I am planning a one way trip from Oslo to Bergen in early July and staying 2 nights in Balestrand. I am debating between booking the Sognefjord in a Nutshell which would have me leave Balestrand and take an express boat to Bergen or taking the ferry back to Flam and rejoining Norway in a Nutshell. From the book and reading posts it seems like both some of the best fjords of NIN are between Flam and Bergen as well as some of the least scenic between Voss and Bergen. During my two days in Balestrand, I do plan to take at least one day to explore fjords from there. I am interested in what people have done for this leg or general recommendations between the two routes. Thanks in advance.
A fews years ago we did part of the Nutshell, the Flamsbana was a disappointment as is was so crowded it was hard to see the beauty, we did love the cruise to Gudvangen. We later went to Balestrand (such a great town) and took the express boat to Bergen. Great Trip!!! I love the beautiful landscapes and loved watching the scenery change from mountainous to more coastal. I am certainly glad we took the express boat.
We are planning to do something similar but round trip (Oslo -- Balestrand 2 nights -- Bergen 2 nights -- Oslo). Originally we were hoping to do Balestrand -- Flam -- Gudvangen- Voss --Bergen in one day, which is (I think) what you are proposing. After checking ferries /boat/train schedules, we could not get this to work. So I ended up doing to following. I hope this will still be helpful for you. It is our first time to Norway too, and I would very much appreciate fellow travellers' advice if I am missing something:
Day 1: Leaving Oslo 6:25 am, arriving Flam 13:10 on train (with a change in Myrdal). Leaving Flam 15:30, arriving Balestrand 16:55 on boat.
Day 2: Balestrand. We are thinking to take the ferry to Fjaerland in the morning, and a hike in Balestrand in the afternoon.
Day 3: Leaving Balestrand 7:50 am, arriving Bergen 11:55 on express boat.
Day 4: Goofing off in Bergen.
Day 5: Leaving Bergen at 8:40am, do the standard NIH route (Bergen-Voss-Gudvangen-Flam-Oslo), arriving in Oslo at 22:35.
I think for your one way trip, you can modify Day 4 above as Bergen--Voss-Gudvangen-Flam--Myrdal -- Bergen, and skip Day 5. We booked all trains and boats ticket, except the Bergen-Voss-Gudvangen leg, as we could not do so online. On the phone, the train representative said that there would always be "standing room" if necessary.
We did NIN last summer. First stayed in Oslo for 3 nights, then headed out. Oslo - Myrdal - Flam - Balestrand - Bergen. We stayed 2 nights in Balestrand and LOVED it. We took the ferry directly from Balestrand to Bergen and it was beautiful. Didn't feel cheated of anything at all. We then stayed in Bergen for 3 nights before flying back to Amsterdam. Loved Norway!