The roads of Norway
Find out everything you need to know before driving in Norway - the country of mountains, high fines, low speed limits and dangerous but beautiful roads.
Driving through the curvy icy roads during the winter months can be a hazardous and beautiful experience. The scenery revealed in front of your eyes will easily take your breath away. It is simply impossible not to stop every 5 km, to take pictures of the countless mountains, valleys, and peaks, all part of an even bigger picture- the kilometers of snow deserts. You will often find yourself alone on the road as you don’t see that many vehicles. Most of our days on the street, we pass some cars. What is better than a road trip having the whole road only for yourself?
The speed limits in Norway are lower than in other countries, especially compared to the highways of Germany. Most of the Norwegian roads have a limit of 80km/h, which is considered a high-speed road. The maximum is 110km/h (motor roads with two lanes, Class A). We did not drive on many roads with such a limit, so double check before speeding too much. In contrast, Norway has the strictest driving fines in Europe. The Norwegian government takes speeding very seriously, and the penalties are higher than in other countries. For very high speeding, for example, in a residential area, you can even lose your driving license for a few months up to 3 years or even go to jail. Norwegians respect the driving rules strictly and do not comply with violations. There aren’t as many speeding cameras in Norway, but Norwegians have another way to fine those not following the rules. Civilian cars with camera-speeding devices are a widespread practice. It is pretty tricky as one can’t really recognize them compared to just a standard private car. Even with such a strict system, we drove on many roads with not as many speed limit signs. As we used navigation (google maps), we checked the speed limit there.
Here is the general rule for speed limits:
Residential areas – 30km/h
Other built-up areas – 50km/h
Rural roads – 80km/h
Motorways – 110km/h
Drinking and driving is not a thing to do in Norway. The alcohol maximum is 0.02 (with most countries in Europe 0.05). It is essential to respect the rules if you don’t have a few hundred euros spare. Any violation, even overtaking at the wrong place (crossing a double lane), can cost you a lot of money and even your driving license.
Norway has many road tolls everywhere around the country. The roads are very well made, so paying road taxes makes complete sense while driving on a perfect road. Along the way, you can see many constructions and reconstructions of the road to make everything better, sometimes bigger or to prevent jams. The toll stations have a camera that takes a picture from the front of your vehicle. If you are renting a car in Norway, the rental agency will take care of everything, and you will have to pay the toll taxes to them. As we bought our beloved van (aka house on wheels) in Norway and we have Norwegian documents, plates etc, we did not have to do any additional regarding the taxes.
If you are coming to Norway with a foreign vehicle, I will tell you everything you need to know. You have few options:
1. You can register your vehicle on epass24.com, the body responsible for tolls.
For a better and more correct rate, it is better to register your vehicle
2. More about the tolls, pricing, step by step guide, and for any further
information, please check https://www.autopass.no/en/user/foreign-vehicles/
3. If you don’t want to register your vehicle, an invoice will be sent to the
registered address of the vehicle’s owner. Simple as that.
Norway has impressive roads. Not many of them are big highways. Even close to bigger populated areas, some streets can be very narrow. Moreover, it is not only cars that you will meet on the road but also big delivery trucks. Be aware that you might need to slow down quickly, stop, or drive backward for other vehicles to pass.
We all know the struggle of finding a parking spot in most major cities, right? Well, you won’t have to worry about this in Norway. Even though you will have to pay for your parking place, the Norwegian cities have it pretty easy when it comes to it. You will see P-husets, closed parking buildings with a very easy paying system, or even automats. If you aren’t driving your own car but a rented one, you have nothing to worry about when parking there, the car rental agency will take the parking fee from your account. If that’s not the case and you are with your own vehicle, for easy payments, simply download the EasyPark app, which operates all over the country. If you decide to park on the street, the situation is slightly different. Everything depends on the sign standing close by the parking spot. After the hours written on it, you can park for free. However, if you are there during those hours, you need to check how long you can be parked there ( it varies from area to area and depends on the cities). Also, make sure if the given time is free or you have to pay a parking fee. If it is the second case, you will find a parking machine close by. Whether the car is a rental or your own, it is your responsibility to take care of the parking fee when parking on the street.
Road trips in Norway should be definitely on your To-Do list, especially if you are a fan of the mountain scenery in combination with the smell of the ocean. While driving through the Norwegian roads, sometimes you might need a ferry to cross the fjords. It is super simple! The route will stop, with no option to drive anywhere, and there will be the ferry slip (fergekai). It is very common to use car ferries in Norway, they are like public transport. We had to use them many times during our stay in the country. The views are more than amazing. If it is too windy outside and you would prefer not to sit in your car, you can enjoy the magnificent views surrounding you from the ferry lounge. Most of them are even equipped with a coffee bar from which you can buy food and beverages.
I like to refer to Norway as the country of mountains. Due to the many mountains, Norway is also a country of tunnels. You will pass all sizes of tunnels on the road from a few meters up to 25 km. Two of them are a connecting way from Oslo to Bergen or Stavanger. For the very long tunnels, expect to pay a toll tax. In fact, the longest car tunnel in the world is situated in Norway. The already mentioned one connecting Oslo and Bergen is the Lærdal tunnel.
Winter driving (snow blizzards season)
The beauty surrounding the roads can be distracting, making the roads even more dangerous. Very often, the roads are covered with the so-called black ice. This means that there is just a very thin coat of ice on top of the asphalt, getting in all the small holes, making it perfect for sliding and terrible for driving.
Apart from the icy roads, all drivers should be aware of the sometimes happening avalanches and ice falling from the rocks. Not only that but have you even had a proper winter experience if you weren’t caught in a snow blizzard?
Luckily people here are somehow used to this and even used to it, the Norwegians take those situations with considerable caution. Most of the time, there will be a slow convoy with a leading car to guarantee the safety of everyone. If that’s not the case, everybody drives with no more than 30 km/h with the emergency lights on, so cars front and back can be aware as the visibility can be very little, not more than a few meters. As scary as it sounds, the Norwegians are used to the winter roads, and there is nothing you should be worried about. Just enjoy the picturesque roads with caution.
Due to the severe weather conditions during the winters in Norway, some roads may be closed. Sometimes you cannot drive through for an hour, other times for a day. Snowplows help with keeping the streets, surrounding bigger cities, open all year round. However, some of the Norwegian Scenic routes and mountain passes can be closed. In case of doubt, better double-check here to be sure which roads are closed and when they will reopen.
Animals on the road
On the way, you will pass through many animal crossing warning signs. Norway has a beautiful and relatively wild nature. On the road, you should always be aware of crossing animals. Sometimes alone, other times in groups. On our trips, we constantly see deers and bunnies. We haven’t spotted any of the elks or mooses, but the signs on the streets continuously warn us to be aware of them passing by. Mainly you can spot them at dusk and dawn.
Roundabouts & traffic lights
Norway has excellent infrastructure and an easy way to fight traffic. Out of the bigger cities, the country has many roundabouts. Not all the big cities rely on traffic lights. For example, in Haugesund, a relatively big city in Norway, you will cross only one traffic light. The busy big cities have many of them but don't expect to wait at a red signal if you drive in any other part of Norway. The roundabouts all around the country make the traffic and driving way easier.
Lights on at all times
Even in the middle of a sunny summer day, dipped headlights are mandatory at all times.
In case of an accident
In case of a breakdown or an accident in your vehicle you should have a warning triangle and at least one high-visibility vest. Emergency telephones can be found on mountain stretches and in tunnels. For 24 hour salvage or technical assistance, three of the largest roadside assistance companies in Norway are:
NAF: (+47) 23 21 31 00
Falck: (+47) 02 222
Viking: (+47) 06 000