The Oslo to Bergen train: the beautiful Bergensbanen
The Oslo to Bergen train, or the Bergensbanen in Norway is considered to be one of the most scenic train rides in Europe. Whether this is true, depends on personal opinions. It is, however, the highest railway line in Scandinavia.
The train from Oslo to Bergen covers a distance of almost 500 kilometers and takes about 7 hours. It passes through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Norway. Including the rugged mountains of the Hardangervidda plateau, deep fjords, cascading waterfalls, and picturesque villages.
The Oslo to Bergen train
The Oslo to Bergen train is not only impressive because of its stunning scenery. Its construction alone is a significant engineering feat. The Bergen line was built in 1883 to connect the capital city of Oslo with the port city of Bergen on the west coast of Norway.
To do so, engineers had to carve out a way in some of Europe’s most inhospitable terrain. The construction of the Bergen Line presented several challenges, including rocky mountains, steep gradients, and harsh weather conditions. To overcome these challenges, engineers had to build numerous bridges, tunnels, and viaducts.
One of the most significant engineering feats of the Bergen Line is the Finse Tunnel. It is the highest railway tunnel in Europe, at an altitude of 1,222 meters above sea level. The tunnel is 7 kilometers long and took five years to complete.
Another notable feature of the Bergen Line is the Flåm Railway. This is a branch line that connects the Oslo to Bergen train with the village of Flåm, located on the shores of the Aurlandsfjord. The Flåm Railway is one of the steepest standard-gauge railway lines in the world, with gradients of up to 5.5%.
My experience on the Oslo to Bergen train
I love traveling by train and therefore the Oslo to Bergen train was on my bucket list for a long time. I came across the ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour package, but decided to arrange this myself. First of all, because I wanted more time in Flåm. Second of all, because I wanted to see the whole train journey from Oslo to Bergen without missing out on the stretch between Myrdal and Voss.
I am very glad I arranged the Oslo to Bergen train myself with a stop in Myrdal to take the Flåm railway. I spent 3 days in Flåm and then took the train back to Myrdal to continue my journey on the Oslo to Bergen train.
Everything you read about the spectacular scenery is true. I went in October and the autumn colors made the journey even more beautiful. I absolutely loved the part from Geilo to Finse and Myrdal that goes through the Hardangervidda mountain plateau.
Although you are not above the arctic circle, the landscape certainly looks like you are. It reminded me very much of Swedish Lapland and the tundra around Murmansk in Russia. I was not surprised to learn that polar explorers like Amundsen actually used Finse to train for their missions to the North pole due to the area’s extreme conditions.
My biggest regret was not planning another stop at Finse. Next time, I would like to spend one or two nights here to do some hiking in the area. The scenery from Myrdal to Voss was also really beautiful and I am glad I did not miss out on this part of the train journey.
Europe’s most beautiful train ride?
Was it really Europe’s most beautiful train ride? There are tough competitors out there that claim the same. Most of them are still on my bucket list, so I can’t compare. But for me, it was indeed one of the more spectacular train journeys I have done.
Other interesting train journeys in Europe that I loved are the Belgrade to Bar train, the Dogu express through Turkey, the Lapland express in Sweden and the Arktika express in Russia. From this list I can say that the Oslo to Bergen train was a winner.
Stops along the Oslo to Bergen train
Oslo to Drammen and Hønefoss
The Oslo to Bergen train starts in Oslo, the capital of Norway. I recommend spending at least a day in Oslo before taking the train to see the main sights in the capital. Oslo is a great city with some interesting museums, modern architecture and great restaurants.
The Oslo to Bergen train departs 5 times a day from Oslo Central Station. There is a night train as well, but you would miss the scenery along the way. I suggest taking one of the earlier trains.
As the train departs from Oslo, you’ll see the cityscape give way to rolling hills, dense forests, and tranquil lakes. As you continue on the journey towards Drammen, you’ll pass through a mixture of residential areas and countryside, with glimpses of the Oslofjord and Drammenfjord appearing intermittently.
The Oslo to Bergen train then follows the Drammenselva river to Tyrifjorden. Tyrifjorden is the fifth largest lake in Norway and you will have beautiful views from the train till you reach the city of Hønefoss.
Reasons to get out: Drammen and Hønefoss are nice Norwegian towns, but there are no particular reasons to get out.
Hønefoss to Gol, Ål and Geilo
After the bigger city of Hønefoss, the Oslo to Bergen train follows the Hallingdalselva river to Gol, Ål and then the Strandafjorden to Geilo in the Hallingdal valley. The landscape around Gol and Geilo is characterized by rolling hills covered in green forests, with several lakes and streams dotted throughout the area.
Both Gol and Geilo as well as the small village of Ål are popular destinations for outdoor activities with lots of hiking and cycling trails in the surrounding mountains. In the winter, Geilo is a popular ski resort with over 40 kilometers of cross-country skiing trails and 39 slopes for downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Reasons to get out: If you enjoy outdoor activities like skiing in winter or hiking in summer you might want to consider staying a couple of days at Geilo. Ål and Gol are also nice. Gol also has one of the few examples of a wooden stave church.
Geilo to Finse and Myrdal
As the train leaves Geilo, it climbs steadily through the hills and forests towards the Hardangervidda plateau, the largest mountain plateau in Northern Europe. The landscape changes dramatically as you gain altitude, with forests giving way to rugged mountains and barren, windswept tundra dotted with lakes and bogs.
The train journey from Finse to Myrdal goes through the heart of the Hardangervidda plateau. This stretch is particularly stunning, with breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks and pristine glaciers.
You’ll also pass through several tunnels and over several high mountain passes. This includes the highest point on the entire Oslo to Bergen train route, Finse station, which is at an elevation of 1,222 meters above sea level.This area is so remote that the stations of Finse and Myrdal have no connection with a road.
Reasons to get out: The scenery around Finse is stunning and offers lots of hiking opportunities. You can stay in the Finse mountain hostel or the historic Finse 1222 hotel. I also recommend to stop at Myrdal to take the famous Flåm railway. The Flåm Railway is one of the steepest standard-gauge railway lines in the world, with gradients of up to 5.5%
Myrdal to Ørneberget and Voss
The journey starts with the train descending from the high altitude of Myrdal and into a lush valley filled with dense forests, waterfalls, lakes and rivers. Slowly it feels like you are returning to civilization again after the desolate Hardangervilla plateau.
First you pass by the beautiful Langavatnet lake that is still surrounded by rugged mountains. Ørneberget is the first station after Finse and Myrdal that has a road connection again and the landscape becomes increasingly lush and green as you follow the Kleivelvi river into the Raundalen valley.
As the train approaches Voss, the landscape becomes more pastoral and rolling hills dominate the view. Voss is a charming town in the heart of Western Norway with beautiful lakes and mountains. It is also known for its outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, and rafting.
Reasons to get out: Voss is a popular destination for outdoor activities. Norway itself advertises Voss as the adrenaline capital. Here you can go white water rafting, skydiving and other adventure sports.
Voss – Bergen
The train journey from Voss to Bergen takes passengers through rolling hills and verdant valleys, dotted with farms and lakes.
As the train approaches Bergen, you get breathtaking views of the city’s famous fjords, including Osterfjorden and Byfjorden. The train passes through several tunnels before arriving at Bergen Station, which is located in the heart of the city.
Bergen is the final stop of the journey. It is a historic city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Hanseatic architecture, fish market, and scenic harbor. I recommend spending at least two days in Bergen to explore the old town with its traditional wooden homes and
Reasons to get out: The train passes through several charming villages along the way such as Dale and Arna, but there are no particular reasons to get out.
Oslo to Bergen train travel tips
Oslo to Bergen train times
The Oslo to Bergen train is operated by VY. There are 4 daily trains from Oslo to Bergen and one night train. You can check the most recent time schedule on the VY website. To make the most out of daylight hours I recommend you to take the morning train at 08:25
How to book Oslo to Bergen train tickets
The cost of a ticket on the Oslo to Bergen train can vary depending on the time of year, the type of ticket, and whether you book in advance or at the last minute. However, as a general guideline, a one-way ticket for an adult can cost anywhere from around 400 NOK (approximately 45 USD) to 1000 NOK (approximately 110 USD).
The cheapest tickets, minipris, are limited and non refundable. To increase your chance of being able to buy a cheap minipris ticket, you should book your tickets as soon as possible.
You can book your tickets up to 90 days in advance from the Vy website. Tickets do sell out, especially during holidays. This is another reason to book your tickets in advance.
You can also buy tickets at Oslo S (Central Station) or Bergen Station from the vending machines or ticket office.
Norway in a Nutshell
It’s also worth considering purchasing a ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour package. This includes the Oslo to Bergen train journey as well as the Flåm Railway and the boat tour to Gudvangen. From there a bus brings you to Voss from where you get on the Oslo to Bergen train again.
The ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour package can be a cost-effective way to see the best of Norway’s stunning scenery. Personally, I believe the tour gives you too little time in the places you visit. However, it is for sure a good way to get a sneak peek of what Norway has to offer.
I booked my tickets for the Oslo to Bergen train and the Flåm railway a long time in advance. Therefore I was able to book the cheap minipris tickets. Arranging everything on my own, allowed me more time in Flåm and it was slightly cheaper.
However, if there are only expensive tickets left, the ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ package will save you money.
How to choose a seat
A reserved seat is included in the ticket. Obviously you would want a window seat to look outside. But, it doesn’t really matter whether you sit on the left side or the right side of the train. Overall, the scenery on the Oslo to Bergen train route is stunning no matter where you sit.
When you are lucky and the train is not full, you can switch sides.
Oslo to Bergen train route
The Oslo to Bergen train stops en route at Sandvika, Asker, Drammen, Hokksund, Vikersund, Hønefoss, Nesbyen, Gol, Ål, Geilo (popular ski resort in winter), Ustaoset, Haugastøl, Finse (highest station in Norway), Hallingskeid, Myrdal (junction station for the Flåm Railway), Upsete, Mjølfjell, Voss (popular adventure sports destination), Dale, Vaksdal and Arna.
Food on the Oslo to Bergen train
There is a restaurant car on the Oslo to Bergen train with decent prices. However, you can also buy food in the supermarket at the Oslo train station. Norway is an expensive country so I bought things in the supermarket and made a lunch box myself before entering the train.
A traditional Norwegian lunch box is known as ‘matpakke’. It typically consists of a variety of sliced bread with different toppings, such as cheese, cured meats, fish, and spreads like jam or butter. You can easily buy the ingredients for this in the supermarket. Smoked salmon is actually relatively cheap in Norway and perfect to make a lunch sandwich with.
For something sweet I recommend the Norwegian Kvikklunsj or a Kannelboller (cinnamon bun). You can easily buy this in the supermarket and they make a cheap snack that you can bring on the train with you.
When to go
The Oslo to Bergen train runs throughout the year and every season has its charms.
If you want to enjoy the long daylight hours and pleasant temperatures, the best time to take the Oslo to Bergen train is during the summer months from June to August. During this time, you’ll also have the opportunity to see the lush green landscapes and blooming wildflowers.
Another great time to take the Oslo to Bergen train is during the autumn months from September to November. This is when the foliage begins to change colors, and you can witness the stunning autumn scenery. I went in October and although we had a lot of rain, it was absolutely beautiful.
If you want to see the stunning scenery of the Norwegian mountains in snow, the best time to take the Oslo to Bergen train is during the winter months from December to February. However, be aware that this is also the coldest time of the year.
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