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Public Transportation in Norway

Moving to Norway is the ideal thing to do for expats who like fjords, reindeer, and harsh winters — among other things. However, the captivating scenery is not all that Norway has to offer. In our InterNations Expat Guide you will learn all about moving to Norway: the visa requirements, public transportation system, and more.
Norway has an excellent public transportation network spreading all across the country.

Long-Distance Buses

Those who decide not to explore Norway by car will be glad to hear that Norway has a comprehensive and reliable bus system for long-distance travels. Nor-Way Bussekspress runs one of the largest express bus networks in Norway. They run 18 routes, mostly across the south of Norway, and tickets can be pre-booked online via the Nor-Way Bussekspress website.

Tickets for buses operated by Lavprisekspressen can be slightly cheaper than those of Nor-Way Bussekspress However, they only run a very limited number of routes, such as from Oslo to Trondheim.

Keep in mind that most local timetables and some of the long-distance bus schedules are not as extensive on the weekends and during the winter months — the latter being the case particularly in the north. At bigger bus stations and tourist offices you can pick up a copy of the different bus routes and their timetables.

It is not necessary to make prior reservations when you book a seat on a bus. However, your chances of getting your hands on a good travel deal are higher if you get your ticket early on, particularly in buses departing from Oslo. Tickets are available at bus stations or upon boarding buses, as well as online. While fares are based on the distance you will travel, many companies offer discounts for students, children, seniors, and families.

Travel Comfortably by Train

If you prefer to travel by train, Norway offers several routes and connections with the Norwegian State Railways (NSB). The network is limited compared to that of the long-distance buses, but the service is excellent.

Norway’s fantastic scenery makes train journeys often enjoyable and a good way to travel for expats and tourists alike, as you can see much of the country while also traveling at a fast pace. The train journey from Oslo to Bergen comes highly recommended in terms of scenic landscapes.

On most of Norway’s trains, you can choose between regular seating or “NSB Komfort”, which resembles first class and offers a little bit more space. All in all, taking the train does not come cheap in Norway, so be prepared for higher costs. Through the NSB website the minipris system offers some budget train tickets every month, which can make train travel quite affordable. These tickets tend to sell out quickly due to high demand, so make sure to look regularly.

Traveling by Air: Saving Time and Money

There are 59 different airports in Norway, and flights cover various routes between the north and the south. As Norway stretches across 324,220 km² and extends about 1,750 km from north to south, traveling by air can save lots of money and time. These three airlines are examples of some which operate domestic and international flights from many destinations in Norway:

Travelers can easily get their hands on tickets which are just as expensive as the train fares. It is worth shopping around online to find deals and save money — particularly low prices can be found when booking in advance.

Traveling with a View: Ferries

Ferry lines can be a useful mode of transport, as all of Norway’s large cities (Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Tromsø) sit on the coast. Ferries can vary in sizes, including great tourist routes from north to south, smaller commuter ferries in the north, and shorter fjord-crossing journeys. Traveling by water is often faster than traditional land-based transportation, thanks to significantly less traffic. Journeys around Norway can be split between driving and ferries by using car ferries for fjord crossings or for longer parts of the journey.

Ferries can also be more enjoyable than airplanes or buses, allowing direct access to the natural beauty of Norwegian mountains, fjords, and its top-notch coastal air. The Hurtigruten ferry line offers a particularly good service along the entire Norwegian coastline, from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the far north. The Hurtigruten ferry caters for locals as well as expats and tourists, by the very efficient online ‘port to port’ booking system. Both short distances and long cruises can be booked online, with lower prices to be found when you book far in advance.

Driving in Norway

Driving a car offers more freedom than public transportation. Norway’s public transport system is efficient and developed within its bigger cities, but travelling in the more sparsely populated northern areas can make driving a better option.

Keep in mind that Norway has extremely icy conditions on the roads during its winters and frequent snow; it may be wise to invest in special winter tires or snow spikes. Moreover, the rough, mountainous terrain means that there is not an abundance of major roads connecting cities, with these often consisting of just two lanes. The roads can be difficult to navigate, and narrow passes can cause heavy traffic.

Many Norwegians will often tell you that, despite the freedom associated with driving around, it is simply not worth the hefty costs. Even though Norway is an oil-rich country, due to high taxes Norway has very high fuel prices. The costs of taxes on cars can also sometimes be expensive, with a VAT rate of 25% of the car’s value when you import a car to Norway.

However, expats may use their original driving license from their home country for up to a year before requiring a Norwegian license. Please note that EU or EEA residents are not required to exchange their home license for a Norwegian one, provided that theirs is valid.

If you do decide to acquire a Norwegian driving license, be prepared to spend in the regions of thousands of kroner — this is not uncommon. Driving lessons are thorough, as you must learn to drive on ice and during heavy snowfall, which can take many months if you are coming from a country with a different climate. Once you have learned to drive, the test itself can be very expensive. Take extra care when driving, as Norway has strict driving regulations, with fines proportionate to your individual salary.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

David Hicks

"Thanks to my network on InterNations, I already had some contact persons to ask for support on coming to Oslo. "

Amelie Barreau

"Enjoying the great spirit of our InterNations’ Oslo Community for the last few months, I am absolutely convinced of the vision to bring people from different nations together."

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