Linking two of Norway’s biggest cities by way of a mountain pass and skirting Norway’s largest lake, the Dovre line railway is a popular tourist route as well as an important transport link for locals.
With four daytime departures in both directions, the 6.5 to 7 hour journey on the Dovre line offers travelers a comfortable alternative to flying between Oslo and Trondheim. Most nights, a night train of 7.5 hours also runs in each direction. The service is also useful for those flying into or from Oslo Airport, as all trains stop there.
Highlights of the Oslo to Trondheim railway
Just an hour or so north of Oslo, the train begins to skirt Lake Mjøsa, the biggest lake in Norway. Sit on the left hand side (or the right, if coming from Trondheim) to enjoy the lakeside views for almost an hour. At the northern end of the lake, Lillehammer is best known as the host of the Winter Olympics in 1994.
As the train begins to climb to get over the mountains of central Norway, it stops at Dombås for several minutes. Many people depart the train here, not because Dombås is anything special but to change trains towards Åndalsnes. Also operated by SJ, trains on the picturesque Rauma line to Åndalsnes are timed to connect with arrivals and departures on the Dovre line.
The highlight of the route is the mountain pass through the Dovrefjell mountain range. This historic pass has been an important transit route for centuries. Today it’s home to wild reindeer and herds of musk oxen that were imported from Greenland in the 1930s.
Once (incorrectly) believed to be Norway’s tallest mountain, Snøhetta is nevertheless an imposing sight.
At 7,500 feet above sea level, the peak is typically visible from the train but is sometimes shrouded in cloud. Announcements are often made by the conductor when passing Snøhetta and on the rare occasions that musk oxen can be seen from the train.
Finally, there are plenty of things to do in Trondheim. Highlights include the sculpture-adorned Nidaros Cathedral, charming old town Bakklandet and the outdoor recreational area Bymarka.
What to expect on the SJ trains
Since the summer of 2020, long-distance trains on the Oslo to Trondheim route have been operated by SJ Nord, a subsidiary of the Swedish-owned SJ. Regular seating in a 2×2 formation is offered with seat reservations mandatory. Window seats are snapped up first.
Other than the regular coaches, there is usually a family coach with small play area and a premium coach with slightly more comfortable seats and free hot drinks. As of the summer of 2022, a new Premium Plus coach offers airline-style seating in a 2×1 formation with meals included.
SJ operates a dining car on all long-distance services. The menu can be viewed online and pre-ordered, which is a wise idea as some meals frequently sell out on busy services.
In addition to hot meals such as the Dovre burger, there are a range of sandwiches, wraps, hot dogs, waffles, chocolate,hot and cold drinks, and beer and wine available for sale.
Six nights a week, night trains run in both directions between Oslo and Trondheim. It’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep in a regular seat so it’s no surprise that sleeping cabins usually sell out in advance.
For an additional 950 Norwegian kroner (approximately $95), ticket holders can book a sleeping cabin that sleeps two adults.
It’s a tight squeeze, but the ability to lay down fully-flat as the train gently rocks gives most people a surprisingly good sleep. Solo travelers can also book a sleeping cabin but the price remains the same.
The new Premium Plus carriage is now available on both night trains, providing a more comfortable alternative to the regular seating when the sleeping cabins have sold out.