Flying shame: how to travel from the UK to Scandinavia by train.

Train in Sweden. Photo: Kasper Dudzik/SJ

Forget about Hygge, Fika and Lagom. The new Scandi buzz word we all need to know seem to be Flygskam, which is Swedish for ‘flying shame’.

According to study by the European Commissions, flying from London to New York and back generates roughly the same level of emissions as the average person in the EU does by heating their home for a whole year.

‘Flying shame’ has become a massive topic in Sweden and Scandinavia. But what other ways do we have of travelling back and forth between the UK and Scandinavia?

The last ferry between the UK and Scandinavia ceased to operate in 2014, leaving us with the option of driving or taking the train.

By car, you cross the Channel to France via the Eurotunnel. The drive will continue through Belgium and the Netherlands before a short break on the ferry between Germany and Denmark. Next passing the bridge to Sweden before finally arriving in Norway.

The Bridge, connecting Denmark and Sweden.

Driving is as exhausting as it sounds like: endless motorways, drive-thru meals and quick pit stops at petrol stations to refuel. We also tend to choose to get it quickly over with, meaning we do the whole journey in one go, with our personal best being 20 hours door-to-door.

Train is the other option. The benefit of taking the train is that you can work, read or sleep. Some trains offer snacks and drinks to purchase whilst others would have a complete onboard restaurant. You might even enjoy a drink whilst you sit back and relax as you watch the world go by.

I am no scientist. But from what I have read, you seem to save a substantial amount of carbon emissions when choosing to travel by train instead of flying. We decided to dive into:

How to travel to Norway by train or train and ferry.

London to Oslo by train

Eurostar from Central London to Brussels, then various trains from Brussels to Oslo via Hamburg, Copenhagen and Gothenburg. Ticket fares as below are one way, lowest available for each stretch, not necessarily connecting. But it gives an idea of travel time and cost.

  • 2h 20m St Pancras International Eurostar to Bruxelles Midi prices from £44*
  • 6h 21m Bruxelles-Midi to Hamburg, minimum 1 change, prices from £37.90
  • 21h 31m Hamburg to Oslo, minimum 2 changes, prices from £221**

London to Oslo by train & ferry

When in Hamburg, instead of travelling onwards to Denmark, jump on a train to Kiel. Then enjoy a mini cruise from Kiel to Oslo, overnight.

  • 2h 20m St Pancras International Eurostar to Bruxelles Midi prices from £44*
  • 8h Bruxelles Midi to Kiel £38.35
  • 21h Kiel to OsloColour Line (incl. 1 h boarding) prices for one person in a single cabin £175
Oslo to Kiel with Colour Line. Photo: Øivind Haug

The ferry from Kiel is actually a very nice option as it is like a mini cruise, with restaurants and shopping on board. You’ll sail overnight and the next morning the breathtaking fjords will welcome you to Oslo.

What less nice is that both options include various of train lines which doesn’t seem possible to book in advance, online and as one ticket.

From Oslo, I know the Enturs ticket office at the Oslo S train station will be able to sell one ticket for the entire journey, from Oslo to Brussels. Perhaps worth checking out if there is a similar service in a UK ticket office?

The flying time between London and Oslo is approx 2 hours. In comparison, travelling to Oslo by train and ferry will at least take 2 days.

To travel to Oslo by train and ferry is obviously not an option for weekend break!

However, if you are going away for a few weeks or more, a more eco-friendly way of travel might just be well worth looking at, if you consider the duration of the journey as a part of your holiday.

For less people to avoid Flygskam there ought to be a website where one can purchase the entire journey, wether it is for trains or ferries.

Furthermore, considering all the different train companies with multiple changes along the way – the smoothest solution would perhaps be to reopen the ferry between Harwich, UK to Esbjerg, Denmark.

Useful links

*eurostar.com **rome2rio.com

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