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Balestrand without the 4 hr express boat

We will be doing the NiN trip around July 4, probably starting from Bergen. We would like to spend two nights in Balestrand, based on the glowing reviews by Rick Steves and others, but have read that the 4 hr express boat from Bergen misses some of the best scenery and is actually quite tedious. Is it feasible to interrupt the NiN in Flam and take some kind of ferry, or even the express boat, to Balestrand, spend 1 or 2 nights there, and then get back to Flam to rejoin the Nin? Or stay in Flam and make Balestrand a day trip?
Our interest in Norway at this point is basically Bergen and the NiN, but we might have to return to US via Oslo. Any suggestions would be most appreciated!

Posted by
16883 posts

You can take the express boat on just the shorter leg roundtrip between Balestrand and Aurland or Flam; see pages 331-2 of Rick's current Scandinavia book, and schedule through mid-June online.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you, Laura. Is it really necessary to book so far in advance? I like having a little flexibility, but if I have to book ahead I will.
Have you been to Baldestrand? I was surprised by the fact that RS recommended it so highly in the Norway guide, but his own tours do not stay there.

Posted by
16883 posts

No, I haven't been to Balestrand. Rick really just describes it as "pleasant," "real and lived-in," and further from cruise ship and daytrip crowds. My colleague who was there this year enjoyed doing the available day trips from Balestrand to the glaciers, but I have the impression that it's not worth the effort to go just as a daytrip, without time for the side trips, and if you don't care to take the express boat all the way to Bergen.

The RS Tour of Scandinavia only has one day on the fjord and it makes sense for them to sleep along a driving route, since it's primarily a bus tour. Similarly, Balestrand probably is not part of the NiN because there's less ferry service to connect it to the rest of the route, or would take longer. The Flam-Aurland-Gudvangen boat that is part of the NiN is considered very scenic. On a driving trip years ago, I slept in Aurland and was happy there.