It’s well-known that Norway has some of the most stunning scenery in Europe, so surely the natural instinct of any visitor arriving at any one of Oslo’s three airports is to jump straight into a rental car and head for those wonderful mountains and fjords?
Well, hold it right there!
We can’t even begin to offer any Oslo car hire advice without first mentioning the astonishingly high prices you can expect to pay when renting a car here.
It doesn’t really make that much difference whether you arrive at one of the budget airports of Torp or Rygge, whether you fly into the main Gardermoen International airport, or if you plan to pick up your hire car in Oslo city centre. The simple fact is that you aren’t going to expect much change from £240/€270 for a full week’s rental.
Naturally, you can of course massively cut down your Oslo car hire costs if you just choose to rent the car for a day or two instead of for a longer period, and this isn’t as daft as it sounds!
This is why we think is worth explaining a few options to get around Oslo and the area well beyond it, whether by train, by bus, or even by boat!
Oslo Airport connections
If you are arriving into either the two budget airports, then both have stations nearby, but you will need to take a local bus first, and it’s generally easier just to take the coach into town, as these are timed to match arriving and departing flights.
Oslo International airport holds the distinction of having more arriving passengers travelling onwards by train than any other airport in the world (as a percentage of passengers), and when looking at the rail route map, it’s easy to see why.
Whereas most airports only have a local train service shuttling back and forth into the city centre, the “Flytoget” express train runs right underneath Oslo in a tunnel and out the other side, serving numerous other towns in the region, and also providing easy onward connections from Oslo Central station. Yet you can also head straight out of the airport in the other direction by train, with regional services heading towards the winter Olympics resort of Lillehammer, and also then onwards as far as Trondheim.
Norway might have a reputation for being expensive, but the country’s home-grown airline Norwegian has long since spread its wings throughout Europe and beyond. You might well be able to find a reasonable value flight directly into Oslo International airport, rather than having to use the more remote Torp or Rygge airports.
Using a combination of arrival and departure airports, or using one way bus and train trips, you could significantly cut down the amount of mileage you need to drive. Since petrol in Norway is also amongst the most expensive in the world, letting the bus or train take the train for some of your trip can be a really good way to cut costs.
Instead of flying into and out of Oslo, why not fly into Oslo, see the city sights, find a cheap one way train ticket to Stavanger or Bergen, and then rent a car there?
Whatever you do, we really don’t advise getting into a taxi at any of the Oslo airports without taking out a second mortgage first, unless you really are just popping to a hotel nearby.
Is it worth hiring a car in Oslo?
Note that if you are heading back into Oslo from Stavanger and you are flying out through Torp, it might make sense to alight here, rather than to go back into the city and out again.
Is it worth hiring a car in Oslo for a road trip?
If you are already coming here with a road trip in mind, then yes, of course, go for it! We’re not here to put anybody off such a venture, and a road trip around Norway is going to be one of the most amazing experience you are ever going to have in a car.
However, if you are planning such a trip, then covering more mileage is obviously going to hit you each time you fill up. Since any kind of car rental in Oslo is expensive, it might be worth getting a slightly larger car, and ensuring that you are travelling with a large enough group so you can divide all the costs between you. You also might want to think about starting somewhere on the west coast, such as in Bergen – although that’s less of an issue if you are looking at doing a loop that would come via Oslo anyway.
So despite the costs, is it still worth hiring a car in Oslo? There are several interesting and scenic rail routes which can be taken from Oslo, the most famous of which is the route to Bergen. This line is well served by a good frequency of trains, but generally, the rail system in Norway is not that good outside the Oslo capital region.
The city of Oslo may be clamping down on private car usage, but this is unlikely to have much impact on your trip, unless you plan on staying in a very central hotel for the whole duration of it. If that’s your plan, then the chances are that you won’t have that much reason for a hire car anyway.
However, if you are here for skiing, you should be able to expect good transport services out to major ski resorts from the centre of Oslo – but this advice is more aimed at summer time touring.
Is it worth hiring a car in Oslo? You can certainly see a great deal here if you plan your trip well to get the best out of public transport – but if you are the sort of traveller for who this is a marginal decision, then the choice in Oslo is still going to lean towards getting a hire car. This balance shifts even more when you are in a larger group, so there are more people to divide the costs between.
Overall verdict – no.