/ Driving to Lofoten
I am doing this on my own in the summer with a car load of food, then meeting various partners flying out over five weeks, to avoid the outrageous cost of food and car hire in Norway.
How long should I reasonably allow from Calais to Harstd/Narvik airport?
I've not done it but I'm very interested in the outcome. Do you think you'll save a significant amount by the time you factor in fuel, tolls and ferry?
With two little kids in the car meaning some stopping, I've got from Dunkirk to Jönköping in 24 hrs. That's including maybe 3 or 4 hours sleeping in the car somewhere in Germany. Less sleep, or less stopping you could probably do to Stockholm in a day. Google maps suggests 18 hours to Narvik from there - which sounds about right. We do it in the same from Helsinki and it must be about the same distance.
So probably 2 days without too much sleeping! Might be hard going on your own. Once in Sweden you probably won't have any traffic issues. I'd try and go with two people, and stop for some climbing on route in Sweden. You go past loads of decent crags, and generally camping near them isn't too hard either.
> I've not done it but I'm very interested in the outcome. Do you think you'll save a significant amount by the time you factor in fuel, tolls and ferry?
I estimate the cost of fuel, ferry and additional insurance for the return drive should be under £1000. When I went to Lofoten at easter a couple of years ago, the cheapest car we could hire was £400 per week, so £2000 for the 5 weeks. If we can avoid buying much food there other than fresh veg for between 2 and 4 people for 5 weeks, this should also be a huge saving (the cost of food there is eye-watering!).
Really? I've always thought basics like pasta and stuff from the supermarkets wasn't too terrible these days - but fruit and veg is expensive!
Personally Id be tempted to make a week of it and stop off in some cool places along the way. If you do it quickly you'll probably want to have a day off to recover when you get there anyway.
Also make sure you get a full tank of petrol/diesel in countries where it's cheap. Belgium and the Netherlands are relatively cheap and Sweden is marginally cheaper than Norway. Haven't done the maths but you might save money if you swing by Luxembourg and get a tank full, fuel prices are very low there.
Do you know if the roads up Sweden then west into Norway are good for steady progress (what is the speed limit?)
I am pretty much committed to doing it on my own (more room for food!) - as a teacher I am time rich, but my partners are less so. I have about a week maximum free before my first partner arrives at Harstad. I was thinking in terms of 4 days from Calais (plus a day from Edinburgh), then maybe leave ann extra day in hand.
At least two summers back Holland was expensive for fuel - same prices as here. We managed to avoid filling up there, much cheaper either side in Germany and Belgium. With Denmark, Sweden and Norway not using the Euro I've never been completely sure which has the most expensive fuel.
Is there no car ferry from anywhere in Scotland to anywhere in Scandinavia?
A ferry? I thought Germany and denmark were land connected (unless my geography is much worse than I thought!)
I was horrified by the increase in cost of everything between my previous two visits in 2004 and 2010. But yes, things like pasta were the least bad. Planning to take loads of cheese, biscuits, muesli bars etc. as well as tinned fish and veg.
> Is there no car ferry from anywhere in Scotland to anywhere in Scandinavia?
No. There is one from Harwich to Denmark, but not worth the cost for minimal time saving.
I think its 120 on motorways, 90 or 100 on other main roads. Up in Lapland you are VERY unlucky to see any police so its sort of up to you how fast you do or don't go. Swedish highways are all good and compared to central Europe, rather quiet once away from Stockholm.
Lots of bouldering en route if you're on your own!
I seem to remember fuel in Norway being a bit more expensive then UK, but not outrageous. Not sure about Sweden.
Any hints on info?
Total drive was 3 days (5 people one 3 door ford focus), we went all out on our way through Sweden, its so boring. The plan was to stop in Narvik but as it was so close we just carried on.
We hostelled in Hamburg and on the outskirts of Stockholm.
Had some friends take the ferry to Denmark on their way to Sjøvegan at the same time but they really didn't recommend it and drove home via Calais on the way back.
Food's not that expensive, though that will depend on the exchange rate at the time.
Would definitely recommend not going through Sweden and taking the ferry from Hirtshals to Larvik theh heading up the E18 and E6 through the south east of Norway. Journey time is probably the same, eg London - Calais - Hamburg - Oslo - Trondheim - Lofoten. Google quotes 34 hours driving.
> I think its 120 on motorways, 90 or 100 on other main roads. Up in Lapland you are VERY unlucky to see any police so its sort of up to you how fast you do or don't go.
But every town and there are a lot along the E4 (if you go that way) has speed cameras, they're everywhere!
But they go wild at the roadworks and never signpost them. Though they normally have a hottie on a deckchair with the stop-go sign.
I'd love to drive up Norway sometime just to see it all, but people who have gone that way say it's quite a time consuming drive due to wiggles and limits; getting a speeding ticket from the Norwegian police is REALLY bad idea.
That sounds a good effort. I'll be slower (but more comfortable!) on my own.
I thought driving up Norway would (although much more scenic) be significantly slower. I might come back that way when I don't have a flight to meet.
Four of us drove from Cristiansands to Lofoten via the amazing granite slabs at Setesdal, and through Rjukan altho didn't stop there to climb, all on Norwegian roads. It took 4 days, of more or less non stop driving from morning til night, the only food available from many garages was hot dogs. Supermarkets were not obvious on many main roads. We got fat grumpy and arrived in Lofoten only just friends.
The speed limit in Norway is 50mph. A local biker in Lofoten told us folk regularly go to prison for 12 months for exceeding it. We didn't know this so managed 70mph for most of the journey but the roads are pretty terrifying, no camber, no barriers, no safety features with drops straight into the fjords. Views are mixed as roads on lots of forested hills. The tolls are voluntary stop tolls but they sell your details to debt collectors if you don't pay up!
Apparently the roads are better and quicker if you go through Sweden (ie they have motorways and dual carriageways), some good climbing to pass through there too. Norway is expensive for beer tobacco and fuel. Normal food is more expensive than the UK but is better quality, so not sure driving the cheap option. We had a jeep with a top box and we still ran out of beer halfway through the holiday- we obviously took too much climbing/camping gear.
Have fun. I love road trips but I wouldn't do that one again!!!
We drove up again last year Harwich>Esbjerg, Hirtshalls>Lervik, three weeks in the south, then caught the Hurtig from Trondheim to Bodoø, and drove the rest. Spent two months up there, then reversed the tour. We decided in future it would be cheaper to fly and hire a car if you were visiting for less than a month.
Speed traps: we have seen quite a few - often in the middle of nowhere. It is the dead straight bits of road to watch, they have to clock you, then jump out to stop you, so need a good stretch of road. I have seen a few in the villages on lofoten too, an acquaintance on 'done' in Kablevåg - 33 in a 30 limit - £200 on the spot fine!
Unless it changed since I was last there a year ago, it's not - at least not outside of towns of which there are very few in the north.
Bohuslän (mostly trad) and Niemisel (sport) are world-class destinations for single pitch granite climbing. Ringkallen and Blåberget are also very worthy stops for granite trad. For bouldering Kjugekull and Västervik seems to be very good, there´s also thousands of problems around greater Gothenburg.
Although scenic the drive through Norway is somewhat of a nightmare. I would never ever consider to do it alone. You can count on at least the double driving time, more speed controls, more expensive food and gas, and even worse roadside food than in Sweden. Reg. the speed controls, a mate of mine missed the 60km sign and thought it still was 80km. 7800 nok (800+£)fine!
I think you should seriusly look into the option of flying to Kiruna ( northern Sweden 2-3h drive from Narvik) and hire a car from there. I think its about half price compared to Norway. If flights are expensive you could also fly to Luleå or Umeå. Little bit longer to drive but it´ll give you the options to climb at Niemisel and Blåberget. (At www.borrbult.nu you might find climbing partners)
I would have thought 5 weeks of food for 4 people might attract some attention, particularly if you're on your own. (I have a Greek friend who was stopped on the way into Switzerland for being a couple of kg over his 'meat allowance'. He was charged the duty and then had the meat confiscated!)
Of course you might be able to run the gauntlet. But worth knowing...
Country Motorway Open Road Town Alcohol mg/ml
Norway 90 km/h 80 km/h 50km/h 0.1 (80kg man one pint if you´re lucky)
Sweden 110-120 70-90 50km/h 0.2 (80kg man maybe one pint)
The motorways are quite few in Norway, in my experience 80km/h seems to be most common but it doesnt have to be a town to be 60, 50 or even 40km/h. A couple of nearby houses and the speed limit drops drastically.
Prices in euro/liter for unleaded 95 as of 21st feb.
Norway Petrol 1.89 Diesel 1.72
Denmark Petrol 1.77 Diesel 1.61
Sweden Petrol 1.63 Diesel 1.63
UK Petrol 1.61 Diesel 1.69
Err, either my Geography is getting a bit shaky, or Germany has somehow lost it's land border with Denmark recently.
Oh, and the latest price for the Denmark to Sweden ferry is 40 euros each way for a car.
> Err, either my Geography is getting a bit shaky, or Germany has somehow lost it's land border with Denmark recently.
please read what I wrote when Robert made the exact same quip. Even shaky geography would let you know much of Denmark is a series of Islands.
Really? Thanks for sharing! However, given that the OP was asking for info about the practicalities of driving from Calais to Narvik, one would imagine that driving over the border and aiming at Copenhagenmay may just be his projected route, rather than doing a spot of island-hopping along the way - which kind of renders your comment about "and don't forget to factor in the Germany - Denmark ferry cost" somewhat superfluous. Just my opinion like :-)
Copenhagen is on an island. Coming from France, you need to take the ferry from Germany drive up into Jutland and cross the Storebaelten bridge to get there which is much further (and the bridge quite a hefty toll).
If you are going to get all superior and sarcastic, you might want to check a map, then you won't appear silly. Or perhaps actually do the drive yourself?
A day off? I'm not even planning on a night off!
Good point. I shall look into it.
Mine wasn't a quip; just ignorance! Ive learnt something, which was the whole point of this thread. Thanks!
> We drove up again last year Harwich>Esbjerg
I looked at the cost of that ferry and decided it wasn't anywhere near worth the fuel saved and saved no significant time.
I am committed to five weeks in the north (Lofoten and I've just bought the very tasty new guide book to Stetind etc) and all my partners have booked flights to Harstad or Bodo already. Also, I forgot to mention that I am taking twp sea kayaks for interesting climbing access and poor weather/fishing options, so no good for flying!
> Norway 90 km/h 80 km/h 50km/h 0.1 (80kg man one pint if you´re lucky)
> Sweden 110-120 70-90 50km/h 0.2 (80kg man maybe one pint)
I am planning to stick to the speed limits and do without alcohol for the duration (saves money all round...).
BTW, check Norfolk lines ferries to Dunkirk, very cheap and takes you further north and east than Calais. Won't save much driving, but every little helps!
Good to know. I'd hate to have a car load of cheap food from Asda confiscated an hour from Narvik after hauling it 2500 miles and then have to replace it at Norwegian prices......
We always take huge amounts of food and beers with us! :-) I'd stock up in the big hypermarkets in Dunkirk, but the Germans also have big shops right by the border for selling crates of Scando beers for the visitors from the north. Bizarrely I saw Finnish brewed beer for less in Germany by the Danish border, than it sells for in Helsinki.
From my exp. they let you off directly when they´ll see that you´re climbing. Hide your contraband under your ropes...
> I looked at the cost of that ferry and decided it wasn't anywhere near worth the fuel saved and saved no significant time.
True but we weren't in a rush and I prefer sailing to driving ('cept when its rough). I did some work for DFDS years ago and must be on a 'list' as we always get an upgrade to Commodore Class - worth it just for that!
I would actually just drive and not take the ferry at all. The ferrys do actually stop during the dead of night.
But yeah, I would say 2 days of hard driving would be the time...
The roads are pretty good. On actual motorways in summer the limit is 130 km/h... but most of the roads will be 90 or 110.
The do have a low tolerance for speeding (and Norway has zero tolerance), but at least in Sweden, they warn you about automatic cameras.
Fair enough, but it is an extra 100 or 150 kms IIRC. The bridge is cheaper but with the extra petrol you use, its probably only 20 euros difference maybe, plus takes longer and you don't get an hours break on the ferry! As I said both times I've done it we've taken the ferry coming back, but driven via Jutland on the way to the UK. The route is a bit different through Germany as well, although all autobahn either way.
Here's the customs info
Looks like you're allowed NOK 6000 of goods, with a maximum within that of 5 litres of beer and 10kg of meat & cheese products. That works out at £645, which sounds like a lot (but I suspect it will be the retail value in Norway they go off, not the price on your Asda receipt...)
Anyway, as others have said, it might be theory rather than practice. But worth knowing.
> Here's the customs info
> Looks like you're allowed NOK 6000 of goods, with a maximum within that of 5 litres of beer and 10kg of meat & cheese products. That works out at £645, which sounds like a lot (but I suspect it will be the retail value in Norway they go off, not the price on your Asda receipt...)
Thanks. That's useful. 10kg of tinned fish and cheese is not much for 2 to 4 people for 5 weeks. I hope the fishing is good then..... though I suspect I shall take my chances!
hi, cheap car rental in Norway is www.rent-a-wreck.no. I think they have an office in svolvaer. they usually operate out of scrapyards and garages. ive used them four or five times and am alwyas happy.
> Copenhagen is on an island. Coming from France, you need to take the ferry from Germany drive up into Jutland and cross the Storebaelten bridge to get there which is much further (and the bridge quite a hefty toll).
> If you are going to get all superior and sarcastic, you might want to check a map, then you won't appear silly. Or perhaps actually do the drive yourself?
I give up! I suggest you actually read what you've written above, and punctuate it so that it makes sense. Then you won't appear illiterate. And yes, I have done the drive - amazingly, I didn't need a ferry to get from Germany to Jutland, I found the A7 / E45 motorway much more convivial and convenient.
You said though that me suggesting for him to consider the ferry cost was "superfluous"; well it is only if he is happy to drive the less direct route, one that still includes a toll bridge.
I'm still not sure what you meant by:
Copenhagen is on an island and you get there by crossing other islands regardless of which route you take. And typos seem to be a universal curse, so we can all appear "illiterate" together.
You seem to be getting a lot of negative responses to this thread.
We have "overlanded" twice to Lofoten and thoroughly enjoyed it each time. However, we have regarded it as a road trip (with plenty of climbing on the way) rather than a long-haul drive to a single end destination. I think the main problem would be that you are doing this on your own - could you consider advertising (perhaps on these forums) for someone to car share?
We too have stocked up on food and drink to cut costs (for two adults and two children), and have never been stopped at customs at several different border crossings. The motorways do run out, but the roads are almost empty and driving enjoyable. In the north you can just camp by the roads.
I did the drive from Denmark to Nordkapp several years ago and thought it was a very long drive. We went through Sweden taking the inland route up and the coast route down. Both lovely in their own rights.
Google maps suggest the ferry from Hirtshals (Jutland, Denmark) to Larvik (Norway), then it's only one crossing water after Calais. But I find driving in Sweden much faster and relaxing.
Speed traps are every where in both Sweden one Norway and they're not always signposted.
Customs on the Swedish side of the bridge between Denmark and Sweden occasionally stop cars for scrutiny. Especially those with foreign looking drivers in heavy laden cars. Living near Copenhagen I drive that way very frequently to "our" Swedish crags.
Our closest crag is Kullen or Kullaberg, 1 hour drive from the bridge. It's a lovely peninsula with a lot of 10-15 m routes on granite sea cliffs.
Gothenburg and Bohuslen has been mentioned, and I agree, Bohuslen is world class granite, however the crags are quite dispersed.
Kjugekull or just Kjuge is a nice place for bouldering. Some call it Fontainebleau of Sweden : )
You are welcome to contact me for further details and questions.
> You seem to be getting a lot of negative responses to this thread.
And a lot of useful info!
> However, we have regarded it as a road trip (with plenty of climbing on the way) rather than a long-haul drive to a single end destination.
Not an option - I am committed to the north out of choice (and am fixed for partners flying there) with some specific objectives I've been inspired by for years!
Car sharing would mean less room for food and I'm not able to offer car use once there - my partners are contributing to the cost of my driving out in exchange for not needing car hire. But yes, sharing the driving has its attractions and I wouldn't rule it out, though, in a way, I'm quite looking forward to the drive on my own.
Did you do the drive all the way up to the Arctic? I met some French guys in Lofoten once who had driven all the way up from down near Nice. They made a bit of a climbing road trip of it too, but that's still one hell of drive. Just after Xmas though, I drove 18 hrs from Syndey to Arapiles for a day's climbing - which is probably the longest I've done for a day! We were on our way to Adelaide so it was almost en route though.
That's probably not much further than from Edinburgh but without the psychological handicap of driving a whole day in the "wrong" direction first!
Incidentally, I love the big sign at the bottom of Stetind which says "NO BOLTS" in about ten languages; I like to imagine French climbers reading it having driven about 3000 miles with nothing but a rack of quick draws.
Nah, just the girly version, from Hannover (where my gf lives) up to Bergen and around. Mind you, my eyes are still watering from the prices!
Thorbjørn, co author of the guide, has driven from Lofoten to Cadiz a few times (on his way to Gran Canaria) because he 'likes driving'!
To save the faf of driving and the cost, and the fact you can get some kip then why not go.
Harwich to Esbjerg. Drive esbjerg to hirtshal (about 200). Then ferry from hirtshal to kristiansand/stavanger.
It'll work out about the same cost,maybe less, but you will be on the boat most of the time.
That's the route ill be takin early April hopefully.
The French guys we met there in 2001 were doing very rapid ascents of some of the hardest routes on Islands at the times, so be careful with your stereotypes! ;-) Actually there are very many Scandinavians who only climb sport.
A more serious point is that the Norwegians don't seem very settled on their own ethic. There are bolted rap anchors on Eidetind, just round the the corner from Stetind. Lofoten used to be famous for its anti bolt stance - see the old Webster guide - but then some bolts went in for conveniences - like on the Goat and IIRC the ab station above Applecake, and then whole sports cliffs were developed (which are meant to be very good BTW). Some norwegians get very upset with foreigners using bolts, but then other Norwegians seem quite ready to use them themselves. It makes understanding the situation quite tricky.
Nothing wrong with a good stereotype!
Oh well, I hope it settles down into a clear delineation between trad and appropriate sport venues; the apparently strong anti-bolt ethic was, to me, one of the really appealing things about Lofoten.
Have you climbed on Eidetind? I've only driven past it. It looks superb and, now armed with the new guide, it's well up the hit list.
Yep, Klubbruta. See: http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=55259 Wow, looking at the date, its almost 9 years back! Do one of the routes, but scramble on to the top as it such a wonderful viewpoint. Really one of my best days out in the mountains.
There are some bargains. Spotted one crossing at £40 when an hour later or earlier it was £160.
Just need to look around I suppose.
Shall check this again. When i put in some likely dates for me, it came up with over £400
> There are some bargains. Spotted one crossing at £40 when an hour later or earlier it was £160.
> Just need to look around I suppose.
The UK > Denmark ferry only runs every other day!
> A more serious point is that the Norwegians don't seem very settled on their own ethic.
Apparently bolts are admitted on (some) abseil pistes to prevent the use of rope tat that some find more revolting.
Definitely the case in Kvaløya, see last pic here: http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.com/2007/07/superior-ethics-or-littering.html
There seems to be a lot of different opinions about whats the best way to do your trip. Here's my two cents...
Most of the times i have driven from germany to sweden i have taken the ferry puttgarten/rödby and helsingor/helsingborg. The reason for this is that you get a break from driving and also save a few miles. But if you are strapped for cash you can drive over the bridges and save a few £.
I would make a few stops to climb. The climbing you pass is simply awesome and the drive is really long.
The obvious stop is bohuslan. Great cragging in your grade-span. You must try the classic crags like hallinden, häller and välseröd.
I would drive the E4 up along the coast beacuse that road is much better then the alternatives. The next stop i would make is either ringkallen or blaberget if you just want trad climbing.
The next stop is Niemisel. Bolted, but i still thing you would find it very good.
Next drive over kiruna and then over to lofoten.
I'll certainly look into and compare distances and costs.
I'm committed to not stopping on the way this time (I am fixed with partners flying upo north and will need my full five weeks up there to get half way hrough my hit list!) Maybe another time though.
There is also the truckers ferry (DFD Freightline) from Immingham to Brevik (just south of Oslo). Although I think it's going to work out at £600 each way for a van!
A Norwegian guy told me that Fjordline had restarted the Bergen to Newcastle ferry due to Norwegian demand? Details on the internet are limited (they list the route but no timetable), so it may be worth giving them a ring?
Can anybody recommend any guidebooks/websites for details of crags in Sweden/Norway on the way up? I have bookmarked the link that somebody posted further up this thread, thanks for that! I am also toying with making a map on umapper.com!
> A Norwegian guy told me that Fjordline had restarted the Bergen to Newcastle ferry due to Norwegian demand? Details on the internet are limited (they list the route but no timetable), so it may be worth giving them a ring?
They've been keping that quiet! There is a timetable on the website, but it is not listed as a route when you start ther booking process and no prices. Very curious. Shall have to give them a ring.
I can't find any mention of N'castle > Bergen on their .no or .com websites. I think there may be older versions of the site still floating around out there?
> I can't find any mention of N'castle > Bergen on their .no or .com websites. I think there may be older versions of the site still floating around out there?
This is what I was looking at: http://www.fjordline.ferries.org/?gclid=COnt77jG1K4CFWIntAod0E6qeA
I would be pleased to be wrong but I think that page is years old.
> This is what I was looking at: http://www.fjordline.ferries.org/?gclid=COnt77jG1K4CFWIntAod0E6qeA
Being a third-party website (ferries.org) I wouldn't be inclined to believe anything I read on there!
> Being a third-party website (ferries.org) I wouldn't be inclined to believe anything I read on there!
Yes, I hadn't noticed it was third party. The newcastle route isn't on their own website. So it's the long drive after all.......
That's the plan, though I might come back down the west coast of Norway to Trondheim if I feel like taking my time on the scenic route and if I have a co-driver.
What's the situation on wild campervanning in Norway?
> What's the situation on wild campervanning in Norway?
Norway has very liberal laws on this - it's basically ok as long as you're not in someone's front garden.
Good, this is an excellent thread full of info. Thinking about a similar trip myself soon.
I found this: http://www.motorhomefacts.com/blog-display-jid-210.html which is about a month long trip to Norway in a van very similar to mine. Looks really good and wild campervaning seems to be no issue. Interesting to note the use of oil revenues in Norway.
There isn't really a 'coastal' route in Norway; the E6 mostly stays well inland - think of 800 miles of boring forest at 50mph!
> There isn't really a 'coastal' route in Norway; the E6 mostly stays well inland - think of 800 miles of boring forest at 50mph!
It's not that bad!
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