Renting a car and driving in Norway

Renting a Car in Norway in 2023 – Brief Guide to Car Hire & Driving Tips

Last updated on July 19th, 2023

Renting a car in Norway was one of the best decisions we made on all our trips to this beautiful country. From the beginning we knew if we wanted to explore the Norwegian countryside and more remote areas, having a car was a must since it offered greater flexibility and comfort. And we never got wrong.

Until this day whenever we return to Norway, hiring a car there always helps us see something new, remote, and beautiful as well as it helps us venture off the beaten path even without going too far from the cities in the wilderness.

Because the beauty of Norway is in its low density population and its unique geography. That in turn means that you don’t need to cover too much of a distance to be able to find stunning scenery. While going on long road trips in Norway is one of the best things to do, it doesn’t mean that’s the only way to find spectacular natural wonders.

Very often, you can just fly to one of the cities on the coastline, rent a car there and go drive around exploring nearby fjords, bays, forests, or islands. Nevertheless, a gorgeous Norwegian coastline stretches for over 100,000 kilometers and has a ton to offer.

And considering that fact that it has incredible road infrastructure with ongoing upgrades and expansions, driving in Norway is easy and most importantly safe!

Thus let’s talk below about Norway’s car rental process, requirements for renting a car in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, Tromso, and other cities, and of course about how to find cheap car rentals in Norway as they can be quite expensive if you noticed! 

I base all these tips on my personal experiences of traveling to Norway quite a few times in different seasons. I also want to cover the topic of car rental insurance (because you want to have it), winter driving in Norway and a few other things as they are all important. 

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

Renting a Car in Norway – Key Takeaways

Norway car hire

1.) Hiring a car in Norway is essential if you want to save money on tours and see this country in a way that none of the companies will be able to show you. It is also a great choice if you are traveling to Norway on a short trip, as the car will allow you to see the local scenery outside the city.

2.) You need to be at least 19 years old to be able to rent a car. However, until you are 25, you also need to pay a Young Driver Fee on top of the vehicle rent.

3.) The best company to rent a car in Norway is this aggregator. It offers the lowest prices of car rentals among all aggregators and lowest prices for insurance. They also have the cheapest car rentals in Narvik and Tromso. 

4.) Renting a car in Norway is easy and quick. You just need to have a passport, CC, digital copy of your voucher and have the desire to explore on your own.

5.) Do not be afraid to hire a car in winter. The country is well prepared for it. Although there are some things to remember that I cover below.

6.) Do not wait for too long to book a vehicle. If you find a car you like, try to book it immediately, especially if booking for a high season in summer and for northern lights. The best deals are gone pretty quickly and during the high season, there are not enough cars for a lower budget.

7.) Norway has some of the strictest traffic laws and regulations in the world that include speed limits, alcohol limits, and seatbelt requirements. Violations of any of their laws can result in significant fines and penalties. Please, take that seriously when picking your car rental in Norway.

8.) If you plan to rent a car in Norway with a US driver’s license, with a license from Canada, you do not need an International Driver’s Permit. If from the UAE or India, then you need one. You also need to carry both your IDP and your home license at all times when driving in Norway.

Renting a Car in Norway – FAQs & Concerns

Are You Doubting Whether to Hire a Car in Norway or Not?

driving in Norway in a rental car

Traveling in Norway by car is a great way to explore the country and its breathtaking scenery. With a well-developed road network and stunning landscapes, driving in Norway can offer a unique and memorable experience.

If your goal is to explore the country, then of course hiring a car is a must as it is the best way to get places. Even though Norway has a well-developed public transportation system, you cannot travel by public bus or train to many natural parks or simply beautiful vistas.

The vehicle will let you cover the most ground and reach places that you can’t reach otherwise like a small lesser-discovered town on the way to the fjord like Ulvik or Modalen for example, or small Norwegian villages. It also might be money-saving, as a car rental with gas will cost less than tours to the same places or private transfers.

Another benefit of renting a car in Norway and traveling by it is the flexibility and freedom it offers. With it, you can go at your own pace, stop at any place that interests you, and take detours to explore the surrounding areas. A rental vehicle truly allows you to see Norway in a way that you might not be able to if you were to travel by public transportation.

In my experience, even if you come to visit solely cities like Oslo, Bergen, or one of the cities in the north like Bodo and up, even then rent a car at least for a day. Because again, there is so much beauty outside the cities often times a short drive away. And that is going to be a good investment in your life experiences.

Norway car hire

Where to Rent a Car in Norway

There are many rental offices of international companies across Norway as well as there are many aggregators where to rent a car. Hiring a vehicle can be a challenge with that number of booking websites, especially considering how expensive rentals in Norway are.

I want to speak from my experience and share where Anya and I find cheap car rentals in Norway.

As we hired cars too many times, we found that one company which always offers the most competitive prices for both rental cars and insurance. And working with them is always a pleasure since they have supportive customer service and often include good amenities such as unlimited mileage, free second driver, and road assistance.

And this company is Discover Cars. This is the aggregator I probably use the most in Europe, oftentimes in Spain and Slovakia as well as other countries and it works very well for Norway too.

Through their search engine tool, I am able to find the best deals compared to other aggregators, pretty good amenities, and easy cancellations. Discover Cars also offers the best Full Coverage option available at checkout.

Check their offers and see for yourself:

The second good aggregator is this one. Even though it is usually more expensive than Discover Cars, it randomly offers quite low-priced rentals that get booked very fast. So you may want to compare both of them and see which one is more affordable at the moment of booking.

TIP: For the best prices book your car in international airports. The cars there are significantly cheaper as there is just a larger selection of cars and suppliers to choose from.

Norwegian scenery

How Much Rental Cars Cost

For the best price, I recommend renting a car in one of Norway’s major airports either in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Tromso, Alesund, Bodo, or Haugesund. Renting offices outside airports almost always will be more expensive. And it might be more convenient for you to pick up your car as soon as you arrive.

The prices in all airports usually fluctuate up and down throughout the year but generally, they are about the same as in Western Europe. Expect higher rates from June through August, since this is the hot season for cars. It is better to book far in advance for summer travel in Norway. For all other months, the price doesn’t change much.

The lowest price I have ever seen was $15 per day for an economy car rental in November and March but you need to understand that this price is very uncommon and if you see any vehicle for this much money, book it without hesitation.

On average, you can expect to pay $35 per day for an economy rental in high season and full size for about $50. It is also better to reserve it in advance not to miss this price and then better cancel it and rebook the vehicle if the price drops.

If you need to rent a car for a longer term, like a month for example, then I recommend you try searching for a car in Gothenburg. This journey from Sweden adds a whole drive to Oslo by about three and a half hours but financially it may be very reasonable since car rentals in Sweden are usually cheaper.

Hiring a Car in Norway With Insurance – Do You Need It or Not?

Every car you rent in Norway comes with Third Party Liability (TPL) but not every deal includes the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). In rare cases, some companies do not include CDW for drivers coming from USA and Canada. Always check your contract for that when choosing a vehicle.

The supplier will pre-authorize your excess (deposit/deductible) on your credit card for the average sum of ~$1000-$1500, depending on the vehicle class. And if you want to protect your excess, you have three options.

1.) If you are booking through an aggregator like Discover Cars, you will have the option to choose Full Coverage to protect yourself. Understand, it is not insurance for your vehicle, but for your excess only.

In case you have to pay your deductible, the full coverage will fully reimburse you. This option doesn’t cost much (usually starts at around $7 per day) and is the best value for the money. In addition, you usually get nice bonuses like Roadside assistance, Lost keys, or lockout fees covered.

Check prices and see insurance packages here

2.) Your other option is to purchase full coverage on the vehicle at the rental desk of your supplier when picking up the vehicle. That will greatly reduce or even completely remove your deductible from the contract but it costs $25 per day or more. Not very appealing money-wise but still an alternative.

3.) The third option is to go without full coverage, have only TPL included in the price of the vehicle, leave the deposit mentioned above (depending on the contract), and drive carefully.

Norway is one of the safest countries in the world, but accidents still happen, so do this at your own risk, and only if you feel confident on the road, usually drive on a daily basis, and are used to narrow windy roads. In any case, mentally accept the loss if it comes to that.

Some people use insurance from a credit card company (at least Americans do) and we did too in the past. But after that time when we lost our entire deposit when renting a car in Montenegro because our bank didn’t want to reimburse a big amount of money, we stopped relying on credit card insurance. But you may be willing to take the risk.

When we travel abroad, especially with the car, we prefer to stay connected with reliable simcards. I recommend you do the same.

Pre-Order Your Simcard for Norway

Do You Need an International Driver’s Permit?

For Americans, Canadians, Australians, and nationals of European countries, IDP is not required as long as your license has a picture and is written in the Roman Alphabet. You can rent a vehicle and drive a rental car in Norway without any worry about it.

Yet, citizens of India and the UAE do require to have an original International Driver’s License and have it with them every time when sit behind the wheel.

Also, the minimum age to rent a car in Norway is 19, however, until you are 25, you will incur a Young Driver Fee.

What is Driving in Norway Like?

Driving in Norway

I love driving in Norway. In my experience, Norway has one of the most obedient drivers in the world. People drive with caution and follow road signs and speed limits.

I think this is mostly due to the fact, that driving in Norway is rather a privilege. What I mean by that is that getting a Driver’s License in Norway is a way more difficult process than in the US or many other countries.

It is also a lot more expensive. And buying a car in general is a lot more expensive due to a higher tax, maintenance costs, fuel, and so on. So people never underestimate the worth or importance of a car. That’s why they are always so careful and respectful on the road.

Renting a car in Norway
Driving in Norway always includes many tunnels and narrow roads…

In addition fines in Norway are costly and you could quickly lose your license because of bad driving habits. So if somebody is reckless, there is no reason to tolerate such behavior.

All these factors help people to have respect for each other and appreciate the fact that you can drive your own car in comfort.

Speed Limits

On average Norway’s speed limits are a little lower than in many other European countries.

  • The maximum speed limit is 110 km/h (~68 mph) on certain motorways.
  • The general speed limit outside of residential areas is 80 km/h (~50 mph).
  • Within town limits or highly dense areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h (~30 mph) unless stated otherwise.

Roads & Tunnels in Norway

As in most of Europe, even considering the climate, roads are of a high standard and are well-maintained. The signage is clearly visible and easy to read. People drive on the right-hand side.

Norway has a lot of bridges and tunnels, and I mean A LOT OF tunnels, including the world’s longest – The Lærdal Tunnel, 24.5km (15.2 miles) in length.

I loved driving through that beast, but people with claustrophobia may get nervous though. Anya (who is claustrophobic) didn’t do well and had horrible anxiety on one of our drives through that tunnel. But she was happy in the end after seeing all that beauty that waited on us outside it.

Many tunnels (including Lærdal Tunnel) are well lit and they always post signs indicating how many kilometers to go towards either exit.

Tunnels in Norway
Roads is Norway

One more thing I would like to mention is that in many remote areas, you may see one-lane roads with side pockets for the cars to yield to upcoming traffic. Of course, such exist in areas where traffic is minimal, and building a wider road would be a challenging project due to the landscape.

I found that driving on those roads is not hard at all, just don’t go fast and go by the situation. People will always give you the right if it is easier for them to move away and you do the same when it is easier for you.

Driving in the Norwegian Cities

I remember driving my first rental car in Oslo as I was still getting used to the car and it did not feel stressful. I wasn’t nervous even though the last time I drove a car before that was like seven months ago.

So even driving in the Norwegian capital felt far easier to me than in many other European large cities. I mean the traffic was normal, and driving was not aggressive. Compared to driving in Valencia, Malaga, Georgia country, or let’s say driving anywhere in Turkey, navigating in a car through Norwegian cities, including Oslo was a breeze.

Understand that Scandinavian civil engineers deliberately design city streets to prevent speeding, often with speed limits of 30 or even 20 km/h. Motorways within the city limits allow 70 km/h maximum.

Parking in Norway

Parking in small towns is never really a problem in Norway. But in big cities parking for free in the centers or near centers is very hard to find, or even nearly impossible.

The most popular type of parking is the street parking meters and they always have clear markings. Park your car, and find the nearest automated parking meter (P-automat). Make a payment, then they usually ask you to place the receipt on the dashboard.

Often parking is free after 17:00 (5 pm) and on Sundays.

There are also parking lots and garages. Those are better to use for a longer term. The last time I used one of the lots in Oslo to spend a day in the city, I paid around $15. When we stayed in Bergen for over a month, we found free parking in Bergen only in a few spots as many streets were either reserved for residents or were available for payment only.

Another option would be to park for free in the residential area away from the city center and simply take a bus. But if you are in a small group, then paid parking is probably a better option. Buses generally cost around $3.7 per ride.

The fine for illegal parking is 700 NOK (~$80). In some cases, the city may tow your car at the driver’s expense. So you better don’t let that happen.

parking in Norway

Getting Fuel

As Norway slowly gets rid of diesel, now you are only going to rent a petrol-type car. Petrol in Norway is expensive, one of the highest in the world actually. You are lucky if you find gasoline for less than $2 per liter.

Many pumps in Norway are self-service. You will need to insert the card for authorization and select the fuel type (gasoline has the marking of “Bensin”). Some gas stations don’t accept cash anymore. And only some accept Apple and google pay.

In fact, in many gas stations now you cannot pay for the fuel at the store, where you buy sandwiches and coffee. Nowadays there is a separate company that runs the gas station shops and it doesn’t handle the fueling business. That’s why you pay only at the fuel station with the card.

And if your card for some reason won’t authorize, there will be no way to get fuel (that’s what happened to us twice and we had to go to another gas station with an empty tank). So you want to make sure there are no limits on your card and you remember your password as well as you may want to have another CC with you just in case.

In highly populated areas, gas stations are frequent. In remote areas, however, they can be easily a hundred kilometers apart from each other. Keep an eye on your fuel and google maps for the nearest station. And have your CC available.

Also, in the remote areas gas station usually close at 9 pm for the night. Although getting petrol from the machine is usually not a problem.

Driving in Norway in Winter

driving in winter in Norway

Life in Norway doesn’t stand still when winter comes. People still go about their business and tourism doesn’t stop either. Actually, it booms in December through February as it is the best time for the Northern Lights.

Driving in Norway in winter continues as usual despite snowfalls and polar nights. But it requires some caution of course. 

Norway as a Nordic country is well prepared for winters. If roads and especially highways get under heavy snow, local authorities despatch the road cleaning services as soon as possible. 

If you are planning to drive in Norway in winter, you absolutely want to have winter tires (and have to) from November 1st to sometime in April (depending on the year and how much snow the country gets).

Of course, all cars that you rent in Norway during the colder time of the year will have winter tires. But if you are bringing a car from a different country, this may not be the case. Or if you are renting a car for a long term starting in summer.

Just this past winter I took a rental car in December from Poland to Norway (which I rented in August and was using all over Europe) with hopes to drive to the north to see the northern lights.

But that car had all-seasons tires on it which was enough to drive only in the southern part of Norway and we couldn’t drive even to its central part, not to mention north. It was a pity.

Are There Toll Roads in Norway?

Yes, there are. Norway has around 190 toll stations around the country united by the AutoPASS system. A lot of them concentrate in large cities, like Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim.

If you use Google Apps for navigation, which I recommend doing, you can set “avoid tolls” as the routing option. However, there are some toll stations you simply cannot avoid or some you can drive around but it may cost you as much on fuel if not more as the toll itself.

For example, I used to avoid most of the tolls in Bergen, but the authorities probably read my post Tips on How to Avoid Tolls and Find Free Parking in Bergen because in 2019 they changed that to make it impossible to go around one of them, haha. Bummer.

Tolls in Norway (especially in cities) while not being too expensive, are everywhere and there are a lot of them. One toll one way can cost anywhere from $1-$15 (a higher price is usually set for a newly built expensive bridge or a tunnel. In those cases, this higher tag may be there until the cost of construction pays for itself).

But usually you need to go through a few of them to reach your destination. And if you are taking wrong turns or exits and do it multiple times throughout the day, that all adds up and may cost a fortune.

In general, it is better to stay away from big cities by car if you are there just to explore them. You need to rent a car in Norway to explore nature and everything that lies outside cities, not inside them.

renting and driving a car in Norway
Norwegian countryside

Anyway, tolls will just be part of your expenses in Norway and you should set a separate budget for them.

You will always find a blue billboard at the very toll. The board will indicate the price for the regular cars and for larger trucks. The stations are automated and don’t require you to stop.

If you are planning a road trip in Norway and would like to calculate the cost for the paid roads, you can use the Toll Calculator to help you with that.

You have two options to pay for the tolls. One is to do nothing. All rental cars come with the AutoPASS tracker. When you drop off the car, an agent will check the tracker and you can pay the sum at the desk. Some rental companies charge an additional fee for processing, but not every company. So ask about it in advance.

Another option is to register on AutoPASS yourself. You can do that even before you arrive in the country. This way all the bills will show on your account instead of going to your rental company. Once all the records accumulate, you will get an email with the request to pay online.

I used the AutoPASS option and it worked fine, however the time it takes to receive the bill is sometimes enormous. One time I had a car for a month and I received my bill one year later!

Wrapping Up This Guide to Car Hire in Norway 

Are you still thinking about whether you need to rent a car in Norway? In my opinion, it is a definite yes. There are not so many places on earth that can offer the magnificence of northern nature on a scale that Norway has.

And having a rental vehicle is not just the most comfortable way to travel, but simply is the only way to cover ground and reach places in a manner of short time.

Yes, Norway car rentals are expensive. But this expense is well worth it. And the thing is, the alternatives would not save you that much money as flights and tours are quite expensive in Norway too. Especially traveling in a group or even as a couple.

I dare you to come to Norway, go on a road trip, and have a journey of a lifetime! You’ll remember my words that renting a car in Norway is one of the best solutions to make on this trip!

brief guide to renting a car in Norway

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