Naeroyfjord

How to do Norway in a Nutshell on Your Own

Julie Norway 41 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 2250), 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, doing the scenic drives on your own.

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). 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. 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.

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).

This post was updated April 2018.


Continue the Journey:

 

Norway in a Nutshell on your own

Comments 41

  1. Hello!
    Two friends and I will be traveling to Norway in July 2019. We want to do NIN on our own, and will be spending one night at the Stalheim Hotel. I understand how to get all of the bus/train/ ferry tickets on our own, but I can’t figure out if we will be able to catch the bus that does The Stalheimskleiva from the Stalheim Hotel, or wil we just be able to catch the regional bus from there missing Stalheimskleiva. Your help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Post
      Author

      I’m not sure either (and I don’t want to give you the wrong info). I recommend contacting the Stalheim Hotel…they should be able to tell you how to do it. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi Julie,

    your story is a great source for us. We (group of 4) plan to do our own NiN, but our concern is winter condition. Our own NiN will start on 25 Dec 2018. Do you have any information about the road condition around that time?

    Thanks!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Nita. I don’t know much about the road conditions in December. Snow is a possibility and suppose there is a chance that the Stalheimskleiva could be closed. And of course, the snow road could be closed as well. If you are booking a hotel in the area they could give you a much better idea of what to expect. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi. I and my wife ´ll go to bergen in October.
    So we wanna go to Flam by train, stay overnight and after we ´ll go to Oslo.
    We would like to pick up the train from Flam – Myrdal – Oslo. I know that I buy the ticket on NSB, but the part of this path from Flam to Myrdal is the Flamsbana? Are the same stunning views and is the same train? Or I have to buy the ticket on site visitflam.com (Flam-Myrdal) and after I have to buy other ticket on NSB (Myrdal – Oslo)? We prefer to do ourselves path to path than Norway in a nutshell tour, because It´s more cheaper.
    Thank you.

    1. Post
      Author

      I would only recommend doing the Norway in a Nutshell tour on your own if you have a rental car. You cannot take a train direct from Bergen to Flam. You will need to take the train to Voss and then take the bus to Gudvangen and then take the ferry on the Naeroyfjord to Flam. Or, you can take the train Bergen to Myrdal and ride the Flamsbana to Flam. If you want to cruise the Naeroyfjord, you will have to work out your transportation to get back to Flam from Gudvangen. And then you would ride the Flamsbana again to get to Myrdal. The train from Flam to Myrdal is a different train than the train from Myrdal to Oslo, so yes you will have to purchase these tickets separately. It’s complicated, isn’t it? If you don’t have your own transportation, like a rental car, the official Norway in a Nutshell is much more convenient and the way to go if you do not have a rental car and want to see everything the tour includes. Cheers, Julie

      1. Thanks for your fast answer, Julie. I don´t think complicated. I have already whole route in my mind. It was only a doubt. Because on site NBS train there is an option the path Flam-Oslo (stops 7 minutes in Myrdal) with the same price if I buy it separately. Did you understand my doubt? On site NBS shows that in the path Flam -Myrdal (Is this train Flamsbana? It´s my doubt) stops to change the train and after the trip goes on to Myrdal – Oslo (another train).
        Others steps (Bergen – Voss – Gudvangen…) I´ll buy separately too, except the step Voss – Gudvangen by bus that I can only buy onboard.
        thank you.

        Leandro.

        1. Post
          Author

          Yes, the train from Flam to Myrdal is the Flamsbana…the very scenic train ride. So you will take the Flamsbana from Flam to Myrdal and then the “regular” train from Myrdal to Oslo. Sounds like you have it all worked out. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

          1. Yes, I did. Finally, for this way, Can I buy the path Flam- Oslo on site NBS (stops 7 min in Myrdal like shows the site), can´t I?
            Thank you for your attention.

            Leandro.

          2. Post
            Author

            Seems like a small amount of time, and not having done it before, I can’t really tell you one way or the other if it’s OK. If the NBS site is letting you book it, it is probably OK, but you do run some risk of the Flam train running late. This is probably a better question for the NBS.

  4. Hello,

    I know you guys are in Norway now and doing rock climbing.!! I am following you all your travel and wish I could do like you guys are doing it.

    I am following your itinerary for first 4 days. (3 nights in stavangar and 1 night in Bergen)

    I am planning to do NIN by my own.

    I have couple of question

    1) Do you think it makes sense to ride ferry from Bergen to Flam and comeback
    * take boat again to Gudvangen
    *bus to Voss from Gudvangen
    *train to bergen from Voss.

    1. Post
      Author

      Our do-it-yourself tour assumes that you have your own car. I’d simply do the tour in the order we laid out and then drive back to Bergen when you are finished. From Bergen, you drive to Gudvangen and start to the tour and after the Flam Railway drive back to Bergen from Flam. So you will not need a bus or train. If you do not have your own transportation, I recommend booking the official Norway in a Nutshell tour. I hope you enjoy Norway as much as we do!! It’s amazing. The rock climbing was a blast. We have about 3 days left here and it will be sad to say goodbye. Already we are talking about another return visit to Norway. Cheers, Julie

      1. Thanks Julie for your reply. I really appreciate that you reply.

        Currently I don’t have my own car but I am thinking about it and visit Norway like you guys did.

        I can see from the pictures that you guys had lot of fun doing rock climbing.

        Enjoy your remaining 2 days now and I am also planning my 2nd visit before going there.!! (just by reading Earthtrekkers.com).

        1. Hello Julie,
          I decided to rent a car from Stavanger to Oslo for 7 days.

          Please let me know which car rental company did you rent car?

          Which car ?

          How much it cost to you?(approximately )

          Thanks

          1. Post
            Author

            We did this 5 years ago, so costs are going to be different now. Tim prices out several rental car companies (Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Sixt) and chooses the cheapest for the trip. This can change month by month. Currently, we are using Avis. Check out our post about driving in Europe for more info. Cheers!

        2. Post
          Author
  5. Hey Guys! Great Post on how to do Norway in a nutshell! Your website is such an inspiration and your family is so cute! The more my fiancé and I just can’t get enough of your travel blogs!

    Just wanted to fire off some questions we have as we’re planning a trip to Norway this coming July:

    1) We’re on a bit of a budget and we will be flying in from Hong Kong to Stockholm, but we want to make a visit to Norway or Iceland with around 9 days, do you have any recommended places of travel or tips on budgeting while there?

    2) Your photos are amazing! What kind of camera are you using?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello! Start booking your accommodations NOW. July is peak season so the budget places will book up fast. By booking early, you can usually get the better budget accommodations reserved. Restaurants and alcohol tends to be expensive in Norway. Consider bringing snack food with you, avoid eating out at restaurants, and make picnic lunch and dinners by grocery shopping. In our opinion, Norway is a great hiking destination, which is great, because hiking is free! Trolltunga is a great hike and not too far from Flam. With 9 days, I would pick Norway or Iceland. We have not been to Iceland yet, but we absolutely love Norway (in fact, we love it so much we are going back this summer). We have a 10 day Norway itinerary that may give you ideas for your trip. All of our Norway photos were taken with the Canon 5D Mark iii. It’s an awesome camera but a beast to lug around, but I love it. It’s worth it for these photos. Have a great time! Cheers, Julie

  6. Hello, first time to visit Norway. We will be arriving June 4, departing June 11th. Considering renting a car and driving Oslo to Bergen and back. Thinking we would make the Nutshell in 2 nights but, really confused as the best way to do this. I don’t want to miss out on any must see’s and waste time going in circles, so to speak. What is your recommendation for this trip? I may even consider 3 nights and shorten the stay in Oslo by a night. Probably a better idea!? Thanks in advance from a very confused traveler ?.

    1. Post
      Author

      You could book the Norway in a Nutshell Tour and use this as your transportation to get from Oslo to Bergen. Then, you could rent a car in Bergen and do a road trip through the fjords, driving back to Oslo or ending in Stavanger and fly back to Oslo. Oslo, Bergen, and Norway in a Nutshell are great, but we also recommend Geirangerfjord and Stavanger. Have you seen our 10-day Norway Itinerary? You could use our itinerary for ideas of what to see and do. If you are not a big hiker, you can skip the bigger hikes. Take a look at our itinerary and see what you think. Don’t hesitate to contact us again if you have more questions. Cheers, Julie

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