Everything you need to know about getting around Norway in the air.
There are many ways to get around Norway on your vacation but they all fall into two categories: Flying or slow.
Take a journey from Bergen to Trondheim, for example. Driving within the speed limits takes anything from 10 to 15 hours, depending on ferry timetables plus how many times you stop for meals, bathroom breaks and refuelling. The sole daily coach service takes 14 hours, while taking the train is only possible via Oslo at a minimum journey time of 13 hours. The Hurtigruten ferry is arguably the most scenic option but takes almost two days.
However, a flight from Bergen to Trondheim takes less than one hour. Even adding in the time it takes at the airports and getting to/from your actual destinations, flying is the fastest option by quite some distance.
When not to fly
Whenever members of the Norway Traveller Club email me with itinerary questions, I always encourage slow travel. Driving from Oslo to Bergen can take as little as six hours, but wouldn’t you rather take three days to explore the spectacular mountain plateau, world-famous fjords and picturesque fishing villages on the way?
There are exceptions to the rule, of course. If you are travelling north to Lofoten, Tromsø or Finnmark, flying is good value and you won’t really miss much between Trondheim and Bodø.
If you are on a tight itinerary you may also prefer to fly to make the most of your time in historic Bergen, beautiful Ålesund, or the simply stunning Lofoten islands.
Domestic airports in Norway
Although most international travellers will only look towards the (relatively) big airports in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger, Norway is littered with small airports.
The mountainous terrain and fjords may look stunning, but they are a natural obstacle to getting around first. Over the years, the Norwegian government has invested heavily in a regional airport infrastructure, most notably in the north of Norway. Flights are subsidised to keep the prices within reasonable limits.
Hubs for this network include Bergen (for west coast airports), Trondheim (for central Norway), Bodø (for Lofoten) and Tromsø (for Troms and Finnmark).
Domestic airlines in Norway
The big two – SAS and Norwegian – both operate extensive domestic services between Norway’s biggest airports. Up to 30 departures a day leave Oslo for Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger across the two airlines. Tromsø, Bodø, Kristiansand and Ålesund are also well-served from Oslo.
Both SAS and Norwegian also operate several services along the west coast, between Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, Bodø, and Tromsø.
The small Norwegian airline Widerøe currently holds the contracts to serve most of the small, regional airports. For example, to reach Hammerfest in Arctic Norway, you would need to travel to the northern hub at Tromsø and then connect onto a flight there.
Connecting to domestic flights
Something which trips up many international visitors is the customs regulations in Norway. When arriving on an international flight and connecting onto a domestic service, you must collect your baggage and clear customs when you arrive in Norway, even if your baggage has been tagged to your final destination. Gate staff in foreign airports are almost never aware of these regulations. Ask your cabin crew if you are unsure.
There is now an expedited process for selected international arrivals at Oslo’s principal Gardermoen airport. You will be informed on your flight if this process applies to you. You can read more information about the new baggage transfer rules upon arrival in Oslo over on the expat relocation website Life in Norway.