Norway by Rail

Summer break is almost here and maybe Norway is on your list. If you haven’t taken the overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo – that is a trip in and of itself. But Norway really shines outside the capital. Ride along as I revisit our train trip from Oslo to fjord country… this is Norway by rail.

Wending along in the eighth of ten cars, feeling the pull and sway along the tracks. Remarkably insulated from the bracing sound of metal wheels upon steel rails. Infrequent is the clickety clacking one most associates with this mode of travel. I love riding the train.

Save for the engineer’s voice announcing the next stop in Norwegian or the shape and color of the farm houses flying their Norsk flags dotting the countryside – it could be Oregon. Instead of Douglas Fir trees, Norwegian Spruce cover the hillsides. Wait – what? HILLSIDES?!? Ahhhh…. topography. We don’t get much of that in Denmark, especially in the capital area of Copenhagen.

But here, in Norway, there are hills. And it is beautiful. Snow still tops some of those distant green hills. Signs of a late spring have proffered a beautiful, verdant and lush landscape ripe with wildflowers and light green leafy growth. The overcast skies we woke to this morning in Oslo didn’t make it past Hønefoss as we travel north and westerly towards Norway’s famous fjord country.

Today’s eventual destination is the little town of Flåm at the base of the Aurlandsfjord. All aboard the first leg or our Norway in a Nutshell tour. We are underway on a gorgeous rail ride through the Norwegian countryside beginning from Oslo’s Central Station.

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All aboard - Oslo central station | Norway by Rail from Oslo to Flåm via Oregon Girl Around the World
All aboard – Oslo central station

Lupine stands royal in brilliant shades of purple and rose. Tiny white daisies wave cheerfully peeking around lacy Queen Anne’s blooms and tiny yellow buttercups. Aspen leaves shimmer verduous between white trunked birch trees. Bright red triangle peaked farms zoom in and out of view as we continue down the line, weaving through the landscape. I like being in the back afforded vistas that include our red train as it curves into the next tunnel through the rising walls of rock and trees.

Norway by Rail from Oslo to Flåm via Oregon Girl Around the World
View from the back of the train

Soon, we are beyond the tree line. Too high for growth. The landscape turns surreal and snow lingers beyond the midsummer calendar date. Volcanic looking, black land peeks through the holes in the late melting ice. Slightly eery and bleak, I wonder who would choose to live in the tiny homes that seem more frequent in the lack of evergreen and deciduous trees. No wildflowers here. But, life remains where the trees aren’t wont to root.

We witness cranes hunting in the icy waters, elegant against the stark backdrop. At the top near Finse, Norway, we are only 1,222 meters above sea level. It feels strange – like we are on the top of the world. It is 12:45pm and only 9 degrees Celsius. Yesterday’s warm 25 degrees and BRIGHT sun atop the Operæn in Oslo left behind. Gushing grey water melting in rushes along the tracks as we continue on.

Dropping down from Finse, we land in tiny Myrdahl, Norway at 866.8 meters above sea level. A blip of a town, it is our cue to exit the Oslo-Bergen train and continue with our next leg of today’s Norway in Nutshell tour. Hustled and jostled into position with the tourist masses on our route today, within 15 minutes, we are on board the charming and old school Flåmsbana. A historic train known for the steepest descent in Europe.

It is only a short 20km down to Flåm, but it takes about an hour with a stop at the incredible Kjosfossen Waterfull. We hustle off the train with everyone else to garner our pic right from the train platform. A wee frenetic and still misty from the spray, music begins and red dressed women dance in and out above the falls representing the the mysterious Norwegian Huldra, forest creatures from Scandinavian folklore. It is giggle inducing and kitsch, but charming enough and at the dance’s completion, we are ushered back aboard.

Through tunnels and waterfalled landscapes – too many to count – we continue down along the river’s edge. I will admit my jealousy watching mountain bikers and hikers who chose the slower route down. For all of the beauty and inspired awe, the trip so far today has been mostly passive. We are merely watchers from the train. After awhile the landscape repeats its theme and loses wee ones attentions. When will we get there?

Soon enough we land in little Flåm with our masses and are greeted by more, off busses and boats and other tours. Flåm is a main connection to the water bound Fjord tours into the Aurlandsfjord and the beautiful Nærøyfjord and not to be missed. But I am glad that we choose to stay overnight here and break up our family’s trip.

The ease of creating your own Nutshell path allows for a million different combinations, customizing exactly how you want to see Norway. Tonight we stayed overnight at the historic Fretheim Hotel with views of the Aurlandsfjord. A family room that fits our five, with bunks AND a queen sized bed was a welcome break.

It was excellent to experience gorgeous (literally) Flåm after the last train and ferry and bus and ship full of folks had departed. Walking to the water to throw stones and dig in the sand and dip our feet to test the waters. Yes, they were icy. Suddenly the Baltic back home near Copenhagen seems so warm! Dinner outside on the water with this view may have been slow, but local and delicious. We wrapped up in their fleece blankets and enjoyed the rain as it started on the canopy above us. The children explored while we finished our wine. Visions of fjords danced in our heads and we woke with anticipation for the watery section of our Nutshell departing Flåm and on to Gudvangen aboard the Fjord 1. Norway by boat to be continued…

Gorgeous Aurlandsfjord, Norway | Flåm | Norway by Rail from Oslo to Flåm via Oregon Girl Around the World
Gorgeous Aurlandsfjord, Norway

Enjoy and cheers from Denmark! – Erin

Untold Morsels

Save it for later! IMG_8716

Flåmsbana | Flåm | Norway by Rail from Oslo to Flam via Oregon Girl Around the World
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36 thoughts on “Norway by Rail

  1. Totally agree with you: Norway has SO MUCH MORE to offer than just Oslo and I always tell people to visit the Lofoten Islands instead if they visit Norway for the first time. However the train journey to Flåm is definitely on my bucket list too but I’ll save that for when/if I’m living in Denmark, haha!

  2. Those viewwwws though! I think traveling by train is my favorite thing in the world. Your kids look like they were fascinated by them 🙂

  3. We must have been on a Norway sync yesterday Erin. I just started researching this for June! Thinking about hiring a car but the train looks so lovely. Arghh what to do! I need to see this beauty for myself! Reading boats post too x

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Let’s chat – Norway in a Nutshell is a well-oiled machine – and so many options… get to see places that you wouldn’t by car…

  4. such a great trip! I’ve visited Oslo and thought about doing this Flam railway trip but we only had a weekend in Oslo so we didn’t do it. #farawayfiles

  5. Wonderful article and gorgeous photos! Last summer, I did the Norway in a Nutshell tour as well. Only a 2 days trip but it was great. I really had luck with the weather 🙂

  6. Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    Oh I’ve heard of Norway in a Nutshell, great to read about it here and so beautifully written too.
    We loved Oslo but I would love to return to the fjords – I last visited as a child when we spent a few days in Ulvik – can still remember how wonderful it was.
    #farawayfiles

  7. Lovely trip and beautiful writing Erin! Your post bring back so many memories – in 2010, we took the overnight ferry from CPH (we lived in Denmark for three years) to Oslo to go skiing in Trysil. Later that summer, we drove all around Norway in a rented campervan, and also rode the lovely Flåm train. Fabulous experience, our best holiday ever!
    #FarawayFiles

  8. mymeenalife

    This seems like a nice leisurely way to enjoy the countryside, even if you don’t get to engage as much with the area. I’d love to take this beautiful journey too.

  9. That train conductor in his uniform is awesome! A coworker is planning a rail trip around Europe. I wonder if I can convince him to get a plane over to Norway and do about of train travel there as well! #FarawayFiles

  10. Sounds – and – looks so magical. I love train rides too. I remember an overnight one we did when I was a kid out west and it was spectacular. My girls really don’t have much experience with train rides so I think we’re going to have to get on that! #farawayfiles

  11. Brilliant – I have a love affair with Norway (my grandfather was born there so strong family ties) and I have been a couple of times but never done the Norway in a Nutshell tour. So much of the country I’d love to see. Also – ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen? Hmm that’s got me thinking…trying to figure out how I can make a Nordic/Scandi tour work later this year.

  12. The Flåmsbana ride sounds like a memorable one and it is lovely that they stop at Kjosfossen Waterfull for a photo opportunity and to watch a dance.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      It really is impressive – the track is so steep and narrow and the waterfall is gorgeous! Thanks Ahila!

  13. I seldom find travel posts on Norway; many people tend to write about Iceland, Sweden and the northern lights. Therefore, am looking forward to read more posts about your adventures in Norway. I love train rides too, and with the Norwegian landscape especially with snow, sounds enthralling! #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Yes Iceland is tremendously popular as of late! Norway is an amazing (and actually quite large) country. I love how similar and how different the Danes are from the Norwegians. I highly recommend a visit. Oslo is a great town and the nature is divine!

  14. This Norway in a Nutshell tour was one of things (along with 999 others) I considered doing for our Scandi trip. Read through all three posts and I reckoned I should wait till the kids are a bit older? It seemed like a lot of time spent on traveling if I were to visit from Copenhagen (with the overnight Copenhagen-Oslo ferry). #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Yes – I agree – save it for later or extend your trip! 😉 Sweden is right across the bridge – or a cute ferry ride from Helsingnor (where Hamlet’s castle is!)

  15. This all sounds so magical! I love travelling by train through diverse landscapes, and this journey seems like it would be one of the most enjoyable for scenery. #FarawayFiles

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