Tips for your Norway road trip
When we started researching for our Norway road trip, a lot of things were unclear to us. How much does a road trip through Norway cost, how long do you really drive from A to B and which route should we drive at all? And is it really raining so much?
Many questions were in our minds:
- Where and how do you spend the night in Norway?
- Camping or AirBnB?
- Do we fly or drive by car?
- How fast can you drive a car?
- Which ferry to take to Norway?
- Are food really that expensive?
- And is it actually raining so much?
Our travel route in Norway
Our experiences and the itinerary of our road trip are described in a separate article: Our 2 week road trip through the south of norway
Should we take the plane or our own car to go to Norway?
Actually we had thought of going by plane and getting a rental car. But car rental prices of at least 1000 € for 14 days for a normal golf have deterred us then. That’s why we traveled with our own car. The huge advantage of this solution: You can take a lot of things with you! And we did that. The disadvantage: Of course, you can not go to the far north. The Lofoten were no longer in. From Bergen that would be 3 days trips again! That’s just too much for a 14-day vacation.
With the car we drove about 2500 km in Norway itself and again each 1000 km for the arrival and departure. So a total of 4500 km.
The routes in Norway are usually longer than you would expect. 100km there are not comparable with 100km here. It takes about twice as long as in Germany. But you will be rewarded with an excellent view throughout the trip. Driving there is much less stressful because there is much less traffic. Beforehand we read a lot that there are not that much gas stations, but we have often seen them.
Our tip: By car you have a longer journey, but can take a lot more stuff with you, which can be especially useful to save money. But if you want to go to Lofoten you will not be able to get around a plane.
The puke ferry
On the way to Norway we drove by car to Hirtshals in Denmark and took the ferry from there to Kristiansand. We had expected a quiet and relaxed ferry ride after a leisurely 9-hour drive. But the ferry ride was far from expectation: After about half an hour an announcement was made by the captain. The weather was stormy and we would therefore take a detour. And then it started…At first only slightly and then more and more the ship began to waver .. up and down and again. Additionally everything smelled like fuel and waste gas.
And then it slowly started .. People around us started to vomit. Only a few, then more and more. The staff could not wait to distribute baggage and wipe the floor. We felt like in a bad zombie movie! We just thought the sea would be calmer when the boat started to jump. And one of us could not keep it up. But we do not reveal who!
After 3 hours, this odyssey finally came to an end and we were happy to have solid ground under our feet again.
We do not know exactly if it was the weather (it was really stormed and rained heavily) or the ferry company (Fjordline). At least we were glad that on the return trip we would have a different route (Larvik-Hirtshals) a different ferry operator (Fjordline). And thankfully, the fear of experiencing the same horror on the return trip has not been confirmed. It may have been the better weather, but the return journey with Colorline was absolutely quiet and relaxed.
Our tip: Take Colorline instead of Fjordline. For the price it makes no difference, but for your well-being.
Bring your own food or buy locally?
What we have heard beforehand food and actually everything is quite expensive in Norway. So, the question has come up, what do we take with us and what do we buy locally. In the end, we had the trunk full of water, apple juice, rice, pasta, fried potatoes and other foods that are durable and easy to transport.
So we did not have to buy anything locally! Okay, from time to time we bought fresh bread, eggs and cheese in the supermarket. Even though we had no cooler in the car (especially for reasons of space) all the food stayed fresh. That was possible because we could actually put the fresh stuff in the fridge every night in our cabin.
Read more in the next section.
The food in the supermarkets were not as expensive as expected. The most things were up to 30-50% more expensive compared to german prices. So a bread costs about 4-6 euros in the supermarket. Cheese also costs around 4 euros. But there was also quite cheap food. So we bought a package of spinach for 1 Euro. Cheap supermarkets are e.g. Bema 1000 or Coop.
Our tip: Try to bring as much food as possible (food, water, beer, etc.). Since we had planned to camp much more we also packed a camping stove and a lot of gas cartridges. So you can prepare a hot meal on the way.
Where do you spend the night on a tour in Norway?
We thought a lot about the accommodations in norway beforehand … Always stay at the hotel? Quite expensive. AirBnB? Not much cheaper either. Always in the tent? In the long run, this also affects the bones. Maybe in the car? Oh God!
But what else is there? We did not know it.
We had decided to stay in AirBnBs and tents. Always alternating, on the one hand to save money and on the other hand to have a shower and an actual bed at least every second night. We are anything but passionate campers!
Theoretically, it is possible to camp everywhere. In almost all Scandinavian countries, it is possible to camp almost anywhere in the wild. We wanted to use that, and always looked for beautiful places to camp on our journey. We did that on our trip … exactly 0 times!
Rustic cabins in the campsite
On the second day we noticed, that there are a lot of campsites in Norway (actually every few kilometers). With a short internet research, we found out that almost every campsite also leases simple wooden cabins, which are equipped with everything you need (except a toilet) and with a price of 500-700 NOK (55-80 €) are also quite affordable. And the best of all, you never have to book in advance (although it may be advisable in popular places).
So it happened that we actually spent every day in a (more or less chic) wooden hut. The comfort varies a lot. Most wooden cabins are equipped with reasonably good kitchen equipment: we always had 2 hotplates in our cabin. Pots, plates and cutlery were mostly, but not always available. And not infrequently the equipment was so dirty, that we preferred to cook with our own camping tableware.
Then of course there are beds in the huts, which are mostly bunk beds. Of course this is not so nice when you are used to sleeping next to each other as a couple. Only very rarely we had a double bed. Hereby we come to the most important tip in terms of overnight accommodation: Bring your own bed linen! One per person!
So there are almost always blankets and pillows, but never bedding. Sometimes you can borrow the sheets (for a fee), but to save money, you should rather take it from home.
Overall, the facilities and comfort of the cabins was very variable, which was independent of the price. Sometimes we had new furniture and mattresses, but occasionally also very old furniture and moldy mattresses with strange stains. In such cases, we had put our camping blanket under the bed sheet for reasons of hygiene.
Our tip: Use the cabins on the campsites if you want to be comfortable. And do not forget bedding and camping utensils.
How fast can you drive in Norway?
I did not believe it at the beginning, but the normal speed limit that applies to most of the out-of-town routes is 80 km / h! Not only does it feel slow, it is slow! There are no highways. At least highway-like expressways we have seen around Oslo. And there was even a speed limit of 120 km / h.
By the way, we rarely saw speed cameras. Especially in and around towns. Actually, never in the wild. Instead, there are toll bridges everywhere.
Our tip: Driving too fast is very, very expensive. So stick to the limits. But do not be afraid of too many speed cameras.
Do you have to pay toll in Norway?
On many parts of the roads in Norway you have to pay toll. It is always indicated by a sign a few hundred meters before, but usually you have no choice anyway (except to reverse). At the toll bridge you will be photographed automatically, but you will notice nothing. Actually, you would have to pay the tolls at kiosks or supermarkets, or create a credit there. Alternatively, you can do that from online from Germany. We decided to do it the easiest way and did not do anything. And so far, we did not get a bill or anything like that.
Update March 2018: After about 6 months an invoice arrived (from England from EPC plc – Euro Parking Collection). But this was no more expensive than what we would have to pay locally. Overall, we had to pay about € 83.
Our tip: Do not pay the toll in advance or on the spot. Just wait until the bill arrives at home.
What’s the weather like in Norway?
In September, when we were there, it rains statistically every other day. Norway is generally one of the rainiest countries … but we had a lot of luck.
Although it is one of the rainiest countries and was supposed to rain every other day in September, when we were there, we had a lot of luck. Until 2-3 days it was dry, sunny and warm. Nevertheless, the weather can change quite fast. It is therefore worth taking a look at the (really good) local weather site www.yr.no.
Our tip: In addition to the obligatory rain gear, waterproof rain ponchos are worth gold (why, you read our article on Kjeragbolten). Which rain poncho we recommend you can read in our Norway packing list.
All tips summarized:
- Drive to Norway. You are much more flexible.
- Do not take the puke ferry (Fjordline)
- Bring food and drinks from home
- Stay in wooden cabins on campsites
- Do not forget your bed linen and camping utensils
- Do not drive too fast
- Toll payment in advance is not necessary.