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As the world opens up to international travel again, it’s time to look beyond the usual tourist trails for your next adventure on rails. But instead of using the train as just a mode of transport, how about making it the vacation? Here’s our guide to 10 of Europe’s most underrated scenic train routes for 2023.
Trondheim to Bodø, Norway
Few train journeys can boast a visit to Hell and a crossing of the Arctic Circle, but Norway’s wonderful Nordlands Railway (main photo) is exceptional by any measure. Running for 452 miles from Trondheim to Bodø, this is the longest and most isolated railway in Norway, traversing deep valleys, high mountain plateaus and skirting countless lakes and fjords on its epic 10-hour journey north.
Just two trains a day make the full trip – choose the daytime one to make the most of the views, though there’s also a comfortable sleeper train connecting with trains to and from Oslo for the way back. Trains are now operated by SJ Nord, a division of Swedish State Railways.
Construction of the railway proceeded at a glacial pace from 1882 until 1940 when occupying Nazi forces pushed it forwards. Even so, the full route to Bodø was not completed until February 1962, 80 years after the first section from Trondheim to Hell (half an hour east of the city) welcomed its first passengers.
It remains a challenging route to maintain but provides a vital lifeline for the sparsely populated regions it serves, especially in winter. If you’re heading even further north, to