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What to Expect When Driving in Norway: The Highlights

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

Traveling is undoubtedly one of the best things you could ever experience in your life. The benefits are countless. The reasons why you should go to a foreign country are several too. Traveling helps you develop, learn about a new culture, customs, cuisine, and the country’s history. It also means that you have the opportunity to know yourself better. Especially if you are traveling solo, and you can only count on yourself. However, planning a trip to a foreign country can also bring some concern and even anxiety. It is so important to plan your itinerary carefully to try to get the most out of your visit! That way, your trip will be nothing but pleasure and excitement. That is also the case of traveling to Norway. A somewhat forgotten land, full of immense fjords, and endless roads that might create huge expectations. Especially if you are planning to rent a car for a self-drive trip, we quickly get used to our car, to the roads and signs from our home country, and the way people drive there. It is then easy to understand anyone can get a bit anxious when driving in a foreign land. Leaning a bit more on driving in Norway will indeed help you relax and gain confidence.

An RV driving in Norway on a sunny day

General safety rules

Norway, just like other countries, has its road restrictions. It will be of no surprise when you find out that all the road signs look almost the same as in other European countries. You should, of course, comply with the traffic regulations here. It is then reasonable to know what those regulations are. You may consider some of them pretty obvious. However, it is worth mentioning them. That will help you get familiarized with these rules.

  • As stated by law, you must drive with the low beam lights on all year long. Even in the Midnight Sun season. That makes sense in Norway, where the weather might change unpredictably. You can suddenly be under heavy rain, fog, or even a sudden snowfall while driving.

  • The driver and all the passengers must have their seat belts on during the ride. Children under the age of 4 years old must be seated on an appropriate car seat. Passengers’ safety is quite remarkable! When you already choose the right car rental for your trip, check if the vehicle you rent has enough seat belts. A question frequently asked is if three passengers can use a car meant for two people as the third passenger will be a baby or a child. Of course, the answer is no. The kid might be small or be a newborn. However, the baby still needs to be seated on a proper baby seat with its seatbelt. Safety comes first!

  • As in any other country, it is not allowed to drink and drive in Norway. I guess we all know how dangerous the consequences of this behavior can be. And it is not just about getting fined or losing your driving permit.

  • Winter tires should be used from 1st November until 15th April. In some northern districts, this rule applies from October 15th until March the 1st. It is for obvious reasons: weather conditions. Beware that most rental cars in Norway include them. Rental companies must prepare the vehicle for your trip beforehand. However, do not forget to check the tires’ condition before departing. If you still have any doubts, make sure you ask your rental agent everything you need. As the weather is constantly changing, if the weather requires winter tires out of the mentioned period, the authorities will, of course, allow cars to have them on.

  • Along the road, you will find some places which were made for cars to stop by so the driver can rest a bit. Try to use those spots only and do not stop just right in the middle of the road. That can be quite dangerous for both you and any other driver. Those places are not supposed to be used as your camping space. Remember that there are few rules about camping in Norway. Illegally parked cars can be fined.

  • Some of the roads in Norway might be quite challenging especially in the higher mountain passes. Around September and October, you might encounter some snow already. That is why you should always adjust the speed to the road and weather conditions. Common sense, right? Norwegian roads are not made for speeding even though they are in optimal conditions. Most of them are narrow, winding, and have some steep hills. Some parts of the roads, due to the terrain, can be a challenge, even for a sturdy rental car.

Curved mountain roads on which driving in Norway can be challenging

In case you are wondering how to face the toughest roads of Norway, where it seems almost impossible to go with a vehicle, we have good news. Car ferries are very common in Norway and will allow you to travel to the most remote parts of our country.

Speed limits in Norway

The most important driving rules in Norway are related to the maximum speed limit. You should know them well and also apply them as the tickets for speeding are quite high.

The general speed limit within built-up areas is 50km/h (31mph) unless the sign states otherwise. An exception is the residential areas where you will need to reduce the speed to 30km/h (18mph).

Outside built up, the maximum speed you can reach is 80km/h (50mph). We must emphasize that it is the top limit. That does not mean you need to drive 80km/h even if the road allows you to. Safety always has to come first. Adjust the speed to the weather conditions. If you have the feeling that the road is too narrow and you will not manage to overcome the car on the other side of the road, stop by and let him pass. You wouldn’t like to lose your side mirror on the first day of your trip, right?

The maximum speed limit on secondary roads for passenger cars up to 3500 kg is 90km/h (56mph) while on the highway, it goes to 110 km/h (68mph).

If you did not believe me earlier when I said that fines could be high, you will now. In Norway, the speeding tickets are immediately issued if you exceed the speed by just one kilometer! The amount of the fine can range from 600 to 9 000 NOK. The amounts are established by Norway’s Department of Public Roads, Urban Mobility and Traffic Safety.

Besides the speed limit signs, you will also find some warning signs along the roads in Norway. Especially in rural areas or near the forest, you might see the signs warning against wild animals, which are very common in this specific zone. That means that they can appear on the road any time, so you should slow down, especially at dusk. The most common ones crossing the streets are elks, moose or deers, or even the reindeers, which often walk in larger groups.

What side of the road do they drive in Norway?

In Norway, just like in most of the countries around the world, there is right- hand traffic. The priority to pass is granted to those coming from the right-hand side. Even though the traffic on Norwegian roads might be very little, try to keep to the right side of the road for yours and others safety. You never know what can come up from the next curve.

Driving in Norway - Travel Guide

Tourists driving in Norway during sunset

Before hitting the road, make sure you have all the necessary documents with you. You will need a driving license and a passport, vehicle’s card, and a document stating the insurance coverage is valid. Those last two documents should be given to you from your rental company when signing the rental agreement. With all the necessary documents, and knowing the general safety rules for driving in Norway, you are ready for your journey. The most beautiful cities in Norway are waiting for you!

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