Exploring the Best Rail Routes in Northern Europe

From Viking fjords to imperial treasures, Northern Europe offers cruise passengers the chance to see its best by train. From the enchanting Bernina Express to the spectacular railway across southern Norway’s mountains, we highlight the most inspiring rail routes in this region.

Aboard the Bernina Express, savour the Alpine landscapes of your dreams and the timeless allure of this famous line. Our Baltic and Scandinavia Overland, Pre- and Post-Cruise Land Programs showcase more of this region’s incredible ports.

1. Norway – Sweden

Awe-inspiring scenery is the hallmark of Norway, from ice-blue fjords to high mountains that rise straight out of the water. This mountainous country is also home to one of the world’s most spectacular railway routes – the Flam Railway, which runs from Bergen to Myrdal. This is an epic journey that’s a must-do for train travel lovers.

From there, take an additional day of train travel to Oslo for a cultural smorgasbord in the capital city. From Michelin-starred restaurants to world-class museums, and from fjord boat trips to scenic mountain railways, there’s plenty to experience. Be sure to visit the city’s Gothic queen, Nidarosdomen Cathedral.

Then, if you’ve got the time and energy, consider going on to Troms, Norway’s northernmost major city. Here, in the dark winter of the Arctic Circle, you can explore Sami culture and catch a glimpse of the magical northern lights.

In Sweden, the capital Stockholm, western Gothenburg and south Malmo are all accessible by train, thanks to a network of high-speed lines. A train trip through the forested interior of Sweden’s Lapland region is another memorable option, allowing you to hike and sightsee in some of Sweden’s most stunning national parks.

The epic Stockholm-Kiruna-Narvik rail journey is another way to travel through the Nordics, letting you see both northern Sweden and Norway within a week. In the winter, you can even cross the Arctic Circle and see the northern lights. You can travel by train from Stockholm to Kiruna, then catch the Iron Ore line (Malmbanan) to Narvik.

Throughout the Nordics, SJ and Vy trains operate sightseeing, regional, comfort night, intercity and express trains. Use a Scandinavia Pass to get the most out of your journeys, with flexible options for each destination. With a Scandinavia Pass, you can enjoy the best of the Nordics — from Norway’s beautiful fjords to Denmark’s fashionable design and Finland’s enchanting Viking history. Discover the best Nordic destinations and plan your adventure by train with our Norway – Sweden – Denmark – Flam – Bergen rail itinerary.

2. Norway – Finland

The rugged coastline of Norway offers an incredible landscape that is best explored by train. A trip across the country will take you past jagged mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, and beautiful fjords. Some of the most famous rail routes in Europe can be found in this stunning Nordic country.

One of the most famous is the Bergen Line, which connects Oslo and Bergen through dramatic fjords and mountains. This railway has been named one of the world’s most scenic by Lonely Planet. On the way, you can visit the famous Bryggen and Vagen harbors and climb up the Floibanen funicular for spectacular views of the city.

Another great Norwegian railway is the Flam Line, which offers jaw-dropping scenery and a thrilling train ride. Every year, over half a million people board this train to experience the stunning Aurlandsfjord. This beautiful fjord features towering mountain peaks, deep valleys, and gushing waterfalls. The train ride itself is an adventure, as the track winds down a steep slope from Myrdal to Flam. The scenery is truly breathtaking and, according to Ostlund, this is one of his favorite railway journeys in all of Norway.

Other great Norwegian railway lines include the Dovre Line between Oslo and Trondheim, which passes through some of the country’s beautiful national parks. The Rauma Line between Dombas and Andalsnes is also an award-winning railway that takes you through the fjords, forests, and countryside of Norway. This 114-kilometer stretch is one of the wildest and most beautiful in all of the country, with many unique sights to see.

While it is not part of Scandinavia, Finland is a must-see destination for any visitor to Northern Europe. The capital of Helsinki is a fascinating city, with a mix of modern architecture and ornamental Art Nouveau buildings. In addition to this, you will find a large selection of museums and galleries as well as the impressive National Museum of Finland. In the north of the country, you will discover vast open countryside as well as the official home of Santa Claus in Lapland.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing train journey or want to relive your childhood fantasies, Finland is an incredible place to visit. From the massive Finnish Parliament building to the exotic Finlandia Hall and Sibelius Monument, there is so much to see in this fascinating Nordic nation.

3. Norway – Denmark

With soaring mountain peaks, deep fjords, cascading waterfalls and picture-perfect villages, Norway is one of Europe’s most breathtaking countries. And while it’s possible to see a lot of Norway by car, train travel is a great way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and historic charms of this northern European country.

Start your trip in Oslo, a vibrant capital city with world class museums and gourmet restaurants. Then, head to Bergen where the Norwegian fjords and mountains come alive. And don’t miss out on a side trip to Flam on the Flam railway which is one of the steepest rail lines in the world.

From Oslo, take the Dovre Line to Trondheim for a seven-hour journey through some of Norway’s most stunning national parks including Gudbrandsdalen and Rondane. Here you can see eagles, seals and even musk oxen as you pass through endless swathes of forest and pristine lakes.

In the north of Norway, the Geirangerfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s simply unforgettable. The fjord is nine miles long and surrounded by jagged mountains that tower over the water, making it one of the most spectacular scenery in the whole of Scandinavia. And if you’re lucky, you might spot some of the local wildlife including reindeer or moose on a hike along the shores.

The Ofoten Line is another must-do train ride, Norway’s northernmost rail line. It winds along the Ofotfjord and through a wild historic landscape of ancient iron ore mines, steep mountain peaks and deep fjords. And the five-mile-long Oresund Bridge is an incredible drive anyone should experience – crossing from Sweden into Denmark and back again in just a few hours.

When you get to Bjorli, switch trains and board the Rauma Line which train expert Ostlund calls “one of Norway’s most beautiful and wildest railway lines”. And it’s easy to understand why. From Bjorli down to Andalsnes you’ll enjoy jaw-dropping scenery, with the Romsdalen valley, the Trollveggen rock face and the unique Kylling bridge all part of this stunning journey. It’s the perfect ending to an amazing Norway train tour.

4. Norway – Sweden – Norway

Sweden is beautiful – no doubt about that. But Norway takes the cake with mind-blowing wilderness, glaciers, thundering falls and pointy mountains that look like the figment of a child’s imagination (it’s no wonder this is where Disney got its inspiration).

The fjord-side city of Stavanger is a great base from which to take in the famous Lysefjord with knife-edge Preikestolen, Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue) and Kjeragbolten (a mad boulder wedged between two heart-stoppingly sheer cliffs), as well as UNESCO-listed Geiranger Fjord and the spectacular Atlantic Road. It’s also the starting point for the Rauma Line, one of the world’s most scenic train journeys.

A short hop from Oslo, Bergen is a cosmopolitan hub with a happening waterfront and a buzzing restaurant scene. It’s also home to the 13th-century Gamla Stan old town and the ABBA and Nobel Prize museums. The next day, explore the 30,000 islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago by boat or hop on an archipelago tour to explore secluded bays and hidden coves. Or spend the day soaking up Scandinavian culture at a number of top-notch museums, including the modern Opera House and historic Akershus Fortress.

After spending the night in Bergen, you can head south on the Oslo-Bergen railway to Oslo (6.5 hours). This mainline train will take you through awe-inspiring scenery spanning rugged mountain peaks, deep valleys and cascading waterfalls. You can choose to book individual tickets or save time and money with a railpass, which offers flexible booking options (including the option to change your itinerary) and cheaper fares for those under 28 and travellers who prefer to book at least 4 months in advance.

Continue on to Flam, a charming Norwegian village on the edge of the Aurlandsfjord, by boarding the Flamsbana mountain railway. This awe-inspiring route descends over 2,824 feet in just an hour and offers panoramic views of mountain peaks, lakes and waterfalls as you wind your way through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bryggen district. From here, you can also take a fjord cruise to see more of the UNESCO-listed Sognefjord and the city of Bergen with its medieval streets and world-class restaurants.

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