We arrived at Bergen railway station to collect our Norway In A Nutshell tickets at 8.10am on Saturday morning. This was our first view of Bergen (and in fact, Norway) under daylight…not that there was much of it. The skies were cloudy and overcast. The day was looking cold and gloomy, but we were prepared for this and had brought along our thick winter jackets. Having heard that Bergen rains on average, more than 230 days per year, I was just super glad it wasn’t raining!
The tour I had booked myself in for was the famous one day Norway In A Nutshell tour. My main reason for visiting Bergen was to view the beautiful fjords for which Norway is so famous for. As it turned out, contrary to what I was expecting, the tour wasn’t a guided tour in small groups. Quite the opposite – what we had effectively paid for was a set of train, bus and ferry tickets that would take us on a round trip from and back to Bergen with a view of the fjords and other parts of Norway’s spectacular mountainous landscapes along the way.
Train from Bergen to Voss
This one hour journey provided a taster as to what I could expect to see for the remainder of the day. The Bergen railway passed by lakes, fjords and numerous small houses and cabins by the waterfront. The trained stopped at a few small stations along the way although there wasn’t much activity as almost everyone on the train was headed to Voss. I was so completely in awe with the views that I tried desperately (in vain) to capture the beauty on my camera, but all I got were blurry, unfocussed photos.
The one hour ride flew by and we arrived at Voss in what seemed like a really short time. Due to the larger than expected number of people there for the tour, we had to wait a while for a bus to pick us up and take us to our next stop, so we spent a bit of time walking around the area near the Voss railway station. There wasn’t too much to see, although we subsequently heard from a local that Voss is actually a really beautiful town, popular with the locals in winter for its ski resorts. It sounded as if Voss might warrant a future, more in-depth visit!
Bus from Voss to Gudvangen
The one hour bus ride took us further inland along some quiet countryside roads. Up and down the hills we went, although sadly, I was on the wrong side of the bus and didn’t quite get to see some of the beautiful views of the lakes and mountains. No matter though, because upon our arrival at Gudvangen, we were met by views of ridiculously clear fjord waters with the mountains and its perfect reflection on the water.
If this was the start of the ferry ride from Gudvangen to Flåm, we were definitely going to be in for some spectacular views.
Ferry from Gudvangen to Flåm
After about 40 minutes of taking a gazillion photos of the water and mountains (I just couldn’t get enough of how clear the water was!), the ferry sailed into view and the tourists filed into line and started boarding. There was a bit of a scramble as everyone tried to reserve seating spots on the deck where they thought they would get the best view, so I headed to the upper deck and stood, trying to huddle in deeper into my coat whilst waiting for the ferry to start moving.
As expected, it got even colder once we were on our way, but the views made the whole experience worth freezing for! The only downside was the vast number of tourists on board which meant that you were continuously bumping into others no matter which side of the boat you stood on, as everyone jostled to stand on the best spots to take their best photos. As the entire ferry ride took approximately two hours however, the cold would soon wear down all but the most hardiest of the tourists, and the deck for most of the latter part of the ride was empty, as everyone settled into the sheltered part of the ferry for warm seats, food and hot drinks.
We passed by a few cute and remote small towns by the water, although what was most striking was the magnificent and impressive scenery of the Aurlandsfjord – undulating hills and cliff sides creating a perfect reflection in the water, disrupted only by the motor of our ferry sailing along.
Train from Flåm to Myrdal
Following our cold ferry ride, it was nice to dock and take comfort in the relative warmth of the Flåm Railway Museum whilst waiting to catch our next connection.
The Flåm Railway is an extremely picturesque train journey which goes between Flåm and Myrdal, passing through panoramic views of wild Norwegian mountainous landscapes. We travelled across various levels of the mountainside as we made our way towards Myrdal, crossing ravines, rivers, cascading waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. This railway journey apparently provides the steepest climb on normal railway tracks – not that I noticed it, as I hopped continuously from one side of the train to the other, trying to capture all of the views there was on offer.
Reaching the Myrdal railway station felt like we had gone to the ends of the earth. It seemed to be a pretty remote town, with not much going on outside of the railway tracks and station. The area is however, popular with nature and outdoor sports lovers, providing long trails for running, hiking and cycling across and down the mountains.
As we had about 2 hours to kill before our final train connection back to Bergen, I set off on a mini hike to explore some of the more immediate surroundings. There were a few colourful houses around, but not a local in sight. It was too cold for me to hang around outside for too long, but I enjoyed as much of the serenity and feeling of remoteness as much as I could, before heading back to the warmth of the railway station (and relative noisiness and bustle of the other tourists). Coming from London city life, it felt rather nice to be in the cold wilderness, even if only for a short while.
Train from Myrdal to Bergen
I was quite tired and cold by this point and more than ready for my 2 hour train ride back to Bergen. The train was warm, comfortable and had a cafe on board which I used to see me through to dinner time.
A long day all in all, but one that was completely worth it for all the beautiful sights seen!
Additional information on the Norway in a Nutshell tour
- As mentioned, this is an unguided tour. If you are leaving from Bergen, arrive at the railway station in good time to pick up your tickets for the day and catch the half past 8 train.
- This tour is possible to do on your own by renting a car instead of taking the bus, although my guess is it would cost you a fair bit more considering how expensive everything in Norway is.
- Sit on the left side of the train from Bergen to Voss to get your first views of the Bergen fjords
- Get a spot on the upper deck of the ferry to get a better view of the fjords
- The museum in Flam is well worth a visit and will increase your appreciation for the train and the train ride from Flåm
- Try to nab a seat on the right hand side of the train from Flåm to get a better view of the valley
- Due to the infrequency of trains, you’re probably going to have to wait a while to catch your train back to Bergen from Myrdal. Bring something to entertain yourself while waiting because they is not much else to do in Myrdal station!
- It is possible to do this tour in the opposite direction. Just make you try to catch the ferry at the right time to see the majestic fjords in the best possible light (depending on the season / weather of course!)