Norway in a Nutshell is the most popular tour in Norway which allows visitors to have a brief look at Mother Nature’s finest masterpiece in a very limited time.
Provided by Fjord Tours, Norway in a Nutshell is a year-round tour that can be started at either Bergen or Oslo. The tour can be done within one day (or two days if you start from Oslo like us), but it can be extended based on your needs. For us, I can shortly summarize the whole trip as follow:
- Day 1: Oslo – Bergen (train, it takes around 6 to 7 hours)
- Day 2: Bergen – Voss (train), Voss – Gudvangen (bus), Gudvangen – Flåm (ferry), Flåm – Myrdal (Flåmsbana Railway), Myrdal – Oslo (train)
The tour is pricey (like everything else in Norway) but I could say it’s worth every cent. If you prefer to buy individual tickets, you can take a look at the Vy – the Norwegian State Railways, but the total price for individual tickets will be more or less the same. There are four highlights of this tour:
1. The Oslo-Bergen Railway
Often cited as one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world, the Oslo-Bergen railway is an opportunity to catch a glimpse of Norway’s best scenery. It is a symphony of elements, in which earth, water, air, and fire (represented by the sun) are harmoniously combined.
After passing through the forests of southern Norway, the train ascends to the snow-capped Hardangervidda Plateau and then continues down through the pretty woodlands around Voss and on into Bergen. At first, I did not believe the advertising of Norway in a Nutshell. But I was wrong because the scenery is truly breathtaking.
2. Bryggen, Bergen
Setting amid a picturesque coastal landscape of seven fjords and seven mountains, Bergen is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. The son of Harald Sigurdsson, King Olav Kyrre founded this city in the early 11th century. He named it Bjørgvin which means ‘the green meadow among the mountains.
For centuries, it served as a major trading center in northern Europe. Its focal point is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed waterfront of Bryggen, an archaic tangled of wooden buildings dating back to the 13th century. Properties of the powerful Hanseatic League for over 400 years, were filled with goods such as stockfish from northern Norway and cereal from Europe.
Inscribed on the prestigious World Heritage List in 2005 by UNESCO, Nærøyfjorden is perhaps the most well-known fjord in Norway and certainly one of its finest. Its name derives from the Norse god Njord, who rules over the sea and seafaring. This arm of Sognefjorden is only 18 kilometers long and it stretches between Gudvangen and the mountain Beitelen.
With merely 250 meters at its narrowest point, it is the narrowest natural attraction in Norway. The deep blue fjord is surrounded by towering high cliffs, some even reaching over 1400 meters, hanging valleys, and waterfalls plummeting from the height. A handful of hamlets and meadows are added to this dramatic landscape, making it even more picturesque.
4. Flåm & Flåmsbana Railway
Tucked between imposing mountains, lush green valleys and deep blue fjord, the village of Flåm is a gem of Norway in a Nutshell. Since the 19th century, this charming hamlet at the inner end of the Aurlandsfjorden – another branch of the vast Sognefjorden – has been a major tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors annually.
The town is connected to Gudvangen via catamarans, or to Myrdal via the 20-kilometer Flåmsbana Railway – the world’s steepest railway tracks that run without cable or rack wheels. During this amazing train journey, you will be able to enjoy the beauty of Flåm where rivers cut through deep ravines, waterfalls cascade down the sides of steep and mountain farms clinging dizzily to the cliffs.
Practical Information about Norway in a Nutshell
- The most photogenic part of the Oslo-Bergen Railway is between Lake Finse and Myrdal Station, where the train goes upward to the Plateau (or downward, it depends on which direction you came from).
- Taking photos through the window is a bit tricky because of the reflection. But it is doable, just keep in mind two things: 1) Covering all the bright surfaces around you with a cloth or anything in a dark color, 2) Pressing the lens flatly on the glass.
- The scenery switches sides constantly, so if you want to have a good photo, you should be a bit active. Standing in the vestibule is also a good option (huge window, and easy to switch sides).
- The Premium Cruise is more expensive than the ordinary one (around 300 Nkr) but you will have more time to explore Gudvangen and Flåm.
- It’s recommended to bring a wind jacket on Norway in a Nutshell tour. Because the train trip from Finse to Myrdal and Gudvangen to Flåm is quite cold, even in summer.
- Turn up early at the Flambana Station so you can have a window seat on the Flambana Railway.
This post is written based on my personal experience. It was neither sponsored nor solicited by Fjord Tours or any third party. All texts and pictures reflect my own opinions and are provided solely for informational purposes. I will not be liable for any errors or damages by making use of this information.