My husband and I are traveling to Norway in early August. We fly into Bergen and have 3 nights booked. We then are planning to take the express boat to Balestrand for 2 nights at the Kviknes Hotel. We will then want to make our way to Oslo to join up with family for the next week. My questions are surrounding the trek to Oslo from Balestrand. I am thinking of breaking that up with another nights stay as it seems a bit stressful making all the connections and don't want to rush through this gorgeous part of the country. I would welcome suggestions on where to stay and things to do. My husband is very interested in the train travel so want to be able to maximize that mode of travel. Thanks in advance!
Transferring from the Balestrand-Flam ferry to the Flamsbana train is not difficult, it's a pretty short walk. Unless you have a car I'm not sure there's really any other place to stay other than Flam for only one night if you plan on taking the Flamsbana the next day. The one reason to stay in Flam would be to take a Naeroyfjord tour - which is pretty awesome. There used to be a Naeroyfjord tour out of Balestrand but I don't think it's operating anymore.
I had hoped to spend a couple of nights in Balestrand in June, en route from Oslo to Bergen, but I found public transportation to Balestrand too challenging, given my desire to fit in all the most scenic parts of the Norway-in-a-Nutshell route. From my reading of this forum and guidebooks, the scenic parts of the journey include the Flamsbana train between Myrdal and Flam, the Naeroyfjord passenger ferry between Flam and Gudvangen, the #950 bus between Gudvangen and Voss. and the train between Voss/Myrdal and Oslo.
What it comes down to (as I imagine you have already discovered) is that by far the most practical way of connecting Balestrand to the scenic parts of the N-i-N route is the Norled express boat between Balestrand and Flam. There's a bus route requiring a transfer in Sogndal, but it takes longer and the first bus out of Balestrand leaves after the express boat.
My research was for June schedules; it's possible things would be different in August. In June the Norled boat runs just once a day, departing Balestrand at 11:55 AM and arriving in Flam at 13:25 PM. I decided I preferred to take the F1 ferry between Flam and Gudvangen, because those boats seem to be larger and more comfortable. F1 has just one afternoon departure, at 3:20 PM, arriving in Gudvangen at 5:20 PM. Then the scenic bus up to Voss, the #950, departs at 5:45 PM and reaches Voss at 7 PM. That was going to put me on the last train on to Bergen (I am traveling east to west), which made me nervous, given how expensive Norwegian hotel rooms are. For you, it would be worse, because (again, this is for my travel date in June) the last train departure from Voss in the direction of Oslo is at 6:58 PM; it appears you would not make that train.
I am no expert on Norway, but my research led me to the conclusion that there were three practical places to stay from the purely logistical standpoint: Flam, Gudvangen and Voss. Voss is not on a fjord but is a center for outdoor activities, so it has a lot of lodgings. Gudvangen is quite small and has few rooms available. Flam is larger and overrun by cruise ships. Not great options, any of them. Since I was looking for a place to spend two nights, unlike you, I definitely wanted to be on a fjord. I chose Flam because I think I can visit the Borgund stave church while I'm there.
For your purposes, I think any of those towns/villages would work for you last night. I'm nearly certain your lodging choices are going to be quite limited. I had a lot of trouble finding anything, and I'm comfortable in very basic rooms as long as I have my own bathroom. I'd suggest you check quickly and book something that seems OK, just so you're sure you'll have a place to sleep that night.
Here's a list of hotels in the area I posted in an earlier thread. Not all of these are on booking.com. I found some by zooming way in on Google Maps. I can't swear the list is complete, and the hotels are listed in no particular order. I included Aurland because it's close to Flam. I think there are quite a few buses each day connecting the two; I haven't researched those schedules, though.
Flam Camping and Hostel
Flam Marina and Apartments
Brekke Gard Apartments and Hostel
Gudvangen Budget Hotel
Park Hotel Vossevangen
Voss Vandrarheim Hostel
My questions are surrounding the trek to Oslo from Balestrand. I am
thinking of breaking that up with another nights stay as it seems a
bit stressful making all the connections and don't want to rush
through this gorgeous part of the country.
It's pretty easy, ferry from Balestrand to Flåm and then train from Flåm to Oslo, with one change in Myrdal. If you want to spend a night somewhere on the route the most obvious choices are either Flåm or Myrdal. But you can of course add a stop somewhere between Myrdal and Oslo.
But if you just travel Balestrand-Flam-Myrdal-Oslo, you miss out on two very scenic parts of the classic Norway-in-a-Nutshell route: the ferry through the Naeroyfjord (Flam-Gudvangen) and the 950 bus from Gudvangen up to Voss. For Americans who probably will get to Norway only once, I think it's a shame not to grab all the scenery you can.
I don't believe there are any lodgings in Myrdal itself. The closest option seems to be the Vatnahalsen Høyfjellshotell. It appears Vatnahalsen is a stop on the Flamsbana, so that would be workable. The hotel's rates are between $200 and $250 (US) in early August, which is reasonable by Norwegian standards.
Here's the Flamsbana schedule: https://www.norwaysbest.com/globalassets/pdf/rutetider/rutetider-2022/flamsbanatimetable2022.pdf
Thanks everyone for all the great advice! I booked an overnight in Flam and was lucky to get it! One other question. In my haste and not researching properly as I was worried about getting train tickets on the Flamsbana train, I booked tickets for the train trip from Flam to Olso on Railway Ninja as the TY Norway train site would not let me book the tickets in advance of 60 days. Now I'm worried as I read it's a scam. Any one have any experience with this?
It sounds a bit strange that Railninja are able to sell you a ticket when they are not for sale on Vy yet.
I see warning flags about Rail Ninja online, too, but I don't recall any posts about the company here. I don't know what to suggest that you do at this point.
As a general rule, for the future: If you are unable to buy tickets for your travel date on the website of the company running the trains, no one else can buy tickets, either, so you needn't be concerned that the train will sell out.