We are not the only ones to think so. Different international ratings consider the train ride between Oslo and Bergen with the Bergen Railway as the most exciting and beautiful train ride in the world. Last up was Lonely Planet's Tom Hall, who raved about the Bergen Railway in November 2010, concluding "The Bergen Line is a journey that will live long in my memory. If you haven't done it you can't say for sure that it's not the world's most beautiful train ride".
No other train ride between two cities in Europe is at a higher altitude than the one between Oslo and Bergen. Linking Norway's two main cities, this line takes in some dazzling scenery, with the most spectacular stretch being the one over the Hardangervidda, Europe's highest mountainous plateau. Finse, at 4,009 feet above sea level, is the highest point on the line.
The Bergen Railway is popular with tourists and commuters alike, and serves a number of ski resorts along the way, so it is just as busy in winter as it is in summer. The total travel time between Oslo and Bergen is approximately seven hours. Building work, which started in 1875, took 34 years to complete, an involved a workforce of some 15,000 men. The 182 tunnels were carved by hand. The Bergensbanen celebrated its centenary in 2009.
The Flåm Railway
If you have extra time take the side trip on the Flåm Railway when you arrive in Myrdal. This will take you down to the village of Flåm, in the innermost corner of the Aurlandfjord. The Aurlandsfjord is an arm of the mighty Sognefjord, Norway's longest fjord. A must for any rail enthusiast, the Flåm Railway, one of the world's steepest railways on normal gauge, is one of Norway's most popular attractions, and a masterpiece of Norwegian engineering.
In their March 2014 issue, Lonely Planet Traveller included the Flåm Railway in a list of "The World's most incredible train journeys 2014" and named it "The world's best train ride".
The line, on which some 500,000 passengers travel every year, goes through spectacular scenery as it advances along steep mountain sides and deep ravines, passing countless waterfalls on its way down to the fjord. Remember that it is dangerous to lean out of the window, and watch out for the many tunnels – there are 20 of them along the 12-mile-long line. The trip between the two stations takes about one hour.
Time of travel
A trip on the Bergen Railway is just as stunning in winter as in summer. Indeed you should try both if you get the chance, as the landscape changes so dramatically with each season it makes for a radically different experience. If you are traveling in winter remember that days are short this time of year, so try to travel during daylight hours (typically between 9 am and 4 pm). Earlier or later than that and part of your journey will be in the dark, which means you may miss out on the magnificent scenery along the way. The ideal time to travel in winter is late February/March.
For schedules and prices, consult The Norwegian State Railways.
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