Whether you’re a seasoned van-lifer like me or a first-timer, Norway is an ideal destination for a motorhome adventure. Travel at your own pace, take in the breathtaking scenery, and enjoy the flexibility of having your own home on wheels. But first, learn all the ins and outs of campervan travel in Norway.
What To Know When Planning A Motorhome Road Trip Around Norway?
Renting a motorhome can be a great way to explore the beautiful country of Norway, but before you do it, here are some things to consider first.
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1. Deciding on the size of your Motorhome
Whilst there are highways in Norway, chances are that if you are coming here as a tourist you will be spending most of the time in small towns and National Parks, amongst the mountains and Fjords.
As you can probably guess then the roads in those areas are quite narrow and windy. Sometimes only wide enough for one car to drive. Special bays have been set up every few hundred meters where the cars coming from opposite directions can pull to the side and let the others pass. They are marked with signs with the letter ‘M’ on them.
Most of the time however even though the roads are narrow they are still wide enough for two cars to pass safely without causing any collision.
In my opinion, going for something like the Mercedes Sprinter or Fiat Ducato L2H2 is a much better and road-friendlier option than big boxed campervans. They are also more fuel economical.
2. Decide on the place where you want to start your road trip around Norway
Most people coming from abroad will follow their general instinct and choose Oslo as their starting point for a road trip around Norway. Whilst Oslo is a good place to set out, it isn’t the best.
Bergen – Norway’s second biggest city is much closer to the big Fjords than Oslo. To me, however, the best place to start a road trip in Norway is Ålesund.
You can still land in Oslo and then catch an internal flight to either Bergen or Ålesund or a scenic train between Oslo and Bergen.
It’s also possible to do a one-way trip and choose a different pickup and drop-off location for your campervan. For example, you can start your road trip in Stavanger in the South and finish it in Bergen further North. Below are some of my itineraries for a road trip across Norway.
- Oslo to Oslo in 10-14 days across mountains and fjords
- Bergen to Bergen in 7-10 days for hiking enthusiasts
- Ålesund to Ålesund in 7-10 days for adventure seekers
- Stavanger to Bergen through the tourist hotspots of Norway
3. Budget vs. freedom of campervan travel in Norway
Whilst personally, I think there is no better way to explore Norway than driving in a campervan, whether that’s the most budget-friendly option would be up for debate.
On the one hand, you will save a lot of money on hotels. However, motorhomes aren’t the most fuel-efficient vehicles, and driving up and down the mountains in them, adds significantly to fuel consumption.
If you are traveling in a group then renting a Motorhome will make more sense. If there are just the two of you then the cost of renting a motorhome and staying at campsites vs. renting a small car and staying in hotels will be either the same or higher.
What motorhomes give you however is freedom. With dozens of different campsites in each location, pre-booking them is hardly ever necessary. So if you have fallen in love with a particular place and decide to stay a day or two longer being in a campervan will certainly allow that.
4. How much does it cost to rent a campervan in Norway in 2023?
Prices for a motorhome rental in Norway start at around 2000 euros (2200 USD) /week in the summer season of 2023. The price usually includes a kilometer package (250 km/day). That’s plenty enough if you plan on following one of my Norway itineraries.
You can also purchase extra-kilometer packages, and rent extra camping gear, or child seats if needed.
The best way to check prices for motorhome rentals in Norway is by using the Motorhome Republic webpage. It’s a search and booking engine for campervans and it compares prices between different companies that offer campervan rental in Norway.
When is the best time to travel in a motorhome in Norway?
Speaking of seasons. I don’t think the word summer should exist in a Norwegian dictionary. A summer season for me means 25+ degree weather (the high 70s Fahrenheit) and plenty of sunshine.
Whilst days like these do happen in Norway they are really few and far between. Most of the time the skies are gloomy, it rains a lot and the temperature oscillates around mid-teens (high 50s/low 60s Fahrenheit).
The best time to travel to Norway is August. This is when the weather is the most stable. July tends to be quite rainy and that was the case for me during the two summer seasons I spent in Norway. September is a good month too, however, nights can already get freezing cold.
May and June are ok if you don’t plan on doing much hiking. Some mountain roads only start opening in Mid-May though, so it’s something you should take under consideration when planning a motorhome trip to Norway.
4. Hidden fees and insurance
Shop around for the best rental rates and be aware of any additional fees, such as mileage or cleaning fees. Also be aware of deposits you have to pay, insurance excess, what’s covered and what’s not.
Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for your campervan rental. Check with your own auto insurance provider to see if your policy extends to rental vehicles, and consider purchasing additional coverage if necessary.
6. Bringing your own campervan to Norway from mainland Europe or the UK
It is definitely possible to bring your own campervan into Norway. I’ve done it twice myself. You can also rent one in your home country (provided you live in Europe of course) and travel with it to Norway.
This will cut out the cost of a flight, but will significantly add kilometers and fuel consumption. You will also have to book a ferry or drive across the Øresund bridge from Denmark to Sweden and then onwards to Norway.
By the way, I do not recommend driving to Norway across the Øresund Bridge. It might seem like a cheaper option, but with the extra time, kilometers, and the hefty fee for the bridge crossing (over 100 Euros) you will end up spending more.
7. How to find campsites in Norway?
Campsites in Norway are everywhere. I swear, when I traveled across the country I had the impression that every Norwegian owns a caravan or a Motorhome. It seems to be the most beloved way of traveling for the locals.
The campsite system in Norway is the best I have encountered. I think only New Zealand could compete with it. When I was looking for a campsite in the location I found myself in I always used the Camp4Night app. It provides campsite reviews and pricing.
You can also just use Google Maps or simply follow road signs. Campsites in Norway are very well signposted and, really they are everywhere!
Each map in my Norway Travel Itineraries contains a layer with many campsites which you will find along the routes.
8. How much do campsites in Norway cost
In most touristy areas campsites cost around 30-35 Euro per night per site and the site usually fits one Motorhome or one car and a tent next to it.
Close to bigger cities like Bergen, the prices go up to around 40-45 Euro per night/site. You usually have to pay a little extra for using the campsite facilities like showers or washing machines.
9. What facilities can you expect at campsites?
Speaking of facilities. Campgrounds in Norway are amazing at providing great facilities to their guests. Sometimes they might be a little outdated (in less touristy areas), but they are always very clean.
Hot showers, fully equipped kitchens, small convenience stores, and picnic tables are things you can expect to find at each campsite.
Some (but not all) also have laundry rooms and lounge areas to hang out in when it is raining outside. Wi-Fi is also often provided, but in my experience, it’s never great.
Bear in mind that most of the time showers either operate on tokens, which you get from the reception, or Norwegian krona coins. They are often limited to 5 minutes. The cost of a shower is usually between 10-30 NOK (1-3 Euro). Laundry typically costs around 50 NOK per load and the same goes for driers.
9. Is freedom camping allowed in Norway?
We have all heard of the great stories of freedom camping in Norway. Whilst Allemansretten, known as the freedom to roam, isn’t just a myth, freedom camping isn’t as straightforward as you might think.
When it comes down to finding a free parking spot in a touristy area, it’s impossible unless you want to break some rules. In most touristy towns there are signs limiting motorhome parking to a few hours or “no overnight parking” signs are in place.
It’s easy to find off-road camping spots if you are in less touristy spots by using the Park4Night app. However, most of you who come to Norway for just a week or two will be sticking around to touristy areas.
Personally, I think not wasting precious time on finding free sites and just staying at campsites is the best way to go. Campsites are cheap and a Motorhome shower can never compete with a normal-sized one at a campsite.
10. What to do with your waste?
Campervans are usually equipped with two waste tanks. One is for the grey water, coming from the kitchen sink or shower. The other is a cassette for human waste from the toilet.
You can empty both of them at dump stations. Every campsite has at least one dump station. Dump stations can also sometimes be found in rest areas on the side of the roads or in towns. They are well signposted with a picture of a campervan and an arrow pointing down from it.
Never ever dump your waste into rivers or drain grates. It’s also prohibited to empty your chemical toilet into public toilets.
TIP: Make sure to empty your grey and black water tanks before returning your campervan, otherwise, extra charges might apply.
11. Where to fill up water in your campervan in Norway?
You can fill up your water tank at any campsite and many gas stations. The water in Norway, coming from the glaciers, is top quality and tap water is safe to drink everywhere.
12. Is driving a motorhome in Norway difficult?
It can be if you have never driven a motorhome before. As a solo female traveler who drove all the way from the South of Norway to the Lofoten Islands and back I have never once felt unsafe on the roads.
There is a first time for everything. I think if you want to experience van life for the first time and you chose Norway for it, you have nothing to worry about.
The roads are never very busy. The locals are very good at obeying speed limits and everything is very well signposted.
13. Taking your campervan on a ferry in Norway
Ferries are an important part of the transport system in Norway. Without them, many places would have been inaccessible. Chances are you will be taking ferries quite a few times during your road trip. Don’t worry though the system is very easy to wrap your head around.
You simply pull up to the ferry terminal and wait for the next ferry to arrive. when it is time to load, you will be assisted by one of the crew members who will point to you where to park your car. You then travel across the fjord and get off on the other side. Simple as that.
The ferry crossings involve fees (usually 10-12 Euros). On rare occasions, you have to pay directly at the ferry terminal (someone usually approaches your car window and collects the payment by card. Most of the time however you are just billed later by AutoPASS – an automated toll-collecting system.
If you hire a campervan in Norway, your provider will normally have the vehicle registered with AutoPASS. Check with your rental if you will be charged for the ferry crossings at the end.
If you bring your own campervan to Norway you should register your plates with EPASS24. You can also add your credit/debit card to the system and the charges will be collected automatically.
14. Tunnels and bridges in Norway
Did you know that Norway’s tunnels total over 1000 kilometers in length? Norway also has the World’s longest tunnel. The Lærdaltunnel has 24.5 kilometers. If you would like to drive through it then follow my Bergen to Bergen itinerary.
As exciting as it sounds though, the tunnels can get quite annoying. You drive along a beautiful Fjord, enjoying the views, and here comes the tunnel. You emerge for a few kilometres then back to the tunnel. Sometimes it feels like a never-ending story.
The tunnels in Norway are big. Once I even encountered a roundabout in a tunnel! You don’t have to worry when driving your campervan through them.
Norway has lots of bridges too. Similarly to ferries, some tunnels and bridges cost money to cross, but the payment is collected automatically with the same systems which I mentioned above.
15. General driving rules in Norway
I hope you are still with me. Last but not least I should mention the general rules which you have to obey in Norway.
- Speed limits are very low. Usually, it is 80km (50 mi) per hour outside of towns/cities and 30-50km in towns and cities. Most of the time though it’s not even possible to drive that fast on mountainous roads,
- Seatbelts have to be worn at all times,
- You always have to have daylights on (most cars are equipped with them),
- The legal limit for alcohol is 0.02%,
- No texting and driving! This can get you into a lot of trouble.
The interesting thing is though, that during the 2 summer seasons I traveled in Norway, I maybe saw a police vehicle a couple of times. This is a very safe country whose citizens look out for one another.
Do you have any further questions about campervan travel in Norway or would like to add some more useful information? Post them in the comments below. Happy travels!