Looking for the best way to experience Norway in a Nutshell? Discover how to make the most of the Norway in a Nutshell Bergen to Oslo tour with our guide.
Travel in Norway is absolutely unforgettable. There is a reason that Norway has become such a hot travel destination, and it’s not just about the big cities of Bergen and Oslo. Beyond being home to some of the most beautiful coastal cruises in the world, Norway tourism has realized that the route from Bergen to Oslo was becoming a popular one for travelers looking to explore Norway on a budget. So they packaged this combination of train, ferry, and bus trips into a loose package called Norway in a Nutshell, and a legendary Norway travel experience was born! And although you can do this tour in any direction, the most popular route is the Norway in a Nutshell Bergen to Oslo Tour.
We ended up in Bergen at the end of our Hurtigruten coastal cruise (which is another ingenious modification of public transit turned Norway tourist attraction). Unfortunately, our Norway itinerary only allowed for two days in Norway’s second-largest city. So, we jammed in as much of the attractions in Bergen as possible before starting our Norway in a Nutshell tour from Bergen to Oslo. We stayed close to the train station in Bergen so we were able to get as much sleep as possible before our early start on the epic journey from Bergen to Voss to Flam to Oslo.
The Norway In a Nutshell travel experience combines public transit routes including buses, trains, and a Norwegian fjord ferry to connect visitors through one of the most picturesque tours of Norway. Sounds confusing? It’s not as difficult as it seems. Here’s how the Norway in a Nutshell tour works.
What Is Norway In a Nutshell Anyway?
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Bergen and Oslo are the two largest cities in Norway. But what lies between these two contrasting cities is some of the world’s most spectacular natural beauty. There are many options to get between Bergen and Oslo. Nestled between the two are towering snow-capped mountains, epic Norwegian fjords and countless places to stop and admire the view. Norway in a Nutshell was put together as a way to package public transit from Bergen to Oslo (or vice-versa) into a viable Norway tour. And it worked.
Are The Norway In a Nutshell Tours Guided?
Norway in a Nutshell tours are not guided. Because they run on standard transit routes there are no tour guides to explain the sites along the way. There were points where there were announcements regarding key points, but they were very informal.
When Does The Norway In A Nutshell Tour Run?
Norway In a Nutshell runs year-round. There are slight variations between the summer and winter experiences. The only days that the Norway in a Nutshell does not run are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.
Norway in a Nutshell Summer Tour
The Norway In a Nutshell Summer tour from Bergen begins at the Bergen Terminal where the Bergen-Oslo train chugs out of the station towards Voss. Along the way, it winds along the mountainside offering views of the fjords below. From Voss those on the Norway in a Nushell summer tour take a winding journey down towards Gudvangen passing flowing waterfalls. The drop is wickedly steep and drops into the fjord valleys below.
From Gudvangen, the Summer Norway in a Nutshell experience continues on just like the winter tour, although the views are drastically different due to the lush greenery and the flowing waterfalls.
Norway in a Nutshell Winter Tour
The Norway in a Nutshell Winter Tour runs from October 1 – April 30. The Bergen to Oslo winter tour begins with the Bergen railway to Voss. This is followed by a bus route through small villages to the town of Gudvangen. From Gudvangen there is a ferry fjord cruise through the UNESCO World Heritage protected Naeroyfjord and epic Aurlandsfjord.
The Norwegian fjord cruise arrives in the quiet town of Flam at the tip of Aurlandsfjord. From Flam, visitors on the Norway in a Nutshell tour board the historic Flam Railway for a ride through the towering mountain ranges. The train from Flam arrives in the ultra-sleepy town of Myrdal where visitors disembark and board the Bergen train to Oslo for one-way trips or back to Bergen for those on a Bergen day trip.
Although much of the Norway in a Nutshell tour is on transit, you’ll want to pack for the cold weather. The temperatures can vary in southern Norway but expect temperatures that are below the freezing level.
How Do You Book A Norway In A Nutshell Tour?
Norway In a Nutshell is a year-round connection of public transit between Bergen to Oslo (or vice versa). The Norway tour combines bus, train, and ferry tours through some of the most scenic landscape that Norway has on display. Tickets can be purchased at the Bergen Railway Central Station (or Oslo S if starting in Oslo). But for those that want to secure your ticket in advance, it is also possible to purchase your tickets online here.
The online system allows you to book accommodations, activities and purchase both the Bergen Card and the Oslo Pass all in one site. This convenience, however, means tickets are slightly more expensive when using the online system. Once you have paid for your package, your tickets and vouchers can be sent to you by mail or you can choose to pick them up at the train station.
Check Out Our One-Day in Bergen Video
If you’re looking to spend some time in Bergen before the Norway in a Nutshell experience, check out our short visit to Bergen right here:
Our Winter Norway In a Nutshell Experience from Bergen To Oslo
Our Norway In a Nutshell Tour from Bergen To Oslo began early in the morning. So, the night before our journey, we stayed at the iconic Bergen hotel, the Grand Hotel Terminus. We chose it because it’s right across from the train station. But, it is also one of the oldest and most classic hotels in Bergen. Our proximity to the train station meant that we could enjoy our included breakfast before making our way across the street to the Bergen railway terminal.
Chaos In a Nutshell At The Bergen Train Terminal
When we arrived, we realized that there was already a detour on our Norway in a Nutshell tour. The Bergen train terminal was under renovations. So instead of hopping on the Bergen Railway to Voss, we would be going on a bus directly to Voss. Now, this route was still beautiful, but I would take a train over a bus any day! And the boarding at Bergen terminal was a MADHOUSE. There were countless buses loading up for the Norway in a Nutshell Bergen tour. Some were in front of the station, some were behind, some were shuffling back and forth like they didn’t know where to go. It was chaotic.
Christina and I grabbed the boys and made a bee-line to the nearest bus we could find that seemed to have room … it didn’t. But there were no other options to fit 4 people, so Christina and the boys managed to get some chairs and I made myself comfortable in the bus’ backdoor stairway. There is no doubt that the simplicity of loading all these bodies onto a single Bergen Railway train would have been much easier. But at least we got to explore a bit of the grandest train station in Norway.
Bergen To Voss To Gudvangen
We enjoyed the bus trip from Bergen to Voss on the Norway in a Nutshell tour. The route was quiet and scenic. We rolled along the edges of fjords and through small towns and got a good glimpse of rural Norway. It was a great contrast to the fishing villages that we encountered on our Norway coastal cruise.
We stopped abruptly in Voss at 9:50 and were told to disembark to change buses for the route from Voss to Gudvangen. We had 20 minutes in Voss before the Gudvangen departure. This put us back on track for standard Norway in a Nutshell packages. This is where it really dawned on me that this was a truly public transportation route through Norway. It also became clear that a Norway in a Nutshell DIY tour would be possible for those who had the means to rent a car or book each transportation leg individually.
When it came time to pull out of Voss to Gudvangen, we didn’t make the same mistake as before. We insisted onboarding our bus early to make sure that we could all have a seat on this leg of the journey. The bus lumbered down along the towering mountains to the town of Gudvangen at the mouth of Naeroyfjord.
The bus dropped us off at a large cafe and gift shop in Gudvangen. The Gudvangen visitor center is located right at the mouth of a river where it meets Naeroyfjord. There is a small bridge and some replica Viking buildings on display near the river. And at the mouth of the fjord is a large replica Viking rowboat that makes for a pretty awesome photo stop.
The cafe inside has some pretty decent looking lunch options. And the gift shop is loaded with both good quality and cheap knock-off Norway trinkets. The wait in Gudvangen is about an hour. So, it’s a perfect place to eat lunch and use the bathroom.
The boys LOVED exploring around Gudvangen while we waited for the ferry. The weather was really cold, luckily we had packed well for the temperatures. The views of the fjord from Gudvangen were amazing. It was pretty clear right from here why Naeroyfjord is such a special place for Norwegians. And we couldn’t wait to see more.
After about an hour in Gudvangen we heard the telltale horn of the Flam ferry making its way down Naeroyfjord. Our next stop on the Norway in a Nutshell Bergen to Oslo tour was about to begin. We sat by the water and watched as the ferry broke through the thin layer of ice at the mouth of the fjord before pivoting and docking just behind the visitor center.
Naeroyfjord And Aurlandsfjord
The third leg of our Norway in a Nutshell Bergen to Oslo tour was the 2-hour classic ferry through Naeroyfjord and Aurlandsfjord to the small town of Flam. When we first boarded, we were desperate to eat some of our lunch that had been packed, but then saw signs in the boat cafe saying that no outside food or drink was allowed. Soon though, we saw many people with homemade lunches eating away, so it seems like it’s a rule that isn’t strictly enforced.
After we filled our belly on sandwiches, we took to the upper deck to take in the majestic scenery of Naeroyfjord. The views were simply jaw-dropping. Cliffs and mountains rose thousands of feet on either side of us, dropping down to meet the shimmering smooth water of the Norwegian fjord.
The views were made even more magical by the light sheen of ice that cracked as our Bergen fjord tour made its way through the ultra-narrow passage. It’s no surprise that Naeroyfjord is the crown jewel of the Norway In a Nutshell experience. From the tiny mountainside fishing villages to the cascading waterfalls, the Norway fjord cruise was an awe-inspiring experience.
Even the boys would stop to gaze at the sites. That is when they weren’t running around the top deck playing tag to burn off energy from the long bus ride to Gudvangen. They stopped playing as we made our way from Naeroyfjord into Aurlandsfjord. The transition through the rocks of the mountain is incredible, and possibly the most picture-perfect spot on the fjord cruise.
Our fjord cruise brought us down Aurlandsfjord to the small town of Flam. And this quaint little village nestled among the mountains completely blew away our expectations. Flam was our halfway point on our Norway in a Nutshell Bergen to Oslo tour. We deboarded the ferry and started checking out the town.
In front of the Flam visitors center was a massive floating globe that the boys couldn’t get enough of. In true travel family-style, they climbed up and started naming off the continents as they drifted by. Flam is a tiny town, so everything is within walking distance. We were staying at the historic Fretheim Hotel, which is a stunning building with fjord views and I highly recommend it.
After checking in, we explored the town, picked up some HUGE cookies from the Flam bakery near the visitor center. The shop in the visitor center is a wonderful spot to get some Norway souvenirs. We scored an amazing deal on the most adorable Norwegian winter hats.
Flam is one of the most popular spots to stop and explore on the Norway in a Nutshell Bergen tour. There is a short stay for those who don’t opt to overnight in Flam. There is about an hour to explore the town before the Flam Railway leaves for Myrdal. But if you can spare a day or two, it’s even better. It’s worth stopping and spending the night here. There are incredible hiking trails near the town to explore. And nearby to Flam are some dramatic overlooks.
We dined at the Fretheim that evening. The meals at the hotel were excellent, easily comparing to the best meals we had in the Norway Coastal Kitchen aboard the Hurtigruten. After dinner, the boys ran through the Fretheim Hotel searching for ghosts that they believed were hiding in the many hallways of this classic place.
Flam To Myrdal
We woke on our morning in Flam and packed our bags and headed towards our next Norway in a Nutshell leg to Myrdal. Our train was at 11:50. The Norway train system is notoriously punctual, so we wanted to make sure that we weren’t late. As the Flam rail train made its way out of the village and into the mountains, it was clear that this leg of the journey would be more dramatic than the bus ride from Bergen to Voss.
The Flam Railway is one of the most popular attractions in Norway. It runs along Aurlandsfjord. The route rises 867 meters up through the mountains to the town of Myrdal. Along the way, we passed through narrow canyons. Some of them seemed like we could reach out the window of the Flam train to touch the towering cliffs.
The Flam railway train made two stops along the way to take in waterfalls and gorges. And of course, it wouldn’t be Norway unless we caught sight of some of the magical trolls that live in the Norwegian mountains between Bergen and Oslo.
After a little over 45-minutes, the Flam Railway stopped in Myrdal for us to switch trains to the Norway in a Nutshell Bergen train to Oslo. Myrdal station has bathroom facilities and tables for eating. There are also restaurants in the station, however, the Myrdal station cafe was closed when we arrived. Luckily we had some remaining food leftover from the day before.
Those who are doing the Bergen to Bergen Norway in a Nutshell tour continue East to Bergen while those heading to Oslo take the train West. After eating, we explored what little we could in the 2 hours that we had until the Bergen train to Oslo arrived. While there isn’t much to do during the wait here, this small town in the middle of the Norwegian mountains is simply gorgeous. The views alone are worth braving the cold mountain air for.
Myrdal To Oslo
From Myrdal to Oslo, the train journey is about 5-hours. The scenery of the Norway in a Nutshell tour changes dramatically on this leg of the journey. The mountains flattened out and we crossed miles of flat, snow-covered plains.
The Bergen train to Oslo was filled with locals decked in their trademark cross-country skiing attire. The Norway in a Nutshell train from Myrdal to Oslo stopped at several cross-country ski resorts where locals disembarked for Norway’s national pastime.
Arriving in Oslo From Bergen
Our Norway in a Nutshell train arrived in Oslo after dark. We were luckily already familiar with the Oslo terminal from our short stopover when we arrived in Norway initially. This is where we made a terrible mistake. We had booked our hotel at the Radisson Blu in Oslo. We walked to the Radisson Blu Plaza near the Oslo Terminal. Well, that was a mistake since we had apparently booked the Radisson Blu Scandinavia further into town. These kinds of mistakes are expensive since the taxis in Norway are very expensive! You can read more about our time in Oslo here.
Options to Keep in Mind for the Best Norway In a Nutshell Experience in Winter
- Add in some Norway in a Nutshell winter excursions such as dog sledding, snowshoeing, or a winter fjord safari.
- During the summer, there are two Norwegian fjord tour options on tour. The Classic fjord ferry is a diesel boat which has an upper deck and a cafeteria. By comparison, the Premium boat is a hybrid electric-diesel. It has a series of connected pathways surrounding the boat for viewing the fjords. In the Winter, only the Classic fjord ferry option is available.
- There are a few options for food on the Norway in a Nutshell tour. The Bergen train has a cafe car. There is a small restaurant in the Gudvangen visitor center. The Norway in a Nutshell fjord cruise classic tour has a cafeteria. There is a bakery and several restaurants in Flam. The Flam railway does not have a food option, and the cafe in Myrdal may not be open when you arrive. Myrdal does have some vending machines. The Bergen rail from Myrdal to Oslo has a food cart on board.
- Certain legs of the Norway in a Nutshell Bergen to Oslo tour require reservations. Usually, this is the only national train between Myrdal and Oslo. It can get quite busy with local commuters, especially on weekends and holidays.
Enjoying Norway In a Nutshell With Kids
Experiencing Norway in a Nutshell with kids is a great way to explore the best of Norway. Kids and trains seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly, so combining a train a boat journey is a treat for adults and children alike. The Norwegian fjord tour as well is spectacular, and even kids in Norway will be awestruck by the views.
Even when compared to all of the Hurtigruten excursions that we took in, the Norway in a Nutshell winter tour was one of our boys’ favorite things to do in Norway.
Tips For a Winter Norway In a Nutshell Tour
The Norway In a Nutshell tour is an amazing way to experince the dramatic natural scenery of Norway. But there are a few things that you need to know before you book you Norway in a Nutshell experience.
- Norway In a Nutshell during winter is a popular option due to the lack of crowds.
- Although it’s possible to do the Norway in a Nutshell tour in a day, I highly recommend booking at least one or more hotel stops along the way to make the most of your Norway tour.
- Bring warm clothes. The Norway in a Nutshell Bergen to Oslo tour can be cold, especially on the fjords. Dress warm and stay happy. You can read our Norway in Winter Packing List here.
- The Norway In a Nutshell tour is not guided. Although the bus and train routes occasionally have announcements when popular attractions are passing by, there are no tour guides to tell you when to look. I recommend bringing along the Rick Steves’ Scandinavia book to help you catch the best sites along the way.
Can You Do The Norway In a Nutshell Tour On Your Own?
It is entirely possible to do a Norway In a Nutshell DIY tour. In fact, along our route, we ran into several different travelers (and family travelers especially) who were joining us on certain legs of the tour. To do Norway in a Nutshell on your own you need to either have access to a car in order to drive the various legs that would otherwise involve the train or bus, or book individual tickets for the various legs of the journey.
Certain parts of the Norway in a Nutshell tour require reservations (see our tips section). No matter what time of year you are looking to do the Norway tour, make sure you get those reservations ahead of time to avoid disappointment or frustration.
I hope you got some value out of our Norway In a Nutshell guide. If you have, drop us a comment below and let us know about your travel plans or your past experiences. You can also drop by our Facebook page and share a photo of your travels with us. We’d love to share in your journey as well!
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