Traverse Norway’s Dramatic Landscape With Great Rail Journeys
Norway is a country designed for travel. It is also a country which is full of astonishing beauty. There are very few places in the world where you can see colossal fjords surrounded by snow-topped mountains.
There are ice glaciers so huge that you are guaranteed to feel small and to understand the immense power of nature. Norway is truly nature’s playground and a must-see for all those who love to travel.
Train traveling across Norway
One of the best ways to view a large part of this amazing terrain is, surprisingly, by train. The train can be caught in the capital city of Oslo and ridden to the west; all the way to the historic port of Bergen. The city of Oslo is cosmopolitan by nature with the normal hustle and bustle of big cities. The train will swiftly take you away from this semblance of normality and onto a world of adventure.
Immediately outside the city are vast stretches of farmland with just the odd farmhouse to break up the sight of these green fields. Despite being one of the most scenic train rides in the world, this route is used by many commuters who are used to the various natural beauties that the 308km ride offers.
The train winds its way towards Finse station. The perfect spot for exploring some of the impressive mountain ranges. On one side of this little village are the Hardangervidda Mountains. Another side sees the huge Hardangerjokulen glacier coating the rocks in glistening ice.
The Norwegian territory – tradition at its best
The area around the fjord has many fruit farms as the soil is rich whilst the mountains were traditionally home to sheep farms. Many of these farms are no longer operational but the few that are have stories to tell.
Farming here stretches back over 600 years and was originally a very tough business. No roads meant arduous labor when moving food or cattle, and probably little time to appreciate the beauty of the location.
The railway line actually took thirty four years to construct with Finse being the base camp for the many ‘rallars’ who tunnelled into the mountain to create the tracks. Due to the extreme working conditions sixty three workers lost their lives.
The train ride continues downhill into western Norway and more green farmlands with winding streams and pine trees standing tall in the sunlight. The journey then moves alongside the Osterfjord, one of three fjords situated around the island of Osteroy. Finally, the train ride stops in Bergen.
The wonders of Bergen
Bergen has an ancient trading wharf framed by brightly painted warehouses. The traditional fish have been replaced with shops and restaurants. This is an excellent place to unwind and soak up the culture.
The original part of the harbour is on the northern side and is undergoing a continual improvement program which is intent on restoring derelict buildings using traditional methods. The opposite side houses a much more modern city.
Solund Archipelago is on the furthest western shores of Norway. There are 1,700 islands scattered among these huge expanses of water. Some of these are populated and some are not, but it is definitely a lifestyle that puts you at one with nature. It is a remarkable experience taking a boat trip through these islands and meeting a few of the very friendly locals.
While here, don’t forget to visit the lighthouse on Utvaer. This is the western most part of Norway and is no longer inhabited except for two people manning the lighthouse.
There are pleasant walks along the base of the mountains and opportunities to try fishing or kayaking for the more adventurous. It is even possible to take a trip in a traditional Norwegian sail boat.
Norway’s dramatic scenery is unique. The country is without a doubt Europe’s finest travel spots. Leaving aside the not-so-pleasant weather conditions, Norway’s superb landscapes compensate for the disturbing rain and snow.
Pack your bags and give train travelling a chance to amaze you. Rail journeys are exquisite because they allow tourists to see more in a limited amount of time. So guess what, by hopping on a train you won’t need a lifetime to see Norway’s finest sights.