Norway in A Nutshell

Posted on July 30, 2017 by

Frozen lakes, dark green pines, and white-and-red Scandinavian farmhouses flank both sides of the railway as we swoosh through the white snow on our modern-day polar express. We’re climbing higher and higher into the mountains and the slopes are plunging into the endless depth. As I peer down and look beneath the tracks, my head spins slightly. It’s easy to get vertigo at this lofty height aboard one of the world’s steepest railway lines. This is a look at Norway in a nutshell – a Viking kingdom chocked full of deep fjords, cute colorful towns and stunning mountainscapes.

norway in a nutshell

Norway in A Nutshell

One of the best ways to experience Norway is on the ‘Norway in A Nutshell’ trip. As its name implies, the trip gives a glimpse into the best that Norway can offer in just one day – perfect for those with short on time. Lauded as one of the best day-trips in Norway, the journey brought us through the most picturesque part of Norway traveling on train, bus, and boat. By the end of the day, we felt that we’d seen Norway from several perspectives.

Bergen Railway: from Oslo to Myrdal

We started our “Norway in the Nutshell” journey from the capital city of Oslo, where we hopped onto the famous Bergen Railway. Instead of taking the railway all the way to Bergen, we would be doing a detour at Myrdal. The 500 km railway line was voted one of the 20 best railway experiences in the world in 1999. Trains in Norway are excellent – they’re comfortable, punctual and even offer WiFi on board. No other train ride between two cities in Europe goes at higher altitude than the Bergen Railway. One of the most spectacular stretch was when it crossed over the Hardangervidda, Europe’s highest mountainous plateau.

Norway in a nutshell - Myrdal station
Norway in a nutshell - Views from the train
Norway in a nutshell

Flåm Railway: Myrdal to Flåm

The next part of this Norway in a nutshell journey was our favorite, as the Flåm Railway brought us through steep gorges and waterfalls to the village of Flåm. Aboard an old-style vintage train, we snaked through deep ravines and frozen waterfalls, clinging tightly to the steep mountain sides. It offered an experience like no other, whisking us through time, back to the days when engineers worked day and night to become pioneers in the industry. Indeed, this railway line is a masterpiece of Norwegian engineering and a must for any rail enthusiast.

Norway in a nutshell - The Flam Railway
Norway in a nutshell
Norway in a nutshell


Fjord cruise: Flåm to Gudvangen

At Flåm station, we then hopped onto the fjord cruise to explore the Aurlandsfjord, a 17-kilometer arm of the world’s second longest fjord, the Sognefjord. This is known as one of the most picturesque fjords in the world and is part of the World Heritage area. As we sailed off into the fjord, we could see the towering mountains closing in, leaving a narrow gap for us to sail through. These mountains reach heights of over 1,400 meters, flanking both sides of the fjord all the way to our destination Gudvangen.

Along the way, the boat made a few stops at the tiny villages of Aurland and Undredal where Nordic huts are stacked atop cobblestoned streets. We visited during winter so it was dark by the time we arrived at Gudvangen, thankfully we managed to take in the views before the sun set.

Norway in a nutshell
Norway in a nutshell

Scenic Bus: Gudvangen to Voss

Continuing on our journey to Voss, we boarded the bus from Fjord Tours that took us through the Stalheimskleiva. This 1-5 kilometer-long winding road weaves its way up the slopes of the mountains hrough 13 sharp hairpin bends from the end of the Nærøydalen valley to the top at Stalheim. The steepest gradient is almost 1 to 5 (20%) and we even though we couldn’t see where we were going, we felt the bends and curves. It was such a pity that daylight had already eluded us and we were missing the views that this road was famous for.

IMG_2303Flickr image by Ard van der Leuw

Back on Bergen Railway: Voss to Bergen

For the last part of my Norway in a nutshell trip, we hopped back onto the Bergen Railway for a short and simple train ride to the city of Bergen. By the time, we pulled in to Bergen, it was 9pm and it felt like we had crossed continents. It was definitely an unforgettable journey, a journey that definitely ranks high as one of our favorite in the world.

Arriving in Bergen



About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

24 Responses to “Norway in A Nutshell”

  1. Jeremy Branham March 27, 2013 9:34 am #

    Beautiful photos! I have a much greater appreciation for places in winter now. Love the scenery and snow!

  2. andiperullo March 27, 2013 10:03 am #

    Sure does look cold, but absolutely gorgeous!!!!!

  3. Lucille Hutton March 27, 2013 10:47 am #

    I've taken this journey and its spectacular. We stopped off at a lodge but I can't remember exactly where., perhaps Myrdal.

    • @WildJunket March 29, 2013 7:15 pm #

      Yes there are a few B&Bs in Myrdal that look gorgeous! The next time we do this trip we'll make sure to stop somewhere during the journey too.

  4. Ele March 27, 2013 10:54 am #

    I have bookmarked this post because this is exactly what I was researching to do, but in more gentle climate with greenery and sun. Thank you.

    • @WildJunket March 29, 2013 7:14 pm #

      Thanks Ele! Glad this post is useful to you. :) Norway in a Nutshell is definitely a daytrip that's worth your while. It'll be much better in summer because daylight's longer and you'll then get a chance to see the fjord clearly on the cruise and also the winding road during your bus ride.

  5. Cacinda Maloney March 27, 2013 10:55 am #

    I am taking almost this same route in August 2013, I wonder what it will look like during the summer? thanks for sharing.

    • @WildJunket March 29, 2013 7:13 pm #

      We've been to Norway in summer as well, and it looks completely different: emerald green pastures and bright blue lakes, a different kind of gorgeous! It still doesn't get that warm, so I'd recommend bringing a light jacket just in case. :)

  6. Neetuagarwal April 8, 2013 9:46 am #

    You can start or finish the Norway in a Nutshell round trip in Bergen – the doorway to the Norwegian fjords, with main sights such as The old Bryggen Wharf (on the UNESCO World heritage list), The Funicular to mount Floyen – offering a marvelous view of the city below, easily accessible from the centre of Bergen, The Bergen Fish market – located in the "heart" of the city, Tiny wooden houses and narrow streets – located at the hillside of Bergen and on the Nordnes peninsula, both short walks from the centre, The composer Edvard Grieg's home Troldhaugen – with the scenic garden & The Fantoft Stave Church

  7. Ann April 15, 2013 7:55 am #

    Does anyone know if the Nushell is safe for someone who has mobility issues (no wheelchair, but uses a cane and is at high risk for falls) to take at this time of year?

    • @WildJunket April 15, 2013 7:24 pm #

      hey Ann, when you say 'at this time of the year', are you referring to now – April 2013 – or do you mean winter when we visited? Either way, the Norway in a Nutshell journey is quite easy and doesn't require much walking or movement so I'd say that it's safe for people with mobility issues. Most trains have ramps that help facilitate movement and there are also plenty of conductors around to assist. For the fjord cruise, it's also easy to hop on and off. I'd only advise you to be careful if visiting in winter as there's plenty of snow and ice around and that may be an issue for someone at high risk of falling. Let us know if you have anymore questions!

  8. Ann April 16, 2013 5:15 am #

    Thanks, good info to have. We plan to travel next week. Should we expect much snow and ice now?

  9. James April 23, 2013 2:07 am #

    I like your article for its quality content you have. I personally enjoyed your post and would love to disseminate.

  10. NT@ Aurora in Norway April 23, 2013 9:38 am #

    Next time you'll go in Norway, don't miss to go up north over the Arctic Circle somewhere between September and March to see Northern Lights, you'll be amazed!

  11. Canyoning Wales April 25, 2013 3:53 am #

    It looks so cold. That image of the two houses surrounded by snow is great. It makes you wonder how people manage to survive in such conditions. It makes every day tasks into so much bigger ones

  12. Adra Gesza May 4, 2013 6:41 am #

    Amazing photos! I’m planning to go there this May. I heard this year Europe has extremely long winter. Guess I need to put extra layers of shirts. I was wondering is it possible if I want to hop off at Gudvangen and have 1 night then hop on again and continue the Norway in a nutshell tour? Also is it possible to do thebl tour carrying big luggage?

    • Nellie May 15, 2013 10:47 pm #

      I think it\’s possible to stop over at Gudvangen, but I\’m not sure. It\’s best to check with the folks from Fjord Tours. You can definitely do the trip with heavy luggage, that\’s what we did and most of the other travelers. Hope this helps!

  13. Littleton Xeriscape May 12, 2013 4:49 am #

    Those are fantastic photos! I really love to travel in Norway but I don't have the time to do it. It looks so cold. :)

    • Nellie May 15, 2013 10:30 pm #

      We used to hate the cold too, but somehow have overcome our fear after going to places like Arctic and Antarctica. Norway is one of the most beautiful places in Europe and we cannot recommend it enough.

  14. hyperbaric chamber jobs July 21, 2013 7:51 am #

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  15. Kassie December 1, 2015 3:35 am #

    Too amazing!! I plan to visit this route in winter too but wasnt too sure about the amount of scenery we can see becos of the short daylight hours. Can i find out which month did u visit? :)

    • Nellie Huang December 2, 2015 5:55 am #

      hey Kassie, thanks for dropping in! Norway is absolutely stunning in winter – as long as you dress well, the cold is really quite tolerable. :) The short daylight hours weren’t all that bad either – we got to see a lot even though the sun set around 4pm. We were there in December and even spent Christmas in Oslo. Hope you enjoy your trip! Let me know if you have any more questions, I’m happy to share some tips!


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