Norway in a Nutshell: What Is It, and Should You Do It?

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Even before my love affair with Norway officially began in 2015, I had heard of the famous “Norway in a Nutshell” tour. It's so named because it allows you to experience the best of Norway – waterfalls, mountains, fjords, and more – all in one journey, often in just one day.

The “original” Norway in a Nutshell route runs between the cities of Oslo and Bergen, so when I finally decided to visit Bergen for the first time in 2017, I knew I wanted to get there by taking this tour.

Village of Undredal on the Aurlandsfjord

You start in either Oslo or Bergen (I started in Oslo), and then cross the width of Norway on a series of trains, boats, and buses. Along the way you travel through Norway's UNESCO-recognized fjord and mountain scenery, and also take a trip on one of Europe’s top scenic railroads.

I'll be honest: Doing the Norway in a Nutshell tour in one day makes for a really long (12+ hours) day. But damn is it an epic day.

Views from the Flåm Railway

Norway in a Nutshell: What is it?

Here's a look at what Norway in a Nutshell actually is, as well as some tips for taking this journey yourself.

So, the first thing to know about the Norway in a Nutshell “tour” is that it isn't really a tour at all in the usual sense of the word. There's no guide with a little colored paddle to follow – you're more or less responsible for getting yourself from Point A to Point B.

When you book your tour (with Fjord Tours, who coordinate the original tour and make everything easy to book in one nice, neat package), you'll be sent a series of tickets that are good for the various forms of transport that you'll take on your journey. You'll also get a printed itinerary with departure times and other need-to-know information about each leg of your trip.

Norway in a Nutshell is essentially an independent tour, but without the stress of booking everything separately on your own.

Flam Railway in Norway

Norway in a Nutshell itinerary

If you book Fjord Norway's original Norway in a Nutshell tour, your itinerary will look something like this:

Leg 1: Train from Oslo to Myrdal

You'll head west from Norway's capital on what's known as the Bergen Railway (you can actually take the same train all the way to Bergen, but of course the point of Norway in a Nutshell is to see way more than you could from just the one train).

This leg of the trip takes about 4.5 hours, and the scenery really is best during the second half of the ride (meaning if you want to nap for the first half, you don't have to worry about missing much).

Bergen Railway in Myrdal
The landscape doesn't start to look like this until you get closer to Myrdal.

You'll get off the train in the little mountain town of Myrdal, and have maybe half an hour before getting on the next train. There's a decent cafe here, so if you want a coffee or snack, now is a good time to grab one.

Train station in Myrdal
People waiting in Myrdal for the next train.

Leg 2: Flåm Railway from Myrdal to Flåm

The next leg is on the famous Flåm Railway, a 20.2-kilometer-long branch of the Bergen Line. This train ride is often named one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, but make sure to keep your eyes open because it only lasts for about 45 minutes!

Views along the Flåm Railway

The ride goes through some spectacular scenery. Prepare for mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and tiny little villages. You'll also pass through 20 different tunnels as you make your way down 867 meters in elevation, so just be aware that you won't have views for the entire 45 minutes.

Views from the Flåm Railway

Views from the Flåm Railway

Tip: Both sides of the train have great views, so you really can't sit on the “wrong” side. I sat on the right side of the train, which is the side the waterfall will be on when traveling from Myrdal to Flåm. (You stop at the waterfall, though, and can get off the train for a few minutes, so again don't worry if you can't get a seat on that side.)

Waterfall spirit dancing at Kjosfossen
You'll stop at Kjosfossen to watch some waterfall maidens dance.

Just try to sit next to a window that can be opened so you don't have to take photos through glass.

Riding the Flåm Railway
Riding the historic Flåm Railway.

Leg 3: Fjord cruise on Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord

Once arriving in Flåm, you'll have half an hour or so to explore the little port town before embarking on a ferry for the next portion of the trip. This part – the cruise on Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord – was my absolute favorite part of the day. Even though I've cruised Norwegian fjords before, and even though it was a bit rainy, the scenery in this part of Norway was just INCREDIBLE.

Village of Undredal on the Aurlandsfjord
The village of Undredal on the Aurlandsfjord.

Nærøyfjorden (one of the narrowest fjords in Europe that also appears on UNESCO's World Heritage List) was especially beautiful with ridiculously tall and steep mountains.

Sailing on the Nærøyfjord in Norway
Sailing on the Nærøyfjord
Village of Bakka on the Nærøyfjord
The village of Bakka on the Nærøyfjord.

The cruise lasts about two hours, and there's indoor seating and a cafe serving snacks and hot drinks in case you hit some rain like I did.

Leg 4: Bus trip from Gudvangen to Voss

You'll disembark the ferry in Gudvangen, and then board a bus that will take you to the town of Voss. During the summer months (May-September), this bus ride will include a ride along Stalheimskleiva, one of Northern Europe's steepest roads with 13 hairpin turns.

Driving down Stalheimskleiva in Norway
Going around a turn on Stalheimskleiva.

If you want to be super impressed by a bus driver, you'll want to ride a bus down this road. It's SO steep, and those turns are SO tight. I didn't expect this part of the journey to be so thrilling, but it really was!

Leg 5: Train from Voss to Bergen

The last leg of your Norway in a Nutshell journey will be another train ride, this time from Voss to Bergen. You won't see any better scenery on this ride than you already have, so feel free to just sit back and relax for about an hour and 20 minutes.

Norway in a Nutshell FAQ

Still have questions about Norway in a Nutshell? I did, too. Here are some answers to the most common questions:

What time of year can I go?

The good news is that this is a year-round attraction! You can book Norway in a Nutshell in any season.

(And remember, there's no bad weather in Norway – only bad clothing!)

Ferry ride in Norway
Make sure to bring rain gear and a warm hat!

Can I do this in one day?

Like I mentioned above, you can do Norway in a Nutshell in one day if you do a one-way trip (like Oslo to Bergen or vice versa). It's a long day – I started at 8:25 a.m. and didn't arrive in Bergen until a little after 9 p.m. – but definitely doable. I used this tour as my way to travel from Oslo to Bergen.

You can also do round-trip tours (popular from Bergen), or customize one to spend more time in some of the cities along the way.

Where should I stay overnight?

If you want to extend your Norway in a Nutshell trip, you totally can. Popular places to spend a night include Myrdal (popular with hikers), Flåm, and Voss. If you stay overnight in Flåm, you can also add on activities like a fjord safari, kayaking, or even snowshoeing during the winter months.

Check out Flåm hotels here, or Myrdal hotels here.

Passing by Flåm Church

You can also overnight in Bergen or Oslo if you're doing a round-trip journey; both cities have tons of things to do.

In Oslo, I recommend the Thon Hotel Terminus, which is close to the central train station. In Bergen, the Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor, or the Grand Hotel Terminus is right at the Bergen train station.

RELATED: A First-Time Visitor’s Guide to Bergen, Norway

What about luggage?

If you do this trip one-way like I did, you may be wondering what the heck you'll do with your luggage. Thankfully, you can do Norway in a Nutshell with luggage in tow pretty easily – you're just responsible for it yourself.

Getting off the train in Myrdal
People taking luggage off the train in Myrdal.

On the Bergen Railway trains, you'll find luggage racks at the end of every car (and also shelves above your seat for smaller bags). On the Flåm Railway, porters will load your luggage into a separate car if you want – just look out for the luggage gathering area in Myrdal. And there are of course designated places for luggage on both the bus and boat, too.

If you're doing a round-trip itinerary, I would suggest just bringing a small overnight bag with you and leaving your main luggage at your hotel in either Bergen or Oslo if possible.

How much is it?

A round-trip from Bergen (which includes everything except the train ride to Oslo) is actually the best deal when it comes to Norway in a Nutshell. That round-trip journeys start at 1440 NOK ($180 USD).

A one-way trip like I did from Oslo to Bergen starts at 1890 NOK (roughly $240 USD).

Sailing on the Nærøyfjord in Norway

Is it worth it?

This is the biggest question people ask about Norway in a Nutshell. Since it's not technically a tour, and since you could totally book every single leg of this journey independently, you don't *have* to book the whole package if you don't want to. Booking thing separately might even save you a bit of money.

But, if I've learned anything from my years of travel, it's that sometimes it's worth paying a little extra for convenience (and in this case the convenience is booking everything in just a few clicks on Fjord Tours‘ website).

I definitely think Norway in a Nutshell is worth it, even if you only have one day to spend on it like I did.

What do you think? Would you want to do the Norway in the Nutshell tour?


Norway in a Nutshell tour itinerary and review


*Note: Thanks to Visit Norway and Fjord Tours for hosting me and organizing this part of my trip. As always, though, all opinions are 100% my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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87 Comments on “Norway in a Nutshell: What Is It, and Should You Do It?

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  1. Hello this sounds so fun. If we want to do the Norway in a nutshell but not all in one day, are you saying we can stop and spend the night along the way and then continue on to Bergen the next day? Then come back the same way we came? Would you suggest stopping one place on the way there and then a different place on our way back? We are trying to find a good 5 night November itinerary
    Thank you!

      Yes, you can customize the Norway in a Nutshell trip to include overnight stops in any combination that you want! I would recommend and overnight in Flam on your way to Bergen, and then in the other direction I think Voss might be the only option for an overnight. If you go to the Fjord Tours site (which sells Norway in a Nutshell as a packaged trip), you can play around with itineraries based on your travel dates.

        Thank you so much!!! Your blog is so great and extremely thorough and helpful!! I will try the two night stop option. Also appreciate your hotel recommendations!!

    We did Norway in a Nutshell the first week of September 2022. We decided to spend 2 nights in Flam to kayak in the fjord. The day that we did the kayaking, there were no cruise boats in Port. We were lucky! A little cold on the boat ride through the fjords but other than that we had great weather. Loved Bergin. We followed this great trip with four nights in Iceland.

    I read your blog and found it very informative. We will be in Bergan mid-August of 2023. Is it still rainy period of the year versus a bit drier during this month? How about average temperatures in August. There should be a lot of daylight still, correct. However, we may want to get accommodations in one of the villages. Thanks for the recommendations in Bergan that you gave. I hope someone can give me advise on what village to stay overnight and a good accommodation. (I have not read all the replies to your blog. I have looked at the tour site to book. Very nicely done as well.

      Hey Kathryn! I don’t work for the company and am not from Norway, so any weather questions I’d recommend you take straight to Google! Yes, you’ll still have lots of daylight in August. And it can rain anytime in Norway, especially in the fjords – so pack a raincoat regardless! If you are specifically wanting to do the Norway in a Nutshell trip and want to stay overnight, Flam is your option since that’s a natural stopping point. If you’re talking about staying in a village elsewhere in Norway, I can’t really help you with that I’m afraid!

    I’ve been wanting to do this every since you first posted about it, and now I’ve booked it for next year! Going to stay in Flam overnight. I’m so excited!

      Hi Sarah, Now that it is 2022, did you get a chance to do the tour? I am wanting to do this tour in September. I would appreciate hearing from you about your experience.

    I have to say that your site is the most comprehensive, interesting and down to earth blog I have ever seen. I love it! What a pity I don’t find it sooner. Us old ladies have to have a friend who is a travel agent to do it all for us. I will recommend it to all my friends who are thinking of travel. Thank you so much. I am going to stay twice as long in Norway to see everything you wrote about. Regards, Carol

      Aww thanks so much, Carol! I just want to help people travel more and more easily!


    We, composed of 5 couples, are scheduled to arrive in Oslo on 30 jul 2020 via DFDS from Copenhagen and,
    to spend one day and night in Oslo. And then, we wanna make good use of your program beginning 1st of August up until about 2 pm on 2 August and gonna leave Bergen late afternoon by air for Stockholm. Would you please give us your good itinerary
    and cost to be incurred and also be informed of payment method? Your early reply would be highly appreciated.

    Yours faithfully,

      Sorry, but this site is a travel blog (just writing about travel experiences). I don’t sell these tours, nor can I book them for you. Visit the Fjord Tours site to book!

    I’m curious what time of year you did this tour? We are going to Norway in late November/early December (right after Thanksgiving). I think the days will be short and I’m wondering if it’s worth taking the tour if a good portion of the travel will be in darkness?

      I did this trip in summer, so had a nice long day to enjoy. If you’re doing it in winter, I would probably suggest breaking it up over 2 days so you can enjoy everything in daylight!

    We did the Norway in a Nutshell in a day trip from Oslo to Bergen. For about $50 they picked up our baggage from our rented apartment in Oslo and delivered it to our hotel in Bergen. So we didn’t have anything to carry with us. As we are seniors that was worth the extra money.
    Rainy and misty for most of the trip even so all 5 of us enjoyed it. Love to do it in good weather!

    Thanks Amanda for all the details which I read in March. So I decided that was the way to make short visit to this country. I flew into Bergen in July, stayed 2 nights with plenty of sightseeing and eating salmon in the fish market. Then took the train to Voss and the fabulous mountain travel by bus to Gudvangen where I stayed 2 nights. I decided not to join the Vikings in their village and instead the next morning I took the electric powered ferry to Flam. I stood outside and admired the amazing fjord views. 2 night stay in this delightful village. Then the itinerary changed. As a train had a problem in a tunnel so instead of travelling to Myrdal, there were 2 buses to take passengers to Gol railway station via beautiful green mountains and villages. There we waited about an hour for the train to Oslo. The station was open for seating and toilets. Most people sat and ate food they had brought with them. Some campers lit their little stove to cook a late lunch. Oslo is a very interesting city but I could only spend 3 days there before flying elsewhere. What a beautiful country is Norway.

    I am trying to book a one day Norway in a Nutshell tour starting in Bergen for 2 people on Monday June 3, 2019. Please tell me how to do it. I am not having any luck on your website. thank you

      Sorry, this is a travel blog and I don’t have any affiliation with Fjord Norway, nor do I sell tours. You’ll need to contact them directly with any booking questions.

        I’m going to Norway in Sept. is that a good month to do Norway in a nutshell?

          Honestly any time of year is a great time to do this! You can run into rain any month in Norway, but September is one of my favorite times of year to travel in this part of the world.

    We plan on going in April for a week or so,can I still make reservations once I m there? And how do you get the the tickets once you make the reservations? We would like to the one day from Bergan to Oslo and back.if we decided to do an over night where do you suggest to to stay over.We heard Oslo can be super busy at night and pricey

      Hi Marvin. I’m not sure what the procedure is if you decide to book once you’re there. If you book in advance, they can mail you all your tickets or documentation, or arrange for you to pick up the packet elsewhere. Your best bet would be to contact Fjord Tours directly. I don’t work for them, so I can’t really answer any booking questions.

      Most people choose to overnight in Flam if they want to break up the trip into two days.

      As for Oslo, I don’t think it should be too busy in April. But all of Norway is pricey, so yes, you’ll need to be prepared for that!

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