In the first few decades of the 20th
century, many of the European countries
we recognize today were gaining indepen-
dence from the powerful kingdoms that
had controlled the continent for so long.
They began building railroads, growing
transportation systems that would con-
nect isolated communities, facilitate trade
and enhance their national defenses. By
the turn of the 21st century, however, the
rumble of many locomotives had been
replaced by the quieter sounds of foot-
falls, shifting gears and squeaking pedals.
Today, visitors to northern Europe can
trade ski poles for biking gloves and see
Scandinavia on two wheels. Plus, despite
the Baltic’s strong association with steep
slopes and snowy landscapes, several of
these greenways—from a short urban cor-
ridor to a longer path through the coun-
tryside—cover terrain that’s notable for
its lack of elevation.
Printed information in English about
the following rail-trails is limited, but
local tourist boards are usually eager to
help active travelers in need of maps,
directions or accommodations.
of the world made gliding over the snow an effective and efficient mode of
travel. During the warmer months, however, a much more recent European
invention has steadily gained converts: the bicycle. By comparison, the
emergence of long-distance cycling routes, including the international
EuroVelo network, followed a relatively short time ago, with a number of
Nordic countries choosing to repurpose former railroad lines as rail-trails.
Flam, a spur off Rallarvegen, a rugged trail
across an alpine plateau in Norway that
shadows the 100-year-old Bergen Railway;
below) a tunnel along Rallarvegen.
VISIT FLAM/THOR ANDERSON; VISIT FLAM/MORTEN RAKKE