DFDS Seaways ferry "Queen of Scandinavia"  Photo courtesy of DFDS.

R I P... The DFDS ferry to Norway was sadly withdrawn for good in September 2008, ending over 120 years of direct ferry links between the UK & Norway... Photo courtesy of DFDS

UK to Norway without flying...

The last ferry between the UK & Norway (DFDS from Newcastle to Bergen) was sadly withdrawn in September 2008, but there's no need to fly.  It's easy to travel from London to Norway by train, taking an evening Eurostar to Brussels, going from Brussels to Copenhagen by train next day, then from Copenhagen to Oslo the day after that.  Or take Eurostar to Amsterdam, stay overnight, then use the comfortable overnight ferry from Eemshaven in the north of the Netherlands to Norway.  Or take a train from London to Kiel in Germany then the luxurious Color Line ferry to Oslo, sailing up Oslo Fjord over breakfast.

COVID-19 update See COVID-19 updates & travel information.  Eurostar is still running a slightly reduced service.  From Brussels to Copenhagen to Oslo, train are running normally.

Train times, fares & tickets...

On this page you'll find a step-by-step guide to planning, booking & making a journey from the UK to Norway by train, with train times, approximate fares, and the best way to buy tickets.

small bullet point  London to Oslo by train all the way

small bullet point  London to Oslo via Eemshaven-Kristiansand ferry

small bullet point  London to Oslo via DFDS Denmark-Oslo ferry

small bullet point  London to Oslo via Color Line Kiel-Oslo ferry

small bullet point  London to Kristiansand & Stavanger via Hirtshals

small bullet point  Trains in Norway: Oslo to Bergen, Stavanger...

small bullet point  How to buy Norwegian train tickets

small bullet point  Coastal ferries Bergen-Trondheim-Kirkenes

small bullet point  Trains from Norway to other European cities

small bullet point  Trains to Oslo from other European cities

small bullet point  Useful country information: dial code, currency...

small bullet point  Hotels in Oslo, Bergen & Norway

small bullet point  The Norway in a Nutshell tour by train, Oslo>Bergen>Flam>Oslo

small bullet point  General European train travel information

small bullet point  Luggage   Taking a bike   Taking a dog

Interactive map:  London to Norway & Scandinavia by train & ferry...

...click on a route for times, fares & how to buy tickets.

Route map, London to Norway by train Train travel in Norway Copenhagen-Oslo train or ferry Key - Finland via ferry from Germany Key - via Harwich-Hoek Key - via Eurostar via Eemshaven Via the Harwich-Hoek ferry Train travel in Sweden Train travel in Finland Travemunde to Helsinki by ferry Helsinki-St Petersburg by train Ferries to Tallinn Stockholm-Riga by ferry Stockholm-Helsinki by ferry London-Norway via Hirtshals London-Copenhagen by train

large bullet pointUseful country information

Train operator in Norway:

Norwegian Railways (Norges Statsbaner, NSB) rebranded to Vy in 2019, www.vy.no, but train routes have now been outsourced to several operators including Vy, and (confusingly) SJ Swedish Railways.  The Vy website remains a portal to all Norwegian train services, but there is now a government-owned national transport website for all trains with no booking fees, entur.no.

Ferries to Norway:

www.dfds.co.uk (Copenhagen-Frederikshavn-Oslo).

www.colorline.com (Kiel-Oslo).  Last UK-Norway ferry withdrawn in 2008.

Norwegian coastal steamers:

Hurtigruten Line sails along the Norwegian coast to the far North.

Railpasses:

Beginner's guide to European railpasses  Buy a rail pass online

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

+47

Currency:

£1 = 11 Krone, €1 = 10 Krone, approx.   Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.visitnorway.com     Recommended guidebooks

Hotels in Norway:

Find a hotel in Norway.  Hostels:  www.hostelworld.com

Page last updated:

21 June 2022. Train times valid 12 Dec 2021 to 10 Dec 2022.


large bullet pointLondon to Oslo by train

By train all the way...

In this option you travel from London to Oslo by train all the way, with an overnight stop in Brussels & Copenhagen in the outward direction, and just one overnight stop at Hamburg in the inwards direction.  The Cologne to Copenhagen sleeper train was sadly discontinued in November 2014.

London ► Oslo with overnight stops in Brussels & Copenhagen

Oslo ► London with an overnight stop in Hamburg

Oslo ► London with overnight stops in Copenhagen & Brussels

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Have your trip arranged as a package...

How to buy tickets by phone...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Brussels by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Brussels in just 2 hours, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide.  Brussels Midi station guide & short cut for changing trains in Brussels.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Brussels to Cologne by ICE3...

Germany's superb ICEs have a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  In 1st class, bistro orders are taken at your seat.  50 minutes after leaving Brussels the ICE calls at Liège, where you can admire the impressive station designed by celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava.  As you approach Cologne Hbf you'll see the twin towers of Cologne Cathedral on the right, next to the station.  More information about ICE3 Brussels Midi station guideCologne Hbf station guide.

ICE3M to Cologne & Frankfurt, boarding at Brussels Midi

An ICE3M to Cologne at Brussels Midi.  More information about ICE Advice on changing trains in Brussels.

2nd class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train   1st class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

2nd class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Erdinger Weissbier on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE train   Restaurant car on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

Proper china & metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier! See  current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant on an ICE3M...  Larger photo.

3. Cologne to Hamburg by Intercity train...

Germany Intercity trains travel at up to 200km/h (120mph), with power sockets at all seats and a bistro car serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, snacks and hot dishes.  On the Cologne to Hamburg route you'll find some departures are operated by high-speed ICEs (usually ICE1) rather than Intercity trains, although the ICEs are no faster than ICs on this section of line.  Immediately after leaving Cologne Hbf, the train crosses the Hohenzollern bridge over the Rhine, then passes through the industrial Ruhr.  More information about Intercity trainsHamburg Hbf station guide.

A DB InterCity train

A German Intercity train.  More information about Intercity trains.

Beef ribs and Spatburgunder red wine on the Amsterdam to Berlin InterCity train   Inside the Amsterdam to Berlin bistro car

Dinner in the bistro.  The beef ribs were delicious...

 

Bistro car.  See current month's menu...

2nd clas seats on a DB Intercity train

2nd class seating is usually in open-plan saloons like this, most seats unidirectional, but with some tables for 4.  Sometimes you'll find 2nd class compartment cars with side corridor and ten 6-seat compartments  Larger photo.

4. Hamburg to Copenhagen by Intercity train

Hamburg-Copenhagen trains are operated by Danish IC3 trains like this, shown in the timetable as IC for Intercity See more photos, tips & information about the Hamburg to Copenhagen journey.

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Hamburg Hbf

The late afternoon Hamburg-Copenhagen IC3 leaving platform 5 at Hamburg Hbf on a busy summer day.  The yellow stripe above the windows indicates first class, located at one end of both 3-car units.  More information about the Hamburg-Copenhagen journey.

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...   1st class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen

Boarding a Danish IC3 train at Hamburg Hbf...

 

1st class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

2nd class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen   A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...

2nd class seats on a IC3 train.  Larger photo.

 

An IC3 train to Copenhagen at Hamburg.

5. Copenhagen to Oslo by train...

Seats on an Oresund link train to Malmo & Gothenburg   An Oresund link train from Copenhagen to Gothenburg at Malmo

Step 1, take an Öresund train (Öresundtåg, above) from Copenhagen to Gothenburg, then a connecting Norwegian train to Oslo (pictured below).  The train crosses from Denmark to Sweden on the 1999-built Öresund Link tunnel & road/rail bridge...

The Norwegian train from Gothenburg to Oslo, arrived at Oslo Central   Komfort class (1st class) on the Norwegian Gothenburg to Oslo train

Step 2, take a Norwegian train from Gothenburg to Oslo, seen here arrived at Oslo Sentral.  Photos courtesy of Ivor & Ines Morgan.

 

Vy Plus (Komfort) class on the train to Oslo.

large bullet pointLondon to Oslo via Eemshaven

To Norway using the new Eemshaven-Kristiansand ferry...

It's just a short hop over to Amsterdam, then an overnight ferry sails 3 times a week from Eemshaven in the north of the Netherlands to Kristiansand in Norway, a train ride from Oslo or Stavanger.  Holland Norway Lines started this new ferry service in April 2022.

London ► Kristiansand, Oslo

Oslo, Kristiansand ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

What's the journey like?

1. London to Amsterdam by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Amsterdam in just 4 hours, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide.  Amsterdam Centraal station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Amsterdam to Eemshaven by Dutch domestic train...

Dutch Intercity trains link Amsterdam Centraal to Groningen every hour with 1 easy change at Almere, although the branch line from Groningen to Eemshaven is rather less frequent.  The Intercity trains have 1st & 2nd class, the Eemshaven branch line train is 2nd class only.  There's no catering on board, so buy a coffee or snack at the station.

3. Eemshaven to Kristiansand by Holland-Norway Lines overnight ferry...

You must check in at least 90 minutes before sailing time.  All passengers travel in a private cabin with shower & toilet, and there are a range of restaurants and bars and even a sauna.  For more information see hollandnorwaylines.com.

Ferry m/v Romantika   2-berth sea view cabin

m/v Romantika.  Photos courtesy of @mightyalan

 

2-berth sea view cabin. Larger photo.

large bullet pointLondon to Oslo via Frederikshavn

To Norway using the Frederikshavn-Oslo DFDS ferry...

In this option, you travel by train from London to Denmark, then use the luxurious DFDS overnight cruise ferry between Copenhagen, Frederikshavn & Oslo.  It's faster than the previous option using train all the way.  In the outward direction, you pick up the ferry in Frederikshavn (as it now leaves Copenhagen too early to connect with the first train of the day from Hamburg), in the return direction you can sail all the way from Oslo to Copenhagen, then take a late morning train to Hamburg.

London ► Oslo

  • Day 2, travel from Hamburg to Frederikshavn by train...

    Leave Hamburg Hbf at 10:53 by Danish IC3 intercity train, change at Aarhus & Aalborg, arriving Frederikshavn 18:26.

    From 18 June to 21 August 2022 you leave Hamburg Hbf at 10:53 by Danish IC3 intercity train, change at Odense & Aalborg, arriving Frederikshavn 19:25.

    Fares start at €28.90 in 2nd class or €49.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book at the German Railways website www.bahn.de. Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in & check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

    In Frederikshavn it's a 1.3 km 16 minute walk from station to ferry terminal, see walking route map.  If you find a good restaurant for dinner, let me know!

  • Day 2, sail from Frederikshavn to Oslo by overnight ferry...

    The luxurious DFDS Seaways ferry sails from Frederikshavn ferry terminal at 23:45 and arrives in Oslo at 09:15 next day (day 3).

    Check times, prices & buy tickets at www.dfds.co.uk or using the Direct Ferries website.

    All passengers travel in comfortable private cabins with en suite toilet & shower and satellite TV.  To travel in luxury, treat yourself to DFDS's famous Commodore Class, some suites with private balconies with sea view..  The ship has bars & restaurants for breakfast on board, you can pre-book breakfast with your ticket.  There's also a sauna.  The ships on this route are the Crown Seaways or Pearl Seaways.

    Make sure you're on deck in the morning when the ferry sails up the scenic Oslo Fjord, a stunning way to arrive in Norway.  You'll see coast on either side of the ship from about 06:30 and she enters the narrow part of the fjord by about 07:00.

    At the DFDS ferry terminal, you can check yourself in at the self-service check-in machines just inside the entrance.  You enter your booking reference, scan your passport, and it produces your boarding pass/cabin key.  You then pass through a fairly nominal customs check and walk onto the ferry.

    In Oslo you can walk from the ferry terminal the city centre in 15-20 minutes, or you can take a taxi.  I'd allow at least 90 minutes between the ferry's arrival and any onward train from Oslo Sentral.  See map of Oslo showing ferry terminal.

  • Alternative route with stopover in Copenhagen:  In this direction it's no longer possible to pick up the ferry in Copenhagen where it starts, as it now leaves too early for a robust connection with the first train of the day from Hamburg.  However, if you don't mind taking an extra day and spending a pleasant 24h in Copenhagen, take a direct train from Hamburg to Copenhagen on day 2, stay overnight, enjoy a morning in Copenhagen on day 3 before sailing from Copenhagen to Oslo on the DFDS overnight cruise ferry, it leaves Copenhagen at 14:15 and arrives Oslo at 09:15 next morning (day 4 from London), more details here.

Oslo ► London

  • Day 1, sail from Oslo to Copenhagen by overnight ferry...

    DFDS Seaways' daily cruise ferry leaves Oslo Vippetangen terminal at 14:15 and arrives Copenhagen DFDS terminal at 09:15 next morning.

    All passengers travel in comfortable private cabins with en suite toilet & shower.  To travel in luxury, treat yourself to one of DFDS's famous Commodore Class cabins, some with private balconies with sea view.  The ship has bars & restaurants for dinner & breakfast on board, you can pre-book dinner & breakfast with your ticket. 

    In Oslo you can walk from the city centre to the ferry terminal in 15-20 minutes or take a taxi.  See map of Oslo showing ferry terminal.

    In Copenhagen it's a 50-minute walk from the ferry terminal through Copenhagen city centre to the main station, or you can take a taxi, or you can walk 10 minutes to Nordhavn station and take an 8-minute suburban train ride to Copenhagen main station.  See map of Copenhagen showing DFDS ferry terminal.

  • Day 2, travel from Copenhagen to Hamburg by train...

    For most of the year you can leave Copenhagen by Danish IC3 intercity train at 15:26, Odense at 16:40 or Kolding (for Legoland) at 17:18 arriving Hamburg Hbf at 20:02.  By all means book the earlier 11:26 departure & spend some time in Hamburg.

    Departures from Copenhagen are 9 minutes earlier, at 11:17 & 15:17 on certain dates so check your date at www.bahn.de.

    An increased timetable applies from 18 June to 21 August 2022, see the timetable here & check times at www.bahn.de.

  • Stay overnight in Hamburg...

    The Hotel Reichshof Hamburg is just 200m from the station, features art deco-based design and gets great reviews.  Other hotels next to Hamburg Hbf with good or great reviews include (starting with the cheapest) the Hotel Continental Novum, Hotel Furst Bismarck, Hotel Europaischer Hof, Hotel Atlantic Kempinski.  If you're on a budget, private rooms in the A&O Hotel near Hamburg Hbf start at around £33 for one person or £49 for two people booked at www.hostelworld.com.

  • Day 3, travel from Hamburg to London by train...

    For example, the earliest departure leaves Hamburg Hbf at 06:46, change at Cologne Hbf & Brussels Midi to arrive London St Pancras at 16:05.

    Or you can leave at 08:46 arriving London at 18:06.  Or have a leisurely breakfast and leave Hamburg at 10:46 arriving London at 19:57 (21:33 on Saturdays & some other dates), see the Hamburg to London timetable on the London to Germany page.

How much does it cost?

  • London to Brussels by Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Brussels to Hamburg starts at €39.90 each way in 2nd class or €69.90 each way in 1st class.

  • Hamburg to Frederikshavn by train starts at €28.90 in 2nd class or €37.90 in 1st class each way with a Sparpreis fare booked well in advance. 

  • Frederikshavn to Oslo or Oslo to Copenhagen by DFDS overnight cruise ferry starts at £47 one-way per person for two people travelling together, £94 each way for a solo passenger, including private en suite cabin.

How to buy tickets...

  • Step 1, buy train tickets from London to Hamburg (& back, if returning), then Hamburg to Frederikshavn, and (if returning) Copenhagen to Hamburg at www.raileurope.com, see the tips below.

  • Step 2, book the ferry from Frederikshavn to Oslo and (if returning) Oslo to Copenhagen at www.dfds.co.uk.  A wide range of private cabins is available, and you can also add dinner & breakfast in the restaurant, which saves money over buying meals separately on board.

  • Tips for booking London-Hamburg-Denmark at www.raileurope.com:

    Anyone from any country can use www.raileurope.com, it allows you to book all your train tickets together in one place, in plain English, international credit cards accepted and fares shown in multiple currencies. There's a small booking fee.

    First book your ticket from London to Hamburg.  Book this as a round trip if you're returning, because Eurostar return fares are significantly cheaper than two one-ways.  Add this to your basket.

    Then book your train from Hamburg to Frederikshavn one-way for the following day, add to basket, and (if returning) book from Copenhagen to Hamburg one-way, add this to your basket and check out.

    Fares are dynamic like air fares, so book early for the cheapest prices and avoid busy days such as Fridays or Sunday afternoons.

    You print your own tickets, or you can load the Eurostar ticket into the Eurostar app, and show the DB ticket on your laptop or smartphone.

    After booking you can use the Eurostar Manage Booking system to select an exact seat on Eurostar.

  • When does booking open?

    Booking for Eurostar & onward trains to Germany opens up to 180 days ahead, but significantly less than this when the mid-December timetable change intervenes.  Booking for trains between Berlin & Poland only opens 60 days ahead.  More about when booking opens.

  • Seat reservations...

    A seat reservation is automatically included with every ticket on Eurostar.  However, seat reservations on German trains are usually optional, if you want a reserved seat it can be added during the booking process for fee of around €4.50 each way.  A reserved seat is a good idea, especially at busy periods, so I'd add one when prompted.

  • About those tight 20-minute connections at Brussels Midi...

    The slick 20-minute connection in Brussels between Eurostar and an onward ICE, sometimes less than this, is usually a recognised connection which lots of people make.  It's not usually a problem, especially if you use the Brussels Midi short cut between platforms.

    Even though the system sells you separate tickets either side of Brussels, you are protected by the Railteam Promise/HOTNAT so if there's a delay and you miss the connection you will be allowed to travel on later onwards trains at no extra charge.  Just make sure that if you did miss that 20 minute connection in Brussels, there are later trains that would still get you to Hamburg by close of play that day.

    Alternatively, nothing stops you booking an earlier Eurostar than the one which directly connects with your chosen onward ICE, if it has cheaper fares or if you want a more robust connection.  To do this using www.raileurope.com, click More options, then enter Brussels (any station) as a via station with a stopover duration of (say) 1 or 2 hours.  There are plenty of places for a meal, coffee or beer between trains in Brussels!

  • How to buy a connecting ticket from other UK towns & citiesSee the advice on special add-on tickets here.

Another way to buy tickets...

  • This is more work as it involves three websites, but it can be slightly cheaper for two reasons:  First, you don't pay any booking fee.  Second, you can use the Stopover feature at www.bahn.de to book a Brussels to Copenhagen through ticket with an overnight stop in Hamburg programmed in.  This is cheaper than buying separate Brussels to Hamburg & Hamburg to Copenhagen tickets from Raileurope.

    Obviously, do a dry run on each site first to check availability & prices.  I'd also check that your outward Eurostar and ICE are indeed a recognised connection by checking that they appear together when you run a London to Cologne enquiry at www.bahn.de - read the paragraph in the previous section about the 20-minute connection in Brussels.

  • Step 1, book the Eurostar from London to Brussels (& back, if returning) at www.eurostar.com and print your own ticket, or load it into the Eurostar app to show on your smartphone.  Eurostar return fares are significantly less than two one-ways, so if you're coming back, make sure you book this as a round trip.  After booking you can use the Eurostar Manage Booking system to select an exact seat on Eurostar.

  • Step 2, book from Brussels to Frederikshavn at the German Railways website www.bahn.de, but click Stopover, enter Hamburg Hbf and a stopover duration of (say) 11-13 hours.  You'll need to fiddle with the departure time and stopover duration to get the trains you want either side of Hamburg, it takes a bit of trial & error.

    This will get you a through ticket from Brussels to Frederikshavn with an overnight stop in Hamburg included, which is what you want.  If you have problems, by all means just book Brussels-Hamburg and Hamburg-Frederikshavn separately.

    If you're returning, now book Copenhagen to Brussels with an overnight stop in Hamburg using the same technique.

    You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in and check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.  An advantage of booking direct with www.bahn.de is that you can select an exact seat on many German trains from a seating plan.

  • Step 3, book the Frederikshavn-Oslo and (if returning) Oslo-Copenhagen overnight ferry at www.dfds.co.uk.  A wide range of private cabins is available, and you can also add dinner & breakfast in the restaurant, which saves money over buying meals separately on board.

How to buy tickets by phone...

  • It's better to book online.  But to buy tickets by phone, call International Rail on 0844 248 248 3, lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday.  Overseas callers call +44 844 2482483.  International Rail are equipped with both the French and German rail ticketing systems, so can offer the best prices all the trains between London and Copenhagen.  They charge a £10 booking fee for bookings under £100, £20 for £100-£300, £30 above £300.

  • Alternatively, call Deutsche Bahn's English-speaking telesales line on 00 49 (0)30 311 68 29 04, lines open 08:30-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday UK time, 1.5% fee for phone bookings.  Click here for a list of agencies and more info on how to buy European train tickets.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Brussels by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Brussels in just 2 hours, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide.  Brussels Midi station guide & short cut for changing trains in Brussels.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Brussels to Cologne by ICE3...

Germany's superb ICEs have a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  In 1st class, bistro orders are taken at your seat.  50 minutes after leaving Brussels the ICE calls at Liège, where you can admire the impressive station designed by celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava.  As you approach Cologne Hbf you'll see the twin towers of Cologne Cathedral on the right, next to the station.  More information about ICE3 Brussels Midi station guideCologne Hbf station guide.

ICE3M to Cologne & Frankfurt, boarding at Brussels Midi

An ICE3M to Cologne at Brussels Midi.  More information about ICE Advice on changing trains in Brussels.

2nd class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train   1st class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

2nd class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Erdinger Weissbier on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE train   Restaurant car on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

Proper china & metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier! See  current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant on an ICE3M...  Larger photo.

3. Cologne to Hamburg by Intercity train...

Germany Intercity trains travel at up to 200km/h (120mph), with power sockets at all seats and a bistro car serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, snacks and hot dishes.  On the Cologne to Hamburg route you'll find some departures are operated by high-speed ICEs (usually ICE1) rather than Intercity trains, although the ICEs are no faster than ICs on this section of line.  Immediately after leaving Cologne Hbf, the train crosses the Hohenzollern bridge over the Rhine, then passes through the industrial Ruhr.  More information about Intercity trainsHamburg Hbf station guide.

A DB InterCity train

A German Intercity train.  More information about Intercity trains.

Beef ribs and Spatburgunder red wine on the Amsterdam to Berlin InterCity train   Inside the Amsterdam to Berlin bistro car

Dinner in the bistro.  The beef ribs were delicious...

 

Bistro car.  See current month's menu...

2nd clas seats on a DB Intercity train

2nd class seating is usually in open-plan saloons like this, most seats unidirectional, but with some tables for 4.  Sometimes you'll find 2nd class compartment cars with side corridor and ten 6-seat compartments  Larger photo.

4. Hamburg to Denmark by Intercity train

Hamburg-Denmark trains are operated by Danish IC3 trains like this, shown in the timetable as IC for Intercity See more photos, tips & information about the Hamburg to Copenhagen journey.

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Hamburg Hbf

A Hamburg-Denmark IC3 at platform 5 at Hamburg Hbf on a busy summer day.  The yellow stripe above the windows indicates first class, located at one end of both 3-car units.  More information about the Hamburg-Copenhagen journey.

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...   1st class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen

Boarding a Danish IC3 train at Hamburg Hbf...

 

1st class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

2nd class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen   A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...

2nd class seats on a IC3 train.  Larger photo.

 

An IC3 train to Copenhagen at Hamburg.

5. Frederikshavn to Oslo overnight by DFDS cruise ferry...

DFDS ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo

The huge DFDS luxury overnight cruise ferry Crown Seaways berthed at Oslo...  Courtesy of Ivor Morgan.

Atrium on the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo   Standard cabin on the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo

The ferry is a floating hotel, with cabins, suites, restaurants, bars and entertainment.  The Pearl Seaways even features an outdoor jacuzzi but reportedly her sister ship Crown Seaways lacks this.  Courtesy of Andrew Leo.

1, 2, 3 or 4 berth standard cabin on the Crown Seaways with shower & toilet and satellite TV.  Larger photoCourtesy of Ivor Morgan.

Suite on the ferry   Suite on the ferry

Commodore Class suite with double bed on board the DFDS superferry to Oslo.  Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

Sunset at sea on the DFDS ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo

Scenery in Oslo Fjord on the voyage to Norway...  Courtesy of Ivor Morgan.

Back to top


large bullet pointLondon-Oslo via Kiel

To Norway using the Kiel-Oslo Color Line ferry...

OK, so this takes a bit longer, but with comfortable daytime trains, a night in a hotel in Kiel or Hamburg then a mini-cruise on a luxurious Colour line cruise ferry.  In many ways the most luxurious way to Norway!

London ► Oslo

  • Day 1, travel from London to Kiel by train...

    There are various options with easy changes of train in Brussels, Cologne & Hamburg.  The 08:52 from London St Pancras arrives Kiel Hbf at 21:41.  The 11:04 arrives Kiel Hbf 22:34.

    See the London to Hamburg timetable on the Germany page.  Regional trains run from Hamburg Hbf to Kiel Hbf every hour in just 1h16.  In Kiel, the Color Line ferry terminal is just a 5-6 minute walk from Kiel Hbf.

  • Day 2, sail from Kiel to Oslo by Color Line cruise ferry

    The luxurious m/v Magic or m/v Fantasy sails from Kiel daily at 14:00 arriving Oslo at 10:00 next morning, day 3 from London.

    Make sure you're on deck next morning as the ship sails through spectacular scenery up Oslo Fjord.  The ship docks at the modern Color Line terminal about 2 km from the city centre.  Color Line provide transfer buses to Oslo Sentral station costing 55 krone, or there are plenty of taxis.  If you have little luggage it's possible to walk.  See map of Oslo showing ferry terminal.

Oslo ► London

  • Day 1, sail from Oslo to Kiel by Color Line cruise ferry...

    The luxurious m/v Magic or m/v Fantasy sails from Oslo daily at 14:00 arriving Kiel at 10:00 next morning (day2).  See map of Oslo showing ferry terminal.  In Kiel, it's just a 5-6 minute walk from the Color Line ferry terminal to Kiel Hbf.

How much does it cost?

  • London to Brussels by Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Brussels to Kiel starts at €37.90 each way in 2nd class or €69.90 each way  in 1st class.

  • Kiel to Oslo varies by date, cabin choice and number of passengers sharing.  For two passengers travelling together, the price starts at around €258 (€129 each) including a double-bed en suite cabin, although prices on busier dates can be much higher.  You need to go online to check prices for your specific dates.

  • The train fares work like air fares, rising as departure date approaches.  So book as early as the booking horizon allows and shop around for the cheapest date & departure.

How to buy tickets...

  • Step 1, buy train tickets from London to Hamburg & Hamburg to Copenhagen at www.raileurope.com, see the tips below.

  • Step 2, book the Kiel to Oslo ferry using the Direct Ferries website or at www.colorline.com.

  • Tips for booking London-Hamburg-Copenhagen at www.raileurope.com:

    Anyone from any country can use www.raileurope.com, it allows you to book all your train tickets together in one place, in plain English, international credit cards accepted and fares shown in multiple currencies. There's a small booking fee.

    Fares are dynamic like air fares, so book early for the cheapest prices and avoid busy days such as Fridays or Sunday afternoons.

    It can help to specify Brussels as a via station if you want to see journeys with an easy same-station change in Brussels, rather than also seeing journeys via Paris.  At www.raileurope.com, click More options and enter Brussels (any station).

    You print your own ticket, or you can load the Eurostar ticket into the Eurostar app, and show the DB ticket on your laptop or smartphone.

    After booking you can use the Eurostar Manage Booking system to select an exact seat on Eurostar.

  • When does booking open?

    Booking for Eurostar and onward trains to Kiel opens up to 180 days ahead, but often significantly less than this when the mid-December timetable change intervenes.  Journeys involving a Brussels-Cologne Thalys only open 120 days ahead.  More about when booking opens.

  • Is it a through ticket?

    No, as there are no through tickets between the UK & Germany any more, DB's Sparpreis London fares were discontinued in March 2020.  But www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com will seamlessly sell you a Eurostar ticket from London to Brussels plus onward tickets from Brussels to Kiel.

  • One-way or round trip?

    With Eurostar, a return ticket costs significantly less than two one-ways.  With ICE & Thalys, a return is normally two one-ways.  So for a round trip you should book London to Kiel & back as a return journey, or for more control over the booking, book London-Brussels as a return journey to benefit from the round trip discount, add to basket, then book Brussels to Kiel one way, add to basket, then Kiel to Brussels one-way, add to basket & check out.

  • Seat reservations...

    A seat reservation on Eurostar is automatically included with every Eurostar ticket.  It's the same with Thalys.  However, seat reservations on ICE trains are optional, if you want a reserved seat it can be added during the booking process for fee of around €4.50 each way.  A reserved seat is a good idea, especially at busy periods, so I'd add one when prompted.

  • About the 20-minute connections (sometimes less) between Eurostar & ICEs at Brussels Midi...

    The slick 20-minute connection in Brussels between Eurostar and an onward ICE, sometimes less than this, is usually a recognised connection which lots of people make.  It's not usually a problem, especially if you use the Brussels Midi short cut between platforms.

    Even though the system sells you separate tickets either side of Brussels, you are protected by the Railteam Promise/HOTNAT so if there's a delay and you miss the connection you will be allowed to travel on later onwards trains at no extra charge.

    The system is programmed to know which connections are recognised/acceptable and which are too tight - if you intend booking your Eurostar and ICE tickets separately (which I often do to check prices for Eurostar and onwards trains separately, and to retain more control over the booking) it's wise to run a London-Cologne enquiry first just to check that the system does indeed recognise that specific Eurostar as connecting with that specific onward ICE, on that specific date.

    Tip:  Nothing stops you booking an earlier Eurostar than the one which directly connects with your chosen onward ICE, if it has cheaper fares or if you want a more robust connection.  There are plenty of places for a meal, coffee or beer between trains in Brussels!

  • How to buy a connecting ticket from other UK towns & citiesSee the advice on special add-on tickets here.

Another way to buy tickets...

  • This is more work, but there's no booking fee.  Obviously, do a dry run on each site first to check availability & prices.  Also check that your outward Eurostar and ICE are indeed a recognised connection by checking that they appear together when you run a London to Cologne enquiry at www.bahn.de, as explained in the paragraph about the 20-minute connections in Brussels in the previous section.

  • Step 1, book the Eurostar from London to Brussels (and back, if returning) at www.eurostar.com and print your own ticket, or load it into the Eurostar app to show on your smartphone.  Eurostar return fares are significantly less than two one-ways, so if you're coming back, make sure you book this as a round trip.  After booking you can use the Eurostar Manage Booking system to select an exact seat on Eurostar.

  • Step 2, book from Brussels to Kiel at the German Railways site www.bahn.de.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in and check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.  An advantage of booking direct with www.bahn.de is that you can select an exact seat on ICE & IC trains from a seating plan.  A round trip is ticketed as two one-ways, so feel free to book one way at a time if it's easier.

  • Step 3, book the Kiel to Oslo ferry using the Direct Ferries website or at www.colorline.com.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Brussels by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Brussels in just 2 hours, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide.  Brussels Midi station guide & short cut for changing trains in Brussels.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Brussels to Cologne by ICE3...

Germany's superb ICEs have a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  In 1st class, bistro orders are taken at your seat.  50 minutes after leaving Brussels the ICE calls at Liège, where you can admire the impressive station designed by celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava.  As you approach Cologne Hbf you'll see the twin towers of Cologne Cathedral on the right, next to the station.  More information about ICE3 Brussels Midi station guideCologne Hbf station guide.

ICE3M to Cologne & Frankfurt, boarding at Brussels Midi

An ICE3M to Cologne at Brussels Midi.  More information about ICE Advice on changing trains in Brussels.

2nd class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train   1st class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

2nd class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Erdinger Weissbier on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE train   Restaurant car on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

Proper china & metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier! See  current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant on an ICE3M...  Larger photo.

3. Cologne to Hamburg by Intercity train & on to Kiel by regional train...

Germany Intercity trains travel at up to 200km/h (120mph), with power sockets at all seats and a bistro car serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, snacks and hot dishes.  On the Cologne to Hamburg route you'll find some departures are operated by high-speed ICEs (usually ICE1) rather than Intercity trains, although the ICEs are no faster than ICs on this section of line.  Immediately after leaving Cologne Hbf, the train crosses the Hohenzollern bridge over the Rhine, then passes through the industrial Ruhr.  More information about Intercity trainsHamburg Hbf station guide.

A DB InterCity train

A German Intercity train.  More information about Intercity trains.

Beef ribs and Spatburgunder red wine on the Amsterdam to Berlin InterCity train   Inside the Amsterdam to Berlin bistro car

Dinner in the bistro.  The beef ribs were delicious...

 

Bistro car.  See current month's menu...

2nd clas seats on a DB Intercity train

2nd class seating is usually in open-plan saloons like this, most seats unidirectional, but with some tables for 4.  Sometimes you'll find 2nd class compartment cars with side corridor and ten 6-seat compartments  Larger photo.

4. Kiel to Oslo overnight by Color Line cruise ferry...

Germany to Oslo Color Line ferry at Kiel

This photo is taken from the exit of Kiel station, so you can see how close the ferry is.  It's a 5-6 minute walk across the harbour, with a street lift up to a connecting walkway which takes you to the ferry terminal. If you have reserved one of what Color Line call their 5 star suites, check in at the desk rather than the machines and you'll be directed to a special lounge to wait with free tea, coffee, juice, snacks & WiFi.  You'll also have priority boarding of the ship & free access to the on-board spa.  Photos courtesy of Andrew Leo.

Boarding the ferry in Kiel

Boarding the Color Line ferry to Oslo in Kiel...

Kiel to Oslo ferry, Color Class suite   Kiel to Oslo ferry, restaurant

A 5 Star Suite on the ferry...

 

More cruise liner than ferry!  The restaurant.

Mall on board the ferry to Norway

Shopping street in Oslo?  No, just the main mall on board the Color Line ship...

View from Color Line ferry to Oslo

Wake up to lovely scenery sailing up Oslo Fjord....

Ferry arrived in Oslo   Color Line transfer bus in Oslo

The Color Fantasy, arrived at Oslo Color Line terminal...

 

Transfer bus to Oslo Sentral...

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large bullet pointLondon to Norway via Hirtshals

You can of course travel by train to Oslo, then take a train from Oslo to Bergen (a very scenic route), or from Oslo to Kristiansand & Stavanger.  Click here for advice on booking onward trains within Norway.

But as you can see on the route map above, the most direct route is to head up to Hirtshals in northern Denmark and take a Color Line or Fjord Line ferry direct to Kristiansand, Stavanger or Bergen, by-passing Copenhagen, Sweden & Oslo.

London ► Kristiansand, Stavanger & Bergen

  • Stay overnight in Hamburg...

    The Hotel Reichshof Hamburg is just 200m from the station, features art deco-based design and gets great reviews.  Other hotels next to Hamburg Hbf with good or great reviews include (starting with the cheapest) the Hotel Continental Novum, Hotel Furst Bismarck, Hotel Europaischer Hof, Hotel Atlantic Kempinski.  If you're on a budget, private rooms in the A&O Hotel near Hamburg Hbf start at around £33 for one person or £49 for two people booked at www.hostelworld.com.

  • Day 2, travel from Hamburg to Hirtshals by train...

    Check train times & fares from Hamburg to Hirtshals in northern Denmark at the German Railways website www.bahn.de.  A morning train will get you there by late afternoon or early evening.  In Hirtshals, it's a few minutes walk from the station to the Color Line ferry terminal, a longer 2km walk or taxi ride to the Fjord Line terminal, or you may find a number 480 bus available.  Remember to allow for the 1 hour ferry check-in!

  • For Kristiansand, sail from Hirtshals to Kristiansand by Color Line ferry, see www.colorline.com.

    There's usually a sailing at 20:45 arriving in Kristiansand at 23:59, still on day 2 from London.  There's a 1 hour check-in for the ferry.  You can stay overnight in Kristiansand and take a train on to Stavanger next day, see here for advice on finding and booking a train.

  • For Stavanger & Bergen, sail from Hirtshals to Stavanger & Bergen by Fjord Line ferry, see www.fjordline.com.

    The ship normally sails daily at 20:00 (day 2 from London), arriving Stavanger next day at 06:30 and Bergen around 12:30 (day 3 from London), but always check sailing times and dates online.  A range of comfortable en suite cabins is available.

Bergen, Stavanger & Kristiansand ► London

  • Coming from Bergen or Stavanger, sail from Bergen or Stavanger to Hirtshals by Fjord Line ferry, see www.fjordline.com.

    The ship normally sails daily from Bergen at 13:30 and Stavanger at 20:00 (we'll call this day 1), arriving Hirtshals next day at 08:00 (day 2), but check sailing times and dates online.  A range of comfortable en suite cabins is available.  On arrival in Hirtshals, it's a 2km walk or short taxi ride from the Fjord Line ferry terminal to the station, or you may find a number 480 bus available.

  • Coming from Kristiansand, sail from Kristiansand to Hirtshals by Color Line ferry, see www.colorline.com.

    There's a sailing from Kristiansand at 08:00 arriving in Hirtshals at 11:15.  There's a 1 hour check-in for the ferry, so be at the port by 07:00.  On arrival in Hirtshals, it's a fairly short walk from the Color Line ferry terminal to the station.

Fares & how to buy tickets...

  • See the London to Germany page for fares & how to buy tickets from London to Hamburg.  Fares vary depending how early you book and how popular that date or combination of trains is.

  • Hamburg to Hirtshals starts at €29.90 each way booked at www.bahn.de.  Fares vary depending how early you book and how popular that date or combination of trains is.  You print your own ticket.

  • Hirtshals to Kristiansand by ferry costs from €19 booked in advance, €29 full-price.  Book online at www.colorline.com, or you can buy a ticket at the port.

  • Check Fjord Line ferry fares & buy tickets at www.fjordline.com.  Fares vary by season, by how far ahead you book, and by what cabin accommodation you choose.

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large bullet pointTrains in Norway...

Train connections from Oslo to Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim & other Norwegian cities...

  • Modern air-conditioned trains link Oslo with Bergen, one of Europe's most scenic train routes, a journey worth doing for its own sake.  Similar trains link Oslo with Stavanger, Kristiansand, Trondheim and other Norwegian cities.

  • Norway's train services have been outsourced route by route to three private operators:

    www.vy.no (rebranded from NSB Norwegian State Railways in 2019), routes include Oslo-Bergen, Oslo-Gothenburg.

    www.sj.no (a Norwegian subsidiary of Swedish Railways), routes include Oslo-Trondheim-Bodo.

    go-aheadnordic.no, routes include Oslo-Kristiansand-Stavanger.

  • To find train times and fares on any route with any operator, go to entur.no (Norway's government-owned public transport website) or Vy's website, www.vy.no.

    Both sites sell tickets for all the privatised Norwegian operators.  Entur.no charges no booking fee, www.vy.no charges no fee for Vy tickets, but adds a booking fee for other operators.  However, you may get better seat choice functionality if you book the Oslo-Bergen route direct with Vy.

    At www.vy.no, the English button is top right.  You can choose to load your ticket into the Vy app, or download it in PDF format which you can either print out or simply show on your smartphone or laptop.

  • Oslo-Bergen costs from 249 Kr £28 each way with a limited-availability Lowfare fare or over 900 Kr (£90) each way full fare.  Oslo-Stavanger also costs from 249 Kr each way with a Lowfare fare or 900+ Kr (£90) one-way full fare.  Return fares are twice the one-way.

  • Anyone over 67 (or married couples where one partner is over 67) get a 50% discount on full-fare but not off Lowfare fares.  Children under 4 free, children 4-15 (inclusive) half price.

  • First class is known as Plus, Komfort or Premium depending on the operator.  The complimentary tea & coffee can justify the extra cost!  Plus/Komfort/Premium class is available on most mainline routes including Oslo to Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim & Bodo, Gothenburg.

How to buy Norwegian train tickets...

Option 1, buy at entur.no...

  • You can check train times and buy tickets for all Norwegian operators at the official government-owned public transport website entur.no.  This charges no booking fee.  Only downside?  You may get more seat choice functionality if you use the specific operator's site.

  How to buy Norwegian train tickets from Oslo to Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger...

Option 2, at www.vy.no...

  • You can buy Norwegian tickets online at www.vy.no, this sells tickets for trains operated by Vy and (with a small booking fee) trains operated by the other Norwegian operators.

    Cheap advance-purchase Lowfare fares are often available, saving a lot of money over the regular fare that you'll be charged on the day of travel.  Lowfare tickets are non-refundable and non-changeable.

  • To switch it to English, scroll down and click In English right at the bottom of the page.

  • Useful words:  Voksen means adult.  'Barn' means child aged 4 to 15 inclusive (under 4's go free).  Honnør means senior citizen over 67 years old (anyone aged over 67 gets gets a 50% reduction on standard fares, although no reduction on Lowfare fares).

  • When you see the fares page, you'll see both Standard fares (Ordinær) which are flexible and refundable, and Lowest fares which are cheap limited-availability Lowfare fares, non-changeable and non-refundable.  Lowfare fares cost from 249 Kr upwards depending on availability.

  • Useful words:  Okonomi means standard class, any fare including the word Plus (formerly Komfort until April 2020) means first class with larger seats, more space, laptop power points and complimentary tea and coffee.

  • Tick the box to say you don't have a Norwegian phone number.

  • You may need to make up a postcode.  If it doesn't accept UK-style postcodes simply make up random digits such as '1234'.  No-one will send anything to you, so it doesn't matter!

  • Acceptance of UK and other foreign credit cards...

    www.vy.no (or nsb.no as it was before rebranding in 2019) has always struggled with some UK-issued credit cards and many overseas ones, but they now accept PayPal as well as credit cards.  Many UK credit & debit cards certainly do work, and most people report success buying tickets at vy.no, but a few travellers report that their UK-issued card didn't work (and were even told by NSB (now Vy) telesales that the site only accepts Norwegian cards).  So try using www.vy.no as your card may well work fine.  If it doesn't, try another card.  If none of your cards work, use PayPal.  If all else fails, call their telesales by phone on (+47) 61 05 19 10 and buy tickets that way.  Vy definitely accept UK cards by phone, and you may well find the price three times cheaper than buying from a UK agency, or waiting till the date of travel when all the cheap advance-purchase lowfare fares will have sold out.

  • Ticket delivery:  You can choose to load your ticket into the Vy app, or download it in PDF format which you can either print out or simply show on your smartphone or laptop.

  • Oslo to Copenhagenwww.sj.se can book tickets from Oslo to Copenhagen with 1 easy change in Gothenburg, from around 425 SEK (€46).  Tickets can be printed at home or there is an SJ ticket collection machine installed at Oslo Sentral.

  • Oslo to Stockholm:  It won't book tickets between Oslo and Stockholm, as these trains are provided by Swedish train company SJ.  Oslo to Stockholm tickets should be booked online at www.sj.se.  Tickets can be printed at home or there is an SJ ticket collection machine installed at Oslo Sentral.

  • Oslo to Gothenburgwww.vy.no can book train tickets between Oslo and Gothenburg (Goteborg) in either direction.  Tickets can be collected at Oslo or Gothenburg stations or on board the train.

  • Feedback from booking this way and using these trains would be very welcome!

The scenic Flåm Railway...

A scenic tourist line worth mentioning is the famous Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana) from Myrdal (on the Oslo-Bergen line) 900m above sea level to Flåm on the Fjord below.  Train run daily all year round, 4 departures a day in winter, 10 or so in summer.  It can be done as a day trip from Oslo, as the Myrdal-Flåm journey itself only takes 40-50 minutes each way.  See www.visitflam.com/flamsbana, then see www.vy.no for connections from Oslo or Bergen to Myrdal.

Sleeper trains from Oslo to Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim...

You can't beat a daytime journey on the scenic Oslo to Bergen line, but on the way back you can save time by travelling on the sleeper.  Unlike most other European sleeper trains where you can book individual berths in shared compartments, in Norway you pay a fixed supplement and get a whole 2-berth compartment to yourself, whether there are two of you or only one.  When you board, you must first check in at the cafe car to have your ticket checked and receive the plastic card-key to your sleeper compartment.

Oslo to Bergen sleeper train

The sleeper train from Oslo to Bergen...  Photos courtesy of Tom Gigo

Cafe car on the train to Bergen   Sleeping-car corridor   2-bed sleeper on the Oslo to Bergen sleeper train

Cafe car...

 

Sleeper corridor...

 

2-berth sleeper...

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large bullet pointHurtigruten coastal ferries

From Bergen to the Arctic Circle:  www.hurtigruten.com & www.havilavoyages.com...

Bergen - Trondheim - Bodo - Tromso - Kirkenes

Every day, an express coastal steamer service sails from Bergen on an all-points trip north to Kirkenes in the Arctic Circle close to the Russian border, a 6-night one-way voyage or a 11 or 12-night round trip.  It's an essential transport service for the communities along the route which also offers cruises for visitors wanting an unrivalled boat ride along the beautiful Norwegian Fjords up to the land of the Midnight Sun. 

Until 2021, all sailings were operated by Hurtigruten (www.hurtigruten.com - the word hurtigruten simply means express route.  However, the Norwegian government has split the route into 3 contracts, two won by Hurtigruten and one by Havila Kystruten (www.havilavoyages.com).  From December 2021, 2 out of 3 sailings will be operated by Hurtigruten  and one by Havila Kystruten.

To check sailing times & buy tickets see www.hurtigruten.com and www.havilavoyages.com.  You'll need to check both, as each website only shows that company's sailings.  For more information on the service and its history, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurtigruten.

A Hurtigruten ferry   Cabin on a Hurtigruten ferry

Hurtigruten ferry.  Photo courtesy of Sue Smith...

 

Standard outside cabin...

Seating area in a Hurtigruten deluxe cabin   A Hurtigruten ferry

Seating area of a suite...

 

The M.S. Nordnorge

Norwegian fjord from a Hurtigruten ship

Norwegian Fjord, seen from a Hurtigruten ship.  Photo courtesy of Sue Smith...

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large bullet pointNorway in a Nutshell tour

Oslo - Bergen - Flam - Oslo over 5 days...

The popular 'Norway in a Nutshell' circular tour takes you from Oslo to Bergen to Flam and back to Oslo over 5 days.  Train-based tour specialist Railbookers can sort this for you with train reservations & hotels.

UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk.

US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com.

Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com.

Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au.

New Zealand flag  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

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large bullet pointEuropean Rail Timetable & map

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses) or www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or for £9.67 at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

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large bullet pointGuidebooks...

Amazon logoMake sure you take a good guidebook.  For independent travel, I think this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both guidebooks provide the same excellent level of practical information and cultural and historical background.  You won't regret buying one!

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

Lonely Planet Norway - buy online at Amazon.co.uk   Click to buy - Lonely Planet Scandinavia   Rough Guide to Scandinavia - buy online at Amazon

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large bullet pointHotels in Oslo, Bergen & Norway

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

Hostelworld logoBackpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in Paris and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.

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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I use an annual policy myself.  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flagwww.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

UK flagYou can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

 US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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