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Norway in a Nutshell, Bergen to Oslo or Oslo to Bergen

We are planning a trip to Norway in mid-July 2022. This tour looks interesting. It will either begin, or end, our visit. What is the luggage situation while taking this one day tour, and with transferring between rail, boat etc. Is there a size, weight restriction ? Thank you for any and all suggestions/help. Roni

Posted by
254 posts

It was my last trip, pre-Covid- but I used the online NIN tour site to book (I went Oslo- Bergen). There was a link (FAQs?) for a company that can handle your luggage transfer from your departure hotel to your arrival hotel. (I decided against it, because I only had carry on and was departing via Hurtigruten the next day and didn't want to chance the luggage not arriving.)
The various segments are timed for the tour. Some travellers had giant suitcases, even on the wooden scenic train.
I am not a fan of heights or twisty narrow roads so opted for the Sognefjord boat- it took forever! The start was very pretty, in a narrower area, but after the first hour it widened to the point it was like a very wide river. It was pleasant but if you are seeing other fjords (as I did after Bergen) I should have closed my eyes and gone for the bus!

Posted by
843 posts

We did not do the entire NIN in one fell swoop but parts over several days. We each had one 40+ liter backpack so could manage baggage on our own. Like the PP, we saw numerous people with enormous bags (especially on the Sognefjord ferry). I don't think there were any size or weight restrictions except the need to manage your own bags. Bear in mind you will need to move from bus to train to ferry while carting your own bags. If there are porters, I didn't see them.

Posted by
400 posts

We did it in the Oslo to Bergen direction. In that direction, NIN starts with a train from Oslo to Myrdal. Then you are on the scenic Flamsbama (Flam Railway) from Myrdal to Flam, then the boat through the Naeroyfjord from Flam to Gudvangen, then a bus from Gudvangen to Voss, then a train from Voss to Bergen. ( We actually broke up the journey by renting a car in Voss, driving up to Balestrand and staying two nights, then drove to Bergen, so we didn't do the Voss to Bergen train.)

No one is investigating the size or weight of your luggage. There is plenty of luggage storage space on all the trains, the boat, and the bus. The tightest amount of space will be on the scenic train--Flam Railway. You can't reserve a seat on that train unless you are a group of at least 10. We were a group of ten who had seats in a reserved car. On that particular day, at the time we did it, crowds weren't an issue, i.e., I didn't notice people pushing to be first to board on the non-reservable cars. However, I've heard this can be an issue, and I might worry about what to do with a large amount of luggage if all of the people who've boarded your scenic railcar ahead of you have used up most of the luggage space.

It could be burdensome to do NIN with more than one bag per person, or if your one bag is a very large and heavy one, as there are multiple transfers and you're handling the luggage yourself. The group we traveled with had just one carry on sized bag each, along with a backpack, and we had no issues.

We had the choice of two departure times from Oslo: 6:28 a.m. or 8:28 a.m. We chose the former time as I'd read that we'd have lighter crowds all day, versus those who were departing on the 8:28 a.m. train.

It was a great experience!

Posted by
1159 posts

I took the Oslo to Bergen route. There was some break time in Flam before boarding the boat and so I had a carryon bag which was a blessing. Otherwise you are hauling around a big bag. At the time I traveled, there were no pre-boarding luggage opportunities. Maybe that has changed.

Posted by
889 posts

We did it from Bergen to Oslo. We booked it all ourselves, though, to save money, instead of going through the NIN booking site. We travel with carryon luggage only, so it wasn't a big issue, but there were places for luggage on all the legs. The bus had the usual compartments underneath, the ferry had pallets to put the luggage on near the entry, the trains had the usual spots at the ends of the cars.

One thing I did look into but decided against was a luggage transfer service. I decided this wasn't necessary with our small luggage, but if we'd had more or bigger luggage, I would have considered that option. https://www.porterservice.no

Posted by
1678 posts

I did the Bergen to Oslo route and to be honest have zero recollection of the bag situation. I know we had carry on sized bags, I just don't remember what we did! For sure if you have heavy or a lot of luggage it would be best to have it transferred for you. The connections are timed very close together - manageable for sure, but our Voss to Gudvangen bus was a skosh behind schedule and we had to hustle to the ferry.

Posted by
203 posts

We have never been to the fjords. We were thinking of arriving in Bergen by air, doing NIN the next morning but sleeping again that night in Bergen(if that's possible?) and then taking the train to Oslo the following day. Is that a big waste of time? Is the regular way of doing it in one day a little frantic or is that just an unjustified perception?

Posted by
5792 posts

Lisa:

Look at the NiN route map: https://maps-norway.com/norway-in-a-nutshell-map
The NiN tour includes train travel between Bergen and Voss and Mydal and Oslo. The NiN route followed by train Bergen to Oslo does not compute. You would be close to repeating most of the NiN route taking the Bergan Line from Bergen to Oslo,

Posted by
21326 posts

There are four basic approaches to including the Nutshell destinations in a Norwegian itinerary:

  • Do one of the Nutshell routes in a single day on the way from Oslo to Bergen or vice versa. This makes for a fairly long day but can definitely be done, at least in the Oslo-Bergen direction. (I haven't looked at the schedule in reverse.) I believe this can work only if you limit yourself to the the classic Nutshell stops (Myrdal, Flam/Aurland, Gudvangen and Voss).

  • Do one of the Nutshell routes on the way from Oslo to Bergen or vice versa, but break it into two or more days with a stopover along the way. With the extra time, variations (such as including Balestrand) would be possible.

  • Do the fjord-country part of the Nutshell route (Myrdal, Flam, Gudvangen and Voss) as part of a round-trip from Oslo or Bergen. This will be a considerably shorter trip starting from Bergen than from Oslo; the fjords are much closer to Bergen. However, the most beautiful part of the mainline-rail part of the journey is between Oslo and the fjords.

  • Do the fjord-country part of the Nutshell route as part of a round-trip from Oslo or Bergen, but break the journey for a stopover along the way. This would potentially allow stops different from or in addition to Myrdal, Flam, Gudvangen and Voss. Again, if you never travel between fjord country and Oslo, you miss out on some impressive scenery.

Logistically, I agree that if you want to visit both Bergen and Oslo, it makes more sense to do the Nutshell diversion on the way rather than as part of a roundtrip from one of the cities followed by the straight-shot train between them. Otherwise, you'll be repeating almost the entire main-line railway route between Oslo and Bergen, which means hours and hours of extra travel time. However, if the traveler is hoping to avoid the 12- to 13-hour day required to visit the Nutshell's fjord destinations en route between the two cities and has not planned very far ahead, he or she may have considerable difficulty finding a suitable hotel room in fjord country. In that case, a round trip out of Bergen followed by a direct trip the next day to Oslo might look attractive.

Edited to add: As hinted at above, lodging is tight. I thought maybe I'd be OK booking in April for mid- to late June, but it has been difficult at some destinations, not helped by the fact that Norway is so darn costly to begin with.

Posted by
203 posts

I really didn't think about lodging being tight. I was going to book for early June. After Oslo, we were going to fly to London, which we thought would be easier/cheaper from Oslo, so better to start in Bergen. Now I'm not sure what to do without wasting too much time.

Posted by
203 posts

Is there a different "in a nutshell" tour that give us the same great scenery, (without the train to Oslo section) that just returns to Bergen and then we could just take the train to Oslo a different day?

Posted by
21326 posts

I posted some schedule info for the various segments of the Nutshell route in this thread a few days ago:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/norway/need-help-on-reverse-nutshell-with-family-of-11

The fjord area covered by the Nutshell route is much closer to Bergen than to Oslo, so I have to assume you can do a round trip from Bergen, avoiding the need to find lodging in Fjord Country, and travel on to Oslo on a later date. Some of the travel times you'll need should be in that earlier post. You should be able to find the other information you need via the links.

Rail fares may increase if you wait to buy your tickets. You can probably get an idea of how much they may go up by looking at fares for the rest of this week and comparing them to what you see for your planned travel dates.

As you'll see, the rail fares--like everything else in Norway--are not cheap. I think the extra money it costs to take the train between Bergen and Myrdal (or vice versa) three times will exceed what you'll save by avoiding one night in a relatively expensive hotel in Flam (or Gudvangen if that works with the transportation schedule). It must surely be more costly by the time you add in the cost of a hotel room in Bergen. That's assuming, of course, that there is a room available at one of the hotels in Flam or Gudvangen.

Posted by
3370 posts

@lisa: It will probably be a lot easier if you post your own thread about your trip instead of using another one. That way, ronicollier won't be spammed with emails every time someone answers one of your questions.