The road conditions in Northern Norway are pretty unique and are often very different to the rest of Norway. There are quite long distances between towns and cities in the north with many small roads often following the fjords along the coast.
The best source of information for the roads and road conditions is the following website: www.vegvesen.no.
This website is unfortunately available in Norwegian only. Below are some key words to help you get the information you need.
You can also phone for an English language version on the following:
From Norwegian phone 175
From an international phone +47 815 48 991
Help for translation of www.vegvesen.no
Once in the website you need to click on “Trafikkmeldinger”.
From here, there will be three main places to check the road conditions.
1. Viktige Trafikkmeldinger (important road messages)
2. Stengninger og kolonnekjøring (road closures and driving in convoy behind a snow plough)
3. Fjelloverganger i Nord-Norge (mountain passes in Northern Norway)
In all three of these, check for the road number and county, e.g. E6 (the main highway through Norway) Nordland / Troms / Finnmark). Within the messages, it will give you some notice of road conditions and if there are any closures or problems. Below is an example of typical traffic messages on the website and an explanation below each line.
Ev 6 Kvænangsfjellet (Oksfjordhamn bom - Sandneselv bom)
- Ev 6 Kvænangsfjellet – main mountain pass between Tromsø and Alta
- Troms county
Vekslende isdekke og bart. Klokken 13:35 var det 1 grad, sør-vestlig laber bris og oppholdsvær.
- Partly ice covered and partly clear. At 1.35pm, it was 1 ⁰C with a southwest breeze and nice weather.
Gjelder fra: 30.03.15 kl. 13:37 Gjelder til: Inntil videre
Below are some words you may see on the website:
Bart - clear
Vått - wet
Snø- og isdekke – snow and ice cover
Glatte partier – some slippery areas
Oppholdsvær – good weather
Stengt - closed
Nedsatt Hastighet – reduced speed area
Stengt på grunn av vedlikeholdsarbeid – closed due to road works
Driving on your own in the winter in search of the Northern Lights has become a more popular way of Northern Lights hunting. In the North of Norway, all cars must have winter tyres fitted from 15 October until 1 May. You always need to drive in accordance with the conditions as the weather and road conditions can change very quickly here.
- Keep distances between vehicles a little longer than on clear roads.
- Take corners a little slower.
- Break softer and a little earlier.
- It’s good to have some winter clothing available in the car.
- It’s good to have a small shovel with you in case you get stuck in a snow drift.
Summer driving is fine here. In early summer (May and early June), it is still possible to get some snow showers on the mountain passes. These usually melt within a few hours but you should be prepared to wait it out. In some areas, there can be a good deal of summer traffic with camper vans and caravans so you need to be patient. The roads in the north tend to be quite narrow and when following the fjords can be windy. If you need to pass, ensure you do so in a safe place.
- Be careful driving into tunnels on hot sunny days. Reindeer often go into the tunnel entrances to find a cool spot to relax.
- There is 24-hour sun here in the north from late May until late July. Often due to the light people will keep driving or drive for longer. Make sure that you take enough rest stops and stop to sleep if you are tired.
- When driving off the main roads, drive carefully as after the spring melt there may be some road surface damage that can damage your car.
Seat belts are compulsory for drivers and all passengers. There are big fines for not wearing your seat belts.
The limits for drunk driving in Norway are very low, and the fines are very high so it is recommended not drink and drive at all.
Generally on the open road the limit s 80km/h unless otherwise stated. In settlements the speed limits vary depending on the road, and these range from 20km/h up to 70km/h.