Transportation - Get In
Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (IATA: OSL) is the biggest airport in Norway and the main international hub, at Gardermoen 60 km north of Oslo. The airport is served by many major international and all domestic airlines.
The airport has scheduled flights to around 100 destinations abroad and 24 destinations in Norway. From the United Kingdom there are direct services to Oslo Gardermoen from:
- London Heathrow (Scandinavian Airlines and British Airways)
- London Gatwick (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
- Birmingham (Flybe)
- Manchester (Scandinavian Airlines)
- Edinburgh (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
- Aberdeen (Eastern Airways)
- Dublin (Scandinavian Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle)
From the United States:
- Boston, MA (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
- Fort Lauderdale, FL (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
- Las Vegas, NV (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
- Los Angeles, CA (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
- Newark, NJ (United, Scandinavian Airlines)
- New York JFK, NY (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
- Oakland, CA (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
- Orlando, FL (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
From Australia and New Zealand, the quickest connection is via Bangkok, Doha or Dubai. Thai Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle fly non-stop from Oslo to Bangkok. Both Qatar Airways and Emirates fly daily from Doha and Dubai respectively, with connections from several destinations in Asia and Oceania
Sandefjord Airport, Torp (IATA: TRF) is located just north of Sandefjord, 115 km to the south of Oslo, and is Ryanair's destination airport in Oslo. Ryanair now operate another service, from London Stansted to Haugesund on the west coast.
Sandefjord Airport Torp has scheduled flights to 14 destinations in Europe and 3 destinations in Norway.
From the United Kingdom there are direct services from:
- London Stansted (Ryanair)
- Birmingham (Ryanair)
- Liverpool (Ryanair)
- Glasgow Prestwick (Ryanair)
- Edinburgh (Ryanair)
- Dublin (Ryanair)
Moss Airport, Rygge (IATA: RYG) is located just outside Moss and approx. 60 km south of Oslo. Moss Airport Rygge has scheduled flights to/from approx 15 European cities and 3 domestic destinations.
Airlines operating at Moss Airport, Rygge:
Stavanger Airport, Sola (IATA: SVG) has scheduled flights to/from London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Kraków, Madrid, Nice and some other European cities.
From the United Kingdom there are direct flights from:
- London Heathrow (Scandinavian Airlines and BMI)
- London Gatwick (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
- Newcastle (Eastern Airways, Widerøe)
- Aberbeen (Scandinavian Airlines, Eastern Airways and Widerøe)
From the United States there are direct flights from:
- Houston, TX (Scandinavian Airlines)
Bergen Airport, Flesland (IATA: BGO) has scheduled flights to/from major European cities as London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Prague, Warsaw and other cities.
Apart from to previously mentioned airports there are domestic flights to Trondheim and Tromsø.
From the United Kingdom there are direct flights from:
- London Gatwick (Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian)
- Newcastle (Easter Airways)
- Edinburgh (Widerøe)
- Aberdeen (Eastern Airways and Widerøe)
- Kirkwall (Flybe)
From the United States there are seasonal direct flights from:
- New York JFK, NY (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
Trondheim Airport, Værnes (IATA: TRD) can be reached by direct flights from several European cities, notably Amsterdam, London and Copenhagen.
From the United Kingdom there are direct flights from London Gatwick with Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Tromsø Airport (IATA: TOS) has direct flights from London Gatwick with Norwegian Air Shuttle twice every week. Nordavia Regional Airlines also operates a flight between Tromsø and Murmansk in Russia.
There are trains from Sweden to Oslo, Trondheim and Narvik, with onwards inland connections.
For Oslo, daily service from Stockholm and Gothenburg. There are local services from Karlstad as well.
For Trondheim, the Nabotåget service from Östersund corresponds with one day and one night service from Stockholm, as well as the train from Sundsvall.
For Narvik, two trains run daily from Stockholm via Kiruna. Both are overnight.
Several international bus lines run into Oslo from Sweden, the major operators being Eurolines, Swebus Express and Säfflebussen. Service to Gothenburg and Copenhagen is almost hourly. The service to Stockholm is also far more frequent than the train. Lavprisekspressen has cheap bus tickets between the large cities in Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
The minibus service between Kirkenes and Murmansk run three times per day. Contact Grenseland/Sovjetreiser (yes, they are actually still called that!) in Kirkenes for booking.
Other coach lines exist between Sweden and Bodø and Mo i Rana, as well as between Denmark and Stavanger.
It is possible to enter by road from Sweden, Finland, or Russia. Major roads to Norway include European route E6 which runs through Malmö, Helsingborg and Göteborg in Sweden before crossing the border at Svinesund in the south-east of Norway, E8 which runs through Turku, Vaasa and Oulu in Finland before crossing the border at Kilpisjärvi. There is an enormous number of possible routes and border crossings, but keep in mind that the road standards vary, there are few motorways and that speed limits are low (generally 80km/h). Ferries from Denmark and Kiel (Germany) also takes cars (see boat section), and is a way to avoid long transport legs.
- From Russia: European route 105 (E105) enters from Russia at Storskog border crossing 15 km east of Kirkenes. This is the only overland crossing between Norway and Russia. Crossing by vehicle only, no pedestrians (as of 2015). A legal loophole has allowed border crossing on bicycle without passport check; the legal status of this crossing is however uncertain.
DFDS operates a cargo line from Ghent to Brevik with limited passenger capacity which is normally for truck drivers. There are departures once or twice a week. Note that the ferry may be scheduled to arrive at Brevik in the middle of the night.
Color Line runs a daily ferry from Kiel to Oslo. The ferry leaves Kiel at 13:30 and arrives in Oslo at 09:30, the following day. The ferry terminal in Kiel is on Norwegenkai, which is a short walk across the bridge from Kiel's main railway station (note that the bridge may at times be closed for pedestrians due to ship traffic). At the Oslo end of the journey, the terminal is located at Hjortneskai, which is just west of the city. There is a bus from the terminal to the city centre, which departs shortly after passengers disembark.
Several companies run from various harbours in Denmark (Frederikshavn, Hirtshals, Copenhagen) to various Norwegian harbours (Oslo, Larvik, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen).
- Color Line traffic from Hirtshals to Kristiansand and Larvik.
- Stena Line from Frederikshavn to Oslo.
- Fjord Line traffic from Hirtshals to Langesund, Stavanger and Bergen (Seasonal to Kristiansand).
- DFDS Seaways traffic from Copenhagen to Oslo.
There are no ferry routes to the UK from Norway any more, although DFDS Seaways have been to known to allow passengers on their freight service from Immingham to Brevik.
Thompson Cruise ships operate from Harwich and visit Flåm, Bergen, Molde, Hammerfest, Nordkapp, Tromsø, Lofoten Islands, Geiranger and Ålesund in Norway. The duration of the cruise varies from 5 days up to 2 weeks. Sailing time from Harwich to south Norway is 1.5 days. On board the cruise ship are a number of restaurants, bars, casinos, cinemas and also a stage show to keep you entertained during the journey. There are various classes of cabins available, ranging from shared rooms to singles, doubles and luxury suites.
From Shetland, Faeroe Islands and Iceland
Smyril Line used to operate a once-weekly service to Bergen. This service now only operates Denmark-Shetland-Faroe Islands-Iceland.
Transportation - Get Around
Norway is a wide country with some very difficult terrain so getting around, particularly up north, is expensive and time-consuming. Because of difficult terrain in large parts of the country, navigation is largely related to landscape features such as valleys, lakes, fjords and islands rather than to towns. Norway is sparsely populated compared to continental Europe; visitors should not expect that every name on the map is served by frequent public transport or offers commercial services such as taxi, cafés and hotels – it may not be a town or settlement at all. The best way to see the Norwegian wilderness and countryside is by having access to your own vehicle. This way you can stop wherever you want, admire the view and venture onto smaller roads.
Air travel is the most convenient method to get from town to town especially in northern Norway, where towns and cities are fewer and further between. Unfortunately, it is also in these areas where ticket prices can be most expensive. Planes between the small airports are small, and they generally have several intermediate stops along the route to embark and disembark passengers.
Flights in southern Norway are cheaper than in northern Norway, and even though this area has better roads and rail, planes are generally faster than taking the train or bus. There are however no air routes between the cities within 200 km from Oslo, use the train or bus for this kind of travel.
If you plan to fly to the many smaller towns in Northern or Western Norway you should consider Widerøe's Explore Norway ticket (unlimited air travel for 14 days in summer for less than a full price return ticket).
The Norwegian State Railways (NSB) operates all railways. Norway's rail network basically connects Oslo to other major cities, there are no rail lines North to South in West Norway between Stavanger and Trondheim, and there are no rail lines North-South in North Norway north of Bodø. These main lines run several times a day:
- Oslo–Kristiansand–Stavanger (runs inland from Drammen to Kristiansand, connections to Arendal)
- Oslo–Skien (serving coastal towns southwest of Oslo)
- Oslo–Bergen (across the mountains via Finse, connections to Flåm)
- Oslo–Trondheim (Dovrebanen, through Lillehammer, connections to Åndalsnes at Dombås)
- Trondheim–Bodø (through Trondheim airport, connections to Sweden)
Trains are generally well-maintained and comfortable.
You can buy a Norwegian Rail Pass or the equivalent InterRail One Country Pass to travel cheap by train through Norway. If your itinerary is fixed and you don't have too many destinations, it might be cheaper to buy 'Minipris' tickets online. If you book well in advance, you can get one-way tickets for as little as NOK199. When buying online, you can choose ticket delivery at the station or at the train, the latter means you only need to know your seat number, the train steward has your ticket. Their website sometimes does not work for people outside of Norway. In that case you can call their call centre, but be sure to mention that you tried on the website first. Phone reservations normally incur a NOK50 fee per train ticket bought. NSB has a phone app for buying tickets, but as of 2016, a Norwegian cell phone number is needed for it.
For long-distance trains and night trains, seat reservation is mandatory, but usually can be done on short notice, e.g., at a train station, since the trains are rarely fully booked. Generally, the trains are most crowded at the beginning and end of the weekend, i.e. Friday and Sunday evening. Shortly before and at the end of major holidays like Christmas/New Year and Easter, trains are usually very busy. If you try booking for these days at a late time, you may find all the cheap tickets sold out. Furthermore, the seat you reserve may be among the least desirable, that is, facing backwards, without recline, and facing towards and sharing the legroom with other passengers.
Night trains operate Oslo - Bergen, Kristiansand, Bergen, Trondheim and Bodø. With a regular ticket, you will get an ordinary seat, blanket and earplugs. Sleeping compartments are available for an extra of NOK750. If you choose to order sleeping compartment, you pay for the compartment, not the bed: 2 people, same price. This also means that you will never have a stranger in your compartment.
For NOK90 you can upgrade any regular train ticket to NSB Komfort, the equivalent of first class, which means a little more room for your legs, free coffee, papers and a power socket. Usually the NSB Komfort coach is either the first or the last coach in the train, resulting in much less through traffic and a quieter environment.
The regular night train seats have a power plug, too. In some trains there is even free Internet access via Wi-Fi; one just needs to register (giving any 8-digit number as 'phone number').
Unlike much of Continental Europe, Norway does not have a high speed rail system, except for the route between Oslo and its airport. Attempts at implementing high speed trains are underway, but have failed so far. Therefore, a journey between the two largest cities, Bergen and Oslo, takes as much as six and a half to seven and a half hours.
In eastern Norway, where cities are closer together, there are several people who make a daily commute, and hence many of these cities have more frequent train service with hourly departures much of the day. This includes the cities in the counties of Østfold, Vestfold as well as Gjøvik, Hamar and Lillehammer. In general, these trains do not have seating reservations available, but it is still possible to upgrade to NSB Komfort.
If you get even closer to Oslo, there are local trains which may have departures as often as every 30 minutes. Local trains never have seating reservations, nor do they have a first class section. Local trains also operate between Bergen and Voss (sometimes to Myrdal), Stavanger and Egersund and around Trondheim.
Car ferries is an integral part of the road network in coastal and fjord regions. The road in principle continues onto the ferry such that for instance Fodnes-Mannheller ferry is part of national route 5. Prices and time vary with the length of the crossing and amount of traffic, call 177 for more information or check nearby camping sites for information booklets and timetables. Ferries often have information about other ferries in the region and other ferries along the same road. On the main roads ferries are frequent during daytime, typically every half hour. Reservations are usually not needed, drive to the ferry quay and wait in line until the ferry docks. Car ferries also take foot passengers. On main roads tourists typically do not have to worry about timetables as there are frequent departures. Note however that most ferries do not run after midnight or they run only every second hour on main crossings. Norwegians refer to car ferries as "ferje" or "ferge". Vessels that only take foot passengers are refered to as "båt" (boat). To avoid confusion, visitors should use the term ferry only for car ferries.
Stretches with lots of ferries are desirable when bicycling, as the ferries are cheap for bicyclists and offer an often well-deserved break with a great view. Except for some of the shortest crossings (10 min), ferries typically have cafeterias serving coffee, cold beverages, sandwiches and some hot food. Due to numerous deep fjords and islands, driving in West Norway and Northern Norway as a rule (with few exceptions) involves ferries. Although car ferries are very reliable and operate with spare capacity, tourists should allow plenty of time on stretches including ferries. Note that ferries on unusually long crossings (several hours) or ferries crossing open stretches of sea are more frequently delayed or cancelled.
In regions with lots of fjords and islands, particularly along all the coast from Stavanger to Tromsø, an extensive network of catamaran express passenger boats ("hurtigbåt") shuttle between towns and cities, and connect islands otherwise accessible only with difficulty. Note that there is no general network of boats connecting every village along fjords and coast, transfer by bus or car to nearest port may be needed. Also be aware that these vessels are not called ferries. Service and prices are comparable with trains. Check in advance if you want to bring a bicycle. There are also some passengers in the inner part of Oslofjord.
One option particularly popular with tourists is the Hurtigruten coastal steamers that hop along the coastline from Bergen all the way to Kirkenes, taking five and a half days for the whole journey. Cabins are expensive and mandatory for multi-day journeys, but deck fares are more reasonable and there's even a 50% off discount with Inter Rail. Prices are summed up for all chargeable elements like persons, fuel charge (app. 1/30 of a person), bike (app. 1/20 of a person), car, cabin (app. 125% of a person). Reservations are recommended for cabins and cars; on deck is usually enough space for persons and bikes.
Lakes do in general not have public transport by boat, here are however a handful of important exceptions. There is one car ferry crossing the very long Randsfjorden lake. Skibladner, a 150 year old steam boat, allows tourists to cross lake Mjøsa (at Gjøvik and Hamar) the old way. Telemark canal, Norway's only proper canal, takes visitors from the coast and deep inland along charming lakes and impressive locks.
An extensive range of express buses connect cities all over Norway and even most national parks. NOR-WAY Bussekspress, Timekspressen and Boreal Transport are the biggest operators. Nettbuss also runs some express routes.
Lavprisekspressen offer cheap tickets for Oslo—Trondheim (via Røros and via the Dovre mountain range), Oslo—Kristiansand—Stavanger and back. If you're lucky, you can get a ticket for as little as NOK49, but usually the tickets go from NOK199 to NOK299. The double decker buses are clean and modern with free Wi-Fi internet, coffee and tea.
Bus schedules and frequencies vary greatly, and seating may be limited, so plan ahead. For more information check each operator's website or try the extensive connection search Rutebok.no – available in English, Norwegian and German. Note that some mountain passes are closed all winter, and buses covering these typically run May—September only.
Travelling with cab in Norway can be very expensive, and in most cities it is not necessary as bus, tram and train (or even walking) are easier. Taxis are generally safe as long as you choose a licensed taxi (with a white taxi sign on the roof). In villages there may be no or only one taxi car, so visitors should be prepared to book in advance.
By car or motorcycle
Norway has right hand traffic, like the rest of mainland Europe. Norwegian roads have varying quality, but all public roads have asphalt. Most roads are two-lane undivided, there is a limited motorway network around Oslo. General speed limit is 80km/h and speed is often slower due to road conditions. Driving in winter requires special equipment, snow and ice experience is highly recommended prior to a winter trip. Some of the scenic mountain passes, notably at Geiranger, Trollstigen and Nordkapp (North Cape), are closed during winter.
Driving is generally easy as traffic is calm, and most drivers are disciplined and law abiding, although moderate speeding is common on highways. However, some city centres (such as Bergen and Oslo) may be confusing to navigate for the first time visitor due to many one-way streets. Traffic is generally light except for city centres and a handful of stretches on main roads (notably E18 near Oslo). Near or inside Oslo the E18, E6 and ring roads can get congested during morning and afternoon rush, as well as during weekend rush (Friday afternoon) out of Oslo. Gas is expensive, starting at around NOK14.50 per litre (approx. USD9.30 per gallon). Manual transmission is regarded as standard in Norway and is found in most private cars. Renting a car is very expensive, but can be essential for easy access to some of the more rural areas, although most areas have a good reliable bus service.
Some rules to note
- Headlights are mandatory even during daylight.
- Off-roading is generally forbidden. Motor vehicles must stay on public roads.
- Don't drink and drive. Your blood alcohol concentration must not exceed 0.2 ‰ (or 0.02 %).
- Rules are strictly enforced, particularly regarding alcohol, speed and overtaking.
While the bicycle seat may be one of the best ways to experience the landscapes of Norway, it can be a gruelling experience for those who are unfit. There are few bicycle paths, and most of the time cyclists have to share narrow roads with heavy transport. Attitudes to cyclists vary. While some drivers show respect, slowing down and giving cyclists a wide berth, others show hostility, driving far too close and at far too high a speed, when passing. Cycling, as a sport, is becoming increasingly popular in Norway, especially since the success of Norwegian cyclists like Thor Hushovd. Attitudes to bicycle tourists vary, but in general is positive. Hostels and camping sites are generally a good place to meet people with similar interests. Norwegians themselves prefer to ride on well equipped, often expensive, bicycles. Good bicycle shops can be found in most cities.
You will find quite a number of travel diaries online. Only few designated cycle paths exist, mostly in the big cities, and they are not fully interconnected. Except for densely populated areas, they can mostly be ignored. While speed limits are relatively low and the vast majority of drivers are responsible and patient, Norway also has its share of speeders and road hogs. At places where a highway is built, the old road is often re-designated as a cycle route.
It is important for cyclists to be seen. The use of highly reflective safety vests, along with flashing lights on the bicycle, is encouraged to help prevent accidents.
In most of Norway, cycling can be physically challenging, due to steep climbs and strong winds. Your equipment should be lightweight and aerodynamic. You will need a wide range of gears: a ratio of 39-27 for a strong cyclist without luggage or even 22-32 for a normal cyclist with luggage is necessary on many slopes. Your brakes should be of high quality and you'll need spare brake pads when doing a trip of more than a few days. Lights are necessary because of the many tunnels. Because of the winds, it is advisable to avoid wide panniers and loose fitting clothes. A lightweight recumbent should be considered as a serious option for those experienced with this type of bicycle, especially when cycling south to north.
The roads are generally paved well, although gravel roads are sometimes unavoidable. As long as you do not go off-road, you will not need suspension or grooved tyres.
Because of the long distances and numerous hills, bicycle tourists are advised to plan well and be prepared to use public transport for the less interesting or difficult stretches. Particularly in western and northern Norway, passenger boats (including longer tourist ferries) can sometimes be used to avoid tunnels, mountain passes or less interesting stretches.
Ferries take bikes for free or a minimal charge. On trains you have to pay a fare. Some buses do not allow bikes, but in all other cases will only be transported if there is enough space (no fare or children's fare). The Norwegian Cyclist Association offers information.
It is legal in Norway (and Finland and Sweden) to put up a tent anywhere for one night. This must not be too near someone's home, or on other unsuitable places. This is particularly suitable for bicyclists, who can roll the bike into the forest at a suitable place. It is more troublesome for car drivers to do this, as it is hard to find a good parking place near a suitable tent place (car parking is not permitted on private roads e.g. in the forest).
Special attention should be given to tunnels, as many of them are forbidden for cyclists, as are a few roads. Some long and narrow tunnels are not recommended for bikes, even if allowed. An online map of tunnels can be found. The tourist information also has a map of those forbidden routes. When renting a bike, you can consult the person who rents you the bike concerning the track you want to take. In many cases, signposts indicate the route for cyclists and pedestrians around forbidden roads or tunnels. Some of the high speed tunnels have bus stops a short distance from the entrance where you can board special buses equipped with bike racks to transport you through the tunnel. On main roads, buses usually run frequently. Some sub-sea tunnels are in addition really steep. If you do enter a tunnel on bike, use lights and safety reflectors (such as reflector jackets or vests). Norwegian drivers do not slow down in tunnels.
Warning: Do not underestimate the number and length of tunnels, particularly in western Norway. On the E16 between Bergen and Lærdal for instance, 30–50% of the road is in tunnel. Frequently, tunnels replace an older road that remains open for bicycles and pedestrians in summer or for local traffic all year. Ask locals or read the map carefully to find your way.
Hitchhiking in Norway is best on the routes from Oslo-Trondheim (E6), Oslo-Kristiansand (E18) and Kristiansand-Stavanger (E39). However, near the cities these are now motorways and it is not possible to stand at the road itself. Hitchhiking is not that common in Norway. If hitchhiking is ever safe, it is pretty safe in Norway, however it is difficult to get a lift and it may be very slow.
When waiting, make sure to stand in a place where the vehicles can see you and have a safe opportunity to stop. Ferry ports and main fuel stations are good places to try. Stretches with low speed limits (50–60km/h) are generally better than high speed roads, as drivers find it less cumbersome to make a halt there. Drivers of heavy trucks in particular prefer to keep a steady speed. Roadside cafeterias where truckers have a break can be good place to ask for a lift.
Good hitchhiking spots from major cities are:-
Bergen and the mountains- if you're daring, try Oksenøyveien (see Kristiansand), but be aware that most cars continue southwards to Drammen. Rather catch the Timekspressen bus, direction Hønefoss, to Sollihøgda.
Trondheim and the north- is getting more difficult as motorway development continues. The best bet inside Oslo is bus stop Ulvenkrysset. Get the metro to Helsfyr, then bus 76, 401 or 411 for one stop. Further outside, to avoid the local traffic, you are best off at the Shell gas station at Skedsmovollen, bus 845 and 848 from Lillestrøm train station.
Kristiansand and the south: Few spots beat the bus stop Oksenøyveien, connected by bus 151, 251 and 252. You may be dropped in Sandvika by cars heading towards Hønefoss and the mountains/Bergen. Carry a sign.
Sweden along E6: Highway all the way, except close to the centre. Try the bus stop Nedre Bekkelaget, bus 81 and 83. Sweden along E18: You may try Nedre Bekkelaget, but as most traffic continue towards Strömstad and Gothenburg, you should rather catck the Timekspressen bus 9 to Østensjø stop, just after the Holstad roundabout.
Oslo - Get local train to Arna and try near the entrance to Arnanipa tunnel. Northwards - Go by bus to Vågsbotn in Arna, and try hithing a ride close to the Hjelle bakery. Southwards - Get the light rail to Nesttun, then nearly any bus for three stops to Skjoldskiftet. Hitch southwards along E39.
Trondheim to Oslo - Get bus 46 to the shopping centre City Syd, then go under the E6 and try your luck at City Syd E6 stop. Soon, the city tax on buses will be extended past the Klett roundabout, if this is in effect you should go to the bus stop just after the roundabout at any Melhus-bound bus and try your luck there.
Molde/Ålesund - Get any Orkanger bus to the stop just after Klett roundabout. Soon, Trondheim city tax will extend to Børsa, after which you should stay on the bus for as long as you can, and hitch a ride from there. Northwards - Get city bus 7 or 66 to Travbanen stop. Sweden - To be sure to hitch only on cars going towards Sweden, get a train or bus to Stjørdal and hitch on the E14.
In general, looking polite and friendly is a good trick. Asking cars in line at a ferry quay (if travelling along the coast) is a very good idea, and may bring you very far. Hitching rides from Molde all the way to Bergen are not unheard of, but don't bet on it.
In general though, you can really get to anywhere from anywhere by thumb, just in some places it might take a while.