By Rick Steves
Are rail passes a good value for Norway?
Rail passes are usually a great value in Norway, often saving money over otherwise-expensive tickets while allowing you to hop trains at your convenience (though some longer-distance trains do require reservations).
How do I see whether a rail pass makes sense for my trip in particular?
Use this map to add up approximate pay-as-you-go fares for your itinerary, and compare that cost to the price of a rail pass for the number of days you expect to spend on the train. Dotted lines show ferry routes, some of which are discounted if you have a rail pass. Dashed lines show bus connections, which aren't covered by rail passes.
Also, follow the links below for:
• More tips for figuring out whether a pass makes sense for your trip
• The basics on choosing among rail passes
• More tips on how to save money by fine-tuning your rail pass
• Advice on deciding between first and second class
• Fare-estimate maps outside Scandinavia
• Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions
Choose one of the passes below to check prices and to buy your pass (orders are fulfilled by Rail Europe).
Extra tip: The Scandinavia Eurail Pass covers all four countries in this region and is cheaper than a Eurail Select Pass covering these same countries.
Aside from the popular Norway in a Nutshell trip, you'll need seat reservations ($5–20) for many long rides and express trains, as indicated in online train schedules. Some reservations aren't available outside Europe, but they don't generally sell out terribly far in advance. Private and shared sleepers on night trains are both available with second-class rail passes.
What do rail passes cover in Norway?
Nearly all trains within Norway, though no pass covers the entire cost of the Norway in a Nutshell route, described next. Passes also grant free or discounted travel on a few less-popular bus and ferry routes (as described here).
This scenic rail-bus-boat-rail route is a popular way to see the Sognefjord. Any rail pass that covers Norway covers the Oslo–Bergen train line (paid seat reservation required, reserve at least a week ahead for summer departures from Oslo) and gives you a 30 percent discount on the private Myrdal–Flåm train. Local tourist information offices and train stations sell all-in-one package tickets, or you can pay as you go for the Myrdal–Flåm supplement (which reserves a specific departure time but not a seat assignment) and bus and ferry rides. To reserve the rail section of the trip from the US, call Norwegian State Railways at 011-47-81-50-08-88 (press 9 for English) or Fjord Tours at 011-47-81-56-82-22, or email email@example.com.
If a rail pass doesn't pencil out for your trip, you may be able to shave off the cost of your train tickets with some of these tips:
- One child (age 4–15) travels free per ticket-buying adult on most Norwegian trains; otherwise kids generally ride for half the adult fare. Keep in mind that child-ticket deals vary across neighboring countries.
- Seniors (67 and older) can travel for half-price on most trains within Norway; no card needed.
- "Mini-price" tickets take travelers from Oslo to any major Norwegian city for $30–50 at off-peak times. Buy at least one day in advance (either at train-station ticket machines or online).
Norway Rail Passes: Key Details
Single-country Norway Eurail Pass: Valid for one month, not two, after you've activated the pass (whereas Eurail Select and Global passes offer a two-month window of travel).
Scandinavia Eurail Pass: Covers nearly all trains in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Valid for one month, not two, after you've activated the pass (whereas Eurail Select and Global passes offer a two-month window of travel).