Travelers heading to Oslo, Norway often know that having a car is the best way to get around the city and to the incredibly beautiful outlying areas in order to see the countryside. Many tourists experience problems without proper planning for driving in Oslo, Norway. Here are some things to know before you even set foot in the city.
First, it’s important to know that in Norway, you will be driving on the right-hand side of the road. Roadways are well-signed. Most of the roads in and around Oslo are two lanes and aren’t divided.
Most vehicles in Oslo are manual transmission, even rentals. When planning a trip to Oslo, plan to drive a stick shift vehicle during your travels or request an automatic transmission from the car rental company. If you must have an automatic transmission, know that you must often book these car rentals much farther in advance than you otherwise would.
When driving in Oslo, there are several rules of the road that must be followed. Some are quite universal, but others wouldn’t be known unless a traveler specifically looked for those driving rules that apply in the country.
For example, drivers must have their headlights on at all times of the day. Seatbelts must be worn by the driver and all passengers at all times. Tailgating is not permitted and drivers not leaving a three second gap or more are heavily fined. Use of the vehicle’s horn in a non-emergency situation is a violation and the driver can be fined. Drivers must always yield to traffic coming from the right and all vehicles must yield to pedestrians in the marked striped crosswalks. Failure to do so can result in a heavy fine as well. Drivers are only allowed to pass other cars on long straightaways that are marked. Passing another vehicle in any other place can result in fines as well.
As is true in many EU countries, the penalty for drinking and driving is very harsh. Norway has a legal blood alcohol limit of 0.2% or less. When visiting Oslo, it is best to avoid driving if you have any alcohol to avoid the stiff penalty that can go along with it. In this case, it is undoubtedly best to walk or take a taxi cab.
Tourists that find themselves visiting Oslo in winter have another set of considerations to take into account for their trip. Road conditions and driving in winter months can be much more challenging in Norway. Snow and ice accumulate on roads despite an excellent system of snow plows and trucks. If driving in Norway during the winter months, be prepared to drive in wintry conditions and be prepared for routes to take longer than they normally would. Drivers in Norway drive just as much as they would in other months, but simply drive slower and more cautiously. With the exception of a few mountain passes, most roads in Norway remain open during periods of wintry weather.
Driving in the city of Oslo is much like driving in many other EU cities, only much safer. Drivers in Norway tend to be extremely safe and conservative, with few breaking traffic laws. Traffic is generally light and when traffic jams do occur, they usually are resolved quickly. Not only are Norwegian drivers amongst the safest and most considerate, but the Norwegian police very actively enforce traffic laws. For those aggressive drivers planning on driving on Norway, it is best to amend driving practices or to simply let another person drive to avoid incurring fines.
Part of driving in Oslo is knowing where to park in the city. The city has private and municipal parking throughout and most parking requires a fee regardless of the time. Municipal parking is broken into zones for payment. Travelers can by an Oslo Pass, which gives them the ability to park for free when displaying the pass at the municipal parking lots. It doesn’t work at private lots. You can also park at your hotel and ue the public transportation instead. Here are some hotels with parking in Oslo.
When planning a trip to Oslo, factor these differences and driving rules into your trip plan for a much smoother, easier vacation overall.