When I read on forums and at Q&A sites, I get the impression that a lot of people want to ‘see it all’ in a few days. Unfortunately this isn’t possible, you wouldn’t even see it all in one year — it’s a vast country. However, you can see a lot in a day or two.
If you would like to do a cruise on Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord (both of which are on the UNESCO list), drive through the hairpin turns of Stalheimskleiva and take the iconic Flåm Railway — this trip is for you.
We did this trip last summer, as part of a bigger round-trip around southern and western Norway. I’ll do a little review of the trip here — along with some information on the sights, and the logistics of booking the trip.
Booking the trip
The trip is flexible — you can pretty much tailor it as you like before you book.
It runs every day all-year round, as it’s based on public transport. However, Stalheimskleiva is only drive-able in the summer half of the year (a lot of the mountain roads in Norway are closed in the winter).
You can start from Oslo, Bergen, Voss or Flåm, and you are free to spend as much time as you want at each place.Through the booking engine on Fjord Norway’s website, it’s easy to book accommodation and different side-trips.
Once you’ve booked, you will receive emails with booking confirmations, reference numbers and basically everything you need. The tickets for the trains and the transport are picked up from any train station prior to departure.
The trip you are booking isn’t a tourist trip, it’s more a shortcut to booking it through each individual operator. It is not a guided tour — it’s all independent travel.
Can you do Norway in a Nutshell on your own?
All the tickets can be booked individually too — but then you’d have to book the train tickets through one company, the fjord cruise through another and the bus ride through someone else. It is doable, but can be rather time consuming trying to make up time tables, destinations, and so on.
Prior to our trip, I actually did the calculations to see how much booking individual tickets would save us, and it wasn’t much — if anything. So, yes, you can book individual tickets … But why would you?
Further, booking your own tickets wouldn’t make it any less ‘touristy’. I see that a lot of travelers are asking how they can book their own tickets to get the ‘real experience’, but they’ll end up on the same trains and boats as the rest of us. Essentially, you are doing the trip on your own, either if you book Norway in a Nutshell as a package, or buy individual tickets.
What will you see
The Bergen–Oslo railway
The train ride from Oslo to Myrdal will take about five hours. It will take you over Hardangervidda National Park, one of the most beautiful landscapes in southern Norway.
Crowned ‘The most beautiful train ride in the world’.
The Nærøyfjord, and the Aurlandsfjord
You will see both these fjords from the fjord cruise from Flåm. The Nærøyfjord is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Buss trip on Stalheimskleiva on the way back to Voss
Stalheimskleiva is the steepest road in Northern Europe. It’s one of those places I would think twice about driving a regular car … and then you are driving down there with a massive bus, while the bus driver tells you about how this used to be a two-lane road…
Let’s just say it is an experience you don’t want to miss. We did this part at the end of the day, and even being tired out from a full day of activities and sights, this got my blood running at the turns.
We were driving our own car, so we decided to drive from Bergen to Voss, spend the night there and do the trip from there. Voss is a great place to spend a day or two, or more. It has beautiful nature, the ‘small town feeling’, lakes, snow caped mountains and traditional Norwegian food. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you to try Smalahåve, which is basically smoked and boiled sheep’s head; a traditional meal from the area.
Picking up the tickets at the Voss train station wasn’t a problem. We were told to be there half an hour in advance, so we were 45 minutes early. It wasn’t necessary to be this early, I got dragged into it.
Getting the tickets took 2–3 minutes, so we spent some time in the sun, taking pictures with a giant troll sculpture, and people watching once more and more groups of tourists arrived.
We took the Bergen–Oslo railway to Myrdal, and from there we took the Flam Railway to Flam. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Myrdal, just walked around for a bit, snapping some pictures before jumping on the Flam train to get some good seats. The train cars look old, but they are actually quite new with audio guides in several languages (make sure you get s seat in a car that isn’t guiding you in Chinese, unless that’s your language of choice).
Oh, get a window seat, and don’t let anyone else take it once you’ve gotten it. The picture below was taken from the train while it was moving!
On the way to Myrdal, there will be a short stop next to the Kjosfossen waterfall. It’s a great place for photos. They played Norwegian music, and there was a dance performance in the waterfalls. It seemed kind of odd to me, but it was a highlight for others.
In Flam we decided to stay a bit longer — which isn’t a problem as the tickets were flexible. Flam is a laid-back fjord town, it’s the perfect spot to just sit down and do nothing, walk around, talk to people and enjoy the nice summer day.
Even with all the tourists, and two large cruise ships in the port (we were traveling in the peak season), it still felt like a quiet small town.
The tickets for the fjord cruise are based on ‘first come first serve’. When you pick up your tickets, at the train station, you will receive a flyer with the different times. We lined up a few minutes before departure, and getting a seat at the ship wasn’t a problem at all.
When you get on-board the boat, try to get one of the best seats on the top in the front. Other than that, just enjoy the ride, it’s beautiful.
Featured photo from- www.sognefjord.no