From UK to Norway by car and ferry – this is how we travel to Scandinavia

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No wrestling with limiting baggage allowance or going through the stress of airport security and passport controls. Instead you could travel from the UK to Norway in comfort by car, with the help of a few ferries.

Unfortunately in 2017 there are no more ferries running between the UK and Scandinavia. Even the sailing between Harwich and Esjberg in Denmark closed down in 2014. And considering that London to Oslo is about 20 hours by car – it’s a bit of stretch to drive.

The thought of being trapped in a car for many hours can seem daunting, especially when travelling with young children. But going by car certainly has it advantages. Firstly, as soon as you are getting in the car the holiday can begin. You can make as many stops and detours you’d like. You can bring much more than what you can when flying. And by passing through the changing scenery and landscape you’ll get a better sense of Scandinavia and what the region has to offer.

So here its is, step by step, our best travel recommendation from the UK to Scandinavia;

First you need to cross the channel, either by catching a ferry from Dover to Calais. Prices starts from £31 each way. Day sailings takes 1 hour an 30 minutes and night sailings are 2 hours. We tend to travel to France via the Eurotunnel from Folkstone to Calais, crossing the channel in only 35 minutes. Prices starts from £23 each way.

Then, from there you drive up through France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark all the way up to Hirtshals in northern Denmark. Altogether the drive from Calais to Hirtshals is about 12 hours, without stops. When travelling with children you might want to consider stopping in North of Germany or South of Denmark for the night before continuing.

You can go by boat with Colour Line from Kiel to Oslo. The kids will love this minicruise with lots on board activities on offer but it will ad an extra cost as well as 20 hours more to your travel time. Another option Stena Line from Kiel to Gothenburg, which is only a 1 hour and 50 minutes pleasant drive from the Norwegian boarder. You can also drive all the way, from Germany, through Denmark, crossing the Öresundbridge from Denmark to Sweden and continue up along the Swedish coast until you’ve reached Norway.

oeresundsbridge

However this will ad a good amount of miles to your journey, so not recommended unless you’d like to see more of Denmark and Sweden along your way. I must admit – the bridge is beautiful, but it’s down to how much time you have on your way to Norway.

From Hirtshals in Denmark ferries run to Kristiansand in Norway, which is great if you are travelling on to the West coast and the Fjords of Norway. However, if you are travelling to Oslo, there’s a speed ferry to Larvik, which is only 3 hours and 45 minutes. Prices from €89. Then all that is remaining of your journey is a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Larvik – before you’ve reached your destination, Oslo.

When travelling by car we recommend checking fuel prices in advance. Prices may vary a lot from country to country. Norway is expensive and so is its petrol, so tank up before you leave Denmark (or Sweden). Also, book the Eurotunnel and ferries in advance, to get the best possible deal. If you decide to travel through the Öresundbridge, consider a ‘Bropas’ if you will be crossing the bridge more than once in a year.

To find out more about Oslo or how to get there, go to Visit Oslo

To book your channel crossing, go to Eurotunnel or DFDS Book ferry to Norway via Color Line

Please note that in the comment field below it has been suggested to take the freight ferry from Immingham to Breivik, Norway. But the freight ferries are no longer allowed to take private cars and passengers. So unfortunately this is no longer an option.

You might also like:

PO Ferries in talks with the Scottish Government to reopen the ferry service from the UK to Scandinavia
Sign the petition – Reopen Harwich to Esbjerg!

86 Comments

  1. How can countries so historically and biologically close as Scandinavia and the UK be so far apart in 2018 ?
    We are Vikings and need to touch base with our roots !
    Please open a ferry route between the UK and Scandinavia soon !
    Slainthe , Liz and Les

  2. We had winter cross-country skiing holidays in Norway for about 18 years and really miss them. Taking the car makes it much easier to get to the right place to start each day’s ski trip and one can take more kit too.

    I wish the ferries would re-start and would be more then happy to go again on the Immingham to Brevik freight ferry which, inexplicably, has been forbidden for ordinary cars for the last three years. it was a quiet and peaceful trip.

  3. I would recommend Kiel to Oslo. Book in advance for best price and enjoy your mini cruise! What are your plans for Oslo? x

  4. Wow, the petrol was indeed super expensive this Summer. Which is incredible considering it’s an oil nation. Glad to hear you still enjoyed the trip! x

  5. This year wanted to visit friends in Sweden – had to take Eurotunnel (cost us £90.00 each way – booked months in advance). Stayed in a noisy and horrid so-called 5* campsite on the Elbe (did not get an once of sleep) on the way there and decided to skip campsites on the way back. Because of the horrific snarl-ups in Germany (took us 11 hours to cross) we had to pay another £83 to get back to the UK. Eurotunnel staff were unhelpful and rude when we suggested that all that extra money was a rip-off. I want a direct route to Sweden / Norway. Just one ferry to Denmark and then on to Sweden is a pain and really expensive. We used to do annual trips from Newcastle to Bergen and that is a very good and convenient place for both the Scots and the English and the rest of the UK (Harwich too far south and Scotland too far north). Totally fed up with Eurotunnel and that vile journey through northern Europe. Thank goodness we had a lovely time in Sweden (and Denmark was nice too) – BUT the journey back was verging on traumatic. PS Prices stated here on this blog for Eurotunnel and crossing the Channel are a joke.

  6. There was no economic case for the ferry from Bergen to Newcastle. DFDS were subsidising it in the end. In fact they made quite an effort in the last years putting in place a brand new ferry, all mod cons, on the route and did a lot of marketing on both sides. For Norwegians extolling a weekend, getaway cruise, highlighting visiting Gateshead for cheaper priced shopping, especially in run up to xmas, or trips to York. Also images of the small casino and other entertainment on the crossing giving it the air of a cruise. British side highlighting easy access to fjord land.

    I think the issue is two fold. One British cars with steering on the opposite side (and conversely for Norwegians) was quite off-putting for most. Secondly, Brits did not see value in visiting Norway. Reputation for high prices whilst for the same hassle-distance one could so easily hop over to the Alps for skiing or summer scenery (better weather too) on more established routes guaranteed to please.

    Visit-Norway tried to ginger up more Brits visiting even after the ferries ceased with plane charters to fjord land or ski trips. But not with much success. Norwegian ski resorts were a particular taste, emphasising child friendly for instance. Though that there is a reasonable number of Brits visiting on charters, but notably rarely re-visiiting. I understand on that point, Brits impressed by Norwegians and hotels but find it a little boring and un-eventful compared to all the energy in the Alpine resorts and variety of eating out options. Plus better skiers attracted to the big Alpine resorts with better within-resort skiing in the Alps. For summer, sun was always more of a pull than mountain scenery. Mountaineering fans, again a minority taste, might visit but in living room cost-benefit calculations even they could see better mountain ranges for the same distance/lower cost in the Alps. Also the fact it is so easy and relatively cheap to travel inter-continental from the UK, we are spoilt with direct connections.

    For all these reasons ferries or attempts to attract British visitors has not materialised as hoped. I see no change in these patterns. The only new trend in British visits to Norway this century is Oslo and Bergen now on the radar for weekend city breaks. Otherwise, Brit visits to Scandinavia remain a minority market.

    The only straw in the wind is the curious and un-usually large share (relatively) of Brits who seem to like visiting Iceland. Why that works and not Norway is for someone else better qualified in tourism/travel marketing than me to study.

  7. I sometimes visit an Island near Tvedistrand on the southernmost tip of Norway where my relations live during the summer. I pack an inflatable dinghy and 2.5 horse outboard motor in the hatchback small car ( back seats folded forward). I ferry from Dover to Ostend or to Calais and drive through Belgium, Holland, Germany, At the border before going through Denmark I buy 12 wineboxes from the German supermarket and hide them under the dinghy. I time my journey through Denmark over the bridge to Sweden so that I reach the Norwegian border after 9.00 pm and can therefore drive straight through without stopping. I reach Son, a port halfway between the border and Oslo at about midnight and stay with a relative or pitch a tent. The next morning I take the ferry across the gulf of Oslo to Larvik (1 Hour) and drive south towards Rica and I leave my car at a little quayside at Dipvok. 5 miles in the dinghy, in island protected water, takes me to my destination on the Island of Askeroya. Journey time from landing in France or Belgium with a few kips in the car during the journey, is about two days. Oh yes, – The wineboxes are worth about £40 each in Norway and are shared around as payment for the hospitality I receive.

  8. Jo Smith – just come back from Norway trip and petrol is very expensive (£1.60 a litre), not 95p. It’s one of the most heavily taxed countries in the world, everything is very expensive. But still enjoyed the trip.

  9. I have signed and shared on some Facebook groups. Going to Norway in my camper with my dogs is on my bucket list.

  10. Hello, motorcyclist based in Brittany(FR). Planning a trip to visit Norway and certainly reach the Kapp Nord. As there is no ferry, have to ride from Rennes(FR) to Hirtshals(Denmark) or Copenhagen. Either 1700 or 2100km by road, mostly boring toll roads to not waste too many leave days getting to Norway and returning from Norway. Once in Norway, it’s about 2500km to the north and 2500km back south… All that in 21 days as we usually get three weeks vacation time at any one time. I prefer to spend more days IN NORWAY than using days GETTING TO NORWAY!!!!! Has to be my own motorcycle so no hiring and no flights. After using toll roads, motorcycle tires lose a bit of profile as you ‘vertical’ most of the time and never ‘leaned over side to side’……then once in Norway, the tire is not at it’s best…..all that can, be avoided with a ferry……..for the midnight sun experience, which allows camping without needing lights and long days in the saddle without fear of night riding, the ferry’s could run even once a week from mid June to mid July…..why not mid August…… It’s a shame that we have no links with Norway by sea from FRANCE.

  11. We are currently starting to plan our U.K.- Oslo driving holiday next year.
    We plan to go Harwich to Hook of Holland, to Bremen (stay overnight), to Copenhagen (stay overnight) Øresund Bridge to Malmö, to Gothenburg (have lunch) then finally to Oslo.
    Although now I’ve seen there is a Kiel to Gothenburg route, we might take that one way.

  12. As someone who remembers taking my car on the deck of a Russian boat direct from uk to Helsinki I cannot believe that there isn’t a strong economic case (leaving aside all the important cultural arguements) for a uk-Scandinavia ferry. Surely the popularity of ScandiNoir (Film, TV & books) alone would drive this

  13. I live near Newcastle and I too used to travel often for both work and holidays from Newcastle to Bergen in the early ’70s [ Leda was the earliest ship I travelled on in I think 1965] but miss all of that since the ferry services ceased.
    I was planning to re-visit Mongstad and Hardanger in my old Land Rover [Vera] but the cost of ferry travel and petrol for a return trip via Amsterdam, Kiel and Oslo will exceed the value of my vehicle. Any news of moves to introduce a direct ferry from the UK to Norway would be very welcome. I was quoted £700 for a one way shipping charge from Immingham to Brevik for Vera, plus of course I would have to fly to and from Norway.
    So getting up to about £2000 before I even buy a hot-dog and Fanta!
    Details of any petitions would be very welcome…………

  14. Norway was the cheapest of all the countries we visited the whole Baltic last year at about 95p a litre!!
    Cheaper even than the Baltic states! So yes, check! Was the only thing cheaper in Norway. Alcohol is prohibitively expensive, the Norwegians pop over the border into Sweden for beer and fags.

  15. I would love to travel to Norway it’s on my wish list but would prefer to take my car but I live in Scotland and no ferry here or anywhere in England We do need a ferry from the UK ASAP

  16. We’ve been going to Norway since the 1960’s and bought a house in Hordaland in 2005, before the old ferries were taken off. As we live in the North of England, about 12 miles from Manchester, the South Coast ferries would almost double our driving time. After a deal of trialling different routes, we cut out Sweden and about 200 miles extra driving, by going from Hull to Rotterdam and on through Holland, Germany and Denmark to Hirtshals. Ferries from there include a direct trip to Bergen, via Stavanger on an overnighter. This was our route of choice for taking out Springer Spaniel Sally for 7 years and gave loads of options for overnatting. Incidentally we go for 12 weeks through summer and have to think carefully about accommodation on the return journey in Scandinavia in the autumn.

  17. Thanks for your recommendations. We will definitely take the Gothenburg ferry next time!

  18. You can use the ferry if you are in a commercial vehicle driving for a company, seems stupid considering that a Romanian truck driver brought 57 people in to Immingham in the back of his vehicle, it’s just leisure drivers that can’t use the ferry now. I had the idea of just shipping my car to Sweden and flying there but it’s over £500 now just for the car!

  19. From Hamburg (you have to pass nearby anyway) to Norway You take the cheapest and shortest way to Hirtshals at the top of Denmark. From there you have Fjordline and Color line going to Kristiansand, Langesund, Larvik, or Oslo. All are in the South and South Eastern coastline of Norway. There are also Ferry from Frederikshavn (near Hrtshals.) going to Gotenburg. (short distance)

  20. There used to be a ferry immingham to goteburg sweden not sure if it is still there . Freight ferry but they take cars.

  21. I was wondering would it be quicker if we drive from Germany to Estonia then catch the ferry to Sweden then drive on to Norway from there ?

  22. We are an Anglo-Danish family (living in Denmark), and the closure of both Esbjerg-Newcastle and Esbjerg-Harwich has been a disaster for our bicultural existence. At our grandparental age, the long drive to Dunkirk is not an option. Where is the petition to sign?

  23. It is so upsetting that we find it so difficult to get to Norway nowadays. We travelled there virtually every year from Newcastle by ferry. Then when they ceased to run we found Ryanair from Liverpool airport was the easiest & cheapest way to get there.(bearing in mind we had to hire a car etc.)Now they have stopped their service. My parents are laid to rest over in Norway & we find making the effort to visit what family we have left is diminishing. Please bring back the ferry service. Scandinavian mum is right. Bring back even 1 crossing per week

  24. This time last year I drove my VW camper from Sheffield to Jokkmokk. Utter misery driving across Europe to get to Sweden. This has to be sorted. SIGN THE PETITION AT REOPEN HARWICH TO ESBJERG FERRY

  25. Only problem is that if you live in London, like I do, the Newcastle to Amsterdam ferry doesn’t save you many miles or time. But as you say, if you lived closer to Newcastle, or in the North it’s definitely an option to consider! x

  26. And since north of England also exists: we have several times taken the car ferry (DFDS) from Newcastle to Amsterdam, driving through Germany. We do love the Color Line from Kiel to Oslo, but then we have to spend a night in Germany, with our favorites being Bremen or Hamburg. We do miss the other ferry from Newcastle to Norway though.

  27. The lack of transport to our own flesh and blood neighbours inScandinavia can only. Assist in dragging uk down further and compound teething problems after brexit .
    The Scandinavian countries lead the fields in many industries common to U.K. As opposed to tailing and subsidising many of our less industries Mediterranean countries the UK should making Scandinavian links a priority in order to cement our oil,agricultural ,aquaculture fishing, heavy engineering seafaring and all the industries we share interests in which are being severally neglected at present

    If you wish to fly from northern Uk you can fly from Aberdeen or Shetland isles to Stavangr or Bergen ,still no good for caravan or campervaners.

  28. The lack of transport to our own flesh and blood neighbours inScandinavia can only. Assist in dragging uk down further and compound teething problems after brexit .
    The Scandinavian countries lead the fields in many industries common to U.K. As opposed to tailing and subsidising many of our less industries Mediterranean countries the UK should making Scandinavian links a priority in order to cement our oil,agricultural ,aquaculture fishing, heavy engineering seafaring and all the industries we share interests in which are being severally neglected at present

  29. Darren, that’s sounds completely ludicrous! Scandinavia and UK are suddenly very far apart without the ferry service. Like many other have suggested, we don’t need daily sailing, but perhaps one or two. And UK to Denmark would have been fine too, or UK to South of Norway. Let’s hope this situation changes. Best, Bianca x

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