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The Nordland Railway under the northern lights
The Nordland Railway.
Photo: Tommy Pettersen

Named one of the world’s most beautiful night train journeys by Lonely Planet, the Nordland Railway offers fantastic views and vistas.

About the Nordland Railway

The Nordland Railway is a 729-kilometre long railway line between Trondheim and Bodø. Most of the trip goes through the county of Nordland.

The railway line is operated by SJ.

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According to Lonely Planet, who named this line one of the world’s best night train journeys, it really is wonderful to take the Nordland Railway from Bodø to Trondheim. Just as the poet Sveinulv Jarnæss described the Nordland night in his poem from 1950:

“Embrace the Nordland nights, if you can, the most beautiful in the world. The sky aflame in the fire of the Northern Lights, above a wonderland of dreams”

Cross the Arctic Circle

At 729 kilometres, the Nordland Railway is Norway’s longest. The journey presents a huge variety in landscape, culture, and climate. It will take you through fertile farmland and great forests in Trøndelag, across the majestic Saltfjellet range, and down to the coast between Rognan and Bodø.

At Saltfjellet mountain range you cross the Arctic Circle, marking the boundary of the polar region. In winter you can experience the magical northern lights here, and in summer you’ll see the gleaming midnight sun.

On the southward journey, the train passes through Mo i Rana, with its industrial history. From there, you continue down Børgefjell where those with a thirst for adventure can make their dreams come true.

The train then carves its way through massive forests, past wild mountain scenery, alongside rivers teeming with fish. It passes Namsskogan Familiepark, narrow fjords, Stiklestad, and eventually arrives at the 1000-year-old university town of Trondheim.

The northern lights

The Nordland Railway takes you deep into the polar regions, where the northern lights play across the sky in the winter nights.

Between late September and late March, it is dark from early afternoon until late morning. This is the best time to see the northern lights. In this period, it gets quite dark in the middle of the night, and you have maximum chances of spotting the lights.

Download the free NorwayLights app for iPhone, Android or Windows – a forecast that helps you find the best time and place to see the northern lights.

iPhone: Download NorwayLights for iOS
Android: Download NorwayLights for Android
Windows: Download NorwayLights for Windows

In 2012, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation presented a ten-hour documentary about Nordlandsbanen, which gave millions of viewers a real-time sense of this beautiful railway journey. Here, you can watch the short version.

Mo i Rana

En route, the train stops at Mo i Rana, one of the oldest habitations along the Helgeland coast. Up until 1988, the iron and steel manufacturer Norsk Jernverk was the dominant industry in the town and the region. More recently, there has been a boom in employment, not least at Mo Industripark, which is one of Norway’s largest industrial clusters with 1,850 employees serving 115 companies.

A number of governmental bodies have also been established in Mo i Rana, including the National Library of Norway.


In Bodø, there is no shortage of experiences awaiting the visitor. This location is an excellent base for glacier hiking on Norway’s second largest glacier Svartisen, or for a trip to the world’s most powerful natural whirlpool: the Saltstraumen maelstrom.

Bodø is also the ideal stopover for a ferry trip to the Lofoten Islands.

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