We are a husband and wife team in our mid 60s planning a trip from Oslo to Bergen in September on the Norway in a Nutshell route. Rick suggests that for seniors and those who have a railpass, it may be less expensive to book the trip independently. I am considering booking the train from Oslo to Myrdal, then to Flam, then by boat from Flam to Balestrand (for a 2 night stay). My question is, should we return to Flam to continue on the Norway in a Nutshell route or skip the rest of the NIN and head directly by boat to Bergen? I have two concerns: getting the schedule timed out right and do we miss a scenic part of the NIN trip by not going back and picking it up at Flam, i.e., we would miss the Naeroyfjord, Gudvangen, Voss and the scenic train from Voss to Bergen. Any help is appreciated.
My wife and I are visiting Norway in May and had a similar question. Our solution is this: we'll take the train from Oslo to Myrdal, take the Flåmsbanen to Flåm and stay overnight there. We've booked a Fjordsafari excursion to Gudvangen and back, then we'll catch the express boat to Balestrand for 2 nights. We're opting to take the express boat from Balestrand to Bergen. We were told by someone who has travelled in Norway many (30+) times that the train ride from Voss to Bergen is less interesting than the one from Oslo to Myrdal - for one thing, much of the trip is spent in tunnels. I guess this route is actually called Sognefjord in a Nutshell.
The most scenic part you would miss is Nærøyfjorden and Nærøydalen (valley) between Gudvangen and Stalheim. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/From_the_Stalheim.jpg
If you skip the express boat from Flåm to Balestrand and instead take the tourist boat from Flåm to Gudvangen, you could probably find a bus connection from Gudvangen E16 (main road not port) to Balestrand through Sogndal.
"Nutshell" concept is maximum scenery in the minimum amount of time. Voss to Bergen is anticlimactic in comparison to the more mountainous sections, but the train will get you to Bergen faster than the boat. The choice is seeing more fjord scenery or more Bergen if you are time constrained.