Ever felt so stressed out, so worn down or so fed up that you found yourself wishing you could just curl up on the sofa and watch an eight-hour live stream of a boat cruising across the ocean? If you answered no, chances are you probably aren’t Norwegian.

View of a train travelling through snowy countryside.
The train to Bergen was the subject of the first Slow TV documentary © stockstudioX / Getty Images

It may be hard to believe, but Slow TV (Sakte-TV), a form of documentary focused on seemingly mundane events, has grown massively in popularity in its native Norway since its creation in 2009 – and could be just the ticket for travellers currently stuck inside and feeling anxious. 

Train ride from Bergen to Oslo (7 hours)

The first documentary of its kind focused on a railway journey from Oslo to Bergen, with a camera fixed on the front of the train. The experimental show lasted eight hours, with no breaks, and, much to the surprise of the network, proved to be a huge success. 

Numerous Slow TV shows followed, including Hurtigruten – minutt for minutt, which depicted the ship MS Nordnorge on a 134-hour voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. To this day it remains the most viewed programme in Norweigan television history. 

Now Slow TV is gradually (which only seems fitting) stepping onto the international stage, with broadcasters around the world putting their own spin on the concept; commissioning lengthy realtime documentaries focused on everything from reindeer migrations to busses puttering around rural English towns. 

So what is the appeal of such shows? Primarily it’s about slowing down; the shows are enjoyed for their meditative qualities, allowing audiences to switch off, unwind and escape for a few hours – a luxury we could all enjoy in these testing times.

According to Elisabeth Urdal, who features in the excellent Slow TV introductory video by Visit Norway and has an MA in Slow TV, “Watching Slow TV gives you the feeling of travelling, the difference is you can travel from your own living room.”

Ready to give it a go? Here are six more Slow TV documentaries you can watch for free:

A day at the dog beach in Perth (2 hours)


MS Victoria on the Telemark Canal, Norway (11 hours)


Walking with reindeer in Karasjok, Norway (2 hours)


A bus trip around Yorkshire, England (2 hours)


Walking through Tokyo (2 hours)


Sailing to Tobago (2.5 hours)

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