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Norway in a Nutshell: A Fjord Day Trip from Bergen

28 May 2016

image from Norway in a Nutshell: A Fjord Day Trip from Bergen

The #1 thing on my bucket list when visiting Bergen was to do a fjord cruise. I did a lot of research on day trips available from Bergen before my trip and found that the Norway in a Nutshell tour was easily the most popular. At around £110 per person it’s a pretty expensive tour but all the reviews I read were very positive and photos from the tour looked incredible so I went ahead and made the booking.

The tour includes a fjord cruise passing through Aurlandsfjord and the UNESCO-protected Nærøyfjord, a bus ride that goes via the Stalheimskleiva (a 1.5 kilometre stretch of road with 14 hairpin bends), a ride on the scenic Flåm Railway plus train travel to and from Bergen. The tour is self-guided so there are no tour guides to accompany you along the way - the amount you pay for the tour just covers all your transport.

Tickets can be booked online or at the Tourist Information centre in Bergen. Since we were short on time I booked the tickets online before our trip and picked them up at Bergen train station the morning of the tour.

The first leg of the tour was a 1 hour train ride from Bergen to Voss, departing at 8:43am.

Tip: sitting on the left side of the carriage gives you the best views, in my opinion.

After arriving in Voss there were buses sitting outside the station ready to take us to Gudvangen for the fjord cruise. The buses all had signs to say they were for the Norway in a Nutshell tour so the transfer from train to bus was very easy.

The bus ride takes about an hour. During the summer months (May-September) the bus travels via the Stalheimskleiva hairpin bends.

I missed the photo op near the top so this was taken near the bottom, but you can still see the last couple of hairpin turns.

Once we got off the bus we had a little bit of time to wander around and take some photos before getting on the boat.

There is indoor and outdoor seating on the boat, as well as an indoor cafeteria. Most people raced to the outdoor seats at the top of the boat but we went straight for the seating in the cafeteria. This may seem like an odd choice but despite the blue skies it was still rather chilly outside! I’d come prepared with a warm jacket and beanie but I completely forgot to pack thermals to wear under my jeans so my legs were freezing. The cafeteria is at the front of the boat so it has a great view, although the windows were a bit dirty. Because we went straight there we got to pick out a good spot. About 30 minutes into the cruise everyone started coming in to the cafeteria to escape the cold.

I did venture outside a few times to take some photos but it was just a bit too cold to be sitting out there for two and a half hours.

Our cruise ended in Flåm where we had a little bit of time to explore before boarding the next train. Flåm is a very small village so there’s not a lot to do but there are some tourist shops, cafes, and a Coop supermarket which is good for stocking up on some snacks and drinks for the rest of the journey.

Next we boarded the train for the Flåm Railway journey to Myrdal which takes about an hour. Some of the windows on this train can be opened so I advise trying to get a seat near one of those for the best photos. The left side of the train seemed to have the best views.

This train also makes a 5 minute stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall so you can get out and take some photos.

We then changed trains for a final time at Myrdal and from there its about 2 hours back to Bergen. The train travels non-stop from Myrdal to Voss and from there takes the same route between Voss-Bergen as it did in the morning on the way out. Our arrival time back in Bergen was around 6pm.

Tour information

The Norway in a Nutshell tour is available as a day trip or as a tour with overnight stays en route. You can start the tour in Oslo, Bergen, Voss or Flam and it runs year-round. If you have the time I’d recommend adding an overnight stop. It’s quite exhausting doing so much travel in one day, we slept for most of the train ride back to Bergen.

I’d also recommend packing some food and drinks to take with you as the only opportunity to buy anything is on the boat where your choices there are fairly limited, or in Flåm but you don’t arrive there until after 2pm and you don’t really have enough time there for a proper meal. None of the trains sell food or drinks onboard.

It was a long day but I thoroughly enjoyed this tour! I was a little worried that it might be difficult for us to figure out where we needed to go without a tour guide but it was super simple, plus there are loads of other people doing the exact same tour so you can always just follow the crowd if you aren’t sure where to go.

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