Touring Norway in a Motorhome & Campervan
A truly beautiful country, Norway is a real bucket list destination. Mountains, glaciers and waterfalls appear around every corner and vast areas of wilderness wait to be explored. If you love adventure and raw nature, then a Norway road trip is for you! Our essential guide to visiting Norway in a motorhome will provide you with all the information you need …what are you waiting for?
Resources for Touring Norway
October – April
Can you take a motorhome to Norway in winter? Absolutely you can but It will be cold wherever you go, and there’s likely to be snow …possibly quite a lot of snow (although the Scandinavians are really good at managing it, so main roads do stay open). November, December and January are dark months in the north of the country and the days are very short. Lots of campsites will close in winter, but if you’re travelling to Norway for winter sports, or to see the Northern Lights, then this is the perfect time – just make sure you’re well prepared.
May – September
The weather starts to warm up, with July and August being the warmest months. Fjord swimming without a wetsuit is possible, and you’ll be comfortable during the day in shorts and a t-shirt. It can still be chilly in the evenings for Arctic campers, where the weather is also more unpredictable. Between (roughly) 14th May and 29th July, you’ll experience the midnight sun phenomenon in the far north of Norway.
Norway Motorhome Routes
Driving from the UK to Norway in a campervan is possibly the most challenging part of planning a Norway road trip. There are so many options; at some point you’ve got to get your campervan over the water, it’s just a matter of how you do it and how much it costs!
This route involves taking the Storebaelt (Great Belt) Bridge in Denmark en route to Copenhagen and then crossing the Oresund Bridge (of BBC fame) from Copenhagen to Malmo in Sweden. This option gives you the opportunity to see beautiful Copenhagen on the way through, and experience both incredible bridges, their views and architecture. But, it’s not cheap and you still have the long six hour drive up the coast of Sweden.
There are so many options here (although sadly no England to Norway ferry!)
Ferries from Denmark to Norway
Getting a ferry to Norway from Denmark avoids the bridges and the long drive up the Swedish coast. Popular ferries from Denmark to Norway are from Frederikshavn to Oslo, Hirtshals to Kristiansand, Larvik, Stavanger and Bergen. The longer crossings are not prohibitively expensive and sailing to Bergen gets you right into the beautiful western Fjords – balanced against fuel and toll costs, it may be worth considering.
Ferries from Germany to Norway
From Travemunde to the north-east of Hamburg, a nine hour crossing gets you into Malmo, costing at least 50% less than taking the bridges route. You still have the six hour drive up through Gothenburg to Oslo, and will miss the wonders of Copenhagen, but for those on a budget this is a great option.
The Alternative Motorhome Route to Norway
If you have time, a ‘reverse’ trip could work. What I mean by this is to not follow the usual routes into Norway which most people take because they are time-limited, but take a ferry from Tallinn in Estonia to Helsinki in Finland, or Stockholm in Sweden, and then drive north and east until you get into Norway. It’s a bit more complicated than that but you get the idea. There are worse things than travelling around Scandinavia in a campervan!
Norway is not a member state of the European Union. However, it is associated with the Union through its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) and is an associate member of the Schengen Area, meaning you must included Norway in your 90 in 180 days calculation.
Norway has open borders with Sweden and Finland, however they still practice random border checks at some popular road crossings. You will find a ‘hard’ border if you arrive in Norway by ferry, and will need to complete a customs declaration form before you enter the country.
Many motorhomers travelling north through Sweden will cross the border at Svinesund on the E6, where there is a permanent customs post. There is often queueing traffic to cross, although not many vehicles are actually stopped or searched.
The allowance for alcohol is small (1L of spirits over 22% volume, 1.5L wine less than 22% volume and 2L of beer up to 4.7% volume) and given the cost of buying booze in Norway, it’s tempting to stock up at the large supermarket in Sweden just before the border. If you do get caught taking more than your allowance in, the fines can be large.
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Is Norway Expensive to Visit?
Why is Norway so expensive? Norwegians enjoy a very high standard of living and are generally paid well, which in turn pushes up prices. There is no escaping that for foreigners, this is an expensive country and travelling in a campervan in Norway requires careful planning. Follow our travel tips to budget as effectively as possible.
Norway Prices & Tips
- Norway camping prices are similar to the rest of Europe in summer, although cheaper than the super-tourist areas of the Med, for example. We paid anywhere between NKR210-350 a night, including electricity. You normally have to pay extra for a hot shower, typically NKR20-30 for five minutes. Aires will cost around NKR120-180 a night (March 2021 NKR100 = £8.30)
- Diesel costs are similar or slightly higher than the UK, but considerably cheaper than France or Italy. We paid an average of NKR14.5 a litre.
- Alcohol is really expensive. A beer, cider or glass of wine in a restaurant will cost between NKR60-90. In a Vinmonopolet you will pay around NKR150 for a bottle of wine and NKR50 for beer and cider. Spirits cost considerably more, so we just didn’t drink them and enjoyed happy travels anyway!
- Norway food and drink prices vary; try and shop in the Spar or Co-op’s. There is no Lidl or Aldi, or their equivalent, in Norway (Lidl opened around four years ago, lasted two years and shut up shop!). Some food prices, like tinned and dried goods are similar to UK but fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, cheese and US products such as Coca Cola are expensive in comparison. Local produce like salmon and goats cheese is expensive in tourist areas.
- Eating out is costly. We ate out a few times and on one occasion paid NKR 650 for two pizzas, burger and chips, two beers and a coke – that’s a £55 fast food dinner!
- Activities are about 20% more expensive per person than the UK. There are lots and lots of free hiking and cycling routes and swimming opportunities wherever you go to help you save money.
- Norway touring toll and ferry costs are quite high but it is almost impossible to avoid them! You can go onto the AutoPass website and attempt to calculate your road trip route of Norway but I wish you luck, it defeated us!
- If you can avoid the high season in mid June to mid August, some things like activities and campsites may be cheaper.
Average Cost of a Trip to Norway
It is impossible to say what the average cost of a trip to Norway is. There are so many variables such as length of trip, size of your campervan or motorhome, how you like to camp and which route you will take to Norway.
How expensive is Norway compared to UK? Our experience suggests that the cost of visiting Norway is around a third more expensive than UK, with our average daily spending money in Norway coming in at €55 a day.
Yep, it’s expensive to road trip Norway, but budget carefully and it’s no more expensive than France or Switzerland.
Motorhome Driving in Norway
Driving in Norway is a real pleasure. Norwegian drivers are usually disciplined and calm, happy to give way and wait where necessary. The road system is well maintained, even on smaller ‘B’ type roads, and often we drove long distances without seeing other vehicles, although expect roads around popular tourist attractions to be busy.
Do not underestimate how difficult and time consuming it is to travel around Norway in a campervan, especially if you want to go north enough to see the Aurora Borealis or enter the Arctic Circle. It takes a whopping 30 hours of solid driving from the Lofoten Islands to Oslo for example.
One thing every road tripper we talked to told us, was that they had not given themselves enough time to explore the country fully. Do your research and plan carefully, it will always take longer than you think.Some of the old roads along the edges of the fjords, which have not yet been replaced with a road tunnel and can be a bit tight so drive with caution as you will meet lots of other large vehicles, especially if you’re in a new motorhome!
- You will require a green card to prove you have motorhome insurance cover when travelling in Norway.
- Your UK licence allows you to drive in all EU countries. If you only have a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man then you will need an International Driving Permit.
- You must carry a warning triangle and a reflective jacket when you’re taking a road trip in Norway, the latter is not compulsory but highly recommended.
- It is recommended that you carry spare bulbs for your motorhome’s external lights, a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit.
- If you are motorhome touring in Norway in the winter you will need to use snow chains, winter tyres if there is snow or ice on the roads. You may be asked to purchase a set if you cannot evidence to the border police that you have them. Vehicles over 3.5t must use snow chains. For more information about driving requirements for winter tyres and snow chains in Norway, click here.
- Motorhomes over 3,500kg and vehicles towing caravans or trailers must not exceed 80km/h regardless of the local limit. If the caravan or trailer is not equipped with brakes, the maximum speed is 60km/h.
- It may seem obvious and apologies if you know this, just doing my bit to keep you safe!! Brakes may overheat on long downhill stretches; to avoid this, drive in a low gear. Eventual braking will require less force and brakes will stay cool.
- When driving uphill, watch the motorhome’s temperature gauge to avoid engine overheating in time. You will go up and down a lot of mountains, especially if you take on the Trollstigen road, one of Norways best!
Tolls in Norway
There is a sophisticated and comprehensive toll system in Norway. You will know you’re on a toll road by the signage of a camera and wifi, but it’s safe to assume if you’re on a major main road, it will be a toll road.
Now it starts to get complicated! The system is not straightforward but this is what you need to do;
- Register your campervan or motorhome for electronic tolls with one of the AutoPASS authorised providers. Head to the section entitled ‘register a payment account for your foreign vehicle’. Leave plenty of time for this step, so your electronic toll tag can arrive in the post.
- Flyt is one of the user-friendly options on the list and we would recommend them. Their tag covers you for toll roads, bridges, tunnels and some fjord ferries in Norway and you are invoiced by email monthly in arrears.
- If you want an electronic tag to cover you for Sweden and Denmark as well, EasyGo operate this scheme and using it gives a discount on both the Strebaelt and Oresund Bridges when linked up with a BroPas account. EasyGo don’t actually issue the tags themselves, you need to use one of their operators such as the Oresund Consortium. We would suggest that the EasyGo tag is only worth doing if you’re planning to cross to Norway over the Danish bridges and/or travel in Sweden.
- If you choose not to have the tag (or the discounts), you only need to register with Epass24 who manage billing and collect monies on behalf of AutoPASS, who are the toll system operator (until April 2021, the collector was EPC [Euro Parking Collection], so if you registered with them previously, you’ll need to do so again with the new provider). Once registered, you can choose to get your invoice monthly by email and pay with a credit card or make payments via a linked credit card as you go.
It is not compulsory for you to have the electronic toll tag, even if you are over 3.5t – this rule is for commercial vehicles only. But, the tag does provide 20% discount on the car rate if you decide to have one. Without the tag, the rate that motorhomes over 3,500kg are charged is typically 2-4 times the car rate.
If you don’t register, you will be identified via ANPR and will receive a bill in the post from Epass24 with an assumed class and emissions category, and a charge for not registering. Even though the UK is no longer a part of the EU, information sharing agreements with the DVLA remain in place and Norway are pretty ruthless about tracking down no-toll payers.
There is no manual way of paying tolls whilst travelling Norway, other than on the Atlantic Ocean Road stretch and the Alesund Tunnel.
Low Emissions Zones
There is a combined congestion and LEZ zone in Oslo called the Oslo Charging Scheme. The cost of entering the LEZ is calculated within the toll charges for driving in Oslo. No sticker or vignette is required.
Oslo also operates emergency measures and closes to diesel traffic when emissions are high. 24 hours notice are given of any closure, you can check here for updates and current status.
But who wants to drive into a capital city in a motorhome anyway? Park or camp outside and use the excellent public transport system to get around.
From time to time, you will need to take a car ferry across a fjord. This is not a fjord cruise, but a quick crossing designed to get you from one place to the other as fast as possible, a bit like public transport.
It is not complicated, the road stops with no option to take another route and there is a ramp for a ferry there. Google Maps or your sat nav will know this and direct you accordingly.
There are generally two car ferries passing each other in the middle, and the operation of getting vehicles on and off is pretty slick.
Usually, the ticket seller will come to your vehicle with a mobile card device and dispenser; expect to pay around NKR100 for every ten minutes of ferry time in a class 2 campervan or motorhome, or use your electronic toll tag to pay.
We loved this part of touring in Norway by campervan, it somehow felt more exciting than driving the M25!
Motorhome Services in Norway
Service points are pretty widespread and usually free although you might need a coin or two for an automatic toilet cassette emptying machine if there is no other option. Park4Night is a good way to find motorhome and campervan services, and you can also find information on BobilPortal.
Motorhome Camping in Norway
Norway is very tolerant of campervan visitors, although numbers have increased exponentially over the past five years; we felt welcomed wherever we went. You’ll be able to find camping outside all the major cities and near all the top places to visit in Norway.
Wild or Free Camping in Norway
The allemannsrett (all men’s rights) law was enshrined a long time before travelling in campers became such a popular way to see the country, but the spirit of the law stands and seems to cover motorhomes. The gist is that you can practice free or wild camping in Norway where the land is not owned or cultivated or where there is no signage forbidding it.
Follow the usual free and wild camping good practice and don’t overstay your welcome, we would suggest one day and certainly no more than 48 hours in the same spot. Use Park4Night to find the best free overnight parking and wild camping spots.
Always follow the “leave no trace” principle, take your rubbish, black and grey waste with you or dispose of it in the proper place.
Motorhome Campsites in Norway
There is a good network of campsites for camper vans and campers with tents in Norway, although most cannot be booked and seem much more transient than those on the continent. All have small sleeping huts to rent for hikers and offer kitchen facilities where groups of people can cook together. Visit Norway has a great blog post on the top ten motorhome and campervan sites in Norway which you may find helpful.
Generally campsites in Norway don’t have bars or restaurants and people retire early and rise early. Expect to pay between NKR210 – 350 a night, including electricity. You normally have to pay extra for a hot shower, typically NKR20-30 for five minutes.
Motorhome Aires in Norway
There are also good aires with campervan and motorhome service points across Norway. Use Park4Night or BobilPlassen (bobil is motorhome in Norwegian) for up to date information about locations and facilities.
Norway Motorhome Essentials
Norway is a vast country with only five million inhabitants, shaped by its Viking history, geography and unique farming culture, which is still alive and kicking today.
Things to Know About Norway
- There are a lot of vans in Norway from many different EU countries; we were surprised by how many. But, this is a huge country and there is plenty of room for everyone, especially when you get off the beaten track, or head further north, whether you’re going hiking in Tromso or chasing the northern lights.
- Norwegian (and in fact most Scandinavian) society is based on Janteloven (the law of Jante) which at its simplest describes the way that all Norwegians behave; putting society ahead of the individual, practicing humility, equality, respect, and simplicity. Wealth is not flaunted, people don’t criticise others, and egalitarianism is key. This is not an actual law but describes how people should behave in society; it helped us as visitors to understand Norwegian culture and behaviour.
- Almost all Norwegians speak English at an intermediate level, unless they are older and live rurally.
- Norwegians work to live; Koselig has no direct translation but influences Norwegian behaviour at weekends and holidays. This post by our friends at the Life In Norway blog explains the concept visually.
- Norway is on the verge of becoming a truly cashless society and are streets ahead of many other EEA countries. It is completely normal to pay for a €3 iskrem using a card or ApplePay.
- Recycling is important here; a pant (pledge) is charged on all bottles. You can return the bottles to the panteroom to get your deposit back or press a button and give your deposit to charity.
- Norwegian people like their personal space. They will not willingly sit next to a stranger on the train or bus and prefer not to stand too close to others in queues. This is because there are so few Norwegian people in their huge country that they are used to having lots of room to move!
- Most grocery shops will be closed on Sundays. Garages will sell basic groceries but at inflated prices so better to be prepared and shop on Saturday.
- Alcohol in Norway is sold mainly by the state. Beer can be found in most shops, but is only sold before 8pm on weekdays or 6pm on Saturdays and not on Sundays. For wine, spirits or stronger beer, you must visit one of the Vinmonopolet (wine monopoly), known to locals as pole, found in most large cities and towns. Tax Is levelled on all alcohol with more than 0.7% by volume of alcohol and is pretty hefty, making booze pretty expensive.
Norway Travel Inspiration
Food & Eating Out in Norway
Norwegian food can be excellent. Abundant seafood, local specialities such as reindeer, and a growing trend towards using hyperlocal, seasonal ingredients are undoubtedly the highlights.
- Norway loves meat; reinsdyrstek (reindeer) should be sampled if you are a meat eater and should be eaten on the rare side for the best flavour. Beef, lamb and venison are also popular and cheaper than reindeer.
- Vegetarian food is becoming more and more popular and we found multiple options of plant-based dishes on most menus.
- Salmon is the most eaten fish; farmed is much, much cheaper than wild salmon and often tastes just as good.
- You will also come across lots of raw, salted, dried and cured fish…it’s definitely an acquired taste but necessary when fishing is difficult as all the fjords are frozen.
- Potatoes are served with almost every dish, especially if you are eating out in a rural town or traditional restaurant.
- Berries are delicious in Norway, they take longer to ripen and are thus more juicy and bursting with flavour; the raspberries are the largest and best we’ve ever eaten, expect to pay around NKR300-400 for a punnet.
- Other berries include strawberries, blackcurrants, red currants, blueberries (sometimes called huckleberries), which grow on open uplands; blue, swamp-loving bilberries; red high-bush and low-bush cranberries and the famous moltebær (cloudberries), which are highly prized and considered a delicacy. They grow one per stalk on open swampy ground and in Norway cloudberry patches are zealously guarded. Cloudberry jam is amazing with brown goats cheese (yes brown!) and fresh cream on a fluffy pancake!!
- Brown goats cheese or brunost is a Norwegian staple and eaten at all meals. It has a distinctive caramelised flavour and delicious taste which is rich and creamy – you should definitely try it!
- Breakfast in Norway is coffee, some sort of crisp-bread (often the dieter’s favourite, Ryevita) with cucumber and tomatoes and maybe a boiled egg or pickled herring. You may find cafe’s selling toast or croissants and pastries in larger towns.
- Lunch is an open sandwich with meat, fish or eggs and dinner is usually the hot meal of the day, served between 4 and 6pm in the winter months and considerably later in the summer.
- We would say, avoid torsketunger (cod’s tongues) and rakfisk (fermented trout) unless you are a particularly hardy type with the constitution of an ox!!
- If you get the opportunity, try the national spirit akevitt (aquavit), a potent dose of Norwegian culture made from potatoes and caraway liquor. Although caraway is an essential ingredient, various modern distilleries augment the spicy flavour with any combination of orange, coriander, anise, fennel, sugar and salt. The confection is aged for three to five years in 500L oak barrels that have previously been used to age sherry. Just go slow and don’t drive afterwards!