Enthusiast, Culture

Rail Wonders of Norway

7 to 14 September
Norway, Scandinavia

This holiday features two of the finest railway journeys in Europe, with the Flåm and Rauma railways offering jaw-dropping scenery as they descend steeply from the mountains to deep fjords. We also visit maritime Bergen, home to a fine funicular railway, and, on the edge of the Arctic, Trondheim, where we enjoy a ride on the world’s most northerly tram line. Railway history is not forgotten as we call at the Norwegian railway museum in Hamar, with the chance to ride on their short narrow-gauge railway. We have city tours in the major towns, and a full day of sightseeing in the capital, Oslo, where Viking longships and gold can be seen at the Viking ship museum.  Norway really is a ‘must visit’ place for anyone interested in railways, great scenery and fascinating culture.

All trains in Norway are second class, however some have ‘Komfort’ which we will always use where possible or available.

Tour Manager is Stephen Walker. Feel free to contact Stephen at swt@ptg.co.uk if you have any questions regarding the itinerary and trains.

Highlights

  • Stunning scenic rail lines
  • World’s most northerly tram line
  • Norwegian Railway Museum
  • Famous Flåm and Rauma railways
  • Three centres
Itinerary

Day 1 Saturday 7 September (D) Today we make our way to Bergen. Flights operate from a number of UK airports, some direct and some indirect. There is a connecting bus between the airport and bus station which is only a short walk from the railway station, where our hotel is situated. Upon arrival we check in to our hotel and have some free time for a wander around Bergen. The city is famed for being on seven hills, like Rome, and the tallest of these is Mount Fløyen, the top of which can be reached by the Fløibanen funicular railway, reached by a gentle stroll around the colourful wooden buildings in the old harbour. At the summit is a restaurant and vantage point which gives a commanding view of the entire city and the islands beyond. In the evening we have a group dinner.

Day 2 Sunday 8 September (B) We catch the train from Bergen to Myrdal, which is probably the most scenic section of the Bergen Railway. The line starts by entering the long Arna Tunnel, and then it skirts along the shore of a long and deep sea fjord where the mountains plummet almost vertically into the water, giving a very dramatic vista. The line passes salmon farms and grain silos, and as the line climbs it is perched on a ledge cut out from solid rock, passing white water rapids which cascade beside the train. The vegetation changes from pines, to spruces, to dwarf conifers as the line climbs ever higher. The two hour train ride ends all too quickly as we reach Myrdal, which is the junction for the world famous line to Flåm. This line descends nearly 4,000ft in just 16 miles but unlike other steep railways this is not a rack railway or a funicular, but a conventional adhesion worked railway which at 1in 18 (55‰) is one of the world’s steepest.

The railway snakes its way through a number of spiral tunnels to reach a large waterfall where trains stop to let passengers take photos, and from here you can look back and see the railway stacked on several different levels as it twists and turns down the mountainside. The train is operated by two El 18 electric locos in top and tail mode, and despite them having 7,240 horsepower each, the line is too steep for ascending trains to stop at many of the stations on the way back up for fear of burning out the traction motors. But rest assured the descent is safe as each train has six different braking systems that can act independently and each one is capable of stopping the train. At Flåm there is a small railway museum, plinthed electric locomotive, and numerous restaurants that overlook the blue-green mineral-rich waters of the Aurland Fjord. After time for lunch we take the train back to Myrdal and return to Bergen.

Day 3 Monday 9 September (B) Today we board the morning train again, only this time we do the complete 7 hour journey and cover the whole of the Bergen Railway all the way to Oslo.  En route we pass Finse, which at 4,200ft is the summit of the line. Snow may linger here into the summer months. The hotel in Oslo is located close to the Sentral station, so we can quickly be out for a walking tour of the main sights of this lovely city after which you are free to enjoy your evening at the restaurant of your choice.

Day 4 Tuesday 10 September (B,D) This morning we will leave Oslo on the morning Trondheim Inter-City service with the objective of visiting the ‘Raumabanen’ from Dombås to Åndalsnes. We alight at Dombås which is situated on top of a mountain plateau surrounded by high mountains and connect with the local train to Åndalsnes. Initially the train runs on a ledge high on the valley side, but then descends steeply to a tunnel which turns through 180o and continues down to the valley floor to run alongside the Rauma river, which it crosses on the famous single span masonry arch Kylling bridge. Summer trains have a tourist commentary in three languages and travel slowly over the bridge, and also at Trollveggen, Europe’s highest perpendicular mountain wall – a favourite of base jumpers. The scenery is majestic, with summer snowmelt creating waterfalls which fall hundreds of metres down the sheer valley sides. We arrive in the pretty coastal town of Åndalsnes after lunchtime. On the platform is the unique ‘Train Chapel’ in a carriage donated by the Norwegian State Railway and consecrated in 2003 in the presence of the country’s King and Queen.

We return to Dombås in the later afternoon, connecting onto a train to Trondheim where we arrive at 21.00. Our hotel is but a short walk from the station.

Day 5 Wednesday 11 September (B,D) Free day to explore Trondheim. This used to be the medieval capital of Norway before Christiania (now Oslo), rose to prominence. Even today, it is where the Norwegian royal family are crowned in the massive Nidaros Cathedral which houses the Crown Jewels which are on display to the public. Our tour manager will also arrange for a ride on the only remaining tram line operating in Trondheim. This is the most northerly tram line in the world and ends in a forest area high above the city.

Day 6 Thursday 12 September (B) Today we return to Oslo with a stop at Hamar for a couple of hours to visit the Norwegian railway museum, situated by the side of a lake just north of the town. This is a fascinating place and has its own narrow-gauge railway, which we will be able to ride on before continuing by train to Oslo, a journey of about ninety minutes.

Day 7 Friday 13 September (B,D) Our last full day in Norway will be spent in the capital city where there is a lot to see. The Bygdøy peninsula is a popular choice, as it contains both the Folk Museum, where the Gol Viking Stave Church is located, and where visitors to wander around looking at Norwegian architecture through the centuries, starting with wooden buildings with turf roofs, and also the Viking Ship Museum. The latter is in a building in the shape of a cross and in each of the ‘arms’ of the cross is a Viking longship. There is also a large amount of Viking gold, from jewellery, to belt buckles, to helmets made of gold.  To get there, you can either catch the bus or take the jet boat!  The latter is more expensive, but it is a fast and thrilling ride which gives passengers a view of Oslo from the sea. Perhaps not the same as the view from a Viking longship, but then again Oslo has changed too.

For a totally different view of Oslo, why not try T Bane Line 1 to Frognersteteran?  This metro line climbs a mountain to give stunning views of the winter Olympic ski jump and at the summit, views over the city and the fjord beyond.

Or perhaps visit the Royal Palace and ornamental gardens. There is no walls or fences here so visitors can walk up to the palace, but you will set off the security alarms if you attempt to touch the doors or windows!

Day 8 Saturday 14 September (B) Transfer to the airport for flights back to the UK.

Hotels TBC

Bergen (2 nights)
Oslo (1 + 2 nights)
Trondheim (2 nights)

Flights

DY1317 10.50 London Gatwick to Bergen (arr 13.45)
DY2805 10.15 Oslo to London Gatwick (arr 11.35)

KL1002/1187 08.40 Heathrow to Bergen via Amsterdam (arr 13.40)
BA763 11.35 Oslo to London Heathrow – direct (arr 13.05)

KL1072/1187 09.00 Manchester to Bergen via Amsterdam (arr 13.40)
SAS4609 09.00 Oslo to Manchester – direct (arr 10.15)

KL1424/1189 10.35 Birmingham to Bergen via Amsterdam (arr 16.50)
KL1142/1425 09.20 Oslo to Birmingham via Amsterdam (arr 13.00)

AY1372/941 09.45 Edinburgh to Bergen via Helsinki (arr 16.15)
DY1640 12.25 Oslo to Edinburgh – direct (arr 13.15)

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • 8 day holiday from London Gatwick: £1,590
  • 8 day holiday from London Heathrow: £1,650
  • 8 day holiday from Birmingham: POA
  • 8 day holiday from Manchester: £1,695
  • 8 day holiday from Edinburgh: £1,625
  • 8 day holiday with own flights: £1,395

Options

  • Single room supplement: £295

Deposit

  • £500 with flight option or £300 for all other options

Price Includes

  • All travels as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite hotel accommodation
  • Meals as outlined in the itinerary: (B) Breakfast, (D) Dinner
  • Services of our Tour Manager (fully escorted from London Heathrow)
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