The Last Leg of a Norway in a Nutshell Tour
Want to explore more of Norway beyond the capital Oslo? Hop aboard a customizable Norway in a Nutshell tour. It’s a brilliant curated way to get up close and personal with UNESCO-protected fjords, mountains, and world heritage towns. This post is third in a series that begins at Oslo Central Station aboard a train that winds through vistas to Fjord Norway and adorable little Flåm. From there you can embark on an electric cruise ending at the dramatic cliffs of the Nærøyfjord. Read here to explore Norway from Gudvangen to Voss and on. Ending in the brilliant seaside town of Bergen. Have you been?
Find more about the first bits of the journey in the posts below. The benefit of building your own tour is that you can add or delete stops and experiences as you go. Mountain biking, hiking or kayaking interest your crew? You can pause at any point to add on activities. This was our route. May it inspire you with what to do.
From Gudvangen to Voss by Bus
Starting here, let’s leave the gorgeous Nærøyfjord and disembark the tour vessel at tiny Gudvangen. Shrouded in rain, (oh you thought I was going to take you somewhere sunny? Just wait…the weather could turn). Scurry past the gift shop full of tchotchkes, trolls, Viking horned caps, Norsk flags and fur-trimmed hats. Let the other tourists nab their souvenirs – you’ll have time at the end of your route. Right now – there is a bus to catch. When we visited, there was no one ushering us along. This isn’t that kind of cruise. You have to locate that bus ride yourself. Ensure with the driver that you are on the correct ride that will carry you on to Voss. Ja takk, you’ll find it too.
Lucky for us, our bus was not chock full and we are able to float seats on both sides, hedging bets as to the best views. As it turns out, either side will supply you with epic scenery. And what are we seeing you might ask? Coming up on this route? More waterfalls! But big ones. And so close! The bus takes a small detour off the main road to Voss and heads into the countryside towards the craziest hairpin-turned-road outside Lombard Street. San Fran has nothing on these fjorded vistas.
How the bus driver – who predicates from the beginning that he is no tour guide, but then proceeds to offer the most interesting information at every turn IN PERFECT ENGLISH – makes it around each of those curves without sending us over is impressive. Luckily my fear of heights is assuaged with the knowledge he has been driving this road for 15 years plus. I’m more than happy that this track is only one way. Down.
Around this corner – WATERFALL. Around this corner – VALLEY. Around this corner – WATERFALL. Back and forth and back and forth we weave slowly down the mountain. Oooh. Aaah. It really is beautiful. And something about being in a different mode of transportation perks the kids up and the spectacular scenery holds their attention again.
At the bottom of the hill, we turn back onto the main road, and after a wee bit of backtracking – we are on our way to Voss, passing farms and lakes and of course – more waterfalls. Our Norwegian bus driver explains that the farmhouses are painted in traditional colors – white for the home and red for the barns because that paint was cheaper. And the barns are quite large as they house the sheep and cow herds inside for the entire winter, then released to higher elevations for summer grazing.
Grab a train from Voss to Bergen
With a deadpan pluckiness, our bus driver drops us at the train station in the ski town of Voss. From here we jump on an earlier than planned train departing immediately to our final destination – a gem of the Norwegian western coast – Bergen. We’ve been to Bergen before. In January. But, what a difference a few seasons make. Covered in snow and ice and slush and a mountain of Norwegian winter activity, Bergen in summer brings throngs and masses of tourists to town. But flowers and fresh fish markets overflow and we find that it is just as interesting despite the crowds.
Spend time in beautiful Bergen
Bergen is a perfect endpoint – or start point, if working in reverse – for your fjording adventures by Nutshell or not. Don’t overlook its inherent charm and plan for some time to explore Bergen and surrounds before you head out. You must careen through the crooked corridors of historic Bryggen at least once. Dinner at the open-air fish market on the harbor is an easy way to sample local fare. We did not opt for the reindeer or moose burger and were shocked when we realized that the sample of sausage offered was made of whale. Yes. Whale. Minke whale apparently. We decided to pass.
We did find something to please the whole group and enjoyed it against the spectacle of a Norwegian summer tourist parade. And if you like soft serve ice cream – Norwegian softis is some of the world’s best. I was completely in awe of how the server plunked a huge swirl of soft creamy goodness right down into multiple toppings of my kid’s choice – nary losing a drop – before handing over the giant cone. I will confess that straight vanilla softis dunked in wee bits of crushed butterscotch is my definition of perfection. How have I not tasted this before? Try it. You’ll like it.
Explore the views above Bergen
In the morning, we targeted a trip up Mount Fløien which rises majestic above the bustling Bergen harbor. You can take the Fløibanen funicular, a quick ride up to the top. Get there early as summer tour busses start dropping people in droves and the line proceeded down the hill upon our return.
Assisting visitors since 1918 in several iterations, the Fløibanen carries you to the top in no time. Once off – take a right. You are instantly struck with incredible views and plenty of space to maneuver for your postcard shot. If you need a little fewer people in your landscape – merge left from the Fløibanen exit and take the first path to the left (this is the same trail that would have brought you up OR can take you all the way back down to town.)
Even if you don’t plan to hike all the way down the paved path – spend some time enjoying the views from a different perspective. Benches and picnic tables encourage you to stop. There are play areas complete with resident trolls for the littles and young at heart. Norwegians believe that there is no problem that can’t be solved by getting outside. With the well-maintained hiking paths and outdoor play facilities, it is easy to see why. It is beautiful up there. And soul soothing.
Enjoy the photos. There really is nowhere like Norway.