In this post, we will share 11 tips for driving around Norway as a tourist.
Norway is a very modern country with excellent infrastructure, so it’s remarkably easy to get around.
There are some nuances worth understanding before you get behind the wheel to ensure a smooth road trip.
Table of Contents
We have also summarized these tips in the video below, where you will also be treated to some amazing Norwegian landscapes while we talk through each point!
11 Norway Driving Tips for Tourists
Low Legal Blood Alcohol Limit
Compared to most Western countries, Norway has a very low legal limit for alcohol in your blood when you get behind the wheel at 0.02.
This is 75% lower than most states in the USA (0.08) and 60% lower than Australia and a number of other European countries (0.05).
If you’re on vacation, chances are you’ll be having a few drinks with dinner and might be tempted to have a beer with lunch.
If you are driving, don’t! You could be over that limit after a single drink!
The penalties are harsh and if you get caught it could completely ruin your vacation.
Tolls are Frequent and Expensive
As you can see from the invoice below, tolls are an additional cost that you will need to factor into your trip.
Over nine days we accumulated 26 different toll charges that averaged out to around US$10 per day.
Not outrageously high, but it’s an extra expense nonetheless and something you will not be able to avoid.
Unique and Interesting Tunnels
Tunnels are a mundane feature of most transport networks, but not in Norway!
After three or four days of driving, I started to notice that no two tunnels were alike and some had interesting features, shapes, and designs. Like a network of unique fingerprints all over Norway.
I found myself looking forward to the next tunnel. Which is a very unusual thing to say out loud.
Car Rental is Expensive
This will come as no surprise in an expensive country like Norway, but renting a car will be a huge part of your vacation costs!
To get the best deal, we recommend using a comparison website that will scan a number of different rental providers and present you with the best prices available.
Another important tip is to make sure that your rental comes with unlimited KMs/Miles as part of the rental agreement.
This will ensure that you do not incur additional costs after you return the vehicle if you have driven longer distances (which is likely in a large country like Norway!).
Watch Out for Norwegian Wildlife
You are going to see a lot of sheep grazing on, or near, the roads and hanging around in car parks. They can be a hazard so make sure you take care and slow down when you see them.
You may need to be patient with them if a group of them is moving across a road. But they generally move on fairly quickly.
If you plan to take photos of them make sure your vehicles are safely off the road first, and be wary that some just do not like people and won’t let you near them.
Ferries Across the Fjords
When driving along the coast you will find a number of road connections that are serviced by ferries, rather than bridges and tunnels.
This will slow you down and you will need to factor longer travel times into your itinerary when you encounter a water crossing.
However, it is not as slow as you think and if you get lucky with the timing of the ferry any disruption will be minimal.
The ferries have a large capacity and are frequent. The crossing is a good chance to get out of the car and stretch your legs, plus there is usually an onboard cafe and bathroom facilities.
The trips are generally smooth and you get to enjoy some nice views of the mountains and fjords while in transit.
Delays from Road Works
Something that is guaranteed to slow you down (and is far less enjoyable!) is road work! You will find this and various maintenance projects taking place all over Norway’s road network.
This often means traffic can only flow in one direction at a time, on a single lane, with the other side being let through periodically.
This was the biggest cause of delays on our trip and something that navigation apps really struggled to accurately factor into travel times.
You may need an additional time buffer if driving longer distances and have an inflexible deadline, like a flight or other kind of transport connection.
Inappropriate Speed Limits
The vehicle we rented had a speed limit display on the dashboard, which made it much easier to keep track of the variations in speed limits.
A common observation was that it was legal to travel much faster than a safe speed for the road conditions.
There are a lot of tight corners and bends that are not as well sign-posted, and sometimes variations in the road surface (especially in bad weather).
So, in the interest of safety just slow down and drive to the conditions, regardless of what the speed limit is telling you to do.
Especially when driving for longer periods where your response times may deteriorate.
Norwegians are incredibly patient and courteous drivers
I was amazed at just how tolerant and patient Norwegians are on the road. Could you say the same thing about the drivers in your hometown? I know I can’t.
As an example, I was driving down what I thought was a deserted road and just before one of the famous Norwegian tunnels there was a small turn-off.
We had no idea what was down there and made a snap decision to check it out.
I slowed down to see if there was room to pull the car off the road, but what I had not noticed is there was a car right behind me!
They sat there patiently and didn’t make a sound while I pulled off the road.
I felt bad about this when I realized that he had been sitting there for at least 10 seconds while I was being indecisive. I waved at him to offer some form of apology, and he just drove on without making a fuss.
In my home country, they would have been honking their horn as soon as I even slowed down.
When inside the major cities and towns there will be a lot of paid parking. Most is obvious with large parking stations available, and obvious sign posting on the streets.
However, in some areas, it is harder to spot and there are also paid parking spaces available on what looks like private land.
Look out for the phrase “Mort of gift” on a sign. This translates to something like “park for a fee” and there should be a ticket machine nearby.
Narrow Back Streets in Cities
Your navigation apps have no regard for the width or quality of back streets and you may hit some roads that will barely qualify and roads!
We hit one that was more of an overgrown driveway. I was grateful to make it out of there without scratching our rental car!
You may also end up in someone’s front yard, as we did on one occasion.
Bonus Tip – Itinerary Planning in Norway
To get the best out of a road trip around Norway you will want to have as much flexibility in your itinerary as possible.
There are so many popular sites that can guide your route but some of the best stuff can be found on the side of the road unexpectedly, or from driving down a street just because you are curious.
Nothing beats discovering a hidden gem and sometimes these can become your favorite part of your trip.
If you are keeping to a tight schedule you may lose that freedom.
Norway is one of the easiest countries to drive around as a tourist. The roads are high quality and easy to navigate.
You will also be treated to some of the most amazing scenery anywhere on earth.