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Preferred Rail Route Trondheim to Oslo

This year's trip begins in Oslo on June 15. I haven't made a decision about the latter part of my time in Norway, specifically which rail route I will take from Trondheim back to Oslo. The first two weeks or so (all booked) look like this:

Oslo: 5 nights (lots on my list there)
Flam: 2 nights (the Nutshell route with some casual walking and the Borgund stave church)
Bergen: 4 nights (lots on my list there, too)
Overnight ferry: 1 night ending in Alesund at 8 PM after Geirangerfjord detour.
Alesund: 1 night
Overnight ferry: 1 night ending in Trondheim at 9:45 AM.
Trondheim: 2 nights

I want to loop back to Oslo because 1) I'm going to need more time there; 2) I am contemplating a day trip to Drobak; and 3) it's on my way to my next stops in Fredrikstad, Goteborg, etc. I am not interested in flying from Trondheim to Oslo. I know I'll have a long day on the train, but that doesn't bother me.

There are two possible rail routes, one of which cries out for a detour along an especially scenic rail line, so that option means a substantially longer trip. But either route can be completed in one day.

  • Trondheim - Dombas (transfer) - Andalsnes (transfer) - Dombas (transfer) - Oslo (14 hours)
  • Trondheim - Roros (transfer) - Oslo (8 hours; option to add 4-hour layover in Roros)

I'm leaning toward the first route despite the extra train time and cost. It includes unavoidable layovers of about 1 hour in Dombas and 3 hours in Andalsnes (thin schedule on Saturday). The Andalsnes station has lockers. I haven't read that Andalsnes is especially striking, more that it's a mountain town popular with hikers. The reason for my tentative preference is that the rail line between Dombas and Andalsnes is said to be extremely scenic, maybe as nice as the Flamsbana between Myrdal and Flam.

I'm sure there's nice scenery along the Roros route, too, but I think the main argument for going that way (other than speed) is the town of Roros itself, an old mining town that appears to be picturesque. I could build in a 4-hour layover in Roros; the Internet says there are luggage lockers at the station there as well.

Whichever way I go, I don't plan to leave the rail line to do rural sightseeing (including the Trollstigen Road). I also don't want to spend a night along the way. In the end, that would be a day not available during my time in Sweden or Finland or Estonia (I'll be bumping up against the Schengen limit).

Does anyone have familiarity with the area between Trondheim and Oslo? What would you do?

  • Take the Andalsnes route and try to enjoy the 3 hours in that town?
  • Take the Roros route straight through?
  • Take the Roros route with the 4-hour layover?

It seems to me the best choice is either the first or the third. But which? I'll be grateful for others' opinions, because I'm struggling to make a decision.

Posted by
3956 posts

Not flying between Trondheim and Oslo is a great idea, the scenery is worth it.

As to try to answer your question, I understand that you are struggling because it is not an easy question. And I'm sure you will enjoy the trip no matter what you end up doing. You are right that Åndalsnes is not that interesting, despite what the eponym of this site claims, but you can probably spend 3 hours there without a problem. If the weather is nice you can always buy an ice cream and walk down to water and enjoy the view for a while.

The Røros line is scenic as well, but I think the Rauma line wins in terms of scenery. So I think you are right in focusing on options 1 or 3. Røros is as you mention a cute town and spending four hours there will not be a problem. So in the end I think it boils down to if you are looking for scenery or cute towns? And if the next stop after Oslo is Fredrikstad maybe scenery is more important in this case? But it would also be helpful to know what the full itinerary looks like.

I'm not sure if this was helpful, but those are my thoughts.

Posted by
22504 posts

Thank you, Badger. I was hoping you'd respond. Last night I realized I have another option (though it means more $$$ and probably more time): I could take a day trip from Trondheim to Roros and the next day travel to Oslo via Andalsnes. I think I'd really need to add another night in Trondheim to pull that off, but I haven't taken a hard look at the sights I want to see in Trondheim and how much time they might take. It appears a day trip to Roros by rail would mean leaving at about 9:30 and returning at 18:30; I'd have 3-1/2 hours in Roros. I'm 70 and still have lots of untouched territory in Europe, so I have to assume this will be my one and only trip to Norway. That's making me more cautious than usual about my itinerary choices.

I really can't say much about the rest of the trip because--though I have voluminous sightseeing notes--I haven't figured out what I'll actually be able to fit in. When it comes to cities large enough to have worthwhile museums, I'm a very slow traveler.

My main sightseeing interests are contemporary glass, art, picturesque architecture, 20th-century history and a reasonable amount of scenery. I can't do rural hikes on rough ground, so my scenery comes mostly from sitting on a train, bus or boat.

These are the places at the top of my list for Sweden (in no particular order):

Stockholm
Goteborg
Malmo (mainly for the art museums)
Uppsala
Ystad
Lund
Kalmar and the glass area (transportation will limit me there)
Vaxjo
Visby (worried about cost and availability of lodging)

These other places also sound interesting:

Eksjo
Granna
Oland Island
Bornholm
Sigtuna

If you have any thoughts on those tentative lists, I'd love to have them. I have no fixed time limit for Sweden beyond that imposed by the Schengen overlords (see below). I know I'll be traveling during a period of high demand for both domestic and foreign visitors and I am normally a budget traveler (must adjust that in Scandinavia), so I may have some issues when I start looking for hotels; I've had to focus on Norway first, for economic reasons and because it's my first stop. I'm willing to do a modest amount of itinerary-contortion if necessary due to a short-term spike in hotel rates somewhere; even that may not make Visby possible (I've been too scared to look).

I hope at least to get to Finland after Sweden; I'm really looking forward to the Stockholm-Helsinki ferry ride, so I'll be disappointed if I have to postpone Finland entirely and just fly there next year.

I have 18 days (event-related) in Venice/Ravenna/Padua at the end of the trip after some non-Schengen time in England, and I'm shooting for only about 84-85 Schengen days due to the possibility of a positive COVID test that delays my departure from Italy. Therefore, I have about 66 days to work with in Norway/Sweden/Finland/Estonia. I suspect Estonia won't happen this year, which wouldn't be a big deal since I need to see Latvia and Lithuania (and Denmark) next year, anyway.

Posted by
3956 posts

Thanks for the update, in my opinion you don't have to visit Røros. There are many other pretty towns your list so one more or less is not that important, at least would not be to me. And it might make sense to focus on cute towns in slightly less expensive countries.

As for the rest of the trip, are you not adding Denmark apart from Bornholm? Skipping Estonia would be a bad idea in my opinion, but a stop in Tallinn is not that hard to include. 66 days in the four countries is after all a lot more than most people give them.

As for your list of stops in Sweden, Malmö might be the slightly odd one out, it is a large city but not that interesting in my opinion. Any particular museums you are looking for? Lund, Helsingborg and Ystad would be the towns I would recommend in Skåne. On the other hand, if you are going to Denmark next year it might be easier to visit them from Denmark? I'm also wondering about Växjö? It is not the obvious stop, even if there certainly are things to see. For Visby, it can be expensive in the summer as it is popular. But it is worth it in my opinion.

You are also not including anything north of Uppsala in Sweden. Maybe consider a few days in Dalarna as well? There should be enough time for that.

Posted by
4862 posts

I think I’d choose the route via Røros.

I haven’t visited Røros, but I did spend the night in Åndalsnes prior to a drive along the trollstigen. While Åndalsnes was a pleasant place to spend a night, there was nothing that would really compel me to take a detour and extend a train journey. There is so much amazing scenery in Norway that you can become a little numb to it as the trip goes on (e.g., ”look another waterfall”) and it sounds like you will have plenty of opportunity for scenery.

Posted by
22504 posts

Thank you both for your comments.

Laura, have you been east of the Trollstigen Road to Dombas? It's the RR line between Dombas and Andalsnes that sounds so nice. But you're right, the impact of scenery does diminish as you are exposed to more and more of it. I'm hoping the two days in Trondheim before I hop on the train to head back to Oslo will make that trip seem a bit fresher.

Badger, it's very helpful to get negative input. I have no problem compiling lists of dozens of interesting-sounding destinations in most countries. The problem lies in editing those lists. I have a tendency to include a few too many places in the cute little town category. You're certainly right that there's something to be said for choosing to visit secondary destinations in countries cheaper than Norway. I think the 3-1/2 hour visit to Roros would cost me about $150 plus meals. I wouldn't pay that for a half-day tour somewhere.

I am not certain about going to Malmo; I know it doesn't receive high praise. I was just thinking about the Malmo Art Academy, the Malmo Konsthall and perhaps the Malmohus--though I think art is a fairly minor component of its offerings. I will consider Malmo skippable if my time is tight. I don't actually have to visit every art museum that exists.

What struck me about Vaxjo is the modern-glass sculptures in the cathedral and the small glass museum. The House of Emigrants might also be worth a look. Although I haven't looked at transportation links in any detail, I see that Vaxjo has rail service; a lot of the actual glass furnaces are in small places I probably couldn't get to without a car. And Vaxjo sounds like a non-touristy spot. I like to spend some time in places like that when I can manage the logistics. Maybe I could spend just one night there as I move from western to eastern Sweden--though the route from Ystad looks as if it may require going through Malmo.

I'm not sure, but I think Bornholm crept into my notes on Sweden because there is (or was) a catamaran between Ystad and Ronne. I suppose I guessed that was the easiest path to the island that didn't involve a flight.

The reason for postponing Denmark in general is that it offers a Schengen loophole that may be more valuable to me next year or even in 2024. I'm starting my travels later than usual this year, so I don't need a lot of out-of-Schengen time to make the trip work. I foresee positioning Denmark at the end of a future trip and moseying around without a totally-fixed itinerary, which is the way I much prefer to travel.

I'm very interested in all three Baltic countries, but I want to see more than just the capital cities, and that takes time. I'm a Cold War junkie; that especially affects the time I need to spend in former Iron Curtain countries. I suspect when I allow sufficient time for all the places I want to go in Sweden (especially by public transportation), I'll be lucky to fit in Finland. As I was compiling my notes on Stockholm, I had the feeling it would require a lot more time than Oslo, and I have 5 nights in Oslo.

If I find I have time to go up to Dalarna, what would suggest a my base--Rattvik? Mora? Falun?

Posted by
3956 posts

I don't agree with Laura. While Røros is a nice town with a lot of charm, it doesn't stand out compared to Visby, Eksjö, Gränna, Ystad and other that you have mentioned. The scenery from the Rauma line however do stand out. It is hard to find a spot in Norway that isn't scenic, but the the Rauma line is above average in my opinion. Especially the part closest to Åndalsnes, where the rail line runs in a narrow and deep valley. Example: https://goo.gl/maps/8SUCNegAVNm77V7H8 But that is just my opinion, and it's not my trip.

For your Swedish part of the trip, there are many more options. If you are interested in the Cold war, I have to suggest stops in Karlskrona and Linköping to visit the Swedish Naval museum and the Air force museum. Being a non-aligned nation close to the Soviet union, the Swedish armed forces and especially the Navy and the Air force, were quite involved in the Cold war. Regarding Dalarna, if you are interested in art you really have to visit Mora and the Zorn collections. Anders Zorn's home and a museum with many of his paintings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Zorn But maybe this is a topic for a new thread in the Sweden-forum and we should let this be about your Norwegian dilemma?

Posted by
4862 posts

I don't agree with Laura. While Røros is a nice town with a lot of charm, it doesn't stand out compared to Visby, Eksjö, Gränna, Ystad and other that you have mentioned.

Badger, I think you misunderstood my response. I did not suggest that acraven go to Røros to the exclusion of Visby or other places that you mention.. Acraven asked about a train route between Trondheim and Oslo and I simply suggested the shorter route via Røros over the longer route via Åndalsnes as the route that I would choose.

Acraven, we drove from Oslo to Åndalsnes, so I am not familiar with the scenery from the train between Åndalsnes and Dombås. We drove from Åndalsnes via the Trollstigen to Geiranger and then continued on to the Sognefjord over the course of several days. The scenery throughout this area was incredible, so I think the choice for you will be whether you want to take an extended train journey to get in more scenery or not. 14 hours of travel time seems like a long time to me :)

Regardless, it sounds like you are planning an incredible trip and I am very envious.

Posted by
3956 posts

No, I didn't misunderstand your response. I just didn't agree with it.

Posted by
4862 posts

Badger, then I guess you are suggesting that acraven take the 14 hour train route via Åndalsnes and Dombås for the scenery. I’m sorry, I guess that I misunderstood your earlier response.

Posted by
22504 posts

I think there's a good reason to go either way (travel time notwithstanding), which is my problem. I need to make a decision soon since my arrival date in Oslo could be affected. I'm not usually this indecisive. Any bets on whether I end up caving and doing both (by taking a day-trip to Roros)? My money's on that at the moment, but maybe I'll have a different outlook tomorrow. I really need to move on to (planning for) Sweden.

Posted by
4862 posts

acraven, do you need to buy the ticket in advance to get a good price (I am not up on Norwegian rail fares)? The one factor that could make a difference is weather. I had one day in Norway where it was completely overcast and rainy so scenery was limited.

Go with your gut. I don’t think you can really go wrong. Or flip a coin :)

Hope you will be attending outr next meetup as I am looking forward to hearing about all your plans.

Posted by
22504 posts

I'll be there (virtually), Laura!

I haven't checked to see whether rail tickets on the Roros and Dombas routes vary by date of purchase. I've seen that senior fares are available in some cases, which helps. I'm more concerned about the hotel rate in Oslo. I'll be arriving late enough in the day that I'd like to stay near the station, and I'm sure rooms in that area are going to cost quite a bit more than I'm paying at the beginning of my trip for a place just west of the Royal Palace, even if I reserve something tomorrow.

Then there are the rail tickets to and within Sweden, and the hotels there. It's just not as easy for stingy-me to plan a trip in Scandinavia as it was in Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, etc. It's more like traveling to Scotland, but even Scotland had some not-so-expensive cities (Glasgow and Dundee); I haven't found such places in Norway.

Posted by
3956 posts

@Laura: You are correct, but no need to apologize.

A third option is to simply take the train direct to Oslo from Trondheim, a faster way but maybe a bit more boring.

And yes, there are good reasons to go either way, but sometimes travel is about making decisions, be happy about what you are doing and don't think too much about what you're not doing. But then again, it is not my trip.

I'm not sure if the train tickets on these lines are fixed or variable, but it is easy to check. Just compare the price tomorrow with the price next week and next month. And as always, do it with the company that actually runs the trains, in this case www.sj.no

If you find any not-so-expensive places in Norway, please let me know! Which is part of the reason I think you can skip Røros without feeling bad about it, there are other town just as charming and a lot cheaper in Sweden.

Posted by
22504 posts

So far, my less-than-painfully-expensive discoveries (not yet experienced, mind you) are Coch's Pensjonat in Oslo (NOK 730/night for a tiny single with bath) and the Flam Camping and Hostel (similar but with even plainer furnishings). I'm not going up to Kirkenes, but the 20-minute airport-bus ride cost only NOK 80 in 2018; that definitely qualifies as a bargain in Norway, I think. I guess Citybox Bergen isn't too bad at NOK 1169/night, either.

My trip is a long one. I don't think I'll mind too much having very few real restaurant meals while I'm in Norway since costs will be lower elsewhere. For health reasons, I plan to do a lot of carry out in any case.

I haven't bothered with figuring out the rail-fare pricing structure between Trondheim and Oslo since I still haven't decided on my itinerary.

Posted by
3930 posts

we drove from Oslo to Åndalsnes, so I am not familiar with the scenery from the train between Åndalsnes and Dombås.

The train and highway follow the same river valley. The best scenery is right at the north end before getting to Åndalsnes. As I remember the scenery up the valley toward Dombås is identical to the scenery up another valley to Trollstigen.

Åndalsnes is unfortunately one of the many fjordside towns in Norway completely destroyed in the war so it has no great character. It lacks good food also except maybe the Grand Hotel which is expensive. Sødahlhuset was the only other restaurant open and a poor value for the money. In general the small touristy places have very high prices. The hike (steep, strenuous) from this town up to the Rampestreken catwalk is worth it.

Some trips the Hurtigruten stops in Molde somewhat near Åndalsnes. Then you could take the train to Trondhem from Åndalsnes. There are trains from the north of Norway direct to Sweden if that makes sense.

On a sunny day the coastal drive from Ålesund to Åndalsnes is spectacular, about 2 hours, and likely a lot nicer scenery than the Hurtigruten offers. I think this is the bus website https://www.frammr.no/ Sit on the right side.

There is a good supermarket, Rema 100, in Åndalsnes.

Close to Stockholm I liked the Iron Age grave field in Jordbro, easy to reach by commuter rail. I suggest you buy one of those fare cards and put on it a 4 day pass (or whatever time interval works). Then you can hop on and off the buses, metro, and trains, and visit Sigtuna and the Iron Age grave field in Jordbro at no additional charge, it will even get you free to the airport if you are careful. I found that avoiding the metro and taking the bus to Stockholm Odenplan comuter rail station got me where I needed to go. Everything runs at 10 or so minute intervals all day.

For Jordbro https://www.guidebook-sweden.com/en/guidebook/destination/jordbro-gravfaelt-grave-field-jordbro note that the best stone circles are on the other side of the rail track, use the tunnel and turn right. Many of the solitary marker stones are high (east side of tracks) but the stones in the stone circles (west side of tracks) are low to the ground.

Posted by
3930 posts

Adding I've never heard of doing something like this, but all your lodging in Norway and Sweden for 3000 euro/US $3165? That could work out to $79/night for 40 nights.

https://www.nordicchoicehotels.com/shop/unlimited-nights

I did experience 2 Nordic Choice Hotels in Norway and the breakfasts were fabulous and the Clarion Collection hotels include a fabulous dinner for free.

Here's a shorter timeframe deal, https://www.nordicchoicehotels.com/shop/summer-treat

Posted by
22504 posts

Thanks, Tom, for both the additional thoughts on where to go and the heads-up on the hotel pass. It's an intriguing idea. I'm surprised about the pricing; I wonder whether there will be an issue finding vacancies in places like Oslo, Bergen and Stockholm if very many people buy the pass.

There's also a 7-night pass available for 595 euros (currently $628 dollars, or about $90 per night) which seems a good deal in the high-profile places a tourist might go. I found a list of the hotels participating in the 7-night deal; I'm not sure the list would be the same for the summer-long pass. Here's the link for anyone else who might be interested:

https://www.nordicchoicehotels.com/campaigns-and-offers/my-summer-treat-hotels/

Edited to add:

I'm checking out hotels on the list linked above in the cities I plan to visit. In Bergen there's just one centrally located option, The Comfort Hotel Bergen. Its rate for my nights (second half of June) on booking.com are $158, but that includes my "genius" discount. So the 7-day hotel pass works out to be a lot cheaper.

In Oslo, the centrally located, participating hotels I could price out on booking.com are Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion $192), Comfort Hotel Grand Central ($190), Comfort Hotel Karl Johan ($206) and Comfort Hotel Xpress Youngstorget ($182). These two hotels are also well located (near the central RR station) but aren't on booking.com for my dates: Comfort Hotel Borsparken and Comfort Hotel Xpress Central Station.

Please note: I've never been to Norway, so I cannot vouch for any of the hotels listed.

The fine print on the Nordic Choice website says you have 14 days to cancel purchase of the pass, which seems to provide an escape clause in case you buy a pass and later find your cannot get rooms on the nights you need them. However, the 7-night pass must be used between June 24 and August 21. If something prevented the traveler from taking the planned trip within those dates, none of the cost of the pass would be recoverable.

Edit #2:

The pass is priced separately in euros (595), Swedish kronor (5950) and Norwegian kroner (5950). At current exchange rates the 7-day pass is least expensive for US folks from the Swedish website:

https://www.nordicchoicehotels.se/shop/summer-treat?epslanguage=en

That's assuming they'll accept an order there that's charged to a US card. I haven't tried to buy a pass.

Paying in Norwegian currency would be more expensive than paying in Swedish currency but less expensive than paying in euros. Here's the Norwegian website.

https://www.nordicchoicehotels.no/shop/summer-treat?epslanguage=en

I can't tell what sort of kroner/krona will be charged on either of those two websites, but 5950 of either currency is less than 595 euros.