Norway in a nutshell is regarded as one of, if not the most popular tours in the country, taking you through some of Norway's most breath-taking fjords and spectacular mountain scenery, in one easy booking.
Trip highlights include:
The Bergen Railway - voted one of the world’s most picturesque rail journeys;
The Flam Railway, a spectacular train journey that offers a panoramic view of some of the wildest and most magnificent nature in the Norwegian fjord landscape.
The Aurlandsfjord - a 17-kilometre arm of the world’s second-longest fjord, the Sognefjord, and starts in Flåm and ends at the mountain Beitelen, which separates the Aurlandsfjord from the Nærøyfjord;
The Nærøyfjord - the narrowest and best known of the many arms of the Sognefjord;
Is the Norway in a Nutshell tour worth it?
The Nutshell tour is essentially a self-guided tour by public transport, whereby you will be provided with a timetable with all the connections having been worked out for you.
Benefiting travellers on a tight schedule or looking for stress-free travel, the Nutshell tour offers accessibility with options available - including flexibility over the length of time of your trip, which activities you fit into your itinerary, and control over the direction of the route you choose - starting in either Oslo, Bergen, Voss, Geilo, or Flam.
Discover ideas for your next trip and begin to plan it with Lonely Planet Norway.
Convenience however comes at a cost, and if you are like us and want to take back control over your time in Norway you can still follow the itinerary and book it yourself with ease by buying the tickets directly from the train, bus, and ferry companies for every step of the journey.
For those looking for this hassle-free option, there are many tour providers available, but the original tour is provided by Fjord tours.
The Norway in a Nutshell DIY option
The Bergen Railway
The biggest cost associated with the Nutshell tour is the price of your train tickets. For the biggest savings we recommend booking in advance - greater than 60 days where possible - not only does it give you the ability to save money, but also the option to save on upgrading your comfort. We used this as an opportunity to upgrade our return journey from Bergen Stasjon back to Oslo S to provide a bigger seat and free coffee for the duration of our 7 hour trip.
The scenery on the train journey from Oslo to Myrdal is truly spectacular and is a highlight of the trip in itself, providing views of Hardangervidda National Park to the west - home to Norway’s largest population of wild reindeer live - and Hallingskarvet National Park to the east. Whilst the stretch between Myrdal/Voss and Bergen continues to amaze with views of high mountains, deep valleys, and narrow fjords, you will notice the scenery starts to become more civilised as you drop from the highest point, 1,237 (4 058 ft) meters above sea level to no higher than 57 meters (167 ft) above sea level.
Booking tickets through www.vy.no is incredibly easy. The user interface of the website is simple and clean, and it's easy to manage and access your tickets. Look out for "Low-fair" or "Minipris" tickets which are available on all services - however tickets are limited, and cannot be changed, upgraded or refunded - so make sure you've given yourself time to adjust your travel plans if necessary. Ticket QR codes can be used throughout the duration of your journey. It can be useful to study the Norway in a Nutshell timetables to give you some insight into the times and transfers recommended for each leg of the journey.
Deciding on where to start your tour can also depend on the season. Whilst the Nutshell tour doesn't take into account flights, they may determine your starting point. We travelled in February when a reduced winter flight service from London to Bergen was in operation. This resulted in us starting our tour in Oslo, Norways capital, where flights are easily available all year round.
The Flåmsbana, or Flåm Railway
The Flåm Railway runs throughout the year, with the number of departures and departure times depend on the season. The full length of the railway on the tourist route is 20 km, and the journey in each direction will take around 1 hour - during which the train takes in the winding fjords, valleys, rivers, and passes tiny Norwegian villages at a maximum height of 863 meters. The journey also includes a five-minute photo stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall where you can disembark and go out onto the platform.
To connect between the Bergen Railway and Flåm Railway, you will need to transfer at Myrdal stasjon from Oslo or from Bergen. Tickets can be booked via www.vy.no. When booking your trains making sure to make your destination Flåm stasjon and then the transfer times should automatically be calculated. There is only one class of ticket, with each seat offering equally great panoramas from large windows on both sides.
The Flåmsbana will typically stop in Myrdal stasjon for around 20/30 minutes giving you optimum time to transfer between trains.
Fjord Cruise Nærøyfjord
Upon reaching Flåm, the railway station is merely a minute’s walk from the port where you can embark on the Fjord Cruise Nærøyfjord. The narrow and spectacular Nærøyfjord is surrounded by steep mountains with snow- covered peaks that soar up to 1,800 metres above sea level. Waterfall’s cascade down the mountains and picturesque villages dot the landscape. This is an area that is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is considered one of the most beautiful fjord landscapes in the world.
The Nutshell tour itinerary offers this cruise between Flåm and Gudvangen from where the journey is continued on bus between Gudvangen and Voss. A round trip ticket is however possible, available via www.norwaysbest.com, with a return bus journey provided back to Flåm upon reaching Gudvangen. This option gives you the opportunity to spend the night on the Flåm marina in magnificent surroundings - giving plenty of time to try the local Ægir Brewery, one of the best craft breweries in Norway - as well as the option to make a return journey on the Flåmsbana and continue your journey to Bergen or Oslo via the Bergen Railway.
The time between arriving at Flåm and the embarkation of the Nærøyfjord cruise correlate in such a way that you can embark within the hour of arriving at Flåm. We arrived at Flåm from Oslo at 2pm, and departed on the Nærøyfjord round trip, having dropped our luggage at our hotel for the evening, at 3pm - but don't worry, there is more than plenty of room for bags on the modern electric vessels.
If you do decide to skip the cruise - which we highly recommend you don't do - you can book the bus separately from Flåm to Gudvangen, however this journey is predominately through the mountain tunnels and isn't very scenic. From Gudvangen onward bus travel to Vos can be arranged at https://www.skyss.no/.
Alistair is an avid traveller having been to over 40+ countries, covering four continents. He grew up on the Isle of Man but now calls London his home, having previously studied and worked in Manchester.
Currently in: London, United Kingdom — @0_7734