Oslo

By | 16th January 2018

Is it worth hiring a car in Oslo?

Do you need a car in Oslo > Should you rent a car in Oslo Norway > Oslo ( OSL ) Do you need a car in Oslo? Is it worth hiring a car in Oslo? Should you rent a car in Oslo?

Oslo Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]

80%

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Oslo but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

€210

 #234/300

  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Oslo during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €605

238/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.


Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 155 - of which 30 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

19%

#250/300

  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Oslo, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Oslo public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.

70%

  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Oslo

40%

  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.

90%

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Oslo good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Oslo because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Oslo. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.

100%

  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Oslo, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Oslo Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Oslo", "is it worth hiring a car in Oslo", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Oslo?

Do you need a car in Oslo?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Oslo " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Oslo?

Is it worth hiring a car in Oslo?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Oslo" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Oslo?

Should you rent a car in Oslo?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Oslo, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Oslo compares with other destinations in  Norway or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.


What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Oslo?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.

20%

Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.

0.5

  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Oslo if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Oslo for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Oslo for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Oslo if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Oslo if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Oslo if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Oslo, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Oslo if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Oslo if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Oslo if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Oslo, or are there good reasons not to?

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!

Do you need a car in Oslo? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Oslo?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Oslo? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Oslo as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Oslo?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

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.

Why should you rent a car in Oslo?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Oslo?

Is it worth hiring a car in Oslo?

  • Yes, car hire is expensive, but unless you book one way trips well in advance, and outside peak times, the trains and buses can be extortionate too!
  • The most stunning scenery in Norway is on the west coast, so you will need to get there somehow. For a larger group, it’s probably still best to drive.
  • Most of Norway is very remote. For such a sparsely populated country, public transport really is outstanding – but local buses will still only run a few times per day once outside the big cities.
  • For the safety minded, the Norwegians also have one of the lowest road accident rates of any country anywhere in the world.

Why not? Visiting Oslo without a car

What is public transport like in Oslo? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 4?
  • The most impressive Norwegian fjords are about a day’s travel to the west of Oslo, and if this is your sole focus, then you probably be better off by flying into Bergen or Stavanger in the first place, although naturally Oslo has a much wider choice of inward flights.
  • However, the train trip between Oslo and Bergen is also highly rated in its own right as one of Europe’s finest, and the excursion on the Flam Railway is rated even higher still. If you leave Oslo early enough, it’s perfectly possible to head west towards Bergen, to do a round trip on the Flam Railway and then to head onwards to Bergen.
  • You could even head back to Oslo, but you then be travelling in the evening, and you’d be missing out on all the great wonders that lie in the fjords lands to the south of Bergen.
  • This is why we would recommend heading from Oslo to Bergen by train, and then essentially travelling in a triangle by road and ferry through the fjords and then down to Stavanger. It’s at this point that we’d suggest that if you can get a bearable enough one-way rental deal, then doing a road trip from Bergen to Stavanger by car is considerably more flexible than using buses, as neither the main road nor the ferry routes get close enough to the most impressive viewpoints, for example deep within the Hardanger fjord.
  • If you do look into this triangle, once you get to Stavanger, then there’s a chance to take another great railway trip along the coast and back to Oslo – but a Bergen to Oslo road trip may also make perfect sense.
  • Given that Norwegian and a small number of other airlines also offer a reasonable number of low-cost flights into both Stavanger and Bergen, it’s worth looking at a combination of out to Oslo and back from one of these cities as an alternative to flying out and back through Oslo, but the return from Stavanger to Oslo by train is still well worth doing.

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.

Verdict

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.

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Verdict

What is our final score for Oslo on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.

5


Would you hire a car in Oslo?

Have you driven in Oslo? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Oslo}? Do you need a car in Oslo? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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