- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Norway Guide (PDF)
The public transport system in Norway is efficient and comprehensive, with most of the country covered by trains, bus services and ferry lines. As such, expats will find getting around in Norway easy and free of hassles.
Since much of Norway is located on the coast, ferries are sometimes the fastest form of transport. The Hurtigruten ferry service follows the entire coastline from north to south and is good for a touristic and leisurely look at expats' new home country. From Oslo, regular ferries take passengers to Denmark, Sweden and Germany. There are also ferry lines from the south of Norway to the UK.
Public transport in Norway
Cities such as Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim have excellent public transport systems. The larger cities have regular and reliable bus, tram and train routes that take commuters wherever they need to go. Buses and trams depart every five, 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the time of day and route. Outside normal hours, they leave every 20 or 30 minutes within the city limits.
Long-distance trains and buses have schedules for each city, which are easy to find online, and all train information can be accessed on the Norwegian State Railway, Vy (formerly NSB) website. Public transport is costly, but there are cost-effective options for long-term use that cover several forms of transport, such as season tickets.
The country's main railway station is the Oslo Central Station (Oslo Sentralstasjon), which is the central point for rail travel within the country. Vy offers domestic services around the country, while international trains travel to Gothenburg, Stockholm (via Karlstad), northern Sweden and down to Malmö.
Oslo's central station is also located next to the main bus station, where all express and international buses depart and arrive, and the city can be reached by bus from most of Europe. Norway's respective counties are responsible for administrating their individual public bus services, while a number of private local and international companies run long-distance bus services.
Driving in Norway
Norwegians drive on the right-hand side of the road. While some expats buy cars in Norway, it’s important to understand driving in the country's winter conditions before taking to the roads.
Major roads in Norway are good, but this changes once one leaves the south. The sparsely populated areas and rough, mountainous terrain mean that major roads are few and often only consist of two lanes. On weekends and holidays, these roads back up with traffic for hours, so it’s good to plan for delays.
Depending on where their driving licence was issued, an expat can use their home country licence in Norway, but may have to eventually exchange it for a Norwegian licence. When exchanging their foreign driving licence, it must be sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles (Vegvesen), with an application for exchange. Foreigners may also be required to take a driving test, which requires substantial fees. European Economic Area (EEA) residents can use their home country driving licence provided it is valid.
Expats thinking of getting their driving licence in Norway should consider avoiding the hassle. With the excellent public transport options in the country, there is no real need for an expatriate to own or drive a car unless they have children.
Those who are still intent on doing it should expect to spend a lot of time and money. Besides learning basic skills, drivers must also learn to drive on ice and handle snowy conditions.
Regulations on cars and driving are strict. Fines are based on the offender's salary (the state has this information); so, the richer the driver is, the sorrier they will be for speeding. Norway has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving, with exorbitant fines and prison sentences for offenders.
The country uses a points system (prikkbelastning) to handle traffic offenders. Two points are issued for most violations, except in the smallest speeding cases.
If eight or more points are issued during a three-year period, the driving licence is temporarily revoked, usually for six months. Each point is deleted when three years have passed since the violation took place. Following the restoration of driving privileges after the six-month ban, one's driving record gets cleared.
Domestic flights in Norway
Regular flights service Norway and its surrounding areas. There are a few local airlines in Norway, including Scandinavian Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Widerøe, along with several other charter companies. Many international airlines fly into Norway as well.
►Getting Around in Oslo gives info on public transport in the capital city
"Public transport is good and clean, and largely on time. I am amazed always at the cost of things, but you can easily get around without a car. Bikes are also well used - and Oslo has a community bike programme, so you don't even need to own your own bike to cycle from place to place. Especially in Oslo, you need not have a car, but it's probably a nice thing to have."
Check out our interview with American expat Laura to learn about the expat experience in Norway.
Are you an expat living in Norway?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Norway. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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