Naeroyfjord

How to do Norway in a Nutshell on Your Own

Julie Norway 56 Comments

Norway in a Nutshell is a scenic tour of Norway. Targeted towards travelers on whirlwind tours of Norway, this is a convenient way to see the “best of the best” of Norway in just one day.  If you only have a week in Norway and want to cruise the fjords and ride one of the world’s most scenic train rides then Norway in a Nutshell may be perfect for you.

What is Norway in a Nutshell?

Norway in a Nutshell is a packaged tour that combines a scenic ferry ride on two connected fjords (Naeroyfjord & Aurlandsfjord), a bus ride on the steep hairpin bends of Stalheimskleiva, an epic view of the Naeroydalen valley from the rear patio of the Stalheim Hotel, and a spectacular railway journey in the mountains. Visitors can start and end the tour in several of Norway’s most popular cities with all transportation included. For the traveler with only a limited amount of time in Norway, this tour can be very appealing.

The Naeroyfjord is one of the narrowest and most scenic fjords in Norway. With towering mountains, quaint coastal towns, and waterfalls, Naeroyfjord is definitely worth visiting. The Flåm Railway, also called Flåmsbana, has been described as the most beautiful train journey in the world (by Lonely Planet in 2014). It is a 20 km trip that connects Flåm and Myrdal and is one of the steepest routes in the world.

Norway in a Nutshell is a packaged tour that is operated by Fjord Norway. The tour can start in Oslo, Bergen, Voss or Flåm and end either where you started or at one of its other destinations. For example, in just one day, you can take a train from Bergen to Voss, a bus from Voss to the Stalheim Hotel to enjoy the stunning view of the Naeroydalen valley, a bus ride on one of Northern Europe’s steepest roads (Stalheimskleiva), a cruise on Naeroyfjord & Aurlandsfjord, take the Flåm Railway to Myrdal, and then take a train onward to Oslo. It’s a big day and it also has a big price (NOK 2310), but includes your transportation across a large part of Norway.

To read more about Norway in a Nutshell, visit their website.

Norway Timber Houses

How to do Norway in a Nutshell on your own

You can piece together your own Norway in a Nutshell tour. Tickets can be purchased separately for the fjord cruise and the Flåm Railway. You provide your own transportation (so you will need a rental car), doing the scenic drives on your own. If you do not have a rental car, you should book the official Norway in a Nutshell tour.

Norway in a Nutshell on your own (with optional places to visit).

The following assumes you are arriving from Bergen or locations south of Gudvangen/Flåm (follow in reverse order if arriving from locations north or east of Gudvangen/Flåm).

As you drive towards Gudvangen on E16 you first want to stop at the Stalheim Hotel. You don’t have to stay at the hotel to enjoy the spectacular view of Naeroydalen valley from its rear patio. Just walk straight through the lobby to the rear of the hotel and be ready to be amazed!

Stalheim

Next, you have two choices for driving to Gudvangen. The less adventurous and less scenic option (due to tunnels) is to get back on E16. The more adventurous and more scenic option is drive the Stalheimskleiva. It is one of the steepest roads in Europe, complete with hairpin turns and views of waterfalls. This is a one way road that travels in the direction from the Stalheim Hotel towards Gudvangen. If the view from the Stalheim Hotel didn’t get your heart pumping then driving the Stalheimskleiva certainly will!

Now that you’ve arrived Gudvangen, if you have time, take a quick look around and then move onward to Flåm (by car: 20 km, 20 minutes drive).

Gudvangen Norway

Once you are in Flåm, you can start the fjord cruise and then take the Flåm Railway. In Flåm, there is ample parking, a large gift shop, and food options available. 

Flam Norway

The cruise will take you from Flåm to Gudvangen, sailing down Aurlandsfjord and Naeroyfjord.  

This is a view of Naeroyfjord.

Naeroyfjord

Once in Gudvangen, you will board a bus to return to Flåm (make sure you purchase a roundtrip ticket so the cruise & bus are included). This takes about 2.5 hours for the entire round trip journey. For timetables and ticket reservations for the round trip fjord cruise and return bus journey, visit the Visit Flåm website. It is highly advisable to purchase these tickets in advance.

Once you arrive back to Flåm, take a round trip journey on the Flåm Railway: the round trip Flåmsbana journey to Myrdal and back to Flåm. This takes 2 hours for the entire round trip journey. For timetables and ticket reservations, click here. It is highly advisable to purchase these tickets in advance.

You’ve just completed your Do It Yourself, Norway in a Nutshell tour, covering all of the same elements provided by the packaged tour.

Tips for Booking your own Norway in a Nutshell Tickets

Book your cruise and railway tickets in advance, they do sell out!

If your desired time slots are sold out then:

  • Consider doing the Flåm Railway before the Cruise.
  • Consider starting the cruise from Gudvangen. With a roundtrip ticket you will cruise from Gudvangen to Flåm and then a bus will take you from Flåm to Gudvangen. You can then drive yourself back to Flåm for the Flåm Railway.

Bonus! Make Your Day Even Better with these Optional Excursions

From Flåm, drive up to the Stegastein viewpoint, a scenic lookout over Aurlandsfjord. It offers a spectacular view.

Stegastein

Stegastein View

If you are travelling north towards Laerdalsoyri then you have two options; you can take either the Snow Road or the Laerdal Tunnel.

Snow Road: From the Stegastein viewpoint you can continue on Bjorgavegen (Fv243), a national tourist road known as the Snow Road. This ride was gorgeous, even in our less than ideal rainy, overcast weather. This road is typically closed from mid-October through early June due to snowfall.

Borgavegen Road Norway

Driving Norway

Laerdal Tunnel: From the Stegastein viewpoint you can back track down to the Aurlandsfjord and take the highway E16. This will take you through the longest car tunnel in the world, a 24.5 km (15.2 mi) long tunnel.

Laerdalstunnelen

Can’t decide between the Snow Road and Laerdal Tunnel? There is a way you can do both. Instead of booking the cruise on both the Naeroyfjord and Aurlandsfjord, you can book a car ferry from Gudvangen to Kaupanger. From Kaupanger, you have to take another car ferry (which is quick), drive towards Laerdalsoyri, and then take the Snow Road to the Stegastein viewpoint. Proceed down to Flåm for the Flåm Railway. Then as you head back north towards Laerdalsoyri take the Laerdal Tunnel. This is what we did when we were in Norway.

This alternative itinerary means you will not cruise on the Aurlandsfjord, but you will still cruise on the Naeroyfjord (the more famous of the two fjords), and you will still overlook the Aurlandsfjord from the Stegastein viewpoint. But note that this alternative option adds a lot more time to your day and any delays (two car ferries and lots of driving) could cause you to miss your Flåm Railway reservation time.

If this alternative itinerary interests you then can book the car ferry here.

Summary

Enjoy the view of Naeroydalen valley from the rear patio of the Stalheim Hotel.

Drive the Stalheimskleiva, a winding, steep road with views of the Naeroydalen valley.

Cruise Naeroyfjord and Aurlandsfjord.

Take the round trip Flåmsbana to Myrdal and back to Flåm, one of the steepest and most beautiful railways in the world.

Drive to the Stegastein viewpoint for a spectacular view over Aurlandsfjord.

Drive onward towards Laerdalsoyri via the scenic Bjorgavegen (Snow Road) or via the Laerdal Tunnel (the longest car tunnel in the world).

Useful Links:

Visit Flåm website (for booking the cruise on Aurlandsfjord and Naeroyfjord).

The Flåmsbana Website (for prices, timetables, and booking your tickets in advance).

Norway in a Nutshell website (for tour options, prices, and tickets).


More Information for Your Trip to Norway:

Planning a trip to Norway? Read all of our articles in our Norway Travel Guide.

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Norway in a Nutshell on your own

Comments 56

  1. Guys, thanks a lot for the really helpful information. I have arranged our travel very easily, thanks to your recommendations. Can’t wait to be there!

  2. Thanks for the useful info! Just thinking, will it be safe to do this drive around 8 Nov? We’re considering to do the suggested drive from Bergen to Flam, have an overnight stay in Flam, then drive to Oslo. Understand that a train will be easier but we don’t want to miss the scenic drive! Will we be able to see nice scenery during this time too?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Alicia. I think it will depend on what the weather does in early November. The drive could be fine but I think that there could be a chance of snow. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and maybe you can alter your plans last minute if the weather does not cooperate. Cheers, Julie

    1. Post
      Author

      Yes, if you spend the night in Flam, the Stalheim Hotel, or Gudvangen, you could split the experience into two days. Flam would be the most convenient place to stay. Cheers, Julie

  3. so I am looking at booking NiN Bergen to Oslo in August 2019 as a do-it-myself trip- not with fjord tours. I will not have a car, but as I understand, I can book:
    train from Bergen to voss
    local bus ( buy the ticket on the bus?) from Voss to Gudvagen.
    ferry from Gudvagen to Flam
    Flam Railway to Myrdal
    train from Myrdal to Oslo ( with a n overnight stop in Gelio.
    Your posts all say to only do this if you have your own car. but it looks do-able with all public transportation. Can you please confirm that for me
    Sharon

    1. Post
      Author

      Yes, how you are doing it will work, since you have transportation to get you to Gudvangen and Oslo. What you are missing is the road to the Stalheim Hotel and that view. It’s not a big deal, but just something to be aware of. Enjoy Norway! Cheers, Julie

    2. Hi Sharon,
      I can say for sure you can do the NiN from Bergen to Oslo as a DIY as I did it myself in Sept 2015!
      The train tickets from Flam to Myrdal, and Myrdal to Oslo I was able to buy online, I couldn’t get the ticket from Bergen to Voss online but there are ticket machines in Bergen station. The buses from Voss were in the car park, I just bought on board. I did Myrdal to Oslo non-stop but I’m sure it’s lovely to take a stop en-route; all the views each step of the way were breathtaking. I did an even bigger ‘Nutshell’ and took a further train up to Trondheim then an overnight ferry back down to Bergen. Would love to go further north and see the Northern Lights though.
      Enjoy your trip!

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