway's northernmost county, is wider than Denmark and the drive through Finnmark is longer than from London to Glasgow. E6, Norway's main road, is more than 2600 km long, and is the longest road within any single country in Europe outside Russia. Finnmark in fact lies east of Sweden and the shortest drives to/from these most eastern parts of Norway are through Sweden and Finland. During an ordinary 1- to 2-week in Norway, one usually has enough time to drive around only a single section of the country.

In some parts of Norway, the next petrol station could be more than 100 km away; a small village may not have a gas station even if it's at a remote point itself. Fill up the tank in time, and consider bringing a jerry can, when travelling in the sparsely populated northernmost areas.

Roads are often confined to narrow valleys.

Common mistakes

Common mistakes when driving in Norway include:

  • Driving with your headlights off during daylight hours – headlight is mandatory
  • Driving in winter conditions unprepared – not having adequate skills and equipment to drive on snow and ice
  • Driving too close to the car ahead – minimum 3 seconds, more in winter
  • Slowing down excessively in tunnels
  • Underestimating distances and driving time
  • Trying to cover too much in limited time
  • Overheating brakes on long descents
  • Rushing from point to point – drives offer ever-changing scenery
Typical situation in winter, roads are often covered by ice and snow

In addition to distance, transport in Norway is all about topography. The landscape is unusually fragmented, particularly around the coast, with a myriad of islands, deep fjords cutting into the mainland, steep mountains, glaciers, lakes, and long valleys. Car ferries are usually needed to cross fjords and are often needed to reach islands. Norway has well over 1200 road tunnels, some very long and some subsea. Except in a few small flat areas, roads are largely confined to valleys or shores. Travel between the valleys often involves tunnels, mountain passes, or long detours. Road engineering with bold bridges, long tunnels and airy hairpin roads is a sight in itself, along the Norway's scenic drives. Extra time for ferry crossings, breaks, and photo sessions should be added to the approximate times suggested in the following table:

Key distances (km) and approximate driving times not including ferries
To-from Key road Kilometres Time needed Notes
Oslo–Nordkapp    2200 35 hours net
≈ 1 week incl sleeping
Oslo–Bodø   1200 20 hours net
3 days incl sleeping
Oslo–Bergen   or   500 8 hours
Oslo–Kristiansand   320 4 hours
Oslo–Stavanger  +  540 8 hours
Oslo–Trondheim   or   500 8 hours
Trondheim–Bodø   700 12 hours
Oslo–Geiranger   450 7 hours
Oslo–Flåm   350 5 hours
Bodø–Tromsø   600 10 hours Ferry
Bodø–Nordkapp    1050 16 hours (2 days) Ferry
Bergen–Geiranger   400 7 hours Ferries
Bergen–Flåm   170 3 hours
Bergen–Kristiansand   or   470 8 hours Ferry
Ålesund–Trondheim   or   300 6 hours Ferries

Road network edit

Road designation edit

Routes 5 and 55 continues ahead, connection to E16 ahead

Norway's road numbering system (road designations):

  • E-roads. Main roads, numbered as part of the international E-road network that connects Europe's cities, regions and countries. They are excellent for navigation. Indicated with an "E" in front of the number (for example, E6) with no national number in addition, signs are white on green:  
  • National roads. Other main roads ("green roads", "riksvei") in addition to E-roads, low one- or two-digit numbers, signs white on green:  
  • Numbered roads. Regional numbered roads (shown on road signs), signs black on white:  
  • Other roads. Regional and local roads.

Road hierarchy edit

Road designation vs. road hierarchy (quality)

Motorways and semi–motorways in Norway. There is about 500 km full motorway and most of this is on E18 and E6.
Norway's road numbering system has been devised primarily for navigation. Outside of cities, navigation by numbers is more reliable than satellite navigation (GPS) and online map services, as these occasionally suggest routes that are quite silly.

Norway's road designations do not necessarily indicate the quality of the road itself: even the E's may have narrow and slow sections. There is no prefix or numbering system specific to motorways. Most of Norway's motorways are on E6 and E18, but the E6 is constructed as a real motorway for less than 10% of the whole route (only some kilometers north and south of Oslo); further north it is a semi-motorway, then it changes to ordinary two-lane undivided. On the other hand, the E18 has almost 50% motorway stretches.

Visitors should trust the road number more than satellite navigation (GPS). Except around the big cities, there are few roads and there can be 1 hour drive between main intersections where drivers need to make a decision. East-west E-roads have even numbers (for instance E10), while north-south E-roads have odd numbers (for instance E39). The E6, Norway's main road south-north is an exception to this rule. Note also that road numbers may overlap such that a stretch of road may for instance be both E134 and road 13.

Norwegian roads vary in quality. Most roads are two-lane undivided, and there is a limited motorway network around Oslo. A typical speed limit is 80 km/h and speed is often slower due to road conditions (for many parts of Norway visitors should not expect to do more than 60 km/h on average). Norway's road hierarchy:

Signs Markings Notes
    Motorway or controlled-access highway (also known as A-class motorway). Grade-separated crossings, wide shoulder and mechanical median barrier. Speed limit 80, 90, 100 or 110 kmh. Some stretches around Oslo and main cities only.
    Semi-motorway or two-lane expressway (previously B-class motorway), speed limit 80 or 90 kmh.
  Two-lane undivided is the standard road quality, narrow or no shoulder. Indicated with a median strip (centre line), sometimes with rumble strip.
    Warning signs and/or no center line indicates a road narrower than two full lanes.

Important roads edit

See also: E6 through Sweden and Norway, European route E39, E10 through Sweden and Norway
E6 - Norway's main road
E39 - West Norway main road

Visitors should know about a handful of key roads for planning and navigation:

  • E6 is clearly the most important as it runs 2600 km, through 10 of 19 counties, and acts as the main north-south corridor from Sweden via Oslo to Kirkenes in the very east of Northern Norway. The E6 is the longest road in Europe. E6 varies considerably in quality and traffic, from 4 or 6 lane high speed road around Oslo to ordinary two-lane undivided in remote areas (sometimes narrow). North of Trondheim it is the only main road south-north, in some areas in fact the only road such that traffic has to be diverted through Sweden/Finland when closed. North of Oslo (passed Hamar) the E6 has been notably upgraded until year 2020 (now four lane motorway) and through Gudbrandsdalen upgrade completed in 2017 (semi-motorway). Still, the E6 also serves local traffic between Sjoa and Trondheim as well as some stretches around Ringebu.
  • E39 is the western fjords main road from Kristiansand via Stavanger, Bergen and Ålesund to Trondheim. This is a very complex road with highly varying quality (mostly two-lane undivided), some 100 tunnels, floating bridges and 8 ferries crossing several of Norway's iconic fjords - still the shortest Stavanger-Bergen-Ålesund. Only short stretches of narrow road remains between Sognefjord and Førde, and these are expected to be upgraded in a few years (per 2022). This road has long scenic stretches, although alternative routes are even more scenic. Between Skei and Byrkjelo there is no practical alternative route except through road 55 (into East Norway). Some of the alternative routes (roads 51, 55 and 63) are scenic but closed in winter until April or May.
  • E18 connects Kristiansand and towns in South Norway to Oslo and Sweden, and acts as the east-west artery through the capital and other population centres in the East/South. Constructed mostly as wide and fast motorway except in Oslo eastern suburbs where the E6 is faster. Intersects twice with the E6.
  • E16 connects Bergen to Oslo (via Flåm and Voss), Oslo airport (Gardermoen), Kongsvinger and further to Gävle in Sweden.

For more information on these and other important roads, refer to the below table:

Route Description Notable mt passes Ferries Quality and Traffic Scenic Alternative route
  article Norway's main road and a key reference for driving in Norway. From Halden at the Swedish border to Kirkenes at the Russian border, a total of 2628 km (and some 500 km in Sweden). Dovre, Saltfjellet(some exposed to rough weather in winter) 1 ferry Motorway Halden to Hamar. Congestion near or inside Oslo at rush hour and weekends. Several scenic stretches.  , road 17, Sweden/Finland
  article Main road east-west. Swedish border at Ørje through Oslo to Kristiansand. (none) (none) Congestion common near Oslo and Oslo-Kristiansand, particularly at weekends and afternoon. Motorways around Oslo and near Kristiansand. Scenic stretches
  article The West Norway main road, 1300 km through fjord country. Kristiansand-Stavanger-Bergen-Ålesund-Trondheim. Mostly low passes such as Romarheimsdalen Eight ferry crossings (more than any other road in Europe) Norway's most complex road. Little motorway, some narrow and slow. Congestion occasionally around Stavanger and around Bergen. Long scenic stretches through fjord areas.  ,  , road 60
  Haukeli-Haugesund road from East Norway Haukeli (occasionally closed in winter). (none) Notable traffic at periods, mostly moderate. Scenic stretches.  
  Dombås-Romsdal-Ålesund road. Main road into Møre og Romsdal county. None, but can be very cold in winter around Dombås (none) Moderate traffic, no motorway Through monumental valleys and along great fjords.    
  Hedmark/Østerdalen road. None, but can be very cold in winter around Tynset (none) Slightly shorter alternative to E6 north-south (Oslo-Trondheim). Views of a large river and large hills, but less scenic than E6  
  Fastest and shortest road Oslo–Bergen. Hardangervidda mountain plateau (often closed in winter) (none) Ordinary road, in periods fairly much traffic, especially near Oslo Very scenic, mountain plateau, steep valleys, fjords views  
  The "inner" parallel to E39. Vikafjell (exposed in winter), Gaularfjell (closed in winter) 2 ferries Low or moderate traffic. Two lane undivided. Partly narrow or steep. Scenic drive along iconic fjords, waterfalls and glaciers. Several mountain passes.  
  Ottadalen-Nordfjord road. Connects E6 (Gudbrandsdalen) to Nordfjord region. Strynefjell (occasionally closed in winter) (none) Low or moderate traffic. Two lane undivided. Scenic drive through great valleys, passed alpine mountains and along lovely lakes and fjords.
  article Lofoten road. From the border through Narvik to Å i Lofoten. At the border to Sweden (none) Scenic drive.
Hardanger bridge on roads 7 and 13 (opened 2013)

Oslo-Bergen edit

The trip from Oslo to Bergen takes between seven and nine hours, depending on the route, the driving conditions and stops along the drive. Be prepared to add some hours driving time in the winter - and remember that the daylight will be scarce for many months. All routes Oslo to Bergen run through mountain passes. It might be a good idea to use two days on the tour in the winter if you're not accustomed to these conditions. A 12 or even 14 hour drive on icy, dark roads in bad weather is not very nice. Keep in mind that many roads in Norway are often of narrow and slow due to relatively low traffic and difficult weather conditions. The most direct roads between Oslo and Bergen run through difficult yet scenic landscapes and are often affected by rough weather November through April.

Some routes Oslo-Bergen shown on road sign

Bergen-Trondheim edit

The Bergen-Trondheim either go along the coast with five time consuming ferries to catch, or through mountain passes.

Tunnels edit

Entrance to Lærdal tunnel (world's longest road tunnel with 24.5km), note length of tunnels on sign before entering
2 km done, 9 km remains of tunnel

No driving experience in Norway is complete without tunnels. There are thousands of them, and they are fascinating to those unfamiliar with them. Most tunnels are in Western Norway and Nordland county. Road E16 has over 60 tunnels, making up 15% of the entire road. E6 has over 80 tunnels, E39 has over 100 tunnels. The longest is 24 km, but 1–3 km is more common. Length of tunnel is indicated at the entrance and for the longer tunnels kilometers to exit is also indicated inside the tunnel. Each tunnel has a name and drivers should use the name to inform police or fire brigade in emergencies.

Almost all are lit with "street" lighting, but may be narrower than the regular roads. Driving out from a tunnel, over a bridge spanning a deep gorge, back into a tunnel, then down a 12% gradient is something to be remembered. Some tunnels, particularly underwater tunnels, are relatively steep. Tunnels are generally safe and Norwegian drivers keep the same speed in tunnels as in the open, the main challenge is adapting to the darker tunnel during bright sunshine. Temperatures inside tunnels are usually different than outside, causing ice taps to form on road surface and in ceiling; condense on car windows may also be a problem. Animals may seek shelter inside tunnels.

Note that overtaking in a two-lane (undivided) tunnel is dangerous and forbidden in many tunnels.

Tunnel fire safety edit

In case of fire or smoke in the tunnel note the following: Use the emergency phones inside the tunnel (rather than your mobile phone) as this will inform traffic control exactly where you are. In case of fire, use the fire extinguisher inside the tunnel as this will alert traffic control and the fire brigade.

Never enter a tunnel if there is a red light. Keep radio on inside tunnels as traffic control can send emergency messages. Long tunnels have signs indicating distance to exit in either direction. People inside the tunnel are expected to try to get out of the tunnel on their own. In case of fire or accident traffic control should be notified immediately via emergency telephones inside the tunnel. Use fire extinguisher to kill small fires and leave if not possible.

In case of fire in a one-way tunnel:

  • Do not turn the car around; this is extremely dangerous.
  • Leave the car with emergency lights on.
  • Go to the nearest emergency exit.

In case of fire in a two-way tunnel:

  • If possible, turn the car around, drive out and alert oncoming traffic.
  • If it is difficult or dangerous to turn around, leave the car with emergency lights on and walk to the exit.
  • Walk in the opposite direction of the smoke.

Ferries edit

Ferry dock in Lofoten, road number (E10) and destination indicated

There are now well over 100 ferry crossings on public roads in Norway. In Norwegian terminology boats carrying cars and passengers are called car ferries or usually just ferries (ferje), whereas boats carrying foot passengers only are called boats or fast boats (båt or hurtigbåt).

Car ferries are an integral part of the road system such that the ferry crossing is included in the road number and roads lead to the dock. Ferry docks are often located in remote areas at the point of shortest possible crossing. Car ferries are operated by private companies on behalf of the national road authority. Prices are administered by the Department of transport and might be 50–300 kr for an ordinary car, depending of route length, but double or more for a motor home. Car ferries on main roads depart 2 to 4 times every hour at day time, less frequent late in the evening. Some important ferries run through the night, others operate until 23:00 or 00:00 (11PM or midnight). Crossings usually take 10–30 minutes only, a small number of ferry crossings are about 1 hour or more.

Booking is generally not possible for private vehicles, nor is it needed. Cars arrive at the dock and wait in line on a first-come-first-serve basis. Ferries usually have enough capacity to take all waiting cars. On rare occasions travelers have to wait for the next departure and on popular crossings used during vacations there can be more waiting time. Travelers are well advised to add generous time for ferries in planning.

Ferry crossings typically appear on maps as dotted lines across fjords. Ferries can in general not be avoided or can be avoided only through (extremely) long detours. For the leisure traveler ferries add to the experience as calm breaks and pleasant trips across the fjords. Most ferries run in sheltered waters and are not affected by ocean waves. Ferries often have a cafeteria on board serving coffee and snacks, and in some cases full dinners.

Scenic drives edit

Norway offers a large number of scenic drives and virtually every road (particularly in West Norway, in the mountains and in North Norway) is scenic. Some of these have been named National Tourist Routes and are particularly recommended.

National tourist routes edit


National Tourist Routes are eighteen highways in Norway designated for their picturesque scenery and tourist-friendly infrastructure, such as rest stops and viewpoints. These routes cover in total 1,850 kilometers (1,150 mi) and are located along the West Coast, in the Western Fjords, in Northern Norway and in the mountains of Southern Norway. Two routes constitute part of the International E-road network: E10 through Lofoten and E75 through Varanger. Mountain pass roads, such as Sognefjellsvegen, Valdresflye and Trollstigen, are closed during winter. Some sections are narrow and/or steep, drivers are adviced to plan ahead and use a low gear downhill.

Name Road number(s) Impression Notes
Geiranger-Trollstigen Road 63   During high season the traffic load is high at noon (11 to 14 o'clock), traffic jams occur, try to drive early morning or evening. Highest point 1000 meters. Closed until mid May.
Hardangervidda     Exposed to wind and cold weather. Snow and frost possible in May and September.
Hardanger  , roads 79 and 550   Classical drive around Hardangerfjord
Gaularfjellet Roads 613 and 610   Balestrand to Jølster
Aurlandsfjellet Road 5627   "Snow road" Aurland-Lærdal, closed in winter
Sognefjellet Road 55   Highest point 1400 meters, closed in winter.
Rondane     Frya to Folldal
Helgelandskysten (Helgeland coast) Road 17   630 km + 6 ferries, coast of southern Nordland
Lofoten     230 km from Raftsundet strait to Å village
Varanger   + road 341   160 km from Varangerbotn (at E6) to Hamningberg, Finnmark, includes easternmost point of Norway, road 341 is closed in winter

Other scenic routes edit

Old and new roads

Tokagjelet on road 7 available on bike or foot

Many roads in Norway run through rocky or mountainous terrain. When a new section of road is built (often through a tunnel) at a difficult point or to avoid avalanches, the old road is often abandoned, left to pedestrians or used as a local road. The old section of the road often gives a more interesting scenery, and the old road engineering itself is often impressive or interesting.

The Tokagjelet stretch of road 7 is one such road that can be visited. Famous Stalheimskleiva on road E16 gives an excellent panorama and is exciting to drive on. Visitors are often not aware of these as they rush along the fast road.

Other routes with significant scenic stretches:

Route Itinerary Impression
  Lillehammer-Oppdal part of E6  
  Kristiansand-Trondheim through West Norway  

Corniches edit

Many roads run along Norway's endless coastline and countless lakes. Because of the rugged landscape there are often long corniche drives with great panoramas, similar to the roads along the French and Italian Riviera.

Some notable corniches

Road Itinerary Impression
650 Sjøholt-Valldal  
60 Utvik-Stranda  
79 Eidfjord-Norheimsund (national tourist route)  
13 Odda-Eidfjord  
E16 Bergen-Voss  

Hairpin roads edit

Øvre Årdal seen from the hairpin road to Tyin, hairpin road to Turtagrø (Tindevegen in the background)

Norway has some notable hairpin roads, particularly around the inner part of west Norways fjords around Åndalsnes-Geiranger-Stryn.

  • Trollstigen (road 63) - perhaps the most iconic hairpin road, grand surroundings
  • Geiranger road (road 63) - less striking design, but more turns than Trollstigen
  • Ørnevegen (Eagles road, also 63)
  • Lysebotn road at iconic Lysefjord, a striking and airy road, 27 hairpins
  • Tindevegen Årdal-Turtagrø (private, toll)
  • Øvre Årdal - Tyin (road 53), one of the airiest
  • Strynefjell mountain pass (old road, no 258)
  • Måbødalen at Vøringsfossen waterfall (road 7), this stretch even has a tunnel with 360 degrees
  • Sognefjellet (road 55 Skjolden-Lom), Norways highest road, climbs from sea level to 1400 meters
  • Stalheimskleiva (detour from E16, old road at Stalheim between Voss and Gudvangen), very tight bends and very steep
  • Gaularfjell (road 13 Balestrand-Førde)

Road conditions edit

Road RV13 over Vikafjellet. Note that this picture is taken in June!
Steep downhill, use engine to control speed

All public roads have asphalt and are generally well maintained, but some popular roads are narrow, with many curves and steep hills. Asphalt cover on Norwegian roads is usually coarse and doesn't get very slippery when wet as can be experienced in some other countries. Note however that studded winter tyres tend to eat asphalt during the winter, leaving deep tracks (or furrows). This can make the car sideways unstable, particularly in high speed, and if filled with water tyres may float on the water making the car difficult to control (as if driving on ice or snow).

Visitors should be aware of mountain passes as the road can be steep and narrow. When driving downhill on steep mountain roads, it is best to use a low gear and let the engine control the speed. Brakes can overheat causing the brake fluid to boil. Mountain passes are also exposed to bad weather (and occasionally closed for some hours or a couple of days in winter). Snow may fall on mountain passes even in late April or late September. On rare occasions snow and frost can be encountered at the highest passes even in summer. If temperatures are below 10 °C at sea level, temperatures can be around or below 0 °C at 1500 meters.

Winter edit

See also: Winter driving
Hoarfrost forming along water, Nordland in October.

Driving a car in winter conditions may be a real challenge without proper training and experience; this particularly applies to mountain passes all over Norway as well as other roads in Northern Norway. Norway has a long winter season and many roads are covered by ice or hard snow for months – traffic runs largely uninterrupted, but a handful of mountain roads are frequently closed during bad weather. Several main roads, such as E6, E16, road 7 and E134 run through mountain passes or other places exposed to wind/snow, or have stretches that run through the coldest areas in Norway (E6, E16, and road 3). These are often much colder (often 10–20 °C, even 30 °C colder) than departure and destination points – drivers should make sure that the car is prepared for temperatures as low as -20 °C or -30 °C (for instance by filling up the right diesel quality).

The golden rule for driving on snow, ice and slush: don't rush. Braking distance increases dramatically, increase distance to the car in front of you from the standard 3 seconds to a 5–6 seconds or more. Inexperienced drivers should drive very carefully until they get used to the conditions and the car; experienced drivers always "feel" the contact between tires and road. Powerful acceleration or hard braking quickly tells you how slippery the road is. Do a "brake test" frequently to get precise information on the road surface.

During winter (October–April) drivers should plan well and get specific information for critical stretches of road included in the trip. Visitors entering Norway by car during this period should be prepared. Each winter main roads are blocked for hours by foreign drivers without adequate skills and equipment to drive on snow and ice. Each winter police and road authorities deny access to Norwegian roads for a large number of foreign drivers who are not prepared. Authorities routinely issue road information on radio, TV and internet. Always obtain specific information about mountain roads the day and hours before going. Don't hesitate to ask locals or call +47 815 48 991, 175 for last minute information. Always bring enough clothes and food, always calculate plenty of time. Be prepared to cancel or postpone trips in winter.

Convoy driving edit

"Stop. Wait for snow plough". Convoy driving waiting point on road 7.

Convoy driving ("kolonnekjøring") is praticed on some roads in heavy weather conditions, such as a blizzard. When convoy driving is in effect, vehicles are only allowed to drive in a line (convoy) behind a heavy snowplow. Drivers are then obliged to wait at a gate or a sign until the snowplough arrives. Convoy driving is slow and waiting times can be several hours.

Always obtain specific information about mountain roads the day and hours before going. Don't hesitate to ask locals or call the numbers above for last minute information. News reports routinely mention where convoy driving is in operation with road number and name of mountain pass (or other stretch) as key information. There are waiting points with gates and signs at either side of the mountain pass.

Convoy driving involves certain prerequisites and drivers should bring certain important items:

  • The vehicle must have valid winter tires – the driver is responsible for having the right tires for the conditions; do not try to drive with poor tires. Nordic type winter tires (studded or un-studded) are strongly recommended; these are much better fitted to Norwegian winter conditions than general winter tires. During winter (after November 1) tires of any type are by law required to have a minimum of 3 mm tread depth, while in summer 1.6 mm is legal. Heavy vehicles (over 3,500 kg) must bring chains in winter and minimum tread depth is 5 mm.
  • Make sure to a start out with a full tank, as the waiting time can be hours, and there are no petrol stations on convoy stretches.
  • Equip yourself with at least a flashlight or other lamp, a shovel, and tow rope.
  • Bring food and warm drink.
  • Bring warm clothes and winter boots.

There are precise rules for convoy driving that must be followed:

  • The convoy is operated as directed by the driver of the snowplow.
  • Turn the hazard warning lights on when the convoy starts moving. Use low beam headlights or fog lights. Don't use rear fog lights.
  • Keep close to the car ahead, and keep a steady speed.
  • Stay in the convoy (don't leave it or try to turn back).
  • Stay in the car if the convoy halts. Don't stray from the car under any circumstance. If you get stuck or the car otherwise stops, wait for help. Leaving your car behind is forbidden and life-threatening.

Winter closure edit

Some mountain passes, including popular roads around Geiranger are subject to winter closure (typically November to May), i.e. they are totally closed during the winter. Other mountain roads may be closed for shorter periods (several days or only one night) during bad weather. On the highest mountain passes, such as Sognefjell (road 55), winter closures occasionally occur in May and September. Some exposed mountain passes can be closed for some hours or days in winter during strong wind. Weather forecast about "storm" means whole gale (very strong wind below hurricane strength) and does not refer for instance to snowstorm. Roads are typically closed only for the mountain pass itself (between permanent settlements). Closing time may vary notably depending on weather and snow remaining from winter.

Roads closed during winter (Norwegian: vinterstengte veger)
Road Section Months closed (normal)
E69 Skarsvåg–Nordkapp (North Cape) October–April (occasionally opened anyway)
  Gaularfjell December–May
Road 51 Valdresflya December–April
Road 55 Sognefjell November–May
Road 63 Geiranger–Langvatn November–May
Road 63 Trollstigen October–May
Road 243 AurlandLærdal (Aurland mt pass) November–June
Road 252 Tyin–Eidsbugarden October–June
Road 258 Gamle Strynefjellsveg (old Strynefjell road) October–June
Road 337 Brokke–Suleskard (Agder) November–May
Road 341 Smelror–Hamningsberg November–May
Road 355 Melfjellet November–May
Road 520 Hellandsbygd–Røldal November–June
Road 886 Vintervollen–Grense Jacobselv (Jarfjordfjellet) November–May

Animal-vehicle collisions edit

See also: Animal collisions
Moose warning

Roads are generally not fenced and animals may stray onto all sorts of roads. You need to look out for deer and moose – a moose collision in particular is very dangerous as these are tall and heavy animals. In the north you will also have to watch out for reindeer.

Moose/elk ("elg") and red deer can run onto the highway particularly at dusk and dawn so take extra care if driving at those times, particularly through forest. Red deer can also jump onto the highway without warning, particularly in Western Norway during late autumn and winter, special "crossing points" have been constructed several places, be aware. Reindeer may happen to walk on the road in Northern Norway. Note the warning signs. The elk, the most dangerous animal on the roads, is most active at full moon, after heavy snow fall and at dusk/dawn. Be extra careful to wild animals on the roads under these circumstances:

  • Dusk/dawn.
  • Springtime (as moose reject last year's calves and give birth to new ones).
  • Edge of forests.
  • Bridges across streams.
  • Full moon

Several roads pass through pastures with grazing livestock and there may not be any fence to the road. Sheep, cows and goats may stroll on the road. A cattle grid ("ferist") or warning sign typically marks the start of such areas.

Vehicle and gear edit

See also: #Use of equipment
Norwegian license plates for light vehicles black on white

Winter tyres

In winter, Norwegian cars use Nordic quality winter tyres (studded tyres are permitted from November 1). If you arrive during winter (November–April), be aware that winter tyres are necessary; do not, under any circumstance, try to drive without winter tyres, even if you don't expect snow or ice. They must have a minimum of 3 mm deep grooves.

Snow chains are generally not used by ordinary cars and usually not allowed by rental companies, but cars heavier than 3500 kg (Vehicle group M1, N1 from 3500 Kg) are required to bring snow chains during winter and whenever snow or ice can be expected. A minimum of 5 mm tread pattern depth is recommended for trucks and heavy cars.

On public roads there is no need for anything special in summer. In winter, a four-wheel drive may be useful to pull up the last snowy road, but is generally not needed on public roads.

Manual ("stick-shift") transmission is still somewhat standard in Norway—nearly all cars did traditionally have manual transmission. After 2015 there has been a relatively rapid transition to electrical cars and cars with computerised driver support and automatic transmission—as of 2020 virtually all new cars have automatic transmission. Norway has more electrical plug-in cars than most other countries. Fully electric cars are indicated with an "EL" or "EK" on their license plate. As of 2020, about 10 % of all cars run on battery.

Rental companies may still allocate a manual transmission car unless you specifically ask for an automatic when you make a reservation. If you prefer to rent a car with automatic transmission, make sure to order one at the rental company. If you live in Europe, consider bringing your own car.

Diesel and other liquids must withstand the low temperatures that can be encountered in winter.

By motorhome / campervan edit

Several companies rent motorhomes that are "fully equipped" (beds, small kitchen, fridge, shower, toilet, heating, etc.) and as a rough indication they cost about what one might spend on a reasonable rented car plus reasonable accommodation – but allow a lot more flexibility. Note that the ferry prices are for motorhomes usually more than double those for cars. For large motorhomes over 3½ tonnes, the road tolls are also more than double.

There are many rest stops on all major and many minor roads, and there's a fantastic system of National Tourist Routes with particularly spectacular rest stops (and facilities). Most of the rest stops have a toilet and picnic table. It is common to park overnight on rest areas although on many it is illegal. Look for parkings that are specifically designed for campervans. Don't park on any field or open patch along the road as land is generally private. The right to walk in forests and sleep in a tent ("every man's right") are not valid for vehicle driving and sleeping in motorhomes. There are hundreds of camp grounds that cater to motorhomes (and caravans, or camping with tents – some have huts to rent), and these are well signposted. All have basic facilities (electricity, toilets, hot showers (pay per minute), mostly-flat ground), and some are more equipped (buy fresh food, hire boats, communal kitchens, tourist info, etc.). Some are of the "industrial" variety (hundreds of vans, spotless facilities, very straight paths, gravel, not grass, keypads to enter, lots of strict rules, right beside the highway), and others are more… loose – occasional visitors, honoru system for payment, idyllic surroundings, lots of grass and space. It's impossible to tell from the signs, so a drive-by might be necessary to see if the campground suits your mood and preferences. As a rough guide (August 2011), a night in a campground with electricity costs around 200kr, but ranges from 120 to 300 kr. Showers are usually 10 kr for 4 minutes.

Be aware that many campervans have relatively small engines and will be slower than other vehicles on the many Norwegian hills. Slow or oversized vehicles are obliged to pull over to let faster vehicles pass – this rule must be applied with some flexibility; check your mirror and pull over if a line of faster cars is gathering and they are otherwise not able to overtake.

Costs edit

The Svinesund crossing is the most important entry into Norway by car. Visitors should be prepared for customs control. Old bridge in front, new bridge on road E6 behind.

Petrol is heavily taxed and therefore expensive. There are some toll roads, particularly when entering main cities, but most tolls are moderate (for instance 25 kr for entering Bergen; a notable exception is the 150 kr for the new Hardanger bridge on road 13/road 7). Tolls are generally a fraction of the total cost of going around by car.

Renting a car is expensive, so visitors should consider for how many days and what part of the trip a car is needed. In addition to being much cheaper to rent than a heavy SUV with a big engine, a modestly powered compact car is also more fuel efficient. There is no need for a big 4 wheel drive as driving outside public roads is illegal. Day rates for the vehicle itself are usually the main expense; the price of petrol is comparatively lesser of an issue in this context.

Car ferries are an additional cost, and unavoidable on several roads (particularly in the western fjords and parts of Northern Norway). Most ferry crossings are relatively short (10–25 minutes) and rates on ferries are moderate compared to the overall cost of renting a car – notable exceptions are the special tourist ferries Gudvangen–Kaupanger and Geiranger–Hellesylt.

Traffic rules edit

Speed camera information sign

Rules and road signs are generally the same as in the rest of Europe. As in most of Europe, Norway has right hand driving and uses the metric system. Virtually all signs use standardised symbols (pictograms), explanatory text in plain Norwegian used occasionally as supplement.

Regulations are strictly enforced (notably drinking, speeding and risky overtaking) and speed limits are modest to maintain safe traffic. Speed limits are fine tuned to conditions, so there is always a reason for the chosen speed limit and this is one of the key reasons for the safe traffic in Norway. A restrained driving style is the norm in Norway. Foreign visitors should be aware that police controls are common and that fines are very high. Traffic enforcement cameras are common. Jail sentence and suspension of licence is used for the most serious offences.

Driving licences edit

Most driving licences from abroad are valid for three months, for travellers as well as for immigrants, in some circumstances for longer times. Norwegian age requirements apply: 18 years for most vehicles. If your driving licence is not in the format specified in the Geneva (1949) or Vienna (1968) convention on road traffic, it might not be valid. In some cases, such as if your licence is without photo or not written in an accepted language, the licence may need to be accompanied by an International Driving Permit (or an official local translation).

Driving licences from the European Union, the EEA or the UK are accepted for as long as they are valid, but Norwegian rules on age and health apply.

Right of way edit

  • Traffic from right hand has right of way (unless signs or lights). You must yield to traffic from any road to your right, except from separate areas such as parking lots, market square, pedestrian zone, and petrol stations.
  • Turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians and bicycles that proceed straight ahead on road or shoulder.
  •   Traffic on roads with the standard "Yellow Diamond" sign has the right of way. This is widely used for main roads. Traffic from connecting roads will then see the give-way (yield) or stop sign.
  •   Universal give way (yield) sign.
  •   Give way for vehicles located within a roundabout.
  •   Buses have right of way when leaving a bus stop where the speed limit is 60 km/h or less.
  •   Trains, trams and light rail have right of way even from the left hand side.
  • Traffic downhill is expected to yield to traffic uphill if road is too narrow for two cars (important in winter).
  •   Pedestrians have the right of way at all marked crossings with no traffic lights. You are required to stop even if the pedestrian is not yet in the crossing, only showing intention to cross. You may be severely fined and your driver's licence may be suspended if you don't. This rule is strictly enforced.
  •   Emergency service vehicles with flashing blue light (red light not used) has absolute right of way. Note: Emergency light is blue, silent response very common (no siren).
  •   Right turn on red is illegal even if road is clear.
  • Opposing traffic must if necessary slow down or pull over on the right hand side (particularly applies to narrow mountain roads).
  • Funeral processions have the right of way. People are required to yield, and not interfere or cause an obstruction.

Use of equipment edit

  • Headlights are mandatory even during daylight. If you drive without lights you may find other drivers flashing their headlights at you to inform you.
  • An EN standard hazard waistcoat is required in the vehicle, reachable from the driver's seat.
  • Using a mobile phone when driving is forbidden; fine is up to 10,000 NOK (the equivalent of €1000, in 2023).
  • Wearing a seat belt is mandatory, also in back seats.
  • Winter tires must have a minimum depth of tread of 3 mm. Cars (Vehicle group M1) heavier than 7500 kg (Vehicle group N1 over 3500 Kg) are required to carry snow chains during winter and whenever snow or ice can be expected. A minimum of 5 mm depth of tread is recommended for trucks and heavy cars.
  • Using a vehicle's horn is considered impolite and may result in a fine unless used for an emergency.

Speed limits edit

Police patrol highways in marked and unmarked cars.
  •   The general speed limit is 80 km/h in the countryside on highways; the 80-sign is rarely used and 80 is instead implied.
  •   50 km/h in urban/built-up areas, usually indicated with signs.
  • Other speed limits are always indicated with signs; for instance, speed limits on motorways (controlled-access highway). The motorway sign does not imply any particular speed limit.
  • There are no specific rules for change of speed limit (as in some other countries) when driving conditions change. The driver is by law required to adjust speed downward to a safe level in, for instance, fog, heavy rain, or snow.
  • Norway has some of the highest speeding fines in the world, including confiscating your driver's license and/or jail time (even for foreigners). There are speeding cameras frequently on major roads, and it's not uncommon for unmarked police cars to pull you over. It is highly recommended to use your car's cruise control system to stay at the speed limit.
  • Vehicles pulling trailers, and vehicles over 3,500 kg, must not drive faster than 80 km/h ( except motorhomes up to 7500 kg that can follow the speed limit up to 110 km/h), even on motorways with a higher speed limit.
  • Speed limits are fine-tuned to conditions for maximum safety, so be aware that speed limits may adjusted slightly for a few kilometers only. For instance some good two-lane undivided roads in sparsely populated areas may have 70 km/h speed limit because of moose hazard or frequent icing.
  • The highest speed limit is 110 km/h and used only on short stretches of the best motorways.

Accidents edit

  • Every person is by law obliged to help and assist at site of accident, even if not involved or guilty.
  • Call the police (emergency 112) if persons are injured or killed, or if animals are.
  • Call the police also if the vehicles are blocking parts of the road and can cause dangerous situations.
  • If no persons are harmed and both vehicles can pull over out of the way of other traffic, the drivers involved should resolve the situation themselves (exchange full contact information) and should not contact the police.

Other edit

  • Don't drink and drive. Your blood alcohol concentration must not exceed 0.2 ‰. One small beer can be enough. This rule is strictly enforced and violators risk a huge fine, a long (or even indefinite) suspension of the driver's licence, and prison time.
  • Since 2013, if you take certain medications (opiates, benzodiazepines or other narcotics) you are NOT allowed to drive unless you are taking them every day (long-term) for at least 14 days. Even if you have prescription you are not allow to drive if you use them “now and then”. All police checkpoints now check you for drugs as well as alcohol and they have their own “limit table” that if you are over “0,002%” you will go to jail and get your license confiscated (Even with prescription which only says “when needed”). Tourists should be very aware of this, so if you need to take a e.g painkiller you must wait until ALL of the drug has leaved your system.
  • On typical Norwegian two-lane road with a narrow shoulder, overtaking is only allowed on long straightaways with plenty of visibility. Drivers are not expected to use the shoulder to facilitate overtaking. Overtake only if really necessary; consider alternatives like taking a short break.
  • Overtaking is generally forbidden at crossroads.
  • Off-roading is generally forbidden. Motor vehicles must stay on public roads.
  •   Where a road is not wide enough for two cars to meet, blue signs with a large M indicate passing points (M for "meeting" point).

Signs and markings edit

While road markings are informative, they are often covered by snow and ice in winter. Unlike other European countries, in Norway yellow lines separate opposing traffic, and white lines separate traffic in the same direction. In general yellow lines should be on your left hand side, while white lines should be on your right hand side. Caution: Yellow lines on your right hand side means you are heading in the wrong direction!

Marking Description Purpose Notes
  Yellow line, Double line Lane divider for opposing traffic Crossing illegal
  Yellow line, continuous Lane divider for opposing traffic Crossing illegal.
  Yellow line, long dashes, short gaps (warning line or hazard warning line) Lane divider for opposing traffic Crossing (overtaking) legal, but risky
  Yellow line, short dashes, long gaps (Lane line) Lane divider for opposing traffic Crossing legal (good visibility)
  Combined line (hazard warning line and lane line) Regular overtaking hazardous Observe the line closest to you
  (no median/lane marking).These road have punctuated edge lines. Road too narrow for lane marking Caution, slow down for opposing traffic
  White line, short dashes, long gaps Lane divider for traffic in same direction (motorways) Crossing legal, low risk
  White line thick, dash and gaps same Lane divider for special purpose lane (notably bus lane) Driving in bus and taxi lanes and in high-occupancy vehicle lanes is only permitted as indicated by official traffic signs. Motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles or marked emergency vehicles may also use such lanes.
  Hatched area, yellow or white Used to separate and guide the traffic instead of traffic islands. It is forbidden to drive on hatched areas

Parking edit

No-parking zone (applies until next sign), applies on weekdays 08:00 to 18:00 and Saturdays 08:00 to 16:00.

Parking is generally forbidden if speed limit is over 60 km/h. Parking in inner city is often difficult and usually strictly regulated or expensive. Within downtown Bergen parking is generally forbidden except on parking meters or within parking facilities. Parking on meters in Oslo and Bergen is relatively expensive. Electric cars can park for free on parking meters in public streets (applies to all of Norway), while "hybrid" cars including "plug-in hybrids" must pay (as of 2016). "Mot avgift" means that there is a fee for parking. While parking on public streets in Oslo is generally allowed, gradually fewer places are available as streets are redesigned. Illegally parked cars will be fined and in some cases towed at the expense of owner (clamps are not used). Note the use of parking zones where sign applies until invalidated (unlike the basic rule that signs are in force until next cross road).

Tolls edit

  There are toll roads in Norway; most of these are part of AutoPass (automatic number plate recognition). Visitors in their own car can register their numberplate for the duration of their visit only, pre-buy kr. 300 worth of tolls, and directly debit their (European) bank account or credit card for top ups. Any un-used funds are returned within 90 days. For rental cars, follow the rental company procedure. Occasionally, it may be necessary to stop and pay for tolls (notably on the small number of private roads), but most are automated (numberplate is photographed while driving under a gantry over the road).

Motorhomes up to 7500 Kg has the same toll charge as a car under 3500 Kg on roads using Autopass.

Glossary edit

For more information on Norwegian glossary, see the Norwegian phrasebook article.
Complex road in Måbødalen (road 7), low gear and caution downhill is mandatory.
Fast charging station ("ladestasjon" in Oslo.
Automatic speed control, average measurement ("strekningsmåling").
road works/construction ahead
grazing livestock
toll road/toll
gjelder gjennomkjøring
applies to through traffic
gjelder ikke buss
does not apply to buses
gjelder høyre felt
applies to right hand lane
pedestrian zone
right hand (side)
kilometers per hour
kjør forsiktig
drive carefully
convoy driving
vent på brøytebil
wait for snowplow (snow removal vehicle)
tunnel closed with gate to keep frost out
diversion, detour
over 1 time
more than 1 hour
opphøyd gangfelt
raised pedestrian crossing
studded tires
stopp ved rød blink
stop if red light signal
særlig stor elgfare
extraordinary moose hazard
speed camera for stretch of road
telehiv, teleskade
frost bulges, frost heaves, frost cracks
frost in ground
tow bar, tow hitch, tow hook
the road
waiting time
winter tires, snow tires (same thing)

Itineraries edit

Road E6 in Nordland

See also edit

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Road signs in Norway