When we were planning our trip to Norway, we knew that seeing Norway’s fjords was one of the highest travel priorities for us. We chose to do so with the Norway in a Nutshell tour, which makes it easy to see some of Norway’s most incredible landscapes. So here is our Norway in a Nutshell review along with some tips to make your journey as smooth as possible!
What is Norway in a Nutshell?
Norway in a Nutshell is a prepackaged “tour” that makes it easy for you to travel from Bergen or Oslo to see Norway’s incredible fjords. The best fjords are not exactly close to Norway’s most popular cities, and it requires some slightly extensive public transport to get to them. It is 100% worth it, but it can also be a bit of a hassle to figure out.
Norway in a Nutshell makes it easy, as it is a one stop shop for all the public transport tickets you’ll need to see Norway’s best fjords. They are operated by Fjord Tours, which has been running since 1982.
It is definitely possible to DIY the tour and buy all the public transport tickets yourself. It can also be a lot cheaper to do it yourself! But many people prefer the convenience of having all their tickets together in one place and their itinerary pre-planned so that everything is timed just right.
Is Norway in a Nutshell a Guided Tour?
No! There is no guide on Norway in a Nutshell. You won’t find anyone directing you where you need to go or sharing information about what you’re seeing. Instead, this is a tour designed for people who are traveling on their own. Don’t worry about getting lost though! You will find a lot of people along the journey with you doing the exact same tour you are! So you will definitely feel like you are traveling with a loose group even though you don’t have a guide.
Norway in a Nutshell Itinerary Options
Norway in a Nutshell is completely customizable based on where you want to start from. You can start from Bergen, Oslo, Voss, Flåm, or Geilo. The most popular options are to start in either Oslo or Bergen and end in either Oslo or Bergen (some people use this tour as a way to travel from Oslo to Bergen or vice versa).
The Norway in a Nutshell tour will include multiple transportation methods. When we were traveling, our kiddo had it memorized: a train to a bus to a boat to a train to another train!
I know it sounds like a lot of transportation, but that’s the point! Every part of the journey will include incredible Norwegian scenery. The highlights include:
- Bergen Railway, where you start to see the incredible mountains and fjords
- Fjord cruise on Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord, two of the most scenic fjords in Norway
- Flåm Railway, a historic train with spectacular scenery
The best way to figure out your itinerary is to get on the Norway in a Nutshell site and explore all the different options. They really make it easy to understand your travel options.
Our Norway in a Nutshell Itinerary
We chose to do a roundtrip Norway in a Nutshell tour out of Bergen. Here’s what each step of our journey looked like.
Train from Bergen to Voss
Our journey started with a train ride from Bergen to Voss. We grabbed some breakfast at the little cafe/shop and then found a seat on the train. This isn’t a train with assigned seats usually, so you can take your pick.
Also note which car to get in. Some of the train platforms are shorter, so not all the train cars are accessible. The screen in front of the platform should tell you what car to get into for your stop.
The train from Bergen to Voss has some truly spectacular scenery, so have your cameras out and ready! You’ll pass fjords, small towns, and incredible mountains; although once you see what’s in store later in the day, it will almost feel like nothing. Also be ready to pass through A LOT of tunnels that are cut into the mountains.
When traveling from Bergen to Voss, try to sit on the left side of the train for the best views.
The train from Bergen to Voss takes about an 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Bus from Voss to Gudvangen
Once we got to Voss, we had about 15-20 minutes to get on our bus to Gudvangen. It’s very easy to find the bus stop, as it’s all connected in the same complex. Just check the boards for which bus stop to go to. But you’ll most likely be with a whole crowd of other Norway in a Nutshell tourists, so it will be easy to find.
Even though this is a bus ride (so transportation-wise it’s a little less exciting), you’ll still see some amazing landscapes. And if you are traveling in the summer, you’ll also have a brief stop at Stalheim Hotel for a scenic overlook and a bathroom break.
If you are prone to motion sickness, be prepared for this part of the journey. Some of the roads are a little twisty, so you might want to pack some anti-nausea medicine with you. (We did see at least one person get sick.)
The bus from Voss to Gudvangen takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
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Fjord Cruise from Gudvangen to Flåm
Ok y’all. This is it. The big highlight of your Norway in a Nutshell tour, where you’ll travel through some of Norway’s best known fjords.
Once we got to Gudvangen, we had about 30 minutes until our boat departed. They drop you off right at the docks, so we had just enough time to eat a little snack while sitting in the sunshine (we lucked out with some GREAT weather), go to the bathroom, and then board the boat.
Here’s my best tip where to sit on the fjord cruise: go to the top and sit at the back railing. Second best place would be the second level at the back railing.
Everyone is going to try to go to the top, but most of them are going to line up along the left and right railings. But if you camp out there, your views aren’t going to be as good. From the back you can face backwards on the boat and get great views all around you without a ton of people in front of you in one direction. (I’m not sure I’m explaining this well, so try this: if you sit on the right top side of the boat, you’ll have people on your left side views and vice versa. But at the back, you’ll have a straight view from the back of the boat.)
Traveling from Gudvangen to Flåm you will travel through two major fjords, both of which are arms of Sognefjord.
This first is Nærøyfjord. This is well-known to be one of the most incredible fjords in Norway. It’s called Nærøyfjord (Narrow Fjord) because at its narrowest it is only 250 meters across, all the while the sides are jutting up to mountains up to 1,700 meters high, many of which have waterfalls making their way down to the fjord.
The second fjord you’ll travel through is Aurlandsfjord. This fjord is much wider, but is still incredible. You’ll still be surrounded by towering mountains and waterfalls and pass hamlets tucked into the mountainsides.
The fjord cruise from Gudvangen to Flåm takes 2 hours.
What About Food on the Fjord Tour?
On our itinerary, we were on the boat around lunchtime. A lot of people had packed sandwiches and snacks to eat for lunch, but there is a small café on the boat with hot dogs and snacks.
What If I Have Bad Weather on My Fjord Tour?
There is a well-known phrase in Scandinavia: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. So look up the weather and dress appropriately for your tour. We lucked out with AMAZING weather on our tour day: sunshine and highs in the upper 60s. But even though it was warm in the sun, once the boat was going the breeze was cold and we definitely wished we had brought a few more layers.
That being said, if you truly to have terrible weather on your trip, there will be some indoor space on your boat. Ours had a very nice indoor seating area with wide windows where you could theoretically still see a lot (although I didn’t move from our position on the top of the boat the whole time, so I wouldn’t exactly know).
Stop in Flåm
Once we got to Flåm, we had about 2 hours and 30 minutes to explore this small town, get something to eat, do some shopping, and relax.
There was a cruise ship in the port while we were there, so it was a bit crowded, but we still enjoyed our time. There are multiple restaurants to choose from (we ended up getting some pizza and ice cream for an early dinner), several shops, and some beautiful areas to walk around in. Plus, it is all tucked into the base of some incredible mountains.
Train from Flåm to Myrdal
From Flåm we took the Flåm Railway to Myrdal. This is a historic railway that is known for being one of the steepest standard gauge railways in the world. You’ll pass by waterfalls and raging rivers, climb up mountainsides, and pass through 20 tunnels.
There is also a stop right next to a huge waterfall where everyone gets out for a few minutes, takes some pictures, and watches a dancer acting as Holdra (a forest spirit from Norwegian mythology). It’s a little bit strange and touristy, but fun nonetheless.
Finally, you’ll arrival at Mrydal, which is a remote station high in the mountains. Through much of the year, you’ll find snow on the ground here. (We visited in early June and there was snow all around us, and it definitely felt very tundra-like.)
In the Mrydal station there is a small café if you want to grab something eat along with bathrooms.
The Flåm Railway journey took about 1 hour.
Train from Myrdal to Bergen
The final leg of our journey was to take a train from Myrdal back to Bergen. There is still all kinds of beauty on this train ride, but to be honest we were feeling a little overstimulated by amazing landscapes at this point and it felt more like an opportunity to sit back and relax. Plus, for a lot of the journey we were traveling back through what we had already passed in the morning.
It was still a lovely train journey though!
Tips for Norway in a Nutshell
If you are traveling on a Norway in a Nutshell Tour, here are some tips and tricks to know:
- On the train journeys, check which cars you need to be in for your specific stop.
- There is not a place where you have to check in with your tickets, but have them ready to go because they will stop by on the train to double check your tickets and make sure you are in the right place.
- When traveling from Bergen to Voss, sit on the left side of the train for the best views! (And on the way back, sit on the right side.)
- On the train from Flåm to Myrdal, try to sit on the right side of the train for the best views. (From Myrdal from Flåm sit on the left side.)
- Wear the right clothing for your trip. It is best to dress in layers!
- While there are several opportunities to get food (notable on the Fjord Cruise and in Flåm) bring snacks and water!
- Even if you aren’t booking your tour through Norway in a Nutshell, get your tickets ahead of time everywhere you can! For our Fjord Cruise, everyone who had bought tickets in advance got to board the board before people were just buying tickets there.
Our Norway in a Nutshell Review
So should you go on a Norway in the Nutshell tour?
While you can definitely see fjords on your own while figuring out your own itinerary (and honestly, this trip definitely has us thinking about the future possibilities of visiting Norway and driving through the fjords on our own), Norway in a Nutshell makes it easy to see the best Norway has to offer.
Yes, you do pay for that convenience. It’s not a cheap ticket! But it means that your itinerary is preplanned, your tickets and directions are all packaged together, and you don’t have to figure things out on your own.
But our Norway in a Nutshell review is that is is convenient, easy to do, and so so beautiful! I honestly don’t have a single compliant or criticism about our tour. The Fjord Tour company has been doing this for a long time, and they know how to walk you through your journey.
So, if you are looking for an easy way to see the fjords in Norway in a day trip from Bergen or Oslo, we think the Norway in a Nutshell tour is definitely worth it!