In this series, Lonely Planet's team of writers and editors answers your travel problems and provide tips and hacks to help you plan a hassle-free trip. This week Tom Hall, Lonely Planet's de facto train expert tackles a query from a US traveler coming to Scandinavia.

Question: Hello Lonely Planet, I am planning a short Scandinavian trip, spending two days in Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen, and Stockholm. I am wondering if it is feasible to travel by train instead of plane between the cities?

Tom Hall: Not only is it feasible to travel by train in Scandinavia, it’s highly recommended.

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A backpacker waits to board the scenic Flamsbana Railway in Norway
The scenic Flamsbana Railway in Norway, the further in advance you can book the better  © Russell Monk / Getty

The case for rail travel in Scandinavia

Rail travel is a fantastic way to see a huge amount of varied scenery in a short period of time. And it is the greener option. The carbon emissions generated by flying is a hot topic throughout Europe, and residents of nordic countries have great pride in low-emissions rail travel. 

Trains in Scandinavia are easy and efficient, running to and from city center terminals that are often impressive places to arrive and depart from. Regular rail services connect major nordic cities, with longer journeys such as Oslo to Stockholm (around seven hours) and Bergen (six and a half) also linked by night trains. That said, the latter journey is a strong contender for the world’s best train journey, so if you can do that one by day. The journey from Copenhagen into Sweden crosses the famed Öresund Bridge. You can change in Malmo for services to Gothenburg and Oslo. Most trains offer free wifi as well as food and drink available for purchase onboard. 

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The scenic dome in Bergen's train station
 Bergen's train station, the journey from here to Oslo is one of the world’s best train journey © Amei Ott / EyeEm / Getty

Ticketing details for train travel in Scandinavia

Ticketing should be straightforward, though more popular services can be busy so seat reservations are generally recommended. An Interrail or Eurail pass covering Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland giving four days of travel within a one-month period costs €218/$222, though seat and sleeper berth reservations are needed on the type of faster - or overnight - trains you’ll likely be taking. 

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Given that advance purchase fares for specific trains are a good value, you may find that booking point-to-point tickets is the most economical and convenient option. Individual country rail operators (Norway, Sweden, Denmark) will usually offer booking up to 90 days before departure, as will booking sites like Trainline. Cheaper fares sell out the closer you get to departure, so the further in advance you can book the better.

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