Including the Sørland Railway, the Bergen Railway and the Flåm Railway.
Oslo – Sørland Railway – Kristiansand -Stavanger – the most amazing bus journey on the planet – Bergen – Floibanen – Bergen Railway – Flåmsbana – Flåm – Oslo
There are four airports either on this route, or very close:
Oslo Gardmoen Airport (OSL) and Torp Airport (TRF) both serve Oslo.
However, even although a certain airline likes to refer to Torp Airport as Oslo Torp Airport, Torp Airport is actually some 110km from Oslo! Oslo Gardmoen Airport (OSL) is the official airport of Oslo.
The other two airports, Stavanger Airport (SVG) and Bergen Airport (BGO), being much smaller airports, would be my recommendation. However, because of their size, there might not be a flight to either from a UK airport near you.
As this is a circular rail route, it really doesn’t matter where you join the route though. By returning to the same point that you started from, you will see/visit all places on this route.
However, as Oslo is the most-common entry point, I have used Oslo as the start and end points for this guide. But you can use this guide from wherever you join the route.
1. Oslo to Stavanger, via Kristiansand (train – Sørland Railway).
Train journey duration: about 8 hours (4 hours 40 minutes between Oslo and Kristiansand).
Train timetable and tickets: www.nsb.no/en/
There is also a night train serving this route. But seriously, the last thing that you want to be doing is travelling along the extremely scenic Sørland Railway at night.
The Sørland Railway (Sørlandsbanen) can be thought of in two distinct sections: the first section between Oslo and Kristiansand, and the final part between Kristiansand and Stavanger (which includes the Jærbanen between Egersund and Stavanger).
The first section of the Sørland Railway between Oslo and Kristiansand is absolutely breathtaking. The train takes you to places that roads just can’t go (and in parts, you can see where the railway was cut through the living rock).
At Kristiansand something rather unique happens to the train. The station at Kristiansand is one where you leave in the same direction as from where you have come from. And between Oslo and Kristiansand all seats were facing forward (so you would imagine that all seats would now be facing backwards). Well, normally they would be. However, at Kristiansand, all seats are swivelled round to face the other way (all seats have a central swivel point). I’ve never seen this done anywhere else (sometimes, like on the Tren de Soller in Mallorca, the seat backs simply move to give the same effect, but not the entire seat!).
Between Kristansand and Egersund, the Sorland Railway again heads inland (again on a rather scenic route, but not as mindblowingly beautiful as the first section). Then, once the train reaches Egersund, the train now follows the coastal Seaview Railway (Jærbanen) to the end of the line at Stavanger.
Official Stavanger Tourism website: www.regionstavanger-ryfylke.com
2. Stavanger to Bergen (bus).
Bus journey duration: approx. 5 hours 40 minutes.
Bus timetable and tickets: https://kystbussen.no/
The bus travels along the magnificent fjord-studded coastline of south-west Norway – making this probably the most beautiful bus journey in the world. Which includes TWO ferry journeys (because of the depth and width of the Norwegian fjords, they are too deep to tunnel under, and occasionally too wide to bridge – and so the bus is simply carried across by ferry).
Official Bergen Tourism website: www.visitbergen.com
3. Fløibanen – Bergen Funicular Railway (optional).
This is a must when you are visiting Bergen.
The Fløibanen Funicular Railway takes you on 6-min journey to the roof of Bergen, on top of Mt. Fløyen.
Both Fløibanen funicular’s upper and lower station are easily accessible to people with wheelchairs or strollers, and each train can accommodate up to four strollers or wheelchairs.
4. Bergen to Myrdal (the Bergen Railway – Pt1).
Train journey duration: about 2 hours (a further 5 hours between Myrdal and Oslo).
Train timetable and tickets: www.nsb.no/en/
The Bergen Railway is without doubt one of the most spectacular railway lines on the planet. It travels through countryside that is just not accessible any other way.
And it is also the best way to reach….
5. Myrdal to Flåm (Flåmsbana – the Flåm Line – optional).
Train journey duration: about 55 minutes (in each direction).
Train timetable: www.visitflam.com/en/flamsbana/rutetider/
Tickets can only be purchased online from: www.nsb.no/en/
From one of the most spectacular railway lines on the planet, to another of the most spectacular railway lines on the planet. The Flåm Railway.
Rather than take this fantastic train in both directions, you can hire a bicycle at Cafe Rallaren at Myrdal Station, and cycle down(!) the valley (along the Rallarvegen – the old navvies’ road). It’s not as death-defying a ride as you may think (although the first section is rather steep, so you may want to get off of your bike and push for this bit if you want). After the first section, the winding road down is a very easy ride (and you will never forget the views). It takes about 3 hours to cycle down at a very leisurely pace (including numerous photo-stops!). Once you reach Flåm (railway station), you simply leave your bikes at the station there. A one-way bike hire that you will never forget. Alternatively, you can walk the whole way down (although this will take you a wee bit longer – most of the day).
6. Myrdal to Oslo (the Bergen Railway – Pt2).
Once you return to Myrdal, you rejoin the Bergen Railway for the final, and pretty spectacular, 5-hour run down to Oslo.
Official Oslo Tourism website: www.visitoslo.com
These “virtual” journeys are just my way of continuing to see the world, now that the progression of my ataxia means that lengthy travel is no longer a possibility for me. Hence the detail. By planning the journey in such detail, I end up knowing the route so well that I feel like I have been on it myself. Although in this case, I have.
So if this article has inspired you, saved you some valuable time (or even just saved you a few pounds/euros/dollars), please show your appreciation by making a donation to Ataxia UK (registered charity), by following this link:
100% of your donation goes directly, and immediately, to Ataxia UK (plus an additional 25% if you are a UK-taxpayer and have ticked the “Gift Aid” box).
And a personal request?
Share a photograph, that you take at some point on your journey, with me on Twitter. Not necessarily your “best” photograph, but the one photograph that will forever remind you of your journey.
That way I can live a little piece of the journey through your eyes.