Road on green island

June 30th, 2022

Driving in Norway

June 30th, 2022

Written by

Danny Dodd working at Up Norway

Danny Dodd

Travel Curator

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Man overlooking the Geiranger Fjord

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Let Norway’s roads amaze and inspire

Mountains, fjords and fragmented coastlines are some of our greatest natural assets, however, when travelling by car they can present a potential challenge to the unprepared driver. Ferry timetables, mountain passes and tunnels several kilometres long are all part of driving across Norway, and knowing how to navigate confidently can turn a drive into the roadtrip of a lifetime.

We recommend you read through this article before you commence on your Up Norway journey, then rest assured that you can find the information you need to effortlessly cruise the roads of Norway like an Insider.

Overview of the Atlantic Road
Summer ferry at Knutholmen

Driving the coastal reaches

After millions of years of ice and storm, the Norwegian coastline is cracked and shattered and coastal roads often come to an abrupt halt before a body of deep water. This means that ferries are essential to getting around if you’re travelling near the coast. These unsung heroes of the Norwegian transport network serve and support the local communities.

Okay, so you may have to occasionally wait for one, however, the ferry points are great places to stop, stretch your legs and take in the fresh sea air. Not to mention the ferry rides themselves; some of these are so stunning that they are essentially a fjord cruise, as well as perfect opportunities to try a traditional svele with brown cheese along with your coffee.

Vardø (Photo: Arctic Street Art on Scenic Route Varanger)

Ferge - Hurtigbåt - Hurtigruten - Havila

There are two types of boat transport - ‘ferge’ which is a ferry that carries vehicles and a ‘hurtigbåt’ which is an express passenger ferry, without space for vehicles. To get variation from being on the road, coastal voyagers Hurtigruten and Havila can also be used to get from port to port; drive onboard, enjoy dinner, go to sleep and wake up at your next destination.

Ferry fjord transfer in Western Norway
Norwegian Scenic Route Andøya

Norwegian Scenic Routes

Okay, so you’re cruising along to your next destination, discussing the activities of the previous day and you see a brown sign with an intricate white shape on it. Brace yourselves – you’re in for a treat! This is one of the Norwegian Scenic Routes.

There are 18 of them strewn across the country and they offer some of the most beautiful scenery that can be seen through a windscreen. They aren’t only picturesque, they also boast unique architecture, some of the world’s most fascinating toilets and also great rest stops where you can sit down and enjoy your 'matpakke' (Norwegian style packed lunch) like a true Norwegian.

Seasonal roads

A factor that can catch the unaware adventurer off-guard is mountain roads. Many of the roads at higher altitudes are closed during the winter months and occasionally during spring and autumn. This particularly affects roads such as Scenic Route Sognefjellet and The Sunnmøre Alps including the famous Trollstigen pass. Searching for the route months in advance can often lead to inaccurate information so if in doubt; ask us. We will aim to ensure that the route you’re taking is not only open, but also safe and scenic. You will find more information about the Scenic Routes you will be travelling on in your digital itinerary.

Norwegian Scenic Route Sognefjellet in Winter

Artscape Nordland

If you are a traveller through Nordland county - where both Norway's arctic circle region Helgeland and the Lofoten islands are located - your drive can practically be perceived as a drive-through art exhibition if you know where to look.

Artscape Nordland is an international collection of 36 pieces of artwork made by artists from 18 different countries. In this area, slow and curious travellers can add a new artistic dimension to their journey.

National Scenic Route Lofoten with art piece from Dan Graham
Ordering food at Cafe Lokstallen

Stopping for food

Like in most countries, there are petrol stations and rest stops that punctuate Norwegian roads at regular intervals and offer a place to grab a coffee and something to eat. Norway is quite forward-thinking in terms of the food it offers and most now offer pescetarian, vegetarian and even vegan options. There are also dozens of ‘veikro’ which are restaurants that sit on the side of the road meaning that if you are fancying something more substantial - this is often also possible. Note that these often vary in quality, so rest assured; if there are any places we think you definitely should stop at along your particular route - we will already have offered to book a table or put in a recommendation in your digital travel guide.

Driving motorbikes on the Norwegian Scenic Route

Keeping an eye out for the rooster 'Hanen'

Another sign to keep an eye out for along your journey is a rather proud-looking rooster - it is a sign that you’re approaching one of Norway’s ‘rural pearls’. Hanen - which is ‘The Rooster’ in Norwegian, is essentially an accreditation awarded to rural businesses delivering local produce, most of them to a high standard. You may explore farm shops that include home-made preserves, ciders and cheeses, hand-made products and even sometimes serving great food using family recipes. If you're interested, let us know and we will enlighten you about opening hours and get the hosts ready for your arrival where opening hours are limited.

Hanen Sign
Hiking Preikestolen in Norway

Green road trips

Our resolve to make Norway the most sustainable travel destination on the planet is always top of mind. If at this point you might rightly point out that historically, car journeys and sustainability do not go hand in hand, you’d be right.

But bear in mind, travelling off the beaten track is often only possible by car, and accessing remote communities and supporting them through purchasing local services and products, is exactly what keeps these communities alive. We are strong believers in protection of our natural and cultural resources through sensible use, and will always recommend you visit partners who share the same values and represent a good force in their respective communities.