Oslo’s Brief Affair
My first stint in the heart of Norway was its capital, Oslo, during my latest Nordic adventure. A four-night stay allowed me to explore its depths, but for most tourists, a 2 to 3-night stay might suffice. But the real gem, attracting numerous visitors, is the city of Bergen.
Journey Over Destination: The Train Experience
Against the odds of quicker flight times and often cheaper costs, I was drawn to the train journey between Oslo and Bergen. Flying might take a mere 55 minutes, but the 7-8 hour train ride captivated many like me. It struck me as odd, as most tourists opted for this lengthy journey despite its longer duration and higher expenses. But why?
The Scenic Route to Bergen
The train’s route is essentially Norway’s crown jewel of roads, renowned not just in the country but across Europe, beautifully linking Oslo and Bergen. My anticipation for this journey made sure my seat was next to the window, preparing me for the panorama that lay ahead. The journey introduced me to expansive green fields adorned with picturesque houses, shimmering lakes, meandering rivers, diverse forests, and as we neared Bergen, the snow-kissed mountains came into view – a testament to Bergen’s elevated stance.
The travel experience was enhanced by the pristine interiors of the train. Comfy seating, Wi-Fi connectivity, and essential charging points for gadgets ensured a smooth ride. For those who needed a quick bite or a sip, the on-board café lounge catered to all gastronomic needs.
Travelling by train can often be one of the most intimate ways to experience a country’s landscape and culture. And when it comes to picturesque train journeys, the route from Oslo to Bergen in Norway is frequently ranked among the world’s best.
The railway line connecting Norway’s capital, Oslo, with its second-largest city, Bergen, offers a visual narrative of Norway’s diverse landscapes. Stretching across approximately 500 kilometers, the seven-hour journey takes passengers through quaint villages, alongside pristine lakes, across towering mountain ranges, and within close proximity to majestic fjords.
- The Oslo Station (Oslo S) – Begin your journey at Oslo’s central station, which is not only an important transport hub but also a significant landmark in the city. Before embarking on your journey, consider exploring Oslo’s many cultural sites like the Viking Ship Museum or the Vigeland Sculpture Park.
- Drammen – As the train departs Oslo, it first stops in Drammen, a beautiful city known for its riverside setting and thriving cultural scene.
- Hallingdal Valley – As the train moves further inland, it traverses through the lush Hallingdal Valley, a perfect example of Norway’s fertile lowlands, dotted with traditional farmhouses.
- Finse – One of the most breathtaking parts of the trip is Finse, the highest railway station in Norway. Situated at 1,222 meters above sea level, the desolate, snowy landscapes here are awe-inspiring. It’s also the closest station to the Hardangerjøkulen glacier.
- Flåm Railway – Although not directly on the Oslo-Bergen route, many travelers opt for a detour on the famous Flåm Railway, which descends from the high mountains to the sea level at the Sognefjord in Flåm. This is a journey within a journey and boasts of some of the most spectacular views.
- Voss – Known as the adventure capital of Norway, Voss is not just a stopover but a destination in itself. Here, adrenaline junkies can indulge in activities like white-water rafting, wind tunnel flying, and skiing, depending on the season.
- Arrival in Bergen – As the journey concludes, Bergen welcomes passengers with its colorful wooden houses, historic wharf, bustling fish market, and a backdrop of seven mountains. This UNESCO World Heritage city is the perfect culmination to the scenic train trip.
Tips for the Trip:
- Booking in Advance: Especially during peak seasons, it’s wise to book tickets in advance. This ensures not just a seat but also the possibility of securing a spot by the window.
- Weather: The weather in Norway can be quite unpredictable. While traveling, especially through places like Finse, it can get cold even in summer. Pack accordingly.
- Food and Drink: The train has a dining car, but it’s also a good idea to pack some snacks and water.
- Photography: With the mesmerizing landscapes outside, photography enthusiasts will have plenty to capture. Ensure your batteries are charged and have extra storage.
In conclusion, the train trip from Oslo to Bergen is not just a means of transport but an experience of a lifetime. It encapsulates the essence of Norway, taking travelers through a journey of contrasting terrains and offering an intimate glimpse into the country’s profound natural beauty. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventurer, or simply looking to relax and gaze at the landscapes, this trip promises memories that will last forever.
A Friendly Reminder
For those considering this mesmerizing journey, a piece of advice – be well-rested. It would be a travesty to nod off and miss out on the ever-changing canvas outside the window. Most of my journey was spent glued to this live painting, absorbing every detail. And while I could go on about its beauty, I believe pictures might do more justice – even though the true charm lies in witnessing it firsthand.