Driving and exploring northern Norway?
December 2, 2014 8:31 PM   Subscribe

We're heading to Norway at the beginning of February for a week. We're thinking a few days in Oslo, and then up to Tromsø to try to see the northern lights. We've got a bunch of questions about renting a car and driving in the winter, as well as exploring northern Norway.


* So we were thinking that we'd rent a car and drive around. For one, we could get to see some of the stave churches in southern Norway. And we could maybe drive around northern Norway and see some smaller towns and/or the fjords. Does that make sense? Is driving going to be a smart idea in February, or will the roads be impassable? Any idea what sort of conditions we can expect?

* Any recommendations on what fjords we should see up there? Lofoten seems a bit out of our reach (flying would require at least two planes, boats don't seem to be convenient from Tromsø, and driving seems like an all-day thing), but what other ones are good to explore?

* For seeing the northern lights, we were thinking we'd try to find a tour group, rather than heading out on our own. Any recommendations on groups/tours to go with? (Or, perhaps, which to avoid?)

* Is Senja worth a trip? Could be cool, but is it worth a day trip away from Tromsø?
posted by gchucky to Travel & Transportation around Norway (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't drive around up there in winter unless I was froma similar winter climate. For example,you have to put your breaks on early and roll into stops and round a bouts. Get in and out of sticky parking spots without getting stuck in snow. Having a good idea whether that's possible before you park. It's very scary and Norwegians have winter driving courses. It's also a very very long drive up north.... Like 12-14 hours. If you decide to do it,best of luck! What a cool trip! Just bear in mind speed cameras.
posted by catspajammies at 9:50 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

And to add: you would be driving on ice in many places.
posted by catspajammies at 11:09 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

A friend who used to live approximately half way between Oslo and Tromso said that snow tires with studs are absolutely necessary if you want to drive around in winter. Based on that fact alone, I'd be very sceptical about driving around northern Norway in winter as a tourist. (Unless you live in a similar climate and are used to it!)

We were there in the middle of summer and it was raining every day and we were driving through heavy fog at least every couple of days. I shudder to think of winter conditions.

Maybe you could find someone to drive you? I'm thinking of bored students and services like Fiverr.
posted by gakiko at 5:41 AM on December 3, 2014

Datapoint: My sister lives in the SOUTH of Sweden (near Lund), and they are mandated by law to have snow tires with studs beginning on X day in late fall/early winter until X day in early spring.

If you are not used to that kind of driving, I would be quite wary of doing it somewhere very unfamiliar.
posted by kuanes at 7:44 AM on December 3, 2014

Check out this or some other tour by rail. Let someone else do the drving so you can really enjoy your trip. Driving in those conditions is not fun.
posted by mareli at 8:03 AM on December 3, 2014

Hi. There's a thread on the blue about pretty things in Norway. It's light on hard information - I was going for the pretty - but may give a few additional ideas about things to see. Happy travels!
posted by Wordshore at 12:23 PM on December 9, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, all. Guess we won't be driving on this trip, but that's probably for the better.
posted by gchucky at 1:50 PM on December 13, 2014

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