Hop on the Arctic Circle Express Train
Slow Travel is Back in Fashion
May - September
Best suited for
Fans of trains and green travel
We invite you to take your seat on an epic rail journey through tranquil landscapes peppered with majestic mountains, fjords and waterfalls. Alight at select spots to inspect nature at closer quarters – on foot, by boat or even in a kayak. See the best cultural highlights, eat local food, and cross the Arctic Circle to enjoy never-ending summer nights under the midnight sun!
This slow travel journey through Norway's diverse landscapes offers perfectly good reasoning for why the Norwegian State Railways (NSB) decided to rebrand their operations in 2019 to Vy; a Scandinavian word meaning outlook or vision. In combination with public passenger ferries, this is a greener travel choice that focuses on UN SDG 13.3 'Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning'. Perhaps you will return with a new vision as well?
Itineraries are designed by our travel curators in collaboration with our partners to give you the most rewarding experience possible.
Please note that itineraries can be tailored to your specific wishes when you make an inquiry.
Welcome to Oslo
Your Arctic Circle rail-adventure gets underway in Oslo
This incredible rail voyage departs from Oslo. Our capital is without doubt worth a night or two of exploration before your train journey commences. Easy access to the fjord and surrounding forests allows the people of Oslo to indulge in a wide range of favourite activities all year round. We will book you in one of our city centre located hotels with easy access to the train station.
First stop Finse
The Bergen Railway
The Oslo - Bergen Railway to Myrdal has the distinction of being the highest major rail route in Northern Europe. You will pass through desolate mountain terrain and see snow-covered peaks even in mid summer.
Your first night will be spent at the highest point along the Bergen Railway, 1222 metres above sea level at the historic hotel Finse 1222, overlooking the stunning Hardangerjøkulen glacier. This hotel sits in the midst of one of Norway’s most scenic and beautiful mountain regions and is only reachable by train, bicycle, or foot.
The hotel itself, while steeped in history, has (as of summer 2021) refurbished under the auspices of the famous architecture firm, Snøhetta, who have strived to create a balance between tasteful modern furniture and its elegant history.
Alternatively, if you want to take your pace a little slower, we can arrange for 2 nights at a charming eco-lodge in Aurland where you can dive a little deeper into the region, exploring on foot or via row boat.
The Flåm Railway
Europe's Steepest Railway
The Flåm Railway is Europe’s steepest railway line, dropping 862 metres (2831 ft) down to the fjord below. Lonely Planet Traveller awarded the journey from Myrdal to Flåm one of the "best train journeys in the world", and it won't take you long to see why.
After arriving at the bottom, a fjord cruise along the majestic (and UNESCO protected) Nærøyfjord awaits. It's a truly out of this world experience: cruising through a fjord with mountains towering more than a thousand metres above your head.
We invite you to spend the next two nights in one of our favourite boutique hotels; either near the UNESCO protected Bryggen Wharf or within the wharf itself. Dinner tonight is served at Restaurant 1877, situated just a stone’s throw away in a former meat market dating from, yes, you’ve guessed it, 1877.
...and embark on a sea voyage
Your agenda for today is exploring the Hanseatic city and whilst there’s undoubtedly plenty to do, we will help you make the most of the day regardless of your interests. Peruse the aforementioned allies of Bryggen Wharf and their charming craft shops and take the Fløibanen to the top of the mountain for panoramic views out of the city. Other ways to spend the day might include visiting Troldhaugen - the home of famous Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and viewing the art at the KODE galleries. We will help you make a plan based on what interests you the most.
From Bergen, the journey continues late in the evening aboard the Hurtigruten, often described as the world's most beautiful sea voyage. Sleep through the night in your cabin, while the ferry slips north at a comfortable pace.
...and enjoy a day cruise to Geirangerfjord
Wake up in Art Nouveau City Ålesund
Start your day with the most amazing view as you wake up on board the iconic Hurtigruten. Enjoy breakfast before you meander your boat down the iconic and famous Geirangerfjorden. These really are front-row seats to epic nature!
The evening will see you docking back in Ålesund - also known as the Venice of the North, just in time for dinner. The city, which is perched across 7 islands, was built in art-nouveau style at the turn of the 20th century giving Ålesund a truly unique and distinct appearance. Your home for the next two nights is a boutique hotel that sits on the edge of one of these waterways and boasts a rather magnificent fireplace.
We will book you in for a sharing menu at Apotekergata 5. The restaurant is a firm favourite among the Up Norway team.
Ålesund & Beyond
The course of the day today will be decided based on your interests - we can truly recommend a leisurely hike to Alnes lighthouse and Godøya with one of our favourite nature guides. Godøya is an island outside of Ålesund famous for its beautiful nature and mountain Storhornet, offering a fantastic 360° panorama view of Ålesund and the Atlantic Ocean.
Alternatively, spend the day at sea level exploring Ålesund via kayak along the waterways that divide the islands. The adventure will take you to various points in the city where you may uncover some of the dark history that lies behind its colourful facade.
From Ålesund via Åndalsnes to Trondheim
The Rauma Railway
After travelling like a local to the town of Åndalsnes another wonderful rail adventure is on the agenda. The Rauma Railway from Åndalsnes to Dombås is known as one of Norway’s wildest and most beautiful train rides. Shoot through the beautiful Romsdalen with iconic natural attractions such as 'Trollveggen' (the Troll Wall), Europe's tallest vertical cliff. Cross the old granite 'Kyllingbru' (Chicken Bridge), Norway's most photographed bridge and an architectural gem. It took ten years to build it using granite quarried from the nearby mountains. The whole trip lasts 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Switch trains in Dombås and continue on another two hours to the pilgrims' city of Trondheim. Overnight at Britannia Hotel - a regal hotel dating all the way back to 1870 - the hotel had a grand reopening in 2019 after being restored to the glories and elegance of its origins. Dine in style at the brasserie and take your first steps into uncovering why Trondheim is famous the world over for excellent restaurants and cuisine.
City exploration and excellent local food
Pilgrims' City: Trondheim
Start the day with a stroll in the picturesque old town with its colourful wooden houses, cafes and small shops. While in the city, don't miss the chance to visit the largest medieval cathedral in the North, Nidarosdomen, which has been a pilgrimage site for nearly 1000 years.
Surrounded by countless large- and small-scale food producers, Trondheim is the city in Norway with the strongest focus on local food. The city is scattered with high-quality restaurants, and we'll be sure to give you our top recommendations.
The Polar Express
Nordland Railway & Arctic Pasture to Table
The Nordland Railway is known as "The Polar Express", as it crosses the Arctic Circle on its journey to Bodø. You will hurtle through stunning landscapes, passing more than 40 stations, crossing 290 bridges and plunging into 150 tunnels on your way to Bodø.
Upon arrival at Mo i Rana you will make a detour to Utskarpen where Chef superteam Elise and Marius will introduce you to a perfect example of ruralization gone right. The duo exchanged their previous lives as world-class chefs and managers of the Oslo Culinary Institute to create their own vision here; on a perfectly blurred line between mountain and coast, with views down the Ranfjord.
Their Pasture to table concept is simple: use the best raw products, sourcing local and seasonal ingredients that are handled with supreme care and attention all the way from the chopping board to your plate. The charming restaurant and hotel provide a stunning backdrop for a feast of locally-sourced, fresh ingredients.
When you're here there is no need to rush. Spend a leisurely day relaxing by the fjord, go for a hike, a boat trip or maybe visit Elise's sister who runs the neighbouring farm and can introduce you to modern farming in Arctic territory.
Crossing the Arctic Circle
Last stop Bodø
After breakfast, head back to Mo i Rana and board the Nordland Railway again to Bodø. Crossing the Arctic Circle is a highlight. Enter the Arctic zone in sustainable fashion, and recharge with Nordic energy from the midnight sun.
Step off the train for the last time for now. Check in to your hotel in the city centre, and discover Bodø's street art and vibrant emerging restaurant scene. Be brave – try the local specialty, dried fish at one of our favourite restaurants.
For those of you who still have the taste for adventure, you may step aboard a RIB-boat and witness the world’s strongest whirlpools, Saltstraumen. Experience the swirling maelstrøm up close as you slip safely into the vortex to witness nature’s raw power.
Continue travelling, go home or just move here!
The path you take onwards from here is up to you. Nature and food lovers might continue their adventure into Lofoten - a chain of islands that offer resplendent views and rugged coastlines. Here you may explore the Cheese Trail of Lofoten. Connections to the far north are also plentiful for those who want to venture even further off the beaten track and for those who might have to leave us - there are multiple flights to Oslo most days.
If you feel like extending your trip, we highly recommend embarking on a local passenger ferry to the iconic Manshausen cabins for an island escape. The nature at Manshausen is as encapsulating as its history; the island is steeped in heritage and was used for centuries as a port, a trading post and even as a place to prepare and process ‘klippfisk’ - a traditional Norwegian drying process for fish. The owner and visionary behind the buildings, Børge Ousland, also has a few stories of his own, having been on dozens of expeditions to both the arctic and antarctic including skiing to the North Pole!
Personalize and book the Hop on the Arctic Circle Express Train
This journey has been curated to take you on an epic rail journey through tranquil landscapes peppered with majestic mountains, fjords and waterfalls. It can be booked as proposed or further personalized to you.
With our flexible terms, we hope to provide you with all the certainty and adaptibility you need when booking a well-deseved escape.
Read more about our pricing here.
"This Train Trip Takes You Through the Arctic Circle Under the Midnight Sun."
"Alight at select spots to inspect nature at closer quarters — on foot, by boat, or even in a kayak. See the best cultural highlights, eat local food, and cross the Arctic Circle to enjoy never-ending summer nights under the midnight sun!"
Our Sustainability Policy
If sustainability is different in the Nordics than the rest of the world, it’s because the Nordic lifestyle is in harmony with nature. How do we do it? We’d like to show you.
For every sold Up Norway journey, we invest NOK 70 per person i forestry projects through Chooose. However, it all starts with the choices we make on behalf our guests: choice of transportation between destinations, encouragement to spend more time in each destination, and choice of quality assured partners with documentet sustainable practises.
Our guests find their destinations have always been tried and tested by our extended and discerning team. We also join collaborative initiatives with partners to drive sustainability, such as our 2020-project to create Norway’s Most Sustainable Journey.
It should go without saying that our guests’ safety and well-being is paramount. Our partners are expected to adhere to comprehensive guidelines for the health of their staff, and the cleaning and maintenance of their facilities and equipment. Our partner agreements ensure that no unlawful financial or employment practices are engaged or used.
The UN Sustainability goal we hold closest to heart is 11.4: Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage. Through the experiences we co-create with our partners, we strive to keep our cultural heritage alive.