Driving to Norway from the UK

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Travelling from Britain to Norway? There are alternatives to flying. Here is everything you need to know about travelling from the UK to Norway by ferry.

As a regular visitor to Norway, until this summer every single one of my journeys had taken me up 30,000 feet to get there.

View from the car ferry

However, with a five-week stay pencilled in throughout July and August, this time around I decided a road trip would be something different and the decision to drive to Norway was made.

Is there a ferry to Norway from the UK?

Unfortunately gone are the days where you could hop onto the Newcastle-Bergen ferry, that sailed for the last time in 2008 after being established for over 140 years.

The advent of cheap flights means there are currently no direct ferry routes between the UK and Scandinavia, although there are rumours for a new one. More on that later.

Norway Travel Resources: When you're in Norway, make the most of your time with a guided tour. Check out the best accommodation in Norway to meet your needs. And don't forget travel insurance.

As a result, to get your car into Norway, you'll need to go on a bit of detour, but on the plus side you'll see more of Europe, get to put your foot down when you hit the unrestricted autobahn and avoid some of the general annoyances that only seem to ever crop up at UK airports.

Why Take Your car to Norway?

For a short stay, taking a car is pointless, but if like me you've got an extended trip, or if you're moving to Norway for a longer period, then taking a vehicle has many advantages.

Firstly, the minute you set off, your holiday commences. You can take detours, stop in cities you have never visited before and travel at your own pace.

Driving through Rondane National Park
Rondane National Park (Photo: Helge Stikbakke / Statens vegvesen)

The other plus point is that you can carry far more items with you when compared to flying; bikes, camping gear, sporting equipment etc. and it's much less hassle packing. Finally, if you plan on exploring Norway, a car makes things far more accessible for seeing Scandinavian scenery and landscapes.

What's the best way to leave the UK and get to mainland Europe?

The first decision you'll have to make is how to leave UK shores, and there are six options, one of them by rail, the others by sea:

  • Eurotunnel: 35-minute crossing
  • Dover to Calais: 120-minute crossing
  • Harwich to Hook of Holland: 8-hour crossing
  • Hull to Rotterdam: 11-hour crossing
  • Hull to Zeebrugge: 15-hour crossing
  • Newcastle to Amsterdam: 16-hour crossing

Which one you take might depend on whereabouts in the UK you are starting your journey from, but the easiest, quickest, likely cheapest and one I recommend is the Eurotunnel.

What about the Immingham to Brevik freight ferry?

If you've been Googling ways to get over to Norway via Ferry from the UK, you have probably seen some blogs and forums talking about the Immingham to Brevik Freight Ferry.

Up until 2016, this ferry did allow general passengers to board with their vehicles. However, this option is now unavailable after UK border agency cutbacks meant they refused to do immigration checks. You can however still load your car onto the ferry, but you cannot travel with it. So you will have to fly and collect it when it arrives.

Tips for getting from the UK to Norway by car and ferry

The journey I took started in London. Then it was Folkestone to Calais, up through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Denmark. The end destination before Norway is Hirtshals in Northern Denmark, and from Calais, that's around a 12-hour drive excluding stops.

Book yourself onto an early Eurotunnel

For my trip, I set off from Central London around 5 am and for the 7.50 am Eurotunnel from Folkestone. Choosing an early train has two advantages:

  • They're generally cheaper
  • You have got a full days driving ahead of you to take a big chunk out of the journey to Denmark.

If you live closer and can get there even earlier then do it, the earliest departure is usually 5.50am. With one at 3.27am before that.

Car in channel tunnel train from Calais to Folkestone

Make sure you give yourself a decent amount of time to get sorted and check-in. The good thing is if you do get there earlier and there's a train ready to depart, the staff will fast-track you onto that one if there's room. I ended up getting the 7.20am train for that very reason.

Use Waze for Navigation

If you have a smartphone then I can't recommend Waze enough, it's saved me a ton of hassle by rerouting me past traffic jams I'd otherwise have been none the wiser to. It's basically Google Maps with a community aspect where users update the maps in real time along with Google's own live traffic data.

Luckily my car has Android Auto so I can hook it up to the main display making it very easy to use and follow. If you can't do that, get a Mega-Mount and run it from your phone screen.

Be aware though Waze does use mobile data so depending on your allowance you might want to get a bolt on or use a different SIM card for it. I've got a dual SIM phone so pre-journey I picked up an EE Flex SIM that gives you a set amount of data, no contract or credit check, just a pre-paid SIM. I got 10GB for £25, and that lasted me the whole trip and EU/Norway roaming is included. But there's a few to choose from on the comparison site I used.

Spend the night in Northern Germany or Southern Denmark

You can certainly stagger the trip to Hirtshals over as many days as you want, but if you want to get to Norway as quick as possible then try to get well into Denmark in one day and spend the night there.

Depending how on early you get to Calais, it's certainly possible to get to Hirtshals in one day to make one of the early evening ferry crossings to Kristiansand or Larvik.

For my own trip, I drove from Calais to Kolding in Denmark in around 13 hours, stopping in Antwerp for lunch in and amongst a couple of other stops. Kolding is around a 3-hour drive from Hirtshals, so after a night in Kolding, you can make the 11.45am sailing to Kristiansand comfortably. More on that below…

Which ferries sail from Hirtshals, Denmark to Norway?

There are seven options for you and which you take depends on where in Norway you are heading. I recommend the Fjordline ferry to Kristiansand which is the quickest and ideal if you are wanting to see the West Coast and Fjords. It's a modern fast catamaran ferry and takes just 2 hours and 15 minutes.

DepartingArrivingCompanyDaily TimesDuration
HirtshalsKristiansandFjordline11.45 & 18:002h 15m
HirtshalsKristiansandColor Line12.15 & 20.453h 15m
HirtshalsLarvikColor Line12:45 & 22:153h 45m
HirtshalsLangesundFjordline09:004h 30m
HirtshalsStavangerFjordline20:0010h 30m
HirtshalsBergenFjordline20:0016h 30m

A further option is a ferry from Kiel to Oslo via the Stena Line, this is usually pricier and a 20 hour sailing time making it almost a mini cruise.

Can you drive from the UK to Norway without taking a ferry?

Yes, you'll obviously need to take the Eurotunnel. But it's possible to drive through Germany, into Denmark then cross the Öresund Bridge (a toll bridge) from Denmark to Sweden.

Cycling in northern Norway

You then continue up along the Swedish coast until you have reached the Norwegian border. This is a long way around and you will be racking up the mileage but if you want to see a cool bridge and some of Sweden, then go for it.

What about the return journey, is there a ferry from Norway to the UK?

There's no ferry running in the opposite direction either, so to get back you'll take the exact same route through Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France before getting to Calais.

I took the Hirtshals – Kristiansand ferry to Norway with a one-way booking, so my return leg I decided to take the Bergen to Hirtshals overnight ferry.

This departs at midday and arrives in Hirtshals at 7.30am the next day. The reasoning being I'd driven up the West Coast for my trip, so rather than a 7-hour drive back down to Kristiansand, a night on the ferry with an early morning arrival meant a full days driving again in Europe to get to Calais.

Overall though I much prefer the shorter ferry time to between Kristiansand and Hirtshals, so if I were to do the journey again I'd drive to Kristiansand, spend the night there and catch the 8.30am ferry to Hirtshals.

Will there ever be a UK to Norway Ferry again?

Right now it looks unlikely as the ferry companies clearly don't see it as a viable business model.

Over the years there have been a smattering of petitions for the reinstatement of a ferry from the UK to Norway and some sailing firms have hinted at a new route being established but unfortunately, nothing has ever come to fruition.

However, a startup Norwegian company has announced plans to launch a regular car, passenger and cargo ferry link between the U.K. and the west coast of Norway.

Tentatively set to launch in 2026, the route will run between both Bergen and Stavanger on the west coast of Norway and Newcastle on England’s northeast coast.

What things should I be aware of about driving in Europe?

There are a few things to consider specifically for this trip. For driving in France you'll need a European driving kit which contains:

  • Headlamp converted
  • Hi-viz vest for each passenger
  • GB sticker (if you have an EU GB numberplate this is fine)
  • Warning Triangle
  • Spare Bulbs
  • Breathalyser

Remember to make sure your car insurance has European Cover too. Most firms offer it in your standard policy but it's often only third-party so you might want to ring them and arrange full cover for the duration of your trip.

There are no tolls on the route from Calais to Hirtshals so you don't need to buy any Vignettes or stickers.

Kolombus winter bus in Stavanger
Winter driving

Depending on the time of year, you'll also need winter tyres to be fully road legal in Norway. That being said, if this is a holiday I recommend only taking this sort of trip in Summer.

Finally, petrol prices are usually cheaper in Europe. Germany and Belgium are the cheapest, but it's better to fill up in Denmark before you cross into Norway where the prices are higher.

Is driving a right-hand drive car difficult in Europe and Norway?

This trip was my first time driving a right-hand drive car in Europe so before landing in Calais I was wondering how tricky it would be. That question was answered pretty quickly and it's not difficult at all.

The roads are much quieter in Europe, generally better quality, and when there are other cars on the road around you then it's easy to reset the mind to drive on the right. Just take it steady for the first few miles of the journey and it soon feels like you've been driving on the right for years.

Norway Travel Resources: When you're in Norway, make the most of your time with a guided tour. Check out the best accommodation in Norway to meet your needs. And don't forget travel insurance.

The only issue you'll have is if you're a solo traveller trying to overtake on a single carriageway road, sitting on the right does restrict your view of oncoming traffic somewhat if you are trying to get around a slower large sided vehicle.

Update: Ferry service from Netherlands to Norway

In spring 2022, startup company Holland Norway Lines began a regular service between the Netherlands’ Eemshaven (Groningen) and Norway’s Kristiansand. The 18-hour service had proved popular with British travellers.

In August 2022, one of the Life in Norway team tested out the service. Unfortunately, the service is no longer operational.

Have you ever travelled from the UK to Norway by car? Do you have any questions about taking the ferry from the UK to Norway and the drive itself? Leave a comment below and I'll do my best to answer.

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53 thoughts on “Driving to Norway from the UK”

  1. My first trips to Norway as a child with my parents were Newcastle – Bergen on the old Bergen Line, remember fondly Venus and Jupiter, the ferries shared with Fred Olsen line. Then there was a short period in the ’80’s when Fred Olsen ran a service from Harwich -Oslo, very convenient as at the time I lived 10 minutes from Harwich! then it was back to the long drive up to Newcastle and onto Color Line, until the route was abandoned. Living near Harwich my last trips were either DFDS to Esbjerg, then up to Hirtshals or the Harwich -Gothenburg and drive through Sweden to Oslo but now sadly also gone.

    • Yeah, there is a lot of history on some of the lines. They all stopped before I’d ever visited Norway, would have certainly used a ferry to get there had one been operational.

      On the plus side the Fjordline one I took to Kristiansand from Hirtshals was a good service, got there in no time. The only negative is driving on, because it’s a catamaran you have to reverse park when on board. Looked to be an issue for some people. Lucky the crew do a decent job at guiding people into spaces.

  2. Hi I want to drive up through finland and back down through Sweden in February 2020. Have you or anyone you know done that type of trip in winter. Would appreciate any advice you could pass on.Cheers Roy

    • I’ve not done the journey so can’t really help with any specifics other than it being a very long drive and you’ll no doubt run into some tough conditions so you’ll need a car capable of handling winter weather kitted out with a full set of winter tyres.

    • very very boring roads.
      Flat as a pancake, both Finland and Sweden. U do not see anything but ,snow and a lot of tall
      spruce trees.
      And it get dark. .very very early!

      • On the plus point the snow reflects al it of light one can see the most amazing Revontulet in the far North and even down to the south occasionolly see moose. Reindeer and many other interesting things . Get to know the local people and you can some wonderful times theFinns are a very proud nation . Thousands of lakes to see and beautiful colours during autumn Ruska . Go beyond the arctic circle when they have The Kaamos polar night where the colours of the snow trees etc are fantastic once the sun comes up the snow and snowy trees take on a different feel and colour alatogether . Then up the top end of the coast Nordkap to Kirkenes is also very colourful

  3. Hi Jon great information thanks – is it necessary to book in advance from Hirstals to Norway or can you just turn up? Are there any restrictions on dogs on the ferry?

  4. There yes im querying about booking in advance for the ferry to Norway too, Can you book online or just turn up for the time?

  5. I’m looking to do this road trip in August, if anyone has any recommendations for detours to spectacular landscape on my way to Tønsberg then I would be very grateful to receive them. I’m going to drive on a budget, in a hybrid sports car at sensible speeds, cheapest ferry, with a tent, etc et. Can’t wait!

  6. Firstly thank you for making this page, its incredibly helpful! Im going to be making the trip to Oslo in December. I was just wondering if you’d happen to know if there will be any changes to this after Brexit?
    anything else i may need to get i place before i head off?
    also ill be making the trip in my van (A lwb renault trafic) dose anyone know how much more this will be in tolls/fairs?

  7. Thats not true at all. You can book your vehicle and travel with it from Immingham to Brevik, meal and cabin included. Check the website!

  8. As expected, no response from Ben as he’s run off with his tail in between his legs.

    Life In Norway never publishes fake news, there is no way to get to Norway directly from the UK via a ferry. Not even via Ben’s imaginary Immingham to Brevik ferry with meal and cabin included.

    For anyone reading the comments and still unsure: The Immingham to Brevik passenger service was culled a couple of years ago, they don’t have the resources or border controls to operate it.

    • Many thanks Jon. Do the ferries get booked up? I’d like to keep my plans flexible but I will be travelling in June and July so I’m thinking I’d better book all my ferries in advance. Do you have a view? Thanks

  9. Really useful information. I am planning a trip from Ireland to Sweden, possibly into Norway in April/May this year.
    Quite a drive, but i don’t mind long drives 🙂

  10. Hi Jon

    Great article. I don’t suppose you know if you can take a dog with you? Our holidays now are basically where we can drive to with the dog! Would love to visit Norway with her.


    • Fjordline allows dogs, they can either stay in the car or go up to the deck. All the carriers will have the answers in FAQ sections if you Google it.

      I believe Colorline do too as I remember seeing a couple of dogs on the Larvik to Hirtshals ferry I took last year.

  11. Hi Jon,

    Really useful information. I have driven to Sweden and back a couple of times 10 years ago over the Oresund Bridge but in the summer. I am now planning a Christmas family trip to Oslo and then Salen. I already have winter tyres etc. I am interested to know if you have any knowledge of other routes to Norway such as Grenaa to Varberg south of Gothenberg which seems to be about a 4.5 hour crossing and the Frederikshaven to Oslo overnight ferry. Heading to Oslo there seem to be three alternatives including the Hirtshals – Larvik crossing. Just wondered if you have investigated any of these? Thanks, Garry.

    • Cheers.

      I don’t have much info on those ones as I’ve not taken them.

      I took the Hirtshals to Larvik ferry last summer, both ways and it’s a 3.5-hour journey, not bad.

      So you are going UK > Oslo > Salen > UK? I guess your choice depends on how quick you want to arrive, if you want to stop off new places and how much time you want to spend driving vs on a boat….

      Kiel to Oslo they say is a bit like a mini cruise. But it’s 20-hour sailing time compared to the 10 hours (4-hour extra drive to Hirtshals, 3.5-hour ferry to Larvik then 2 hours driving to Oslo) to get there.

      I haven’t looked into it a whole lot but if it was me I’d probably do Kiel to Oslo, then go a different route back, which would probably be driving down to Malmo then over the bridge to Denmark.

  12. Thanks – yes UK to Oslo to pick up relatives then we have two ski chalet’s in Salen for the week. Big family. We need to come back via Oslo. One relative who lives in Frankfurt has done the Frederikshaven to Oslo overnight ferry many times as it works well with the drive up from Germany and an overnight stay near the ferry for morning sailing and good on the way back as it is overnight. I must admit I am all for a shorter ferry crossing so Hirtshals to Larvik appeals. He tried Grenaa to Varberg this year. I think I will compare pricings for the alternatives and then it will be a question of the most convenient timings. Many thanks for the information.

  13. I live in Norway and have used many options in the past that are no longer available including Kristiansand to Newcastle. Kristiansand and Larvik to Hirtshals then Esberg to Harwich.

    I have also sailed to Hirtshals then driven to Dunkirk and crossed to Dover, in my opinion this is a good option to reduce the miles to be travelled by road.

    My last return by ferry and car was from Hull to Rotterdam and then a drive through Holland , Germany and Sweden.

    I set off from Hull around 2200 (overnight sail) to Rotterdam, disembarking 1200 the next day and I arrived in my destination not so far from Oslo at 1900 the same day (non-stop drive).
    My mistake was choosing Rotterdam when I could have disembarked at Zeebrugger which is further north.

    The advantage was not having to wait for any scheduled sailing, waiting times, embarking and disembarking.
    The cost of sailing was not as expensive as such as DFDS and I liked the overnight break to make sure that I was well watered, fed and fresh for the drive.

    Border control between Sweden and Norway is also usually trouble free with very little waiting times depending upon the time of day that you arrive.

    I cross it at least monthly to take advantage of the cheap prices in Sweden.

    • Zeebrugge is in Belgium, Rotterdam in the Netherlands and so is north of Zeebrugge. I am amazed that you, or anyone could drive from Rotterdam to ‘not so far from Oslo’ in 7 hours by road.

  14. Hi ,
    My partner lives in Norway we go to and fro by air normally. But i’d like to secure a road route too. Last time I checked re UK cars in Norway I seem to remember there was a time limit on how long you care legally allowed to be there with it ( something like 3 months…) Does that ring any bell with you or am, I getting that wrong? Are they any extra taxes tolls as well. i.e I remember there bridge tolls everywhere how do I manage those?

  15. Hei Harper,

    I was not sure that your post was directed to me as it is independent.

    I have spent 20 minutes writing a reply with the only intention of trying to give you the benefit of my experience of living in Norway for nearly 20 years, driving 100’s of 1000’s of kilometers and hiring 100’s of cars.

    When I pressed ‘Post Comment’ everything that I wrote disappeared for an unknown reason.

    I suggest you talk about all the implications with your partner as there are many possibilities that will cost you far more money than you might think.

    Best wishes.


  16. Planning a trip to Norway for June/July time 2021. We live in Skipton, Yorkshire, so would probably take the Hull/Zeebrugge Ferry. We have no real organised plans etc. Probably would like the Western route taking in the fiords etc, would like to make it to the Arctic Circle maybe even to the far North West. We would be travelling in our 6.95 Deth-Leffs Motorhome (Vera) any advice on camping grounds and road tolls, routes etc.
    Basically we would appreciate any advice please. Phil

  17. However, this option is now unavailable after UK border agency cutbacks meant they refused to do immigration checks.

    -Goes to prove what a Mickey Mouse country the UK is now.

  18. Hi Jonathan,

    I was wondering if there are any tolls I should be considering on my way to Norway, and are there any tolls in Norway and how much if there are any

    Kindly regards,

    • No tolls on the way there if you go France>Belgium>Holland>Germany> Denmark.

      Plenty of tolls in Norway though, you’ll get a bill a few months later at the address of the registered keeper of the vehicle.

      Took about 2/3 months for mine I think if memory serves.

  19. Hi Guys

    Hope you are all well?

    Me and my son are going to travel to Norway in 2022 to travel the Atlantic Road to keep costs down we are thinking of hiring a motorhome in the UK and driving it there and back. Bearing that in mind has anybody got any ideas of how i go about finding campsites and stops there and along the way please

    Thank you in advance


  20. Hi Matt,

    Easiest way to find a camping site is find the area on Google Maps and search for Camping. Bear in mind there are a lot of ferries on the west coast that can be pricey. The Atlantic Road is awesome, though.

    • Hi Matt . I am living in Norway . And just surfed on internet to see if there was some news for the ferry Bergen Newcastle when I came acros this site. Sorry no good news there . Hoped you guys would find up something when you left the EU 🙂
      But okay .
      Back to your question . There are now many motorhomes in Norway . Much more then just for a few years back . So not so easy to find free camp anymore . But still more easy than your contry:-) But we have many camping sites . And they almost all of then alow motorhomes. Otherwise I wil recomand one of the many Motorhome apps . My favorite has bean park4night . https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fr.tramb.park4night&hl=no&gl=US
      Used it from Norway to Gibralter and back again.
      Welcome to Norway 🙂

  21. Can anyone tell me what the crossing is like from Kristiansand to Hirtshals in November.
    I don’t think the catamaran is available in Winter months?
    Also, when do you need to have winter tyres in Norway

  22. Well my issue is a bit more complex.
    I’m doing (or at the minute planning to do) a charity run to Hammerfest. My problem is getting my bike shipped back to the UK from the North of Norway. Anyone with any ideas?

  23. Hi, enjoyed reading the posts for info. re a trip to Scandinavia this summer. Check on the need to have UK reg. plates as opposed to GB and no EU flag.
    Happy travels.

  24. Hi could anyone advice the best shortest/quickest way to get to Oslo by boat with out a car and the best inexpensive car hire in Norway
    Thank you Janet

  25. One of the nicest trips I remember when I was a bit younger was the time we wound up in Rovaniemi, Finland, then hired a car for the day. Beautiful pine forests, reminiscent of parts of Maine or even Wisconsin in the US. Tasted reindeer.

    With the ferry from Groningen, it’s time for a car trip to Norway.

  26. What a hive of information here 👍 would love to travel to Norway especially after watching Susan C on the fiord Christmas cruising special! I may give it a go.
    Merry Christmas y’all 🎄🎅🏼🎄

  27. I remember there used to be a P&O Ferry called The St. Clair (summer only) from Aberdeen to Lerwick in the Shetland Isles and then every second weekend it sailed from Lerwick onto Stavanger, I know this because I worked on this vessel for just one season. I think that this was waaay back in the 1990’s, unfortunately it no longer runs.

    The new route Holland/Norwegian Lines (Eemshaven) Holland to Kristiansand seems to be good but is only sailing from Eemshaven until mid April 2023 where the departure will be changing to a port just over the German border of a port called Emdem and the journey time is an estimated 11hrs 50 mins. It’s NOT cheap though, I looked at taking my E Class Mercedes + my wife and myself one way (we would drive back) and it came to around £580 this is travelling early June 2023 Their website is pretty vague and there was no mention if this including a cabin or any meals onboard, typical Scandinavian prices.

    Your blog is very informative so I thank you for posting it. I like the idea of driving to Hirtshals and crossing to Kristiansand or maybe to Bergen as this is where I’d like to take my wife to.

    The last time we wanted to visit Norway was back in July 2011 and just 2 days before our planned journey Anders Behring Breivik the far right extremist detonated a fertilizer bomb outside the tower block housing the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo, resulting in eight deaths, our hotel was situated just across the road from where this happened, Breivik also travelled to Utøya island to a teenage holiday camp on the same day and killed a further 69 young people including children too and understandably the country went into mourning, suddenly it wasn’t right to visit Norway at this time so we cancelled our trip at the last second and have never had the chance to return until now that is, so fingers crossed that all will be good. I have been to Norway many times before both by plane and on various ships and have loved the beauty of it

  28. Please can you give us an update on the proposed Newcastle to Bergen ferry. Have they got funding yet and if so is there a definite start date?

  29. Hi, I’ve been travelling to Tromso for the fishing since 2014 (ex covid). def best way Hull to Rotterdam, with cabin. Then catch the last ferry at Frederikshavn to Gothenburg. Then its a 36 hours driving or 24 with two good drivers. I use Anthia at Nutt Travel, tell them Syd sent you.

  30. Thank you, this has been so helpful. May I ask what one could budget on fuel for the trip from London to Denmark? It would be so helpful to know what other costs there could be. I am a solo traveler first time in Europe. Thanks!


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