How To See The Best Of Norway By Train

Long-distance trains in Norway are a genuine travel bargain in a country not known for its budget travel opportunities. Traveling between the big cities by train is usually cheaper than flying, while it provides the added benefit of scenic views for much of the journey.

The downside is that Norway’s rail infrastructure is ageing and still single-track in many places, meaning journey times can be slow. But with advance planning, taking the slow option can be a thoroughly enjoyable way to see the best of Norway on a budget.

On intercity routes, night trains save on accommodation costs too. You can choose between booking a tiny cabin at an additional cost or take your chances in trying to sleep in a regular seat. On some routes, it’s possible to take a shower at a hotel near the arrival station at an additional cost.

The world-famous Oslo to Bergen line

Many travelers have the Oslo to Bergen line on their bucket list as it often makes lists of the world’s most beautiful railway journeys.

Mesmerizing scenic views keep passengers occupied for much of the six-hour journey as the train climbs and crosses the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, snowy even at the height of summer.

Not every tourist is traveling the entire route. Some stop at Hardangervidda to overnight in a cabin, some transfer on to the Flåm railway, while others visit popular ski resort Gelio.

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Flåmsbanen: Myrdal to Flåm

Myrdal is a tiny station at 867 meters (2,844 feet) above sea level on the Oslo to Bergen line. There are no roads here and only a few cabins, yet the station is one of the busiest on the line. That’s because it’s the starting point of the Flåm line, one of Norway’s top tourist attractions.

Built from 1924 to 1940, the 20.2 km (12.6 mile) long line plunges down from the mountain plateau through the lush Flåm valley down to the Aurlandsfjord. With eight stops, 20 tunnels and one bridge, the line is a true engineering marvel. But it’s the scenery that attracts tourists in great numbers.

Now exclusively a tourist service, the train stops for a few minutes at a couple stations to let passengers take photos of the scenery. This includes Kjosfossen station, purpose built simply to provide a view of the spectacular Kjosfossen waterfall.

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Raumabanen: Dombås to Åndalsenes

This 114 km (71 mile) long railway is one of Norway’s lesser-known lines, but one of the most impressive.

Running through the Romsdal valley, the line connects the Oslo to Trondheim line at Dombås with the fjord town of Åndalsnes. Along the way it crosses the stunning Kylling Bru bridge, two horseshoe curves and provides views of rugged mountainous scenery of the Romsdal Alps.

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Dovrebanen: Oslo to Trondheim

A popular line with both tourists and locals, the Dovre line links two of Norway’s most popular cities and also serves the winter sports resorts Lillehammer and Oppdal.

While not as notable as the Bergen or Flåm lines, the train nevertheless brings passengers up close with Norwegian nature from lakeside views to the mountain plateau of Dovre. On occasion, you might even spot one of the few hundred musk ox that call the mountains their home.

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Nordlandsbanen: Trondheim to Bodø

At 729 km (453 miles), the Nordland line is Norway’s longest railway. Connecting Trondheim and Bodø, two trains a day take almost ten hours to complete the full journey, meandering through many local stations and crossing the Arctic circle.

The highlight is the mountain crossing of Saltfjellet, which is truly wild any time of year and a white winter wonderland in the winter and spring.

For tourists embracing slow travel, the train is a great choice to reach the Lofoten Islands. From Bodø, several daily ferry departures serve different parts of the picturesque archipelago.

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International travel by train

A couple international routes also allow train passengers to arrive in Norway by train. Direct trains serve Oslo from Stockholm and Gothenburg in Sweden.

Trondheim can be reached from Östersund, and there are plans for a direct service from Stockholm once work to fully electrify the line is complete in a few years.

It’s also possible to travel to Narvik from the north of Sweden, although Narvik itself is not connected to the rest of the Norwegian rail system.

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