Saturday, 18 January 2014

Travelling through Norway by car


Hiring or bringing a car to travel through Norway is an easy and reasonably affordable option that allows for great flexibility. We spent ten days working our way around the southern and central part of the country, and although I am sorry that we missed out on some of the famous rail journeys offered, we were more than satisfied with our choice. We could stop whenever we wanted (and with breathtaking views around every corner, we stopped often), discovered tiny towns and unexpected routes and moved at our own pace. Even the roads themselves were interesting - the sheer number of tunnels is amazing, some including their own roundabouts and stunning light installations.

The roads were always in great condition and the driving rules similar to those of other European countries, although the speed limits are very conservative, and once we'd set off on our first day, realised that we would have to allow a considerable amount more time to traverse longer distances.

Here's a rough map of our trip - we covered almost 2000 miles in around ten days, with plenty of time to stop off frequently and visit multiple natural wonders, museums and towns along the way.

View Larger Map

We arrived in Norway without a fixed plan - we knew we were beginning and ending in Oslo, and that we wanted to hike Preikestolen (point 'C' on the map), but apart from that we took each day as it came, determining our daily distance based on how we were feeling and what appealed to us. This flexibility helped us to discover places we probably wouldn't have included if we'd have fixed our itinerary before starting out, and also allowed us to base our routes on weather conditions (for example, we tackled a snowy, exposed mountain pass in our little car on a clear, fine day - if it had been very windy or raining heavily we probably would have chosen an alternate road).

However, flexibility and lack of advance planning does come at a price - booking accommodation at short notice during the summer meant that rooms were very expensive and we were more limited in terms of options. We saved in other ways - buying lunch at petrol stations instead of restaurants was one way to keep costs low, and as the many natural wonders we visited were free, our 'entertainment' budget was mostly limited to the odd car park or ferry ride. Norway is not a cheap country, however, and booking our accommodation in advance would have saved a considerable amount. It's worth weighing up priorities and making an informed decision.

For us, the freedom that came with jumping in the car and following interesting signposts, recommendations from hotel staff and just driving around was worth the cost, and we arrived back in Oslo overwhelmed and amazed by all we'd seen.


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