All aboard! Ride in comfort to stunning fjords, across mountains, to the beautiful south, and north of the Arctic Circle. These eight railway lines offer spectacular views along the way. Several lines in Norway consistently rank among the best train journeys in the world.
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Train companies in Norway
The VY railway network includes local trains in the Oslo area, and regional lines such as the Dovre line and the Bergen line.
Flytoget Airport express runs between the Oslo area and Oslo International Airport.
Go Ahead Nordic have lines from Oslo in the east to Stavanger in the west, including the Sørland line, the Arendal line and the Jæren line.
SJ NORD operates seven lines in Norway, including local trains in the Nordland and Trøndelag regions, and regional lines such as the Nordland line, the Dovre line, the Rauma line, and the Røros line.
Main train lines in Norway
Riding the train in Norway is as much about the unique, beautiful scenery you enjoy along the way, as it is about arriving at your destination. Many Norwegian railway lines rank among the most beautiful train journeys in the world, according to Lonely Planet and others.
Train journeys such as the Nordland Line and the Bergen Line offer far more than just transportation. As a passenger, you get up close to the landscape and culture along the tracks in a way that's impossible on a plane.
Jan Helge Østlund has written several books on Norwegian train journeys and railway history. “Switzerland and Austria provide stiff competition, but I would still say that Norway is an excellent European rail destination. They may have faster trains further south, but we rank highly in terms of history, interesting stops, and beautiful nature along the tracks,” says Østlund.
Train travel is also one of the most sustainable ways to explore the country. Here are eight amazing Norwegian rail journeys:
The Bergen Line is perhaps the most popular scenic Norwegian train journey – with good reason. The train passes through beautiful mountain scenery from Oslo to Gol and Geilo, up through the Hallingdal valley towards Finse in the high mountains, and along the gorgeous Hardangerjøkulen glacier, before descending towards the final stop.
“Not only does the Bergen Line connect two of our most important cities, Bergen and Oslo, it also travels through a stunning cross-section of Norwegian landscapes along the way. Fields, fjords, forest and mountains are all part of the seven-hour ride. The fact that it passes Norway’s highest point for a railway line is also interesting,” says Østlund.
Norwegian broadcaster NRK filmed the entire journey and broadcast it live without interruption, pioneering 'slow TV' (they have also showed a marathon broadcast of the Norwegian Coastal Express journey in real time). Since then, the journey has become a favourite among tourists. Many take the opportunity to transfer at Myrdal station to experience the world-famous Flåm Line, a trip through some of Norway’s most breathtaking nature.
Book your tickets with VY.
2. The Flåm Line
The fact that it's one of the most famous railways in the world, despite its brief duration of about one hour, says a lot about the Flåm Line and the views it offers along the way. Every year, more than half a million travellers are spellbound by the steep journey from Myrdal station down to the village of Flåm, located in the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord.
“The Flåm Line has gorgeous views in fair weather. With dramatic waterfalls, rivers, valleys and mountains, this stretch is for many the very definition of Norwegian nature,” says Østlund.
As a lifelong lover of trains, Østlund appreciates the technical aspects of the antique trains on the Flåm Line in particular.
“Above all, the Flåm Line is a technical masterpiece. Due to the steep ascent from 0 to 866 metres above sea level, two locomotives are required – one in front and one behind the train, and every carriage is rigged with a special brake system,” he explains.
Flåm offers a wide range of activities and eco-friendly fjord sightseeing all year round. The Flåm Line has also become a great attraction in wintertime, when it doubles as a ski lift.
3. The Dovre Line
The Dovre Line is an unforgettable way to journey from Oslo to Trondheim. The seven-hour ride through Gudbrandsdalen, Rondane and Dovrefjell, passes through some of Norway’s stunning national parks.
“The Dovre Line makes for a fine day of travelling. There are many gorgeous things to see as you travel along Lake Mjøsa and towards Hamar and Lillehammer. You also travel past Eidsvoll, the birthplace of the Norwegian constitution. Although the scenery won’t be quite as dramatic as on our more famous railway lines, there is still plenty to see along the way. Among other species, the musk ox is a frequent sight on this journey,” says train expert Østlund.
You can also make a stopover midway in the mountains of Dovrefjell. Join a musk ox safari, enjoy a gourmet meal at Kongsvold Fjeldstue, one of the most unique hotels and eateries in Norway, located close to Kongsvoll station.
If you’re travelling with kids, you won't want to miss the Hunderfossen Family Park in Lillehammer. At Bjorli station, you can change trains and ride the renowned Rauma Line.
You'll find tickets and timetables to the Dovre Railway at SJ NORD.
4. The Rauma Line
Østlund has called The Rauma Line one of Norway’s "most beautiful and wildest railway lines." The 114-kilometre stretch will always have a special place in his heart.
“From Bjorli and down to Åndalsnes you will experience some of the most jaw-dropping scenery this side of Switzerland. In my opinion, it might be the most beautiful stretch of land this country has to offer,” he says.
The ride lasts about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Highlights include the Romsdalen valley, the Trollveggen rock face, and the unique Kylling bridge. If you travel with the Dovre Line, you will have easy access to the Rauma Line via Dombås station. The train has an emphasis on tourism, with panoramic windows and guides in the summer.
From the fjord village Åndalsnes, also called “the mountaineering capital”, you can hike the famous Romsdalseggen ridge, go ski touring, or experience the Norwegian Scenic Route Geiranger-Trollstigen.
You can book your trip with the Rauma Railway with SJ NORD.
Don't miss a thing! Here are more tips on what to experience along the line:
5. The Røros Line
The Røros Line opened in 1877 and is Norway’s oldest main line. The five-hour-long ride connects Hamar (one hour by train from Oslo) and Trondheim through the beautiful wilderness and mysterious forests of Østerdalen before it continues to the unique, UNESCO-listed mining town Røros and all the way to Støren.
“Many consider the Røros Line to be a bit boring, but there’s actually plenty of action to witness if you take the time to look. In the vast swathes of forest – with a bit of luck – you can spot both moose, wolverine, lynx, wolf, and bear,” says Østlund.
Book tickets at SJ NORD.
6. The Sørland Line
Although the eight-hour-long journey between Oslo and Stavanger may not have the wild reputation of its northern equivalents, the Sørland Line is still a considerably more pleasant and picturesque alternative to driving if you are going to the 'happy south'.
The train passes many family-friendly destinations, including the biggest water park in Scandinavia, Bø Sommarland in Telemark, and Kristiansand, known as the summer capital of the south, with its many great beaches and family attractions such as Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park.
“Many picture a train track right along the water’s edge, but large parts of the Sørland Line were built inland to avoid wartime bombardment. It’s actually not until you approach Egersund that you can see the ocean. Before that, there is mostly valleys and forests. From Nelaug, there is a branch that runs to Arendal, with beautiful views along the way,” says Østlund.
The Sørland Line also provides easy access to Southern Norway’s beautiful coastal scenery and towns that are home to quaint old white-painted wooden houses, including Risør, Grimstad, Mandal, Flekkefjord and Egersund.
Check out more tips on what to experience along the line:
The 729-kilometre-long route between Trondheim and Bodø is Norway’s longest railway line. The journey runs through gorgeous and varied landscapes, from distinct northern coastal scenery to tiny inland towns and high mountain stretches. It even takes you to Hell! Hop off there, or at one of the other stations in Trøndelag, to go salmon fishing or explore the three national parks located in Namdalen. You can also disembark at Mosjøen or Mo i Rana if you want to explore the beautiful Helgeland coast.
“The Nordland Line is 729 kilometres of experiences, history, and spectacular nature. Many suspect that the trip will be boring because it is an eleven-hour journey. In reality, this is one of the true Norwegian railway gems,” says Jan Helge Østlund.
The Nordland Line is the only Norwegian railway that crosses the Arctic Circle, and you can enjoy it all year round. You can choose between two daily departures from Trondheim and Bodø. The night train journey has been named one of the world’s most beautiful by Lonely Planet. Book your trip early if you want a sleeping compartment.
Book your trip with SJ NORD.
8. The Ofoten Line
Called “the eighth wonder of the world” when it was first built, the Ofoten Line is Norway’s northernmost train line. This old iron ore railway takes you from Narvik by the Ofotfjord. The train glides through a beautiful and wild historic landscape with fantastic views of the fjord, jagged mountain peaks, and cascading waterfalls. The trip to the Swedish border takes about an hour, and you can continue south through Sweden to Stockholm or other destinations in Europe.
It's not only the scenery that's awe-inspiring. Traces of the navvies (rallare in Norwegian) who built the railway in the late 1800s create a captivating backdrop for the journey. There are also remnants from the Second World War – much of the fighting during the Battle of Narvik took place close to the railway, which was the export route for Europe’s largest and most important iron ore deposits.
Hop off at Katterat station, which is surrounded by quaint red-painted buildings, and hike back to Rombaksbotn by the fjord, following the beautiful old navvy road Rallarvegen. In summer, guided tours and rib transport back to Narvik are available. If you love skiing, the Narvikfjellet ski resort is open until May, and in the summer, a gondola takes you to the top of the mountain to enjoy the amazing fjord views.
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