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Advice for fjords visit (no car)

I am posting this as a new thread hoping for advice from those who may have done this before:

I have firmed up my (mid-June) itinerary to spend two nights in Oslo, one night in Flam and two nights in Bergen. My original plan was to do the NIN with an overnight stay in Flam before proceeding to Bergen using the train/bus via the Voss route. In this case I would have done the Flam-Gudvagen trip on ferry to see the most popular fjords including the Naeroyfjord. I am now thinking of an alternate plan to take in more of the fjords and visit some less touristy sights. As per this plan, arriving in Flam by train from Oslo around 14:10, I would take the 15:30 ferry to Balestrand, spend the night in Balestrand (instead of Flam) and then proceed to Bergen by ferry the next evening (around 16:50). My understanding is that this would give me the opportunity to see more of fjords and scenic routes, though missing the spectacular Naeroyfjord. Is this a sensible and worthwhile tradeoff - or should I return back to Flam to complete the original route to Bergen via Voss? Your expert opinions are welcome.

Posted by
8120 posts

We took the Norway in a Nutshell tour. It's a long day--arriving in Bergen about sunset the end of August. Our favorite part of the trip was the trip down into the fjords on the Flam train.

I think you'd do fine either way.

Posted by
27039 posts

What you are proposing to do will mean a less-scenic experience on the water. Fjords are most scenic when they're narrow. When they widen out, the views are just not the same. Take a look at the Sognefjord on Google Maps; once you reach the main part of the fjord, it becomes very wide. Four hours on the express boat between Balestrand and Bergen will not be as scenic as the Flam-Gudvangen ferry.

There's only one Balestrand-to-Flam boat per day; it's the same boat (the "express boat") that runs down the Sognefjord from Bergen to Flam. If you use it to go to Balestrand after taking the Flamsbana down to Flam, you will arrive in Balestrand at 4:50 PM. Your only way out of Balestrand the next day if you want to head to Bergen (whether via Flam and Gudvangen or via the express boat) is to catch the 11:55 AM departure. That doesn't give you much time to do anything in Balestrand, just 19 hours overnight.

The 11:55 express boat gets you to Flam at 1:40 PM, so you could take that hop and catch the last of the Naeroyfjord ferries whose tickets are sold by norwaysbest.com from Flam at 3:20 PM. It arrives at Gudvangen at 5:20 PM. The last bus leaves Gudvangen at 5:45 for Voss, arriving at Viss at 7 PM. There are some trains leaving Voss for Bergen after 7 PM, so you'd be able to complete the traditional Nutshell trip that day.

I went through that analysis last year and decided it didn't make sense for me to pay the round-trip express boat fare Flam-Balestrand-Flam in exchange for so little time in Balestrand. I imagine the boat schedule factors into the decision by RS and company to recommend staying in Balestrand only if you can afford to spend at least two nights there.

Posted by
35 posts

Thank you all for the detailed information and advice. I will probably skip Balestrand and stick to the Oslo-Flam-Voss-Bergen route, given my time limits.