Long-Distance Bus Travel in Norway

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Flying is the most common way to get around Norway. But it isn’t the only option. Here is what you need to know about intercity bus and coach services in Norway.

Perhaps it was the stress of the time that shall not be named (2020-22) but I’ve definitely noticed an increase in independent travel in Norway over the past year. Most notably, by people who are travelling around and visiting several places.

Bus on the Atlantic Road in Norway.
Bus on the Atlantic Road in Norway.

In previous years, I’ve seen such travellers use the railways. Although trains in Norway are slow and most locals choose to fly instead, they are a wonderful option for tourists.

So much so, that in the summer, some of Norway’s trains especially the famous Bergen Line are jam-packed full with tourists. But when the trains are full or inconvenient, there is another option for getting around Norway that many tourists miss.

Introducing Norway’s Intercity Bus Network

Travelling by coach isn't for everyone. At busy times, Norway's highways can be frustratingly slow. But the majority of intercity coaches are modern and comfortable, offer free wi-fi, and basic bathroom facilities.

Best of all for tourists, the fares are often the cheapest way to travel between two cities. But there is a huge caveat with coach travel. The network isn't comprehensive, and there are several operators around the country.

This can make planning a trip a bit of a headache, especially if you want to visit a smaller place. There will likely be a bus service, but it could be infrequent.

The two major operators to consider are Vy Express and Nor-Way Bussekspress. Both operators have route maps, which at least make high-level planning a bit easier. Let's look at each of them in turn.

Vy Express

Vy Express buses are double-deckers, with wider seats than a regular bus. Seats have more legroom and fold-out leg rests. Most buses offer free wi-fi and charging ports, either regular outlets or USB.

Double-decker Vy Express bus in the winter. Photo: Mads Kristiansen / Vy.
Double-decker Vy Express bus in the winter. Photo: Mads Kristiansen / Vy.

On some services, there are “plus” seats available, which are more spacious and located on the top floor. These are ideal for longer journeys, and on journeys where you plan to enjoy the scenic views.

Notable Vy Express Routes

Although primarily designed for locals, the Vy Express bus network offers a variety of routes that cater to different tourist interests, from scenic fjord views to access to popular hiking trails. Here's a summary of some notable routes:

Interested in long-distance bus travel? Check out the route network, timetables, and prices of Vy Express (affiliate link)

Oslo – Bergen (via Kristiansand, Stavanger, Haugesund): One of the country's longest bus routes, taking around 13.5 hours and covering about 850 km, including two ferry crossings between Stavanger and Bergen. Double-decker buses offer spacious seating and excellent views, particularly from the upper deck front seats.

Oslo – Ulsteinvik/Måløy: Approximately 10 hours of travel from Oslo through Lillehammer and Øyer, past Gudbrandsdalen to Lom, Strynefjellet, and on to Stryn in Nordfjord and Måløy on the Fjord coast. Highlights include access to Jotunheimen from Lom and adventure sports in Loen.

Oslo – Førde (via Sogndal): Travelling for about 8.5 hours, this route highlights the stark contrasts between Norway's eastern plains and the western fjords. Ideal for those aiming for an active mountain holiday, with stops like Gol and Hemsedal for mountain enthusiasts, and Lærdal and Sogndal for those drawn to the fjord landscapes of the Sognefjord.

Bergen – Ålesund (via Førde): About 9 hours and 45 minutes, providing extensive fjord views and including three ferry crossings. The journey crosses the Sognefjord and the Nordfjord, offering a gateway to coastal areas.

Nor-Way Bussekspress

The other main option in the southern half of Norway is Nor-Way Bussekspress. Many of the services serve popular skiing and hiking resorts.

The 'Valdres express' service in Beitostølen, Valdres. Photo: David Nikel.
The ‘Valdres express' service in Beitostølen, Valdres. Photo: David Nikel.

Some buses are double-decker but there are also smaller buses, yet all offer comfortable seating. On some routes, some premium options are available including more comfortable and spacious seating.

Notable Nor-Way Bussekspress Routes

Although primarily designed for locals, the Nor-way Ekspress bus network offers routes that also serve tourists. From scenic fjords to mountain views, here's some of the best routes for visitors:

Oslo – Haugesund/Bergen: Travel time is approximately 8.5 hours to Bergen and 8 hours and 15 minutes to Haugesund. This route connects Oslo with Seljestad, and from Seljestad, passengers can continue to Odda and Bergen. Odda is basecamp for the Trolltunga hike, and it's the reason that many travellers use this service.

Oslo – Stavanger (via Arenal, Kristiansand, Flekkefjord): A 9.5-hour journey that connects Oslo with Kristiansand, offering over 100 weekly departures and continuing to the beautiful coastal town of Flekkefjord and Stavanger. This route is ideal for families, with a recommendation to stop in Kristiansand for activities suitable for all ages.

Oslo – Valdres: This route known as the ‘Valdres Express' connects Oslo with three destinations in the hiking paradise of Valdres, offering daily departures throughout the year. The journey from Oslo to Årdalstangen takes around 5 hours, and to Beitostølen about 3 hours and 47 minutes.

Bergen – Sogndal (via Voss, Flåm, Lærdal): Takes around 5 hours, stopping at Voss, Flåm, and Lærdal. The route offers a combination of bus and train travel via the famous Flåmsbana and possible boat trips between Flåm and Bergen.

Bergen – Førde: A 3-hour and 25-minute trip that offers both mountain and fjord views, with two ferry crossings included.

Bergen – Stavanger (via Stord, Haugesund): Roughly 4.5 hours, connecting Bergen with Haugesund and Stavanger and featuring scenic views of fjords and rural landscapes along the way.

Long-Distance Bus Travel in Northern Norway

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that neither of the main intercity bus companies serve Northern Norway. In the north, this service is incorporated into the public transport run by the county authorities.

Local bus in Lofoten. Photo: David Nikel.
Local bus in Lofoten. Photo: David Nikel.

This actually makes it easier to plan your journeys, as you can use the national transport planner En Tur, which also covers trains and local buses.

International Bus Routes

From Oslo Bus Terminal, it's possible to travel internationally by bus to places in Denmark, Sweden, and Germany. Onward connections are also available, depending on the operator.

Vy Express operates a regular service between Oslo and Copenhagen, while companies including Flixbus also offer international routes.

FAQ: Bus Travel in Norway

Here are some answers to common questions about long-distance bus and coach travel in Norway.

Interested in long-distance bus travel? Check out the route network, timetables, and prices of Vy Express (affiliate link)

Do I have a guaranteed seat? On long-distance services, you'll get to choose a seat in advance, and have the opportunity to upgrade. On some shorter services, there may be open seating.

Can I buy/bring food on board? Buses in Norway don't offer food or drinks for sale. In fact, it's not permitted to communicate with the driver while the bus is in motion. However, passengers can bring their own food and drinks. Some longer routes have comfort breaks at which it's possible to buy food, while others include ferry crossings where food and drinks would be available to buy on the ferry.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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2 thoughts on “Long-Distance Bus Travel in Norway”

  1. Very interesting article, I have been following your site for over a year – we had the pleasure of listening to your talks on a Fred.O cruise a couple of weeks ago – our first ever cruise and we enjoyed and would love to visit Norway again. the dog sledding was fantastic, the arctic train likewise – sadly we didn’t get to see the sea eagles and the maelstrom near Bodo due to cancellation of docking. I am definitely going to explore the bus services – in particular visiting Forde – my namesake 🙂 (and I apparently have Scandinavian DNA)! Keep up the excellent information you provide. thank you


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