Travel

Rail's the way to travel through Norway

One of the world's most scenic train rides is the Oslo to Bergen route on the Bergensbanen

Train travel is the most popular mode of transportation in Europe, given its vastness.

One of the most scenic train rides is the Oslo to Bergen route on the Bergensbanen or Bergen Line.

The essence of its appeal begins with the engineering of the train tracks and railway lines which go through the mountainous and rugged cliffs of Norway, making it a wonder of the world in itself.

The line, built between 1875 and 1909, runs for 493km. Carving out the tunnels in freezing temperatures at such heights was a challenge many would not have thought possible.

It is little wonder why this famous train line took 34 years to complete.

For a city known to be one of the most expensive in Europe, the one-way ticket on the train to the fjord city of Bergen will surprise you - it costs as little as a sandwich and drink.

The journey from Oslo to Bergen takes more than six hours, including a change of train at Myrdal.

But you will find that the hours seem to fly past as you are mesmerised by the beauty greeting you throughout the ride.

This journey is what travel sites and gurus claim to be the world's most beautiful train ride, and I agree. Few European railways traverse such desolate mountain terrain.

All for the price of a sandwich
Flam station. PHOTO: ASNAH AHMAD

The first leg takes you to Myrdal. It takes about four hours to get there, and it is the only segment where you will have seat reservations.

Both sides of the train show gorgeous landscapes, but if you are travelling from Oslo to Bergen, the left offers a better view.

As the train leaves the city (from Oslo Central Station), the journey takes you through spectacular and varied landscapes.

All for the price of a sandwich
The Kjosfossen waterfall. PHOTO: ASNAH AHMAD

The snow-capped mountains form the background of the Hardangerjokulen glacier, where impressive waterfalls big and small flow next to a lake, valleys with white water river on one side and magnificent mountains on the other.

The panorama is constantly shifting. Expect to take countless photos and selfies.

It is also the highest mainline railway in northern Europe, reaching the Hardangervidda plateau at 1,237m above sea level.

The Finse train station is 1,222m, above sea level.Here you will see white, snowy plateau that stretches for miles.

You can see snow along this route even during the summer months.

This view continues until Myrdal, where you get off to change to the Flam Line to my favourite part of the route, Flam.

EXTRAORDINARY

The line from Myrdal to Flam is one of the world's most extraordinary. It descends 725m at gradients so steep that the locomotives are fitted with four brake systems.

Even in June, which was when I travelled, you could see snow-covered forests, dotted with brightly coloured wooden houses before passing a mountain lake which was still half frozen.

If you want to capture good, unobstructed photos, find a seat that has an open window.

Flam town is where the longest fjord, Sognefjord, lines the harbour so you will see spectacular views overlooking the fjord along the way.

Sognefjord is also the deepest fjord in the world, and is one of many Unesco's World Heritage sites in Norway.

The highlight of this leg on the Flam Line is the Kjosfossen waterfall.

It could very well be the most impressive waterfall on this journey, which features many waterfalls.

Its total fall is about 225m, and the captain will stop the train for a few minutes at a viewing platform to give you time to snap a couple of Instagram-worthy shots right next to its majestic falls. You are able to stand so close to it that you can even feel the spray.

At Flam, you can either spend the night or head straight to Bergen on the next train.

You also have the option of getting on a cruise instead of continuing by train.

There are few places in the world that have such varied scenery in one region. You have to see it to believe it.

With Norway's stunning scenery flashing by as you travel from one landscape to another, this train ride will be etched in your memory long after your return.

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