Given Norway’s rightly earned reputation as an expensive country to visit, it may surprise you to learn that the best way to see the country’s spectacular scenery is also one of the cheapest. Long distance rail journeys can be booked in advance for as little as $25.
Here’s how you can slow down and choose rail to enjoy Norway’s scenery at its best.
The Bergen Line – If you have time to take just one journey, the world-famous Bergen Line should be it. The 308-mile journey links Norway’s two biggest cities via some of the country’s most remote areas. Crossing the Hardangervidda mountain plateau at more than 4,000ft above sea level is a highlight for many.
You’ll see patches of snow even at the height of summer, while whiteouts are common the rest of the year. The remote, moody hotel at Finse – made famous as the setting for Star Wars’ ice planet Hoth – can only be reached on the four daily trains that serve the tiny mountain village.
Flåm Railway – Starting from Myrdal, another remote station on the Bergen line only accessible by rail, the Flåm Railway is a true engineering marvel. Opened in 1941, the line descends almost 3,000ft in just an hour, spiraling around a lush green valley and ending in Flåm village, the starting point for boat trips to the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord.
The train also stops mid-way down the valley for a photo opportunity beside a spectacular waterfall. Although somewhat of a tourist trap, Flåm is a charming place once the cruise ships leave and is a great choice for an overnight stop. Don’t miss the locally-sourced food and award-winning ales at the atmospheric brewpub of the village brewery Ægir.
Oslo to Trondheim – While not as spectacular as the Bergen or Flåm lines, the main line from Oslo to Trondheim still offers a wonderful view of Norway’s mountainous scenery. The highest part of the line around Hjerkinn reaches well over 3,000ft above sea level, while musk ox can sometimes be seen as the railroad skirts the edges of Rondane National Park and the vast Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park.
At Dombås, the Rauma Line begins its slow 71-mile journey through the lush Rauma valley to Åndalsnes. The town and surrounding region is a hiker’s paradise, while onward bus connections to the art nouveau city of Ålesund meet the arrival of each train.
Into the Arctic – Although Narvik can be accessed by rail from the Swedish rail system, the furthest north you can go on the Norwegian system is Bodø. The 9.5hr journey is notable for crossing the Arctic circle and it can be quite the spectacular sight during the winter months. Bodø itself warrants little attention, but the town is the launch pad for several ferries to the dramatic Lofoten islands.
- All journeys can be planned and booked via state rail operator NSB.
- If you’re traveling more than a couple hours, it’s worth paying the extra $10 to secure a more comfortable seat and complimentary hot drinks in komfort class. Needless to say, booking a window seat is highly recommended. All long-distance trains are equipped with a family carriage with a play area for kids, and a buffet car with hot meals, sandwiches, snacks, beer and soft drinks.
Guest author bio: David Nikel is a British travel writer who has called Norway his home since 2011. He lives in the former Viking capital of Trondheim and spends much of his time desperately trying to improve his Norwegian. He is the author of the upcoming guidebook Moon Norway, and shares his best travel tips on Norway Traveller.
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