Driving In Oslo, Norway: Should You Rent A Car In Oslo?

Oslo is the capital and biggest city in all of Norway, and brings in over a million tourists yearly. It’s a big city, and some tourists are tempted to rent a car and drive when visiting Oslo.

But driving in Oslo is not as easy as you might think, and we will look closer at everything you need to know about driving in Oslo in this article.

But let’s first answer the burning question: do you even need to rent a car and drive in Oslo, or is it fine to use public transportation?

The public transportation system in Oslo is great, and there is really no need to rent a car and drive in Oslo unless you want to drive to other cities. Driving a car in Oslo can often be a disadvantage compared to using the tram, buses or the metro.

It is considered difficult to be driving in Oslo.
A street in Oslo. Photo published with permission.

Why you don’t really need a car in Oslo

Oslo has a great public transportation system, and both buses, trams and the metro can be used to reach all the tourist attractions in the city much faster, cheaper and more easily than driving a car.

If you want to explore the tourist attractions of Oslo, like the MUNCH museum, the (upcoming) Museum of the Viking Ages, Fram Museum or another tourist attraction, it will absolutely be easier to reach it by public transportation then car.

Museums and tourist attractions in the city does not generally offer parking, and are not really intended to be reached by car.

Whenever I drive to Oslo (I live just a few hours away), I always park my car at a parking house about 20 minutes away from Oslo city, then get on the metro to get into the city itself.

This is a far cheaper and much more convenient option, and saves me some money of toll booths, and usually saves so much time since i don’t need to look for parking spaces (which are rare in Oslo).

PS. Make sure to check out the Oslo Pass if you’re visiting Oslo. It includes free public transportation and entry to most museums and attractions. It makes it very easy to use the public transportation in Oslo.

There are plenty of trams, so there's no need to be driving in Oslo
A tram in Oslo. Photo published with permission.

What driving in Oslo is like

It’s not an understatement to say that driving in Oslo is difficult, and even Norwegian non-Oslo residents typically feel that it’s a somewhat difficult undertaking to drive in Oslo.

There are simply many more things to take into consideration when driving in Oslo compared to other places in Norway.

There will be a high amount of pedestrians, there are lots and lots of one-way streets, there will be pedestrian crossings everywhere, there will be street with dead ends, and there will be many small streets where you need to give the duty to give way.

There is a lot happening in the traffic in Oslo, and you need to pay attention at all times. I would not even consider driving in Oslo if it was my first time driving in Norway, and having to learn all the new driving regulations and signs at the same time as driving in Oslo.

It’s also worth mentioning that Oslo can feel like a giant maze to navigate, even when using GPS. One of the main things that make it maze-like is the one-way streets. You might be very close to your destination, but then you need to find a different route due to the streets being one-way the other direction.

Valkyriegata in Oslo
Valkyriegata in Oslo. Photo published with permission.

Parking space in Oslo

Like most cities of a certain seize, there is very limited parking space in Oslo. Most of the street parking will be taken, leaving you with the option of finding a parking house. These are either underground or above ground, and charges an hourly fee for staying there.

The parking fee at parking houses in Oslo city tend to be very expensive. This is especially true when close to the city center.

For example, staying at OnePark parking house right in the middle of Oslo city cost 84 NOK per hour!

They have a max fee of 420 Norwegian kroner per 24 hours, but only if you stay there without leaving and reentering.

It will be much cheaper to find a parking house 20 minutes away from Oslo city, then use the bus, train, tram or metro to get back to Oslo city. But when why would you even need a rental car in the first place?

Taxi outside Vogts Gate 52
Vogts Gate 52 in Oslo. Photo by Jan-Tore Egge / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Rent a car if you want to explore the rest of Norway

I think it’s pretty clear that I do not recommend anyone to rent a car if you are going to be exploring Oslo. But I do recommend a car when travelling outside of the city.

Oslo’s public transportation system is great, but things take a turn for the worse very fast when you get out of the capital.

You really do need a car if you want to explore the the rest of Norway as hassle-free as possible. There are decent bus lines between the different towns and cities, but it’s not always as easy or efficient to get to the incredible tourist attractions in more rural places without a car.

Driving a car when exploring Norway gives you the freedom to explore anything you want to, even if it’s not generally considered to be a top tourist destination.

Driving on Arnøya
Driving opens up many possibilities in Norway! Photo published with permission.

Frequently asked questions about driving in Oslo

Should you rent a car when visiting Oslo?

It’s generally advised to not rent a car when visiting Oslo. The public transportation system in Oslo is great, and it’s much cheaper and easier to use public transportation than driving a car.

Should you rent a car to drive from Oslo airport Gardermoen to Oslo city center?

You might feel tempted to rent a car from Oslo Airport Gardermoen to get to Oslo city center, but I would advise against it. There are trains running all day long, and they are by far cheaper and faster than driving.

Is it difficult to drive a car in Oslo?

Yes, it is considered pretty difficult to be driving in Oslo. There are many one-way streets, dead ends, pedestrian crossings and different special rules for certain streets, so there’s a lot of thing to handle all at once.

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