NOTE: All advice given here are suggestions only. I cannot be held liable for any misunderstandings or issues that might arise by following these suggestions. You are, as always, encouraged to do your own research.
Why is it so bloody expensive?
Norway’s oil, gas and marine resources has made us one of the richest countries in the world. 5.2 million people share this enormous wealth, and we have a common pension fund that is so large that we could buy Denmark. Twice. This has driven salaries and prices up. But do not worry. Check out the Shoestring Tip section to learn how to get by on a budget.
When is the best time to visit?
May through September is the best period for biking. Some high mountain passes might not be open by May, so if you’re here early, keep ahead with the weather and driving condition reports.
What is the weather like?
Sometimes it’s really sunny and very warm. Sometimes it pisses down. You never know, so be prepared for everything. But if secured bikini weather is on top of your wish list, Norway is perhaps not the place you’d visit anyway.
How do I get there with my bike?
You can ride here, of course, through Denmark and Sweden. By ferry it’s unfortunately getting harder. These days, there are only regular passenger ferry connections from Kiel (D), Hirtshals (DK), Copenhagen (DK) and Fredrikshavn (DK) to Norway (they arrive in Oslo, Larvik and Kristiansand). The ferry operators are mainly DFDS Seaways and Color Line. However, there is a back door from the UK. DFDS Seaways operate a freight ship from Immingham (UK) to Brevik (NO). It takes up to 12 passengers (it is rarely fully booked) and your bike, and those who have used it gives it high remarks, even for being pretty affordable.
UPDATE SEPT. 2016: Apparently, DFDS Seaways does no longer accept passengers on the route from Immingham. Please notify us if you get any new info on these sad news.
If you’re from overseas, I guess you need to contact an air freighter, but I have no experience with this so make your own research.
Where can I rent a bike?
Bike rentals are few and far between. I only know of these.
Can I use *any* bike?
Yes. I have been touring extensively on a Yamaha WR250R, but have also toured on a Guzzi 1400 California. We have toured with sidecars. My daughter and I have been touring on pizza delivery mopeds. Everything is possible. It’s the mindset, not the tool, that is important.
I speak English only – will that be a problem?
Not at all. Nearly all Norwegians speaks English, and quite a few speaks German, Spanish and/or French too.
What if I have a mechanical problem with my bike?
Check your road side recovery insurance before you leave. If you don’t have that, call your good friends at the Norwegian Motorcyclists’ Union (NMCU) for help and advice.
What if I get ill?
If you’re an EU/EEA citizen, your treatment will be covered by the same health provisions that Norwegian citizens enjoy. It is a universal, state funded system of high quality. Just remember to bring your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to prove your affiliation to your home country’s health insurance scheme. Otherwise, and if not being an EU/EEA citizen, you need to purchase a separate travel/medical insurance.
What if I get injured in a crash?
You will always get emergency treatment at any hospital in Norway, whatever your insurance status may be. In case of an accident, emergency medics are reached by dialing 113.
Will I get mugged or have my bike nicked?
Even though we too have our share of petty thefts, especially in the cities, Norway is considered a pretty safe society. Of course there are reports of bikes being stolen and people getting mugged, but fortunately these are rare occurrences. Take normal precautions and you’ll be just fine. If you should experience bad things, contact the police by dialing 112.
Any particular animal hazards? Polar bears and stuff?
Elk/moose and – particularly in the north – reindeer might pose a risk to riders when they stray out on the roads. In the mountains, you may encounter sheep and sometimes goats on the road. Just keep your vigilant eye out, and slow down if you encounter animals along the road. Mosquitoes, midges and – to a lesser extent – ticks may be annoying so bring a proper repellant, especially if you venture all the way north. We do not have any really poisonous animals or insects to be afraid of, and polar bears are found only at the Spitsbergen islands close to the North Pole, where you wouldn’t bring your bike anyway. We have a small band of wolves in the forests in the South-East close to the border to Sweden, but I have never encountered any of them on any of my tours there. I guess they run off before you can even sense them.
What kind of accommodation can I expect to find?
Hotels are all over the place, but typically expensive. You might get better prices if you show up at the front desk and ask for a good rate. Sometimes they may offer you a real bargain.
Hostels are one of my favorites, as there are quite many of them, they are safe, offer great prices, and you meet great people there. Check out this webpage to find hostels with the right mindset, and get a membership card for even better rates.
Camp sites are all over Norway, and they offer everything from a spot to put up your tent to cabins in all sizes and prices. Cabins (“hytter”) are nice to settle into if the weather turns foul, and there are more than 18000 of them scattered all over the country. They are usually very price-worthy, especially if you are more than one traveler, as the price is set per cabin, not per person.
The best thing about Norway is the Public Right of Access Act. It give everybody free access to the wilderness, and you can pitch you tent wherever you want to stay a night (not in people’s gardens, please). So find yourself a spot along your route (it’s not hard in this country), pitch your tent, settle in and enjoy your stay!
Can I ride off-road?
No. The road can be in poor condition, may look like a fire trail or whatever, but you need to stay on some sort of road with your bike. Monetary penalties for getting caught on your bike off road are severe.
What is the traffic like?
The traffic is usually slow and polite, and except for in the larger towns of Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger and Tromsø, we rarely suffer from traffic congestion. The traffic laws are being obeyed in Norway, as monetary penalties for breaking them are severe (e.g. NOK 5.200,- for running on a red light). Norway has the lowest accident rate for motorcyclists in the whole of Europe.
It’s worth noting that motorcycles enjoy many advantages in the traffic: You may ride in the bus lane, there are no road tolls, rarely tunnel tolls, cheaper on ferries, no parking fees in designated lots, and yes – you are allowed to filter in a queue.
What should I do with ferry queues?
Norway has many ferries, and you are bound to end up on at least one of them. Fortunately, the crossings are usually short. Here´s how to behave like a native: Always ride up to the front of the car queue. The ferry crew likes to stack bikes where there is no room for a car, so they board bikes first (explain this to foreign drivers in the queue, if they protest). Do not try to embark until clearly signaled by the crew. If the ferry has an open car deck, you can stay by your bike during the short crossing if you wish. If this is not possible, ask the crew if the water is calm during the crossing or if you need to tie down your bike (I have only once tied my bike down during a crossing, which was close to 45 mins long in rough waters). They usually help you with the tie-down. Go to the cafeteria and order “svele” (tastes like waffles, only better), a coffee, and enjoy the crossing. When arriving at the other side: Never start disembarking until the crew clearly signals you. Always obey the crew´s directions, and give them a friendly nod – they help us all getting to the sweet riding spots. All ferries accept cards, and are inexpensive to use.
How many days must I spend to go to the North Cape?
Plan on spending at least 10 days, plus time to and from Norway. The trick is to race through Sweden and northern Finland, enter Norway and head off to the North Cape. Then you take the spectacular coast road down Norway. You will find route suggestions in this blog.
How far is it between petrol stations?
Not far. They are all over the place, even up in the sparsely populated north due to the tourist traffic in the summer. In the very few cases where there is a wee stretch between petrol stations, there will be a sign warning you of this so you can fill up at the closest one.
Can I use my credit card there?
Yes. Norway has a goal of becoming cashless within a few years. Even most parking fee automates accepts credit cards. Debet cards issued by foreign banks with no Norwegian affiliation may be a problem some places, though, so check with your bank before you leave.
Which are the best roads?
Apart from in the area around the capitol Oslo, you really can’t go wrong wherever you choose to go, but as always: The smaller it shows up on the map, the better it is for bikes. Keep an eye on route suggestions that will constantly be put up on this blog. A good place to start, though, is the webpage for the National Tourist Routes.
What is there to see?
Norway is all about nature. Some places are out-of-this world scenic. You might get some ideas by following the trip reports on this blog. Also, check visitnorway.com for tips.
Why are there so many tunnels?
To speed up transit between the towns and cities in mountainous Norway, we need to have tunnels. Some of them are old and poorly lit. The trick is to keep one eye closed as you near the tunnel entrance, and open it again when you enter. Your eye should have adapted somewhat to the poorer light conditions in the tunnel. You can also check the map for an open road as there most lightly is a road somewhere near which the tunnel has substituted.
Is it OK to drink the tap water?
Yes. Food and water hygiene is top notch. You can even drink water from most lakes (not stand-still water, though) and rivers in the wild.
Can I have couple of beers or glasses of wine for lunch?
Sure – but then you cannot ride your bike further that day. Norwegian police strictly enforces the 0.02 alcohol limit (which for all practical purposes is a zero tolerance), and driving under influence is severly penalized. You will face heavy fines (even by Norwegian standards), your license will be confiscated and no longer be valid in Norway, and – in serious cases – you will see time behind bars. You will get your license back when you leave Norway, but the police may inform your home country´s authorities, which – if you are an EU/EEA citizen – may cause you to lose driving privileges in all of EU/EEA. The police are entitled to do arbitrary road side checks, and they do this in the most unlightly places, 24/7/365. But you have probably got the picture by now: Whatever you are used to in your home country, do NOT drink and drive while in Norway.
Motorcycle heaven, maybe – but not exactly speed heaven?
Norway has in general low speed limits, true. But you don’t want to hasten through, as the roads and views calls for a slower speed anyway. Take your time and enjoy your trip!
Leave a comment if you have additional questions and/or answers to contribute with!