If you do one thing next summer, then a visit to Norway is a must for your next motorcycle adventure. Not only will the mountains, rivers and fjords take your breath away, but the long sandy beaches along the east coast will blow you away. It will certainly be an experience you will never forget.
The curving mountainside roads of Norway create some of the greatest motorcycling experiences you will ever find. From the Lysebotn Road in Southern Norway with its 30 hairpin bends, to the Trollstigen Pass in Northern Norway you will find some of the best roads you are ever likely to ride in your lifetime.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing in 2017, there is no direct ferry from the UK to Norway. Even the Harwich (UK) to Esjberg in Denmark ferry has ceased to operate for some years. Therefore if you’re travelling from the UK to Norway, you will have to ride through Europe, but hey this is what motorcycle touring is all about right?
When I made the journey out to Norway I chose to ride my motorbike to Harwich in the UK. I booked myself on the Stena Line overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland. The total cost for me, my motorcycle and a single cabin was approx. £80 GBP. I chose the overnight ferry as it gave me the chance to chill out after riding to Harwich and then get a good meal, a couple of beers and a good nights sleep before hitting mainland Europe.
The ferry got in to the Hook of Holland at around 7am. I headed for the main motorway A1/A7 out of Holland towards Bremen and then Hamburg in Germany. From there I headed up the E45 in Denmark and chose to camp at Holmens Camping at Skanderborg overnight. I then got up early the next morning and headed up through the rest of Denmark.
I’d booked myself on the 1200 crossing with ColorLine from Hirtshals in Denmark heading over to Kristiansand, Norway which took approx 3hrs. You can of course do it differently and you can choose to take your time through Europe and even ride all the way round via Copenhagen and Sweden. I wanted to get to Norway as quickly as possible and found this route to be one of the quickest over 2 and half days.
Best time to visit
The motorcycle riding season opens in May in Norway and for good reason. Even in May the South of Norway can still be subject to snowy conditions and some of the mountain passes are closed. Therefore if you want to experience the best possible conditions for your Norway tour then I would recommend coming over from late May through to late September.
The weather in Norway is not what you would expect. I came out to Norway expecting cold and icy conditions, only to find bikini clad ladies barbecuing around the local fjord. Therefore expect all weather conditions. The gulf stream affects the east coast and the warm weather in Stavanger and Bergen and surrounding areas means that this area suffers more from the dreaded rain.
You’ll more than likely find that as soon as you head up towards ‘the north’ the good weather will make an appearance and you’ll experience temperatures up to 30 degrees celsius. I was absolutely baking in my textiles even with all the vents open and was in shorts and t-shirt at the Arctic Circle!
That said, up in the mountain passes, especially on those cold days, temperatures can get down to single figures, so keeping an eye on this forecast will help.
What to take
The topic of packing for a long motorcycle tour is subjective and I won’t cover it here yet. I’ll leave that for another time. Debates have raged for years about what to take with you and everyone has their own opinion. I will however give you a couple of pointers.
Norway if you haven’t gathered by now is bloody expensive! If you keep in mind that everything is double the cost of the UK, then you won’t go far wrong. The exception to that rule is fuel, which is relatively cheaper.
You won’t need to take wads of cash with you as nearly everywhere takes either debit or credit card. Gone are the days when you needed your hidden money belt stuffed with cash and travellers cheques. That said if you intend to camp, then you’ll need a selection of 10 and 20 NOK coins for the shower facilities. Its worth keeping a few in your tank bag.
I travelled for 12 days and managed to get everything i needed in a 40ltr waterproof dry bag. I strapped that to the back along with my trusty 2 man dome tent. I also took my tank bag and that was it. You really don’t need to over do it and you certainly don’t need to pack the kitchen sink.
As a rough guide I packed very light and on the whole, I tried to keep my kit simple. I will detail my kit list in another post, however if you like packing lists then this motorcycle check list is a good starter. If you were to ask me off the top of my head the top 5 things to definitely take I would say: Mozzie Spray, spare clutch and brake levers, 12 volt charger that works, electric hookup for the tent and plenty of SD cards for all that footage!
I took the tent and sleeping bag and each night cost me 150NOK or £15 for a night. However, if camping is not your thing, then all is not lost as there are hundreds of Kro’s or motels en route. There are also these brilliant wooden cabins at each campsite that have heating, a cooker and a fridge and tea and coffee facilities. They’re dirt cheap and you hire one for as little as £35 or 350 NOK. Have a look at this site for all things camping.
The Best Roads
As you’ve already gathered the roads in Norway are awesome! The Norwegian authorities have clicked onto this and realised that there were certain routes that were too spectacular to miss so they took 18 of the best routes and called them tourist routes and for good reason too. Check out the National Tourist routes page for a complete list of roads, most of which aren’t touristy at all. Some of my favourites that shouldn’t be missed are as follows:
Route 44 – Jaeren Beaches – A coastal route from Flekkefjord to Stavanger
Route 45 – from the Candle Factory to the Lysefjord
E10 at Lofoten
The site MC Touring Norway is an excellent source of information for those off the beaten track roads and they often give you suggested routes which is a definite guide worth looking at.
Routes and Tips
When I planned my trip I wanted to ride the best roads and see the best things that Norway had to offer. Therefore I planned my route around those top things. I made sure that I saw at least one awesome thing each day.
Before setting down to plan my routes I had eagerly watched and read lots about Norway. If you need any incentive for doing the Norway trip then check out Wildbad Touring and their video’s. Check out Bruce Smart and his Norway leg of his round the world trip. I also checked out the Arctic Rider and his blogs.
I also documented my own Norwegian Solo Road trip. I made sure that I hit one of the National Tourist routes and see the famous Geirangerfjord and Atlantic Road. My route was as follows: ( Click the links to see the video’s of my trip)
Day One – Stavanger to Voss (Odda Waterfalls)
Day Two – Voss – Stryn (Briksdal Glacier)
Day Three – Stryn – Molde (The mountains, Trollstigen and Geiranger.)
Day Four – Molde – Trondheim (The Atlantic Road, Trondheim Harbour)
Day Five – Trondheim – Moi Rana
Day Six – Moi Rana – Lofoten (Arctic Circle)
Day Seven – A day off in Lofoten (Paradise)
Day Eight – Lofoten – Moi Rana
Day Nine – Moi Rana – Trondheim
Day Ten – Trondheim – Geilo (Valdresflya and Hardangavidda)
Day Eleven – Geilo – Stavanger (Priekestolen and Lysefjord)
Speeding, Ferries and Tolls
As you can see the roads are epic and it’s quite easy to get carried away especially with the speed and trying to get your knee down on those fantastic bends! You’ll also notice that the speed limits in Norway are very low and this can be really frustrating, especially when you’re limited to 25mph in a zone that would normally be a 40mph area in the UK.
A strong word of warning though. The punishment for getting caught speeding is intense! A friend of mine was doing 50kph in a 40kph zone. He was fined £300 and was banned from driving for 6 months. If you go over 100Kph you’re looking at an instant ban, loss of your licence and imprisonment, I kid you not!!! – A very sobering thought indeed. It’s not worth it folks, just stick to the limits. Lets face it though, what with all that glorious scenery and tight mountain bends, there is no point in speeding anyway – just lap up that glorious vista!
This handy site will give you the low down on the speeding fines.
The roads are toll free for motorcycle’s apart from the ferries which on the west coast are quite aplenty. When you arrive at the ferry, don’t bother queuing with the cars. Just head straight to the front, as the ferry crew like to get bikes all parked together. You won’t need to strap your bike down, as they’re only short relatively calm crossings. Just make your way to the cafe and get a waffle and a cup of the strongest coffee known to man.
Riding abroad is one of those things you have to experience once in your life. The whole point on embarking on a motorcycle adventure is to experience things on your own that you wouldn’t normally experience. To live life and to see all the beautiful places besides the famous sights that most people wouldn’t normally see.
Riding in Norway is fantastic and its something that I will never forget. I will always look back and reflect on my time in Norway as something positive that I did with my life. However, with reflection, there are always some things that you would do differently.
I would definitely recommend starting Kristiansand and making your way up the West Coast. If time is on your side then maybe do a couple of famous hikes such as Preikestolen, Kjerag and Trolltunga.
I would definitely start your trip with brand new tyres. The Norwegian mountain roads will take their toll on your tyres and brakes. If you happen to need a new rear tyre on your trip then First Stop do motorcycle tyres. I happened to stop in Mosjøen on the way to the Artic Circle. The lads there worked after hours to change the rear tyre. They even had a paddock stand, but i had to help them take off and then replace the rear wheel.
Make sure that you hit the National Tourist Routes. If you plan to head up North and you hit the E6 from Trondheim, it can get a bit long and arduous in parts. A good tip is to mix it up a bit and hit the FV 17 from Moi Rana to Bodo.
Always expect the unexpected on any Tour. I dropped my bike in Trondheim and snapped the clutch lever and didn’t have a spare. Luckily there was a Suzuki dealer in Trondheim that helped me out. A top tip is to list the locations of your dealer or motorcycle parts shops. If things do go a bit sour, then the NMCU are a good point of contact and will always try to help you out.
I love Twitter and I used it avidly together with Facebook to log my journey. However, both platforms are a godsend if you do run into mechanical problems and you need help sorting things out. You can post a message and usually get a reply within the hour to help you diagnose any problems. You can add me on social media and contact me if you need any help. Even if it is just to get you to the next campsite.
If you’re a lover of Hot Dogs then you will not have an issue eating on the road! It seems that the Pølse is the national dish of choice. I got sick of them in the end, but the hot dog is the snack of choice at many petrol station.
If you are a lover of breakfast, then its worth planning this in advance, as not all eateries cater for the breakfast lover. I did find some amazing places that did do a breakfast buffet for £13, but they were found by chance.
Take your time to see Norway! It’s all too tempting to try and crack on and get to the next stop. There is so much history in Norway including Vikings and the remnants of the German occupation such as bunker sites, hydro-electric dams etc. Stopping regularly will prevent fatigue and give you that all important leg stretch.
If you like a beer in the evening, then lager and cider are available at the local supermarkets, but be warned, the closing times and service of alcohol are like the UK in the 80’s. No beer after 6pm and no beer on a Sunday. Top tip is to buy your beer during the day and then chill them in the fjord at night.
Everything shuts on a Sunday, so don’t expect any shops to be open, unless its a cafe or petrol station. If you know you’re going to run out of something, then get it during the week.
There are still loads of roads that i haven’t explored yet throughout Norway. I hope though, that this blog has been of some help and that you’ve gleaned some snippet of information from it. If you do manage to head out to Norway, then give me a holler on Facebook or Twitter and let me know if you plan to swing by Stavanger!