Ordering train tickets in Norway is usually very simple, as most trains are run by one company: VY.
To buy train tickets, you can visit VY.no or download the VY-app from an app store. From there you will need to insert your traveling info, choose your preferred departure and seating, and pay for your ticket using Visa, Mastercard or PayPal.
If you’re already out traveling, you can also choose to buy tickets from the local vendors at the stations. Some stations have serviced terminals, where you can buy tickets or ask for help directly from the station’s personnel. If not, you will find automated vendors on nearly every single train station in Norway. These are simple to use, and can easily be switched over to the English language option if necessary.
You can also buy tickets directly from the conductors on the train, but this is usually not a preferred option. If you buy train tickets on the train the tickets are pricier, and you run the risk of boarding a train that is already sold out, or without available seating – especially if you’re traveling on fridays, sundays or during special holidays in Norway.
In addition, some conductors might get somewhat fussy about passengers not buying tickets before boarding – so beware of moody personnel. However, it is still nice to know that the option exists if you ever have to catch a train in a hurry.
Options to Consider when Buying Train Tickets in Norway
Although buying a train ticket in itself is fairly simple, you might be having some questions about your options, or about Norwegian train traveling in general.
What will affect the tickets’ pricing, besides distance? Can I travel with pets or extra luggage? What if I have special needs, or plan on traveling with a different train company?
First things first. Age, occupational status, and your chosen level of comfort are some of the things that affect your tickets’ pricing.
Children under the age of 6 travel for free, while children and youngsters between the ages of 6-17 travel at a reduced price. In Norway you will also get a discount if you are a student, if you’re currently serving in the military, or if you are retired, disabled, or in any other way qualify to what we call the honnør card from the state.
If you travel with large objects that will take up a lot of space – say, a bicycle, for instance -, this will add cost to your ticket. The same applies if you chose to travel with animals taller than 40 cm, whilst traveling with animals that are smaller than this is free of charge.
Booking extra space for strollers and wheelchairs is free as well, but might not always be available. If this is one of your requirements, make sure you check the availability on your chosen departure before booking.
However, if you’re just out traveling with ‘ordinary’ luggage, you don’t need to worry. There are plenty of available shelves and storage opportunities on the train without cost or need of booking, and most Norwegians are politely helpful if you ever need any help with heavy lifting.
Flexible or Non-Flexible Tickets?
Most trains in Norway will offer you two options when buying tickets: flexible tickets and non-flexible tickets.
The non-flexible tickets are cheaper, but you might not get to pick your seating, change the tickets after booking, or refund them if necessary.
The flexible tickets, however, are somewhat more expensive, but let you choose your own seating, and allow for changes and refunds post-booking.
In my opinion, flexible tickets are usually the best option – especially if you have to switch trains as a part of your transit.
If you’re out traveling with non-flexible tickets, you might end up paying more for your travel if your transfers are running on a tight schedule. In this scenario, you will have to buy a whole new ticket, rather than just changing the one you’ve already paid for, if you end up missing your transfer train.
In other words, if you fear you might not make it to your connecting train, or that you’ll be delayed in your travels: buy the flexible tickets. If not: feel free to live dangerously on the edge during your travels in Norway.
(Psst! Although most trains in Norway usually run on time, they’re not exactly known for their Japanese-like accuracy.. Be sure that you’re planning your travel, and its potential delays, realistically.)
The Plus-alternative, offering more comfort, is only available with the flexible tickets. This alternative provides better chairs and more space for their travelers – at an additional cost, of course.
You don’t need either the Plus-alternative or the flexible tickets to be able to choose other cart options, such as Family or Animal Free, on your long distance travels. These are free of charge, and provide a better option if you’re traveling with children or have allergies. On some departures you can even choose the Quiet-cart, where you can steer away from children, pets, and noise altogether.
In my opinion, the ordinary alternative is usually comfortable enough. The regular carts can sometimes be crowded or noisy if you’re traveling during holidays, weekends or rush hours, but chances are, if you’re an American on a train with Norwegians, you’ll be the loudest one there. 😉
If you need to book free seating for a service dog, or special seating for wheelchairs, you have to contact customer service directly, or order tickets at a serviced train station. This applies to requieries about special assistance during your travel as well.
VY has a FAQ section devoted to these things on their webpage, and all of the information is available in english. Click here to check it out.
Buying Train Tickets from other Companies than VY
Now, although VY runs most of the trains in Norway, that does not mean it runs all of them.
The Airport Express train, for instance, from Oslo Airport (Gardermoen) to the Oslo city center, is run by a separate company, which requires that you buy your tickets from their own provider. To check out departures or buy tickets for the Airport Express train, you can click here.
In 2017 the Norwegian state opened up for competition on the Norwegian train lines. As a result of this, the British company GoAhead Nordic got the responsibility for operating trains on rails in the southern part of Norway, such as Sørlandsbanen, Arendalsbanen and Jærbanen.
The Swedish company SJ AB, however, got the responsibility for operating trains on rails such as Dovrebanen, Rørosbanen og Nordlandsbanen, stretching from parts of eastern, middle and northern Norway.
Put in more practical terms, this means that you can also choose to buy tickets for SJ’s travels here, or for GoAhead Nordic’s travels here.
This may seem more complicated than it really is, however, as tickets to most of these travels are also available on VY’s ticket system.