I am writing this post after a comment on my Norway travel guide requesting it, and it’s one I’ve been thinking of doing for a while. Many of you come across the Norway in a Nutshell tour when researching your trip to Norway. It is a great tour that takes you through the beautiful fjords, and removes some of the hassle when booking the trip yourself. But, you also have to pay to avoid this hassle, and more and more of you are wondering if it is possible to do Norway in a Nutshell on your own.
This makes sense, as we are less inclined to travel on so-called “package tours” these days, and most people want to book their own tours and travel individually. This way, they get to put together a trip that is perfect for their interests and priorities. The Norway in a Nutshell tour is great, especially if you are looking for an easy way to see the fjords, without having to spend time figuring out the different schedules and tickets yourself. The tour consists of transportation offered by several companies, and by booking it as one big trip, you avoid having to book it through all these different companies.
However, in this post I want to show you just how easy it is to do Norway in a Nutshell on your own, and where you can book all the different legs of the tour! Consider this post the starting point for your Norway in a Nutshell itinerary.
Another great way to save a lot of $$$ when booking your trip through Norway is to check out my Norway itineraries here. I created them after getting so many questions about the best routes and schedules to follow, and decided to upload them all and make them available starting at only $2.99. You can use them as a guideline for your trip, or follow them religiously. Either way, you’ll have a great trip to Norway! Check out all my itineraries here (I’m always adding more).
If you are flying into Bergen, don’t miss this overview of how to get to the city centre.
About the Norway in a Nutshell Tour
First things first. What even is the Norway in a Nutshell tour? You may have heard of it when starting to research for your trip, and you may also have come across the FjordTours website (who offer the tour). However, it may also have left you slightly confused (personally, I find it to be rather unclear).
Put simply, Norway in a Nutshell is the name of a package trip taking you through Norway. They also have variations of it, such as the Sognefjord in a Nutshell tour. The package consists of bus, train and boat tickets, accompanied by a schedule that you have to follow. Each ticket is for a specified departure, and you should not consider it to be an open ticket. You have no idea how many frustrated travellers I have met in Flåm because they thought they had a ticket for any departure, and in the end weren’t able to travel on the (completely full) boat.
The package trip starts from both major cities in Norway, and it is possible to do Norway in a Nutshell from Oslo and from Bergen. You can also choose whether you want to end up back in the city where you started, or whether you want to finish the tour in the other city.
Read next: how to get from Oslo to Flåm, Norway
I am sure you found this post because you are curious about the Norway in a Nutshell itinerary, and you want to figure out how to go about booking and doing the tour on your own. So let’s dive in!
Side note: If you are spending a night in Flåm or Aurland during your Norway in a Nutshell trip, don’t miss these fun and sustainable experiences in the area!
Before your trip, don’t miss my eBook “Flåm and the Fjords: travel guide to Aurland, Flåm and the Aurlandsfjord area”!
How to do Norway in a Nutshell on your own
Doing Norway in a Nutshell on your own is completely doable, and not at all harder than going with the actual tour. The package you buy when buying the Norway in a Nutshell tour is literally just a collection of tickets, whilst the journey itself is exactly the same. Once you have all your tickets sorted, you won’t tell the difference.
In this post, I have broken it down a bit below so you can find specifics depending on whether you are doing Norway in a Nutshell from Oslo or from Bergen. Both are great, and literally the same version of the trip (just the opposite of each other). Here, I will break down all the modes of transportation used for each leg of the tour, and below I have gotten into more specifics on the route for each version of it. I hope this makes sense, but feel free to leave any questions in the comments.
As mentioned above, the trip consists of boat, bus and train tickets, and take you through the Sognefjord in Western Norway (where I grew up!). Regardless of which city you are leaving from, you will start your tour travelling by train to Myrdal. Myrdal is a mountain station, just an hour train ride from Flåm, and the connection between the Oslo-Bergen railway (Bergensbana) and the famous Flåm Railway. From there you will travel with the Flåm Railway from Myrdal to Flåm.
Once your train tickets are booked and sorted, the first leg of your trip is ready. The beautiful Flåm Railway will take you down the Flåm valley, through spectacular views, and leave you in the village of Flåm.
Top tip: I often get asked what side of the Flåm Railway has the best views. Naturally, both are beautiful, but when travelling from Myrdal to Flåm, I always advise those who ask to sit on the left side of the train.
From Flåm you will continue on by boat to Gudvangen. In the high season, there are several departures a day, and the boat takes you through the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Nærøyfjord on the way. This is one of the many reasons people visit Flåm and the area, and it is one of two fjords in Norway on the UNESCO list (the Geirangerfjord being the other).
The departures are operated by both classic car ferries, that have been running on the fjords for years and years, in addition to the new hybrid and fully electric vessels Future of the Fjords and Vision of the Fjords. These are custom-made to make the most of the views, and all though these departures are slightly more expensive, I strongly recommend them!
From Gudvangen, you will continue on by bus to Voss. The journey takes about 1 hour, and there are two bus companies operating on the route; Nettbuss (soon to be merged with Vy, the train company) and Tide. Please note, that for this leg of the journey, some buses are chartered to pick up Norway in a Nutshell travellers. If you have booked your tickets yourself, you are technically not a Norway in a Nutshell traveller, and this bus is not for you.
A side note on this: you have no idea how many travellers book their own Norway in a Nutshell tour, yet do not understand that they ARE NOT Norway in a Nutshell travellers when they do it this way. Norway in a Nutshell (NIN) is a package, and ONLY when you have bought this package can you count yourself as a NIN-traveller. This is usually not very important, but if there is an unforeseen circumstance where the boat cannot run (for example), it is important to understand that you need to approach the boat company as an individual traveller, and not a Norway in a Nutshell traveller. It happens all the time that individual travellers say that they are “doing Norway in a Nutshell”, and end up missing out on important information because they did not understand the difference. Some times, there are separate arrangements made for NIN-travellers, and if you think these arrangements are made for you too, you will sadly be left on the docks because you do not actually have a NIN-ticket. Rant over. For other tips like this one, check out how (not) to be a tourist in Norway.
From Voss, doing Norway in a Nutshell on your own gets super easy again. Simply continue on by train, to either Bergen or Oslo (the link to book the train is the same as above). This is the same train line that took you to Myrdal (the Bergensbana, that goes between Oslo and Bergen).
Below I will break down the routes a little more specifically, but so far, this is everything you need to do the tour yourself!
Norway in a Nutshell: Oslo to Bergen
If you have some time to spend in Oslo before heading off on your fjord adventure, don’t miss my guide to the best things to do in the city!
If you are looking to do Norway in a Nutshell from Oslo, and end in Bergen, it’s a pretty straight forward journey. Start by booking your train from Oslo to Flåm. This should depart Oslo in the morning, and there is usually a departure from Oslo S (the main station) at around 08:00 (this may change).
This trip will take you on the Oslo-Bergen railway to Myrdal, and have you connect there for the Flåm Railway down to Flåm. This is actually one of my hacks for scoring Flåm Railway tickets.
Once you are in Flåm, you will travel by boat (fjord crusie) from Flåm to Gudvangen (tickets are, as mentioned, booked on the Visit Flåm websites). This takes you through the breathtaking Nærøyfjord, so do pay attention.
If you want, you can stay overnight in Flåm. Here is a list of all the hotels in Flåm, to make picking your accommodation a little easier.
Once you make it to Gudvangen (whether you stay a night in Flåm or not), you’ll continue on by buss. You can choose if you want to go by bus to Voss and continue with the train, or just take the bus all the way to Bergen. Personally, I always travel this route by bus, because the Express buses are so comfortable.
And there you have it! Of course, by doing Norway in a Nutshell on your own you have a lot more freedom in the schedule you travel with, and can pick and choose your departures as you please.
If you want the exact plug-and-play schedule, head this way to check out my more detailed itineraries (available for immediate download for just $1.99).
Norway in a Nutshell: Bergen to Oslo
Side note: if you only have a short time in Bergen before your fjord adventure, don’t miss these Bergen tours that I recommend!
If you are starting Norway in a Nutshell in Bergen, I do recommend spending a few days in the city before taking off. It is such a beautiful place, with lots of great things to do.
There are two ways to do the Norway in a Nutshell tour from Bergen. The first is to follow a similar route as the Oslo version, only departing from Bergen (duh). If you do this version, you’ll travel by train from Bergen to Flåm, do the fjord cruise to Gudvangen, and then head either back to Bergen, or to Oslo, from Voss.
But, since I have explained this version above, here’s the other (better) way to do Norway in a Nutshell, Bergen edition.
Starting from Bergen, you’ll travel by bus to Gudvangen. Book this in advance to save some money using the link further up in this article. This takes about 2 hours.
From Gudvangen, you’ll continue on by boat to Flåm, through the Nærøyfjord and the Aurlandsfjord (you’ll actually sail past where I grew up!).
Once in Flåm, you’ll continue with the Flåm Railway up to Myrdal, and change trains there. From Myrdal, you’ll travel directly to Oslo with the train.
Super easy! I also have detailed itineraries for this route here, which you can simply download and copy (or use as inspiration).
How much does Norway in a Nutshell cost, and how much can you save?
I felt like I had to include a quick section on this, because a lot of people ask me if they can actually save any money by DIY-ing the Norway in a Nutshell tour, and how much it actually costs. The answer is; you can save a bit, so I strongly recommend doing it on your own.
Just remember what I wrote earlier in the post that you are NOT considered a Norway in a Nutshell-traveller if you have booked all your tickets individually.
To answer the question quickly, the tickets for Norway in a Nutshell cost from 1350 NOK (or so they say on their website). However, this price is actually only for those travelling from Flåm to Flåm (meaning, going by boat from Flåm to Gudvangen, bus from Gudvangen to Voss, and then by train back to Flåm). So it is a rather misleading price to advertise (as it is a lot more expensive to travel between Oslo and Bergen).
So, I have done some research to show you some examples, and illustrate what Norway in a Nutshell actually costs.
If I were to book the Norway in a Nutshell tour on a day in July 2019, it would cost me 2310 NOK for the transportation only. In addition, I would need to book accommodation in Gudvangen, because of the way the route is planned. The accommodation offered by FjordTours in Gudvangen costs 1490 NOK, bringing the total up to 3800 NOK (approximately 435 USD).
However, if I book all my transportation separately, according to this guide, the cost breakdown would be the following:
- Train Oslo-Flåm (including the Flåm Railway); 1234 NOK
- Fjord cruise from Flåm to Gudvangen; 495 NOK
- Bus from Gudvangen to Bergen; 319 NOK
- TOTAL = 2048 NOK (around 235 USD)
- Difference/money saved from booking on your own: 1752 NOK
As you can see, you can save around $200 by booking the Norway in a Nutshell trip on your own.
Of course, I am not bashing the NIN-tour here, and in some circumstances (if you are travelling with children, for example) it may be a lot easier and more comfortable to book all your tickets as one tour. But, if you want to travel Norway on a budget, this is definitely a great place to start.
Another great place to start (in my humble opinion), is by simply purchasing one of my Norway Itineraries! They are super affordable at only $1.99, and are all put together personally by myself. The reason I am not making them available for free is simply that they all took A LOT more work than I had imagined. I appreciate your support <3
Well, there you have it. Whether you are doing Norway in a Nutshell from Oslo or from Bergen, you should have what you need to book it all on your own now! If you enjoyed this post, please let me know in the comments. I love hearing from you!
Also, please pin this post for anyone else to get value from it!
Read this next: A step-by-step guide to planning your perfect trip to Norway!