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Ready for Norway's longest train journey?
"The railway itself is very fascinating, with a rich history. And of course, the nature is spectacular as well".
Benny Sætermo, park guide at Nordland National Park Centre
"If I was to describe the train journey from Trondheim to Bodø, I would say it's full of contrasts."
"You start with the lush landscape in Trøndelag ..."
" ... and continue through a more rough and barren landscape over the mountains, before the train takes you down valleys, and to the fjords in the northern part of the country."
Enjoy 24 hours of daylight in summer, and, if you're in luck, the northern lights during winter.
The Nordland line is truly an amazing experience, no matter when you travel!
What are you waiting for?
Cross 293 bridges, travel through 154 tunnels, and even cross the Arctic Circle! Norway's longest continuous train line is quite a journey.
"I have mostly taken the northernmost part of this line for work, but it's really well worth taking the entire ten-hour trip. There's so much to see along the way," says Benny Sætermo.
As a park guide at Nordland National Park Center, Benny is more interested in nature and wildlife than the average person. A seat on board the 729-kilometre-long Nordland Railway brings you close to both. The journey showcases a huge variety in both landscape, culture, and climate.
"The train crosses the large Saltfjellet mountain range, and you can actually see a botanical divide on the southern and northern part of the mountain, so the mountain is almost like a border. On the southern side you have spruce forests, while on the northern side you pass through pine forests. It's the same thing with some of the animal species, too," says Benny.
You can travel the Nordland Railway on board the night train as well. If you're lucky, you can spot the magical northern lights while travelling during winter. The night train is also well worth a ride in summer – the midnight sun keeps the sky lit up, so you don't miss a thing.
Benny Sætermo grew up in a small village outside Mo i Rana in Northern Norway.
Sætermo has always been interested in nature, and works as a guide at Nordland National Park Center. He also owns and operates the Arctic Circle Classic motorcycle museum.
"You also have a good chance of seeing reindeer on this route, especially in the mountains. Sea eagles can sometimes be spotted as well, but that's less common."
The train passes several historic places on its way up north, including many World War II sites. The railway itself is also rich in history.
"I'm very interested in history and I like visiting historic places. While taking the Nordland Railway, you can see several World War II sites from your train seat, and you can also reach several from the stations along the line," Benny explains.
Parts of the railway were built by the Nazis using Russian POWs as forced labour during World War II, and the tough working conditions and extreme weather conditions led to many casualties.
"There were many prison camps in and around the Saltfjellet mountain range. I think it's important to not hide or forget that part of history, even though it's a dark chapter," says Benny.
Scroll down for an introduction to the most interesting stops along the railway!
A guide to the best stops
along the Nordland Railway
Plan a complete train holiday!
The train stations along the Nordland Railway are located in some epic places, with many exciting activities nearby.
Your journey starts in Trondheim
The Trøndelag region is known for its extraordinary Nordic gastronomy, as well as being a historic place with lots to experience – so don't board the train before you have explored the city!
Check out these insider tips from locals, and join a guided tour through the Gothic queen of the city, the Nidarosdomen Cathedral.
Board the train at the city's train station. Or, if you're travelling directly from the airport, hop on the Nordland line at Værnes.
If you are travelling during spring or early summer, the vibrant colours of blooming plants and flowers in the agricultural landscape will pop outside your train window, as the train takes you northwards along the Fættenfjord.
"Pay attention! If you are seated on the left side of the train, you can spot two concrete blocks on the other side of the fjord. They were the anchorage of the battleship Tirpitz, the world's most famous warship, which was hidden in the fjord during World War II," says Benny, adding that there is also a war memorial in the area.
One and a half hours after leaving Trondheim, the train makes a stop at Verdal.
"From the train station in Verdal, you can walk to Stiklestad National Culture Centre, which is located around four kilometres from the train station. When a historic place awaits, it's worth the walk in my opinion, but you can also take a taxi," Benny explains.
Stiklestad was the location of the famous battle of 1030, where the Viking King Olav Haraldsson (later canonized as a saint), fell. The battle is considered the most important event that led to the consolidation of Norway as a kingdom, and Christianity's breakthrough in Norway.
You can also visit the Stiklestad Pilgrim Center. From here, you can walk on the St. Olav Ways, which stretch all the way from Selånger in Sweden to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.
While in the area, why not cycle the idyllic Golden Road, where you can explore both beautiful nature, sample delicious food, and discover arts and crafts in beautiful Inderøy? To get there, switch trains at Steinkjer train station, and take the local Trønderbanen branch line to the train station at Røra. From Røra, it's possible to pre-order transport to Inderøy.
If you want to start cycling from the Røra train station, Visit Innherred hires out both electric and regular bikes, and can arrange to meet you right at the train station. Bringing luggage? No problem, it can be transported to your accommodation. Speaking of accommodation, you can spend the night at the unique, award-winning Øyna Kulturlandskapshotell, which also offers 3-course and 5-course meals made with local produce. It's one of the best restaurants in the area!
After your golden detour, let's continue on the Nordland line!
If you're travelling with children, you have to make a stop at Lassemoen and visit the Namsskogan Wildlife Park! Here, you'll find lots of Nordic animals, including wolverines, lynxes, wolves, and bears. You can even sleep right by the wolves (of course, safely), in the park's exclusive lavvos (cabins based on traditional Sami tents), located in the bear and wolverine enclosures!
It's possible to pre-order transport from the train station to the wildlife park.
"We're now getting closer to my part of the railway — the northern part."
When the train reaches Nordland county, get ready for mountain areas and more tunnels. Remember to keep your camera to hand! You have a good chance of spotting reindeer and other wild animals, especially when the train crosses the Saltfjellet mountain range.
"After travelling for about four hours on the Nordland railway, the train runs through Børgefjell National Park, which stretches across the two counties Nord-Trøndelag and Nordland," Benny explains.
Børgefjell National Park offers high summits and deep valleys, as well as fantastic hunting and fishing. The area is also known for its population of Arctic fox.
"The train makes a stop at Majavatn, where you'll have excellent fishing opportunities," says Benny.
If you're planning on fishing in the national park, remember to buy a local fishing permit, called Børgefjellkortet.
After leaving Majavatn, the train ride continues for an hour before arriving at Mosjøen. You're now in the geographic centre of Norway, and you should definitely spend the night here. The small town offers plenty to experience. Benny recommends stopping by a café in the historic Sjøgata area. Here, you'll also find well-preserved 19th century buildings, cosy shops, galleries and more – a perfect area for a stroll.
Or get your pulse racing with a walk up a total of 4,000 steps on the longest stone stairway trail in the world made by Sherpas from Nepal: the famous Helgeland steps (opening in 2023)! Fly down Northern Norway's most spectacular zipline and enjoy a cold drink in the cosy Fru Haugan Hotel garden at the bottom. You can also climb the Mosjøen via ferrata.
Mosjøen is also a good starting point for a round trip in Northern Norway. Take the bus to Sandnessjøen, with excellent express boat connections to the islands and small communities along the spectacular Helgeland coast.
"Now, get ready for lots of tunnels, before the train takes us to Mo i Rana, my town," says Benny.
When the train stops at the station, a 1-hour and 10-minute long trip from Mosjøen, Benny recommends a visit to what he calls ’a paradise of experiences’, the Helgeland Museum and the science centre Vitensenteret Nordland.
"The museum and the science centre are both located in the same building, which is visible from the train station. This is a good place for the whole family," Benny explains.
Mo i Rana is the third-largest city in Northern Norway, with lots of cafés, shopping opportunities, and cultural events. There are also many caves to explore in the nearby area.
Sit back and relax, as the train follows the Ranaelv river up Dunderlandsdalen valley into Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park, where you'll find the second-largest glacier on mainland Norway, Svartisen.
"Now we're heading up the Saltfjellet mountain range. There are fewer trees the higher we go, and large areas of barren landscape will start to appear. This is definitely a great place for hiking and biking," says Benny.
You will now hear a message over the loudspeakers as the train crosses the magical Arctic Circle. You're officially entering the kingdom of the midnight sun. Get your camera ready if you want to take pictures of the stone pyramids beside the railway that mark the Arctic Circle. You can also see the visitor centre, the Arctic Circle Center, from the right side of the train.
"Did you know that the Polar Circle actually moves 14 meters each year?" says Benny as the train crosses it.
You might as well keep your camera to hand, as you'll have a great chance of glimpsing reindeer in the area as well.
The first station north of the Polar Circle is Lønsdal, which is located at 511 metres above sea level.
"The train schedules are perfect if you want to go hiking here. You can take the night train to Lønsdal, which will arrive in the morning, and then take the day train in the afternoon when you're done hiking," Benny explains.
If you would like to spend some more time exploring the mountain, The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) has cabins you can rent.
Now, as the train is getting closer to the end station, mountains are slowly being replaced by views of the fjord. After one hour and twenty minutes, the train makes a stop at Valnesfjord, a great access point for hiking in Sjunkhatten National Park.
"The national park is called the children's national park, and you'll find hikes here suitable for all ages. In Øvre Valnesfjord, there are also trails accessible for wheelchair users," explains Benny.
The Valnesfjord area is also a popular place to go cross-country skiing during winter.
Now, enjoy the view of the majestic Børvasstindan mountain range as the train follows the fjords...
...to Bodø, the end station.
Bodø will be the European capital of culture in 2024.
Check out street art and cool museums and go for a trip to the world's strongest maelstrom, Saltstraumen, and to the hidden gem of Kjerringøy.
You can also start your epic train adventure in Oslo, or the train station at Oslo Airport, and travel with the Dovre Railway to Trondheim, before switching trains to the Nordland line. The end station in Bodø has an international airport. From Bodø, you can also take the ferry or express boat to explore the Lofoten Island, Salten, and the Helgeland coast.
Get ready for the journey with the Nordland Railway:
Want to make the journey into a hole round trip in Northern Norway? Find the best route:
And, get ready for your train journey in Norway with tips from our Norwegian train expert!
Trains connect most parts of Norway. The northernmost station is in the city of Bodø.
There are several train operators in Norway including VY, Flytoget, Go Ahead Nordic, and SJ Nord.
To make booking your trip easier, try the travel planner Entur, where you can buy tickets and get travel suggestions from door to door.
Explore cool things to experience along the Nordland Railway. No car required!
Ride the railways through fjords, valleys, and mountains.
Long-distance trains take you to almost every corner of Norway.
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