7 Norway in a Nutshell
An excellent full-day trip from Bergen by train, bus and ferry.
The term "Norway in a Nutshell" refers to a number of tours using part, or all of Bergensbanen - the railway between Oslo and Bergen. What all have in common is the use of a ferry between Gudvangen and Flåm connecting with Bergensbanen at Voss via bus and at Myrdal via Flåmsbana, the incredible mountain railway.

These notes are based on our experience of two trips in May and reflect the route we took. Our reasons for that route are explained later.

Bergen to Voss - train
Local train from Bergen. About one minute after departure is a long tunnel which emerges by Sørfjorden. A run along the side of the fjord is followed by a climb past Dale (where the sweaters come from) to Voss.

Voss to Gudvangen - bus
The bus leaves from outside the station (try to get a front seat) and runs through pleasant scenery to Gudvangen. The bus shuns the tunnel of the new road and takes the old road up to Stalheim where it stops at the Turisthotell for pictures down to Nærøydalen and the new road. The journey continues down Stalheimskleivane to the new road by a steep, narrow road with incredible hairpin bends. (NOTE we believe the Stalheim section is omitted in winter). After this the rest of the bus ride to Gudvangen seems tame!

Gudvangen to Flåm - ferry
Be sure to get the right ferry. The first part of this leg is down Nærøyfjord, then into Aurlandsfjord. These are parts of the upper reaches of the long Sognefjord. Apart from a few farms there is little settlement until you reach the head of Aurlandsfjord and, eventually Flåm. There is a useful commentary on the journey.

Flåm is very small with little more than the railway station, two touristy shops and a general store. When we have been there it has been very quiet. However in summer cruise liners call and then it probably heaves!

We have heard that when it is busy the ferry can get full, so it may be advisable to ensure you get on board in good time if there is a crowd.

Flåm to Myrdal - train
This stretch is on the amazing Flåmsbana which climbs 2,800 feet in twelve miles. It is difficult to know which is more breathtaking - the scenery or the engineering. At one point the track makes a complete spiral totally inside the mountain. A stop at Kjosfossen lets you admire the waterfall - impressive when the snow is melting. Having left summer conditions in Flåm on both trips we arrived at Myrdal in winter.

Myrdal to Bergen - train
Return to Bergen by express from Oslo. Good views across the plateau, then descending through valleys to Voss and so back toBergen.

Planning
Check the weather forecast first - it would be pretty miserable in wet weather. The trip operates all year and is by scheduled services which vary according to the time of the year. Book in advance if possible - some rail services need seat reservations.

Which way round?
We chose to go 'clockwise' for a number of reasons. Going down the hairpins is probably more exciting than going up them - certainly the views from the front of the bus were marvellous. When we went in May the whole trip took two hours less than going the other way round so we got a full evening in Bergen. Finishing the journey in a guaranteed seat on the express from Myrdal was a more comfortable end to a tiring day than a local train would have been from Voss.

Depending on timetables some of these points may not apply when you make the trip, but they raise some issues worth thinking about.

More information and pictures
See external links Page L2 for relevant websites. Pictures we took on Norway in a Nutshell are here.

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Updated 29 July 04