Done, Redone, Advertised and Popularised – Norway in a Nutshell is one of the most famed trips you get to hear about in Europe. This legendary tour takes you through scenic mountain rail routes, UNESCO protected fjords and picture perfect Norwegian towns. Started and popularized by the Fjordtours, the trip is as expensive as it is wonderful. And what you get is basically different modes of transport booked for you to traverse the diverse scenery of the Viking Lands.
So, we thought to ourselves “Why not book it on our own, customize as per our choice and save the money!”. After a lot of researching and reading through blogs, we planned and booked the entire Norway in a Nutshell tour on our own, and saved a considerable amount (Saved around 400 Kroners per person). And I would like to make your lives easier by providing all the details for you to book this tour hassle-free. So read on!
Norway in a Nutshell tour can be started from either the cities of Bergen or Oslo. The tour itinerary can be the below depending on your wish:
- Bergen/ Oslo –> Myrdal –> Flam –> Gudvangen –> Voss –> Bergen/Oslo
- Bergen/ Oslo –> Voss –> Gudvangen –> Flam –> Myrdal –> Bergen/ Oslo
Refer the picture below (Source: Fjordtours)
There is no difference between the two itineraries except the sequence. Hardly matters, but you can check out as per the ticket timings you are getting and your convenience.
The Bergen/ Oslo to Myrdal is through the Norwegian railways (NSB) and is considered one of the most scenic railway journeys in Europe. The link from Myrdal to Flam is covered by the Flam railway, again a very spectacular journey. The journey from Flam to Gudvangen is through the UNESCO protected Nærøyfjord (considered one of the most beautiful part of the Sognefjord – the King of Fjords). Then from Gudvangen you need to travel by bus to Voss and you can take a train from Voss to either Bergen/ Oslo. You can also decide to travel entirely by bus from Gudvangen to Bergen/ Oslo.
And the best part of planning the trip on your own is you can book by providing for required break time at the different changeovers. You can choose to spend the night at some small village/ town in the fjords. You can also take a bicycle and do some part of the journeys through cycling and then take on the railways. So the options are numerous and the customized trip makes your trip unique and enjoyable.
The different websites for you to book the trip are:
- Bergen to Myrdal or Oslo to Myrdal (Train) : NSB website
- Myrdal to Flam or Flam to Myrdal (The Flam Railway): NSB website (You can book as a single trip from Bergen to Flam or Oslo to Flam if you are booking through NSB) or Flamsbana Railway
- Flam to Gudvangen or Gudvangen to Flam (Fjord Cruise): VisitFlam.com
- Gudvangen to Voss/Bergen/Oslo (Bus): NOR-WAY BUSSEKPRESS
- Voss to Bergen/Oslo (Train): NSB website
If some of you are confused about whether to take Norway in a Nutshell or Sognefjord in a Nutshell, I do have some research to maybe help answer your queries. The Sognefjord Nutshell tour begins from Bergen in express boat and takes you through the Sognefjord in around 5 hours and ends at Flam. From Flam, you can then travel to Myrdal in the Flam railway and then board train for Bergen/ Oslo. But this journey does not cover the beautiful Nærøyfjord. I finally decided on the trip through Nærøyfjord rather than Sognefjord for two reasons:
- The slow ferry from Flam to Gudvangen is the scenic way to explore the fjords. The express boat/ catamaran might not be the same kind of experience
- I wanted to see the Naeroyfjord and hence had to choose this trip over the Sognefjord one.
But if you want to go for the Sognefjord in a Nutshell tour, here's the link to book the catamaran for the Same: Norled.no
Some tips to make your trip relaxed and hassle-free:
- Booking the trip in advance definitely gives you a comfortable time in Norway and the prices of tickets would be cheaper as well. However, weather in Norway can be really unpredictable and hence, do check the weather forecast for the region before you do the bookings.
- The entire trip if done in one day can go up to 14 hours. If you want to explore the fjords at your own pace, you can stay over at some place. either Flam or Voss or some small towns on the way
- If you are travelling in the winters, taking the last cruise from Flam to Gudvangen (3:30 pm) doesn’t make sense as it will be really dark when you are travelling through the Fjords. So you rather break your stay at Flam and stay overnight. In summers, it doesn’t matter if you are taking the last cruise as the sunset is around 11-12 pm
- In Myrdal, you can go biking and trekking. You can infact bike the entire stretch from Myrdal to Flam. You get bikes in the Myrdal station itself. There are many biking and trekking routes around Flam as well. So if you are up for sweating it out, these beautiful trails can turn out to be the highlights of your trip
- Carry food as you will not find many options during the journey. Flam does have some restaurants, but they are really pricey
- Incase you are travelling one-way from Bergen to Oslo or vice-versa and travelling with a lot of luggage, then you might not be able to do the hiking and biking unless you are staying at some place on the way. But apart from that, carrying around the luggage is not much of issue, if that is your concern. There is not much walking around anyway if you are sticking to the transport listed above
- On reaching Gudvangen, the bus stop is on the highway (E16) which is around 300 mtrs walk from the ferry point
- In the ferry, try to get a seat on the top deck on the captain’s side (right side of the boat) so that you are on the boat’s front. People generally fight for seats on the 2nd deck, only to realize later that they are facing the backside of the boat
- Try to grab the front row seats in the bus to get a panoramic view of the captivating scenery
Happy planning your trip to the mesmerizing fjordsland. :)
And here are some snaps from our journey through the gorgeous Norwegian landscape.
On our train journey from Bergen to Myrdal, we watched wide-eyed the beautiful snow covered mountains and frozen rivers and lakes. On reaching Myrdal, we had some time on our hands. So we set on a short hike. Beautiful Norwegian houses covered in snow were a delight to watch! As we hiked down further, we saw a mountain stream gurgling down the way. We stopped for a sip of the fresh mountain water. After hiking a bit further, we decided to break for lunch in the beautiful surrounds. The Flam railway was yet another beautiful journey. Numerous waterfalls, mythical creatures (set up for tourists) and the beautiful Flamsbana valley made us sigh with wonder at every step of the journey. The highlight was the fjord cruise. The dramatic Nærøyfjord made our journey truly worth it! Match-box houses clinged precariously to the mountain cliffs. The bus journey from Gudvangen to Bergen was also quite scenic as it took us through the mountains, inside the tunnels and over the fjords. We loved each and every bit of the trip, although we wished we had some more time to explore some biking trails.
This post was originally published on 'Travel with Swagatika'.