Bergen is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, it’s picture perfect. If you’ve never heard of Bergen, it’s because Norway is underrepresented as one of the world’s most beautiful countries (at least in comparison to other places in Europe, like Italy and Switzerland).
Known as the ‘gateway to fjords’, Bergen is situated on the ocean between two of Norway’s most beautiful fjords- Hardangerfjord and Sognefjord.
To experience the fjords, you can book a morning or afternoon cruise (~2-3 hours) through the tourism centre or do a longer day trip, like Norway in a Nutshell.
Before our trip, we’d been on the fence about Norway in a Nutshell- it’s expensive, and with such limited time in Bergen, we weren’t sure we wanted to commit an entire day. However, after spending one afternoon in Bergen and mapping out the remainder of our time, we realised we actually had more free time to explore than we’d initially thought, and with the weather forecast being so great, decided to splurge.
Was it worth it?
Yes and no.
Yes, because we hadn’t planned anything before our trip and wanted to make the most out of our time in Norway- seeing as much of the country as possible.
No, because in addition to being expensive, it’s also the kind of tour you could re-create yourself. The benefit to Norway in a Nutshell (NIN) is that your tickets are pre-purchased so you don’t have to worry about any of the logistics. That means there isn’t a guide to tell you more about the countryside or towns. Instead, when you purchase the tour, you’re given a guide with details for each stop.
All said, am I glad we did it? Absolutely.
Visiting Norway in the off-season would have made coordinating some of the tickets harder if we tried to do it on our own (limited operating schedules), and tour companies like NIN usually get first dibs on spots for trains/boats/buses. We would have had to plan a lookalike NIN tour weeks in advance. So, for us, NIN was the perfect solution to seeing more of Norway since we decided the day before the tour we wanted to do it.
However, if visiting Bergen again, I’d do things slightly differently.
To start, I’d probably consider doing NIN from Bergen to Oslo or the other way around- yes, it’s a full day, but also a great way to get across Norway. On our tour, a few people broke off at the last stop to continue on to Oslo. They had suitcases and backpacks with them- the nature of the tour means it’s pretty easy to carry luggage from stop to stop.
And, if I really wanted to save on cost, I’d likely try to plan my own NIN tour- but I’d secure the tickets for places well in advance.
If you’re not the kind of person that likes to deal with a bunch of logistics or just wants to relax on your holiday, here’s what I thought of each NIN stop.
Places You’ll Visit on Norway in a Nutshell
Begin in Bergen
If you start the day in Bergen, as I did, your train leaves early from central station. The station is easy to get to and equipped with a cafe/quick service stop so you can pick up snacks before you leave. Would recommend doing so- there are a few other points you can purchase food, but we came prepped with sandwiches and cheese/crackers, and it was nice to have it handy whenever we wanted a quick bite.
Train to Voss
The tour begins with a train ride to Voss. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the looming mountains above us were, or the adjacent lakes with homes that seemed to be carved into the hillside. Little did I know how stunning the tour would be later in the day.
Bus to Gudvangen
At the end of winter, this drive was beautiful. We drove through scenic mountains, tunnels that seemed to stretch forever, and in 30 short minutes arrived at the mouth of the fjord.
Here, we had an hour to grab something to eat, walk around the outside area or relax before our boat arrived.
Cruise through Nærøyfjord
Here, you’ll hop on a ferry and then cruise through the magnificent fjords on your way to Flåm. Nærøyfjord is a UNESCO protected long and narrow fjord, one of Norway’s most scenic. You’ll pass towering mountains, small finishing villages and waterfalls and farms that date back to the Viking era. Albeit cold, I loved standing on the edge of the boat and looking out at the peaceful mountains- the scenery is insanely gorgeous.
Train from Flåm to Myrdal
You can’t get to Myrdal by driving, so train or cycling is the only way.
To get to the last stop on the trip, you’ll climb abroad the Flåm Railway, the steepest railway in the world. Known for its incline, but also for being one of the world’s most beautiful train rides, you’ll be awestruck by nature on your short journey.
Back to Bergen
Once you reach Myrdal, you’ll board a train back to Bergen, which takes a little over two hours. The first part of the journey will be new, descending from Myrdal to Voss. Think: mountain valleys and snow capped mountains. Then, once you hit Voss, it’ll be the same journey from the morning, but no less beautiful.
We arrived back in Bergen early evening, perfect timing to have dinner and relax.
Have you ever been to Bergen or Oslo and done the Norway in a Nutshell tour?