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Norway – A country with such natural and powerful raw beauty everywhere you look, it’s hard to not fall in love with it. Sweeping vistas, majestic fjords, crystal clear lakes and ever changing terrain; Norway is every photographer’s dream destination.
Taking the train through Norway was one of the best travel moments of my life to date. Breathtaking views on every side of the train had me pressing my nose against the windows in complete awe for hours. The brilliant autumn colours against the bright cobalt blue skies made the scenery even more spectacular to witness. As you pass rivers, lakes, mountains and turf roofed houses, it’ll be near impossible to put down your camera.
One of the most stunning rail lines in the world is the Bergensbanen (Bergen Line), which is operated by Norway’s rail company NSB, and whisks you from Oslo to Bergen in just under seven hours. Although the train ride is long (almost as long as most international flights), I promise you that the views you’ll see are worth the time and you’ll actually be surprised by how time flies by quite quickly.
Read more: How to spend a day exploring Bergen, Norway
After careening through the mountainous landscapes for a few hours, the train will stop for 10-15 minutes at Finse; the highest station along the Bergensbanen train journey. There is no public road access to the station, so the station and surrounding area can only reached via the Bergensbanen. Once the train came to a halt, I glanced across the lake at what would probably be the bluest landscape that I’ve ever seen. It was also the cleanest and freshest air that I’ve ever inhaled as well. The massive glacier that is spotted across from Finse station along the shores of Lake Finsevatnet in Ulvik, has a cool and unique story. The large glacier chunk at the top of Hardangerjøkulen (try saying that five times fast…hell, try saying it ONCE!) was the area that they chose to portray the ice planet, Hoth in the movie Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Neat!
The Oslo to Bergen train journey has four daily departures, the last one being the midnight overnight train ride that goes right into Bergen’s city centre and arrives just shy of 7am, which is the one I took to get to Bergen from Drammen. I took the train early in the morning another day to go to Flåm, so I was able to marvel at the epic scenery along the rail line during the day as well. The Bergensbanen consists of Northern Europe’s highest railway route. It runs approximately 495 kilometres (308 miles), reaches a height of 1222 metres above sea level and takes you through some of Norway’s most rough and rugged terrain. The sheer magnitude of engineering that went into making this rail line is a feat in itself. This magnificent railway was started back in 1875 and took 34 years to fully complete. As the train makes its way through a staggering 182 hand carved tunnels, you can’t help but wonder how it didn’t take way longer than it did.
The Bergensbanen train ride consists of 21 station stops; Myrdal being one of them, which connects you to the Flåmsbana train that takes you onward to Flåm; the tiny and spectacular village nestled in the Sognefjord.
The Carriages & Facilities
Not only is the Bergensbanen one of the most stunning train trips, but the train itself is one of the fastest, cleanest and most efficient trains I’ve ever been on. The seating area is spacious and comfortable and each chair even has footrests. There are eight carriages behind the locomotive that range in seating from Standard Class to NSB Komfort Class. They also have an on board restaurant carriage complete with a menu (NSB Meny), which serves small warm and cold meals, alcohol and snacks (I chose to bring my own snacks from home because CHA-CHING) and a Family Carriage, where passengers with small children can sit. All of the carriages have clean washrooms for passengers to use, so no need to hold your pee for seven hours. 🙂
Read more: How to travel through Norway on a budget
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There are many ways to go about booking your train tickets for the Bergensbanen train ride. You can buy directly from the NSB website, buy them from the machine at the stations, or book them online in advance to get a cheaper deal, which is what I did. If buying online, always look for the minipris deals, which may grant you access to cheaper train tickets determined by the demand and availability of the train ride that you wish to take.
The train ride from Oslo to Bergen has been noted as one the most stunning train rides in the entire world. Once you hop aboard the Bergenbanen and make your way out of the city limits and into the wild Norwegian countryside, you’ll definitely see why it’s on so many traveller’s lists of must ride trains in Europe. I can vividly remember the sense of amazement as I glanced out of the big windows of the train into the vast and breathtaking landscapes. I truly believe that riding the Bergensbanen was the train ride that made me fall madly in love with Norway.
Read more: The trip that opened my eyes to solo travel
Have any of you ever ridden the Bergensbanen from Oslo to Bergen, or even to Myrdal and then connected onward to Flåm on the Flåmsbana train? If so, tell me about your experience and if you loved the scenery as much as I did. If you haven’t been to Norway, or are planning a trip there, would you consider taking a 7 hour train journey? Let me know in the comments below. xo