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

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 add 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.


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!

94 thoughts on “From UK to Norway by car and ferry – this is how we travel to Scandinavia

  1. I work for an engineering company in the north of England who manufacture industrial ovens. We recently sold an oven to a Norwegian company. It was shipped to Oslo as freight but couldn’t believe we couldn’t get an engineer with his van and tools there to install it without going through half of Northern Europe first!. They ended up flying and had their tools shipped too.

  2. Went to Norway for the first time in the summer by plane, fell in love with the place and decided it would be wonderful to tour round it in a campervan. We were incredulous to discover all the ferries have stopped!! Surely some company could open up a route?

  3. I’ve decided I’m going to do some more research on this. If just one of the UK ports serviced the route to Bergen or Oslo, surely it would be financially viable. Tourism would prosper between both nations. Everybody wins. I also want to know why the freight ferries won’t take passengers anymore.
    A partition might actually be a good idea. I will look into this.

  4. Its crazy there is no ferry from Scotland to Norway. Up here in the Highlands we are geographically closer to Norway then we are to the south of England.

  5. You are not alone, Martin. We are a lot of people who are frustrated about the lack of ferries between the UK and Scandinavia. x

  6. I am actually really disgusted that there’s not a single ferry route from the UK to Scandinavia!! How is this possible?? There’s something spiritual about our old ancestors’ route across the North Sea, and now (over a thousand years later) it’s not possible. So angry about this 🙁

  7. And I only saw your follow up question now! I hope you found somewhere nice to stop along the way? Please share your travel experience with us! Best, Bianca x

  8. Elisabeth, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Hull to Esbjerg would have made a massive difference! Best, Bianca x

  9. No, but I think you can ship your car and caravan with the cargo ferry (no passengers allowed, so you’d have to fly to Norway and catch up with your car and caravan once there.). No idea what the cost would be… Best, Bianca x

  10. Dear Catherine. I’ve had so many comments and emails now regarding the lack of ferries between the UK and Scandinavia. Something must be done! Best, Bianca x

  11. My best advice would be to fly and hire a bike. Alternatively, ship your motorcycle by cargo ferry to Breivik (sadly no passengers admitted any more) and catch up with it upon arrival.

  12. I’m horrified!

    I lived and worked in Hemne (Kommune) from 1987 to ’90. I regularly traveled to England to visit family and friends. I caught ferries from Stavanger, Bergen, and Oslo direct to Hull; and via Kiel and Hoeck van Holland to Felixstowe/Harwich. On the Hull route, I could complete the entire journey to King’s Lynn in less than 24 hours. The Hull/Bergen ferry used to slow down as it passed the North Sea oil rigs – (I think it was Piper-Alpha) – it must have stopped sailing years ago.

    Now, for the first time since then, I’m planning a nostalgic return journey to Norway. The ferry prices are astronomically high!!! Folded between the pages of my Norwegian road maps, I found an old return ferry ticket (Oslo to Felixstowe) for 1 passenger, 1 car and a birth in a shared 4-man cabin – £62 in total.

    Before I found this blog, I’d already worked out almost the same route myself. I’d found that the cheapest ferry to Norway was the Fjordline’s Hirtshals (Denmark) /Lagesund (Norway) service – £90.16 return for me and the car. That being said, the Dover to Dunkirk ferry (I hate tunnels) is £70 return and, at 42 miles per gallon of diesel, I will use up £346.42 (return) driving from Bradford to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and finally Norway. It is a good route – but it’s ridiculous: In the names of Thor & Odin, the Vikings went straight across the North Sea in the 800’s!!!!!!!!

    That makes a grand total of £506.58p for the journey – before I even start my holiday.

    So, I’m looking for alternatives. Maybe flying to Norway or Sweden and then either hiring a car or even buying a cheap little second hand car once there.

    Has anyone got any better ideas? Does anyone know any cheap second hand car dealers in Oslo?

  13. I only have a long weekend to ride motorcycle and I wanted to ride along coast. Put of by the long journey time just to get Norway. Why have all direct ferries between UK and Norway ended – used to be ferry from Newcastle. Thanks for travel advice.

  14. Last time we went to denmark DFDS ship on return journey to Harwich had obviously had extra accommodation added. Three times went via Harwich – last two visiting family in the UK on route. We have family and friends in Denmark and would love to go back by car. Not keen to fly, especially since health scare. Bring back the ferries!!!

  15. Hi Guys

    Can anyone help. I want to go to Norway next summer from UK with my car and caravan, do the ferries allow you to take caravans on board?

  16. Slightly off topic, but does anyone know if it is possible to wild camp in Norway or Sweden … Or are you expected to use a campsite? If an organised campsite are their any/many that will allow dogs?

  17. Why can’t one of the ferries at least run Hull to Esbjerg once or twice a week? It would make Denmark, Norway and Sweden more accessible and being a shorter route should be more financially viable for them. The old Gothenburg ferry ran just a couple of times a week for years. We are going via Harwich – Hook of Holland and it is a real pain having to cross Holland and Germany when we used to just get on a ferry in the UK and arrive in Scandinavia. I think over the years we did every route and a few mini cruises just cos they were so enjoyable.

  18. Hi Bianca
    My apologies I have only just seen that you got back to me !! We are definately coming and have a house booked 70km from Bergen on the 5th August. We can leave the UK on the 1st so have 5 days to travel to the house. We thought to travel via Hirshals and travel back through Sweden via the bridge. I’m looking for places to stop along the way. We thought perhaps Brugge then on to somewhere and then flensburg and then on to Hirtshals and over to Norway – I would be so grateful for any advice and places that you stop in. We then have 5/6 days to travel home from the 12th so we thought Oslo, Gottenburg and Copenhagen but would be grateful for any suggestions. Thanks so much for your help !!!!
    With best wishes – Lou

  19. Hi Jan. It adds to the cost but mostly it adds time and last time I checked that option it doesn’t save that much of the drive as you still have Germany to travel through? … If they could only reinstall the route! x

  20. If you live north of London its an option to do Newcastle to Netherlands. Then a 5 hour drive to Kiel and then ferry to Oslo. Saves a bit of driving, but adds to the cost I guess

  21. I lived and worked in Kristiansund for a few years and the day DFDS stopped accepting car driving passengers on the Immingham – Brevik ferry was a very bad day indeed. There was talk of re-instigating the Newcastle upon Tyne – Bergen route but nothing seems to have come of it. Has anyone looked at crowd funding to capitalise a new ferry as I am sure there wil be sufficient traffic for operating expenses and profit? It is completely untenable for there to be no direct ferry route to Scandinavia.

  22. Thank you for the informative read. I cant believe how bonkers this is not having any ferries! As a kid we used to love the Ferry to Norway. Did they not stack up financially? Surely the economic benefits to both countries through tourism, and the jobs created through employment, would be worth both Governments supporting the reinstatement of the service, even if it was one of the other ferry companies doing a very limited service? I dont supose there are any Government representatives that would want the work of looking into it?. 🙁

  23. Sound great I’ll drive my vw caddy going to Norway want to know how much diesel? Thanks cheer

  24. I couldn’t agree more Marthe. And I’d settle with only a fea departures, say around the school holidays. Best wishes, Bianca x

  25. I so wish they’d bring back the U.K. to Norway ferries. I’m Norwegian but live in the U.K. and would love to be able to visit Norway by car. Sick of airports and then having to rent a car or rely on relatives to
    lend us cars while we’re there. Bring back the direct ferry, preferably Harwich to Oslo!! Please!!!

  26. Never see UK registered cars in West Norway these days. I am sure it is the same in NE England and South Scotland with lttle or no Scandinavian cars. With all the subsidies to Ryanair to jet in tourists why do Bergan, Newcastle and Stavanger councils not throw some money on the table. Surely the EU will let Norway have a little of their tourist development fund being thrown at the southern lands. Bring our Ferry Back. JD Stavanger

  27. We’ve just booked now and unfortunately they’ve stopped taking private cars on the freight ferries from Immingham. I will update the post above accordingly. Meanwhile, our best route now, considering both time, price and also the best way to break the journey up, we’ve chosen to drive (via Eurotunnel) to Kiel. Then Stena Line from Kiel to Gothenburg (leaving early evening and arriving the morning after). From Gothenburg to Norway you can expect good roads and less than a 2 hour drive before you cross the boarder to Norway. Price difference when booking now was Kiel – Oslo £395 and Kiel – Gothenburg was £239 – with a better sailing time. Hope this helps. And lets hope one of the ferry companies would set up a sailing from the UK to Scandinavia sometime soon!

  28. Would like to go to Oslo on the ferry in car but looks like best way is via Denmark. What is the best ferry from UK to Denmark, to catch ferry to Oslo (and which ports please!)? Also, can I bring my dog with me (which is major reason for taking car/ferry)?

    Thank you!

  29. Hi Lou. Norway is a large country. Would be happy to recommend, but let me first know what part you are looking to visit. Best, Bianca x

  30. Hi I am considering driving from the Uk in the summer with my 4 children. Can anyone recommend places to stop / stay overnight on the way to break up the journey please. Also looking to book a house when we get to Norway, so any beautiful places that can be recommended would be much appreciated. Thanks for your help!

  31. TODAY…DFDS response to my tweet “Hi Carolyn, unfortunately we have no future plans to reinstate this crossing, apologies we do not have better news.^AC”

    In my naive knowledge of monopolising companies, I don’t understand why DFDS would buy the Colorline route only to cancel it. Why buy something they are not interested in. The Newcastle Bergen route was idyllic…fond memories of floating into Bergen via the islands. My husbands family live in Ulsteinvik and Gurskoy. To reach them it means a torturous/expensive journey via ferry from Harwich to The Hook, drive from The Hook to Hirtshals, Ferry from Hirtshals to Bergen, overnight in Bergen, five hour drive and fjord ferries up to the islands.

    The return journey alone takes 6 days out of an annual 14 day holiday…tired just thinking about it.

  32. I’m eventually moving to Norway (I have friends in Stavanger and Oslo). I’ll be living in a campervan so I wish they’d restore the direct route too. It’s gonna be such a long journey to get there X_X

    Still, I suppose that’s all part of the experience!

  33. I been thinking to drive to myre norway to visit my auntie who lives there. since we are a family of 5. 2 adults and 3 kids. i just wondered if that be possible for a budget holiday.

  34. I’m hoping to visit Norway also, it looks mesmerizing. Not sure where to visit yet but I’d like to drive I’m certain of that!

  35. Dear Toby. That’s super exciting! Is it for work or adventure – or both? Best, Bianca aka The Scandinavian Mum.

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