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Norway in a Nutshell

Hi all,

We recently returned from a fabulous 3 week trip to Denmark, Norway and Stockholm albeit in the incredible heat wave engulfing most of Europe at the time (sunny blue skies at least). While in Norway, we did the famous Norway in a Nutshell tour. I have been hearing about this tour for years and RS devotes a good number of pages in his guidebook to it. So I was really looking forward to finally doing this trip. The first part of the trip was the fjord which was really picturesque. But the two train journeys were just so so. After hearing all the build up on this journey, I was very unimpressed. I would have felt that I had missed something if I hadn’t gone, however. Is there anyone else out there who thinks this trip was less than impressive? Honestly, after being on some of the train journeys in Switzerland, this one paled in comparison.

Posted by
884 posts

I agree. It is hyped beyond its value and the cost is considerable. People, here, think Disneyland is expensive. NIN is twice that cost.
I'm glad I did it, but...never again. Sorta like The Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

Posted by
484 posts

We too just returned from a week in Bergen, and did the NIN and yes,I was a little disappointed as it was not as fantastic/scenic as I thought it would be. I guess to really experience the dramatic scenery one has to go further into fjord country. I am glad I did it but won't again. We also did a 3 hour fjord cruise from Bergen to Mostraumen and felt that would have been enough without doing the NIN. We too kept comparing the NIN it to our train journeys in Switzerland.
My daughter summed it up this way: The fjords are nice but Switzerland is better.
Though I understand that we are talking about two different countries and each has its own type of scenery.
I will say that everything ran really smoothly and we enjoyed our week in Bergen and surrounding areas. We also had excellent weather and we did a lot of walking which we never get to do here in Orlando.
And the Norwegian people were so helpful and kind which made our vacation even more enjoyable.

Posted by
2459 posts

I just noticed on the RS Scandinavia tour that they only do the cruise portion of the NIN. Hmmm.

Posted by
3301 posts

We did the NIN last summer and we thought it was great! We had perfect weather! We took the 5 hr train from Oslo ( which was just ok, not that scenic) then we got off at Voss and took a bus to Gundvegan ( very scenic as it took those steep hairpin turns down into the valley), then we cruised through the Aurland and Naerofjord into Flam, also scenic and wonderful. We stayed 2 nights in Flam and took the Flamsbana train to Myrdal, which was incredibly scenic!

We have not been to Switzerland so I can’t compare it to that, but I do know mountains as I live in AK.
Sorry you were disappointed Mary, but we loved it, although we were able to do it slowly.

Posted by
9106 posts

I also think it's an incredibility beautiful journey throughout. Comparing it to Switzerland is unfair as it is a different type of mountain terrain. The train segment which goes above the tree-line, exposing the barren lunar like landscape is something I have never seen anywhere else in the world. Also an engineering marvel, the segment from Oslo isn't some rickety narrow-gage train, like in Switzerland, rather a big inter-city train. It's amazing how it can pass through this type of terrain effortlessly.
I took it in late autumn. so there was a fresh coat of snow in the higher elevations which no doubt enhanced the scenery compared to summer.
Yeah it's pricey, but what isn't pricey in Norway:)
I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Posted by
16894 posts

Transportation costs on this route are the same as anywhere else in the country, although booking a package through Fjord Tours costs a bit more than buying the pieces on your own. I haven't taken the train, but did love my colleague's recent photos from it.

Posted by
5837 posts

We enjoyed the Norway in a Nutshell tour during our first of a number of trips to Norway. We also enjoyed the Bernina Express in Switzerland. The are both spectacular in their own ways but are both different.

The NiN tour includes multiple modes of travel including the steep Flam descent from the high elevation point to sea (fjord) level. The Bernina Express includes corkscrew narrow gage rail but no fjords. They are different.

Our NiN tour took place during Easter Week. The ascent from Oslo to Myrdal through the Hardangervidda was a transition from snow free to snow covered and the train was filled with Norwegian skiers heading for their mountain huts. Our Bernina Express train was filled with tourist. Both different experiences.

Posted by
11294 posts

I did this in 2003, so my memories are fading. I found the Oslo to Myrdal segment nothing special, I really liked the Myrdal to Flam segment (the only one I specifically think of doing again), I enjoyed the boat ride on the Fjord (but wasn't as over the moon about as Rick said I would be), I liked the bus ride from Gudvangen to Voss (particularly the lookout at the back of the inn), and didn't see much on the ride from Voss to Bergen because by then I was tired.

I don't regret doing it - once. I would probably look to fly from Oslo to Bergen if I went back.

Posted by
70 posts

I did the NiN last month & definitely liked it.

I agree that the first (Oslo - Myrdal) & the last (Voss - Bergen) train segments are just about Ok ... but the other 3 segments - Flambana, the Fjord Cruise & the bus ride are all excellent. We also debated whether to rent a car from Oslo & doing the NiN on our own, but from a practical & logistics perspective we found NiN to be better. Note that you have an option of stopping your NiN journey at Voss as well .. by doing that you can skip the last train ride.

Posted by
121 posts

We just returned from Norway on the 12th September ( I believe traveling the same 4 week time period as Mary, above) and enjoyed it immensely. After 2 days in Oslo (we arrived on the overnight ferry from Copenhagen) we did the “nutshell” on our own and stayed for 2 days in Aurland, which was a delight. We stayed in a lovely new cabin right on the fjord with our own deck overlooking the water. It was beautiful and serene. I can’t imagine doing the “nutshell” in one day but doing it in one day would be better than not doing it at all. We started in Oslo and enjoyed the train trip to Myrdal and the little train to Flåm. It is an amazing engineering feat through the mountains, past the tree line and in sight of a glacier. True, it’s not like Alaska or Switzerland but it’s wonderful in its own right. The ferry through the fjord and the bus to Voss are great visual experiences. The train to Bergen is a simply a commuter train.

We enjoyed the food all over Norway, actually all over Scandinavia. But after traveling pretty much everywhere over many, many years, I think the best bread in the world is in Norway. The people are very hospitable, helpful and kind and their museums are wonderful.

Posted by
7822 posts

We did Norway in a Nutshell last June from Alesund, on the Serenade of the Seas. It was a ship's tour and cost a little over $200, but was a full day, lunch included. It was great.
I have been to Switzerland several times and loved it. Norway's mountain scenery is comparable and it also has the amazing fjords.

Posted by
10 posts

I understand that the NIN trips are hugely hyped and popular but I think you are selling this fabulous area short by trying to cram it into just a day or two. We recently spent 3 weeks in this area traveling by bike, train and ferry. The train trip from Oslo to Bergen is OK but I wouldn't do it just for the scenery. The Flamsbana between Myrdal and Finse is quite nice but there isn't much to do in Finse unless you plan to rent a bike and ride the Rallarvegen, which is amazing.

Do yourself a favor and pick a lovely town in one of the Fjords and spend some time enjoying the pace and beauty. Rent a car for a few day trips. Do some hiking. You won't regret it.