My wife and I are traveling to Norway next summer. We would like to do the Norway Nutshell but would like to spend one night in Balestrand. If we take the early train from Oslo to Myrdal and then the Flam train, can we then take a ferry or other boat to Balestrand? If so would this be a regular ferry or express boat? Do I need reservations or can we just show up? If we then spend the night in Balestrand, is there a ferry that will then take us to Gudvangen, or do we go back to Flam and pick up the nutshell from there to Gudvangen? Finally we are also considering just taking the express boat from Balestrand to Bergen. Is that doable and would we need reservations or can we just catch it in Balestrand? Thanks for your help!
I did this a couple of years ago. I believe it was an express boat from Flam to Balestrand. I stayed two nights and then continued on the express boat to Bergen rather than going back to Flam. You do miss some spectacular scenery doing that (although I didn't miss it since I didn't see it, but I'm told a cruise through Naeroyfjord is amazing), so if time allows you to go back to Flam and continue NiN from there, it might be worth doing. I immensely enjoyed the cruise to Bergen through the Sognefjord, but as it widens, heading west, the scenery becomes somewhat less spectacular.
I had advance reservations/tickets for all legs of the journey. I don't know whether that is essential. In high season (you say "next summer," so that is high season), it may well be.
It's a beautiful place and you will love it! Enjoy!
My colleagues who were there recently recommend more than one night in Balestrand, to allow time to explore. For instance, if you take a side trip up the Fjaerlands fjord (ferries depart only at 8:00 and 12:00, so you must stay overnight), then you can more confidently skip the Naeeroyfjord and take the express boat to Bergen. Rick's book does suggest reservations in summer for either the Norled Expressboat or the visitflam.com seasonal summer ferry between Flam and Balestrand.