Are you planning a road trip through Norway and need some guidance on hiring a car and driving in this beautiful country? Look no further! Norway is known for its stunning landscapes, winding roads, and unique driving rules. We have put together a list of essential tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable driving experience. Get ready to discover the breathtaking views that Norway has to offer while cruising through its picturesque towns and villages. Let's dive into our top tips for hiring a car and driving in Norway!
Covered in the Article
- Why Hire a Car in Norway?
- Good to Know about Car Hire in Norway
- Rules and Regulations
- Car Rental Companies in Norway
- The Best Season to Hire a Car in Norway
- Tips for Driving in Norway
- Places to Visit in Norway by Car
- Our Driving Experience in Norway
- Bottom Line
As travel enthusiasts, we can't deny that hiring a car is the best way to experience any country's natural beauty. Norway is proof of that. It is a land of fjords, mountains, and breathtaking scenery. Norway is a country that can be best explored at your own pace and in your own time.
In this article, we will share some tips that will help you to hire a car and drive in Norway with confidence. The information in the article is based on our driving experiences in Norway and also on research.
Why Hire a Car in Norway?
One of the primary reasons to hire a car in Norway or any country is the freedom and flexibility it provides. Public transportation in Norway is efficient but can be limiting, especially if you want to explore the countryside or get off the beaten path. A hire car allows you to go where you want, when you want, and at your own pace. Moreover, if you're travelling with a family or a group, it can be more economical and comfortable to hire a car, rather than to buy individual tickets for public transportation. Especially in Norway, public transport tickets are expensive.
Another reason to hire a car in Norway is the stunning scenery. Norway's landscapes are diverse, and each region has something unique to offer. From the dramatic fjords of the west coast to the rugged mountains of the north, a car allows you to experience Norway's natural beauty up close and personal. In Norway, the destination is not always the most important thing but the journey itself.
Good to Know about Car Hire in Norway
Before you hire a car in Norway, there are a few things you must consider.
Age and License
You need to be at least 18 years old to drive in Norway, and you must have a valid driver's license from your home country. If you're visiting from a non-EU country, your local license is accepted for up to three months if it has an English or Norwegian translation. In other cases, you'll also need an International Driving Permit (IDP).
Car hire companies may ask for an extra charge if you are a young driver or older than 70. A driver whose license is less than 1 year old is most likely unable to hire a car in Norway.
Traffic in Norway is generally calm and light, with most drivers following the traffic rules. Norwegian traffic is considered to be one of the safest in the world, with rules being strictly enforced and aggressive driving being fined. The use of car horns is only allowed in emergencies, and overtaking is only permitted when necessary, safe, and visible.
During the winter season, special winter tires are mandatory, and drivers need to be prepared to drive on ice and snow.
In Nordic countries, you need to complete winter driving training in driving schools.
You should consider the type of car you need. Norway's roads can be narrow and winding, so it's best to hire a small or medium-sized car, especially if you're planning to drive in the mountains. If you're travelling with a family or a group, you may need a larger car or a van. Electric cars are common in Norway. If you are heading to rural areas, make sure there are enough charging points.
Never travel without reliable travel medical insurance because unexpected healthcare cost may become expensive. It is also wise to keep an eye on the hire car's insurance terms. Usually, there is an excess part that you are responsible for yourself. We recommend buying full-covering insurance together with the hire car. Hire car comparison sites, like Discover Cars sell insurance much cheaper than car hire companies themselves.
Norway is an expensive country, and car rental prices can be high. However, if you book in advance and compare prices on Discover Cars, you can find good deals. You should also be aware of additional costs, such as insurance, fuel, and tolls.
Full insurance may cost a few euros more but it will give you peace of mind.
Rules and Regulations
Driving in Norway is generally safe and easy, but there are a few rules and regulations you should be aware of. Firstly, you must drive on the right-hand side of the road. Secondly, you should always wear a seatbelt, and children under 135cm must use a child seat.
Norway has strict drink-driving laws, and the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.2 per mil. If you're caught driving under the influence, you could face heavy fines, imprisonment, or even deportation.
You should be aware of Norway's speed limits. In built-up areas, the limit is 50 km/h, on rural roads, it's 80 km/h, and on motorways, it's 110 km/h. However, in certain areas, such as tunnels or narrow roads, the speed limit may be lower.
It is mandatory to use headlights while driving even in the daytime.
In Norway, most public and private parking requires a parking fee, which can be paid using an app or a ticket vendor on-site. It is important to purchase a valid parking ticket before leaving the car and pay the fee even for short stays at airport parking. Three recommended parking apps are EasyPark, Apcoa, and Bil in Oslo.
Be sure your mobile phone has a SIM card for roaming to use the parking apps.
Car Rental Companies in Norway
There are several car rental companies in Norway. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Hertz: Hertz has a wide selection of cars, including luxury cars and electric cars. They have rental locations at most airports and train stations in Norway.
- Avis: Avis has a good reputation for customer service and a range of cars to choose from. They also offer one-way rentals.
- Europcar: Europcar has a large fleet of cars, including vans and trucks. They have rental locations at most airports and train stations in Norway.
- Sixt: Sixt is a German car rental company that has a presence in Norway. They offer a range of cars, including luxury cars and sports cars.
Even though everyone knows the brands mentioned above, our advice is to ignore the company name but read reviews. On Discover Cars you will find global companies but also local ones. The most important thing to confirm is the reputation of the company by reading reviews from previous customers. A car hire company with a low rating is not a recommended choice but prepare to pay a little more to get better service.
The Best Season to Hire a Car in Norway
Norway's weather can be unpredictable, and the best time to hire a car depends on what you want to see and do. The summer months (June to August) are the most popular time to visit Norway, and the roads can be busy. However, the weather is mild, and you can experience the famous midnight sun.
If you're interested in winter activities such as skiing or snowmobiling, you should hire a car during the winter months (December to March). The roads can be more difficult to drive, especially in the mountains, so it's important to hire a car with winter tires and be prepared for snowy conditions.
If you're looking for a quieter time to visit Norway, you should consider hiring a car during the shoulder seasons (April to May or September to October). The weather can be unpredictable, but the crowds are smaller, and you can experience Norway's natural beauty without the crowds.
Tips for Driving in Norway
Driving in Norway can be a unique experience, especially for those used to driving on the other side of the road. Here are some tips that will help you drive in Norway with confidence:
- Familiarize yourself with the roads and the driving rules before you start your journey.
- Check the weather forecast and road conditions before you set out. Make sure that your car has suitable tyres for winter conditions.
- Always carry a map, a GPS, or a navigation app, as Norway's roads can be confusing. Google Maps on a phone does well.
- Watch out for wildlife on the roads, especially in rural areas. Reindeer on the roads are not uncommon.
- Be prepared for toll roads, especially if you're driving in the south of Norway.
- Take regular breaks, especially if you're driving long distances.
- Do not run out of fuel or electricity.
Places to Visit in Norway by Car
Norway is full of stunning landscapes and natural wonders that can be best explored by car. Here are a few suggestions for what you could see by a car:
The Atlantic Road: This scenic road connects the islands of Averoy and Eide in western Norway. It's known for its stunning bridges and panoramic views of the Norwegian Sea.
Trollstigen: This winding mountain road in western Norway is famous for its hairpin bends and breathtaking views of the mountains.
Geirangerfjord: This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most beautiful fjords in Norway. The road that leads to Geiranger offers spectacular views of the fjord and the surrounding mountains.
Lofoten Islands: This archipelago in northern Norway is known for its dramatic scenery and picturesque fishing villages. The road that connects the islands offers stunning views of the mountains and the sea. Prepare enough time because the average driving speed will be low.
You can't see everything on a single trip but we advise you to select one to two destinations only. Why not start from north Norway in the summer?
Our Driving Experience in Norway
A few years ago, we drove from Helsinki to Tromso. Normally we hire a car abroad, but this time we arrived with our car from Finland. That was the most practical solution because we also wanted to explore Finnish Lapland.
We crossed the Finland-Norway border at Kilpisjärvi and continued down to the Arctic Sea and further to Tromso. We noticed that the traffic culture in Norway was similar to Finland but speed limits were surprisingly high on mountain roads. People were driving carefully and following the traffic rules. We didn't see many policemen but there were many automated speed radars. The fines will follow you home so it is necessary to avoid overspeeding.
Roads in Norway are in good condition but sometimes narrow. Even though there are many mountain roads In Norway, they have good surfaces and are not too difficult to drive. Based on our experiences, we think Norway is one of the nicest places to drive yourself: the traffic is calm and the scenery is fabulous. If you survive driving elsewhere in Europe, you will survive in Norway too. Only if you are not used to mountain driving, we advise keeping speed low.
Recommendation - Sommarøy
We recommend driving to Sommarøy, like we did, which has white sandy beaches. You feel like being in the tropics but the only difference is that the Arctic Sea is cold. In summer, you can still dip yourself into the water under the sunshine. A visit to Sommaroy is good to combine with a trip to Tromso.
Sommarøy is not only beaches but has fabulous scenery, cosy cafes and nice restaurants. In summer, the weather is unpredictable, but on sunny days, it is warm enough. Sommarøy is a summer destination where you can unwind in beautiful scenery without crowds.
Hiring a car in Norway is one of the best ways to experience the country's natural beauty. With the freedom and flexibility a hire car provides, you can explore Norway's stunning landscapes at your own pace and in your own time. Just remember to familiarize yourself with the driving rules and regulations, choose the right car for your needs, and plan your route carefully. With these tips and tricks, you can confidently hit the road in Norway and be ready to make unforgettable memories.
Hiring the right car with the right insurance is an important decision. Take your time to compare hire car options not to regret them later. Read the car rental terms well and understand your responsibility. Use only companies with a good reputation. Ensure before travelling that you have reliable travel medical insurance in case of an untoward incident abroad. Having good preparation and following these tips, your car hiring and driving experience in Norway will be smooth.
Have you driven in Norway? Comment your best driving tips below.
About the Author
Ceasar, an immigrant in Finland, co-founded Finnoy Travel out of his passion for exploring new horizons. His content primarily centres around immigration, travel, and life in Finland. An avid road tripper, Ceasar also shares insider tips on car driving abroad.
When not embarking on adventures, he meticulously proofreads every article before it gets published on the Finnoy Travel site. His responsibilities also extend to managing the social media channels of Finnoy Travel.