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Using Car Ferries in Norway

By: Norman Thomson - Updated: 28 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fjords Norway Ferries Car Views Scenery

Driving by car in Norway is a great experience, especially on the west coast where you will find the world famous fjords. Starting from Stavanger on the south-east side of the country, the coastal landscape is ragged, providing plenty of opportunity to explore the numerous unspoilt islands and coastal routes to the north of the country. However, to make the most of this area it is essential to use car ferries – it is not possible to drive up the west coast for very long before the road suddenly comes to an abrupt end!

Numerous car ferries sail up and down the coast, in sheltered waters and across open seas. Ferries running near to the shore-line service the many small islands and towns that are scattered all over the west of Norway and it is fun to island-hop with your car.

No pre-booking is required for most car ferries in Norway, you simply turn up with your car and join the queue and wait for the next one to depart. But beware; there may be long lines of cars waiting for the next ferry, especially during the summer months. It is advisable to check out sailing times, which are available from the operators’ websites. In some cases, especially on longer ferry journey’s, it is advisable to book in advance.


One of the most famous fjords in Norway, the Geirangerfjorden, is well worth a visit. Located off the A63, about 200 miles north of Bergen, Geiranger is a beautiful area. The one hour ferry journey to Hellesylt takes passengers and vehicles on a trip that will never be forgotten. Steep cliffs line the fjord, and tiny settlements can be seen embedded into the rock plateaus. This area is so important that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is a fjord visitor centre where spectacular views of the mountains and rivers can be seen from viewing galleries. With six departures every day from both Geiranger and Hellesylt, single crossings or a stop off and return journey are possible.

Pulpit Rock

A short trip away from Stavanger is the equally impressive Lysefjord. The Pulpit Rock is a flat plateau that juts out above the fjord. With a 600m drop to the water below, the rock offers spectacular views up and down the fjord. This area, which is one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions, can be accessed easily from Stavanger. A good round trip involves driving to Preikestolen, about 50km from Stavanger. After parking your car, take the 5km hike to the top, the route is well marked, and enjoy the scenery. The return journey can be made from the small town of Tau back to Stavanger via the ferry.

The safety record of inland ferries in Norway is exceptional. Strict rules are applied to the number of passengers and vehicles each ferry can take. With numerous ferries operating daily, there is never long to wait for the next one. The service offered by all operators is extremely good. Most ferries have cafes on board where you can buy snacks, drinks and newspapers.

For generations, car ferries have been an essential part of life in Norway. Used by locals to ‘get around’ the array of routes on offer is excellent for the tourist who simply wants to explore the wonderful country.

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