Traveling through Finland and Scandinavia in late August/early September. Our time in Norway is limited, so I'm interested in booking the Norway in a Nutshell tour. One of my must-sees is the Borgund Stave Church. How would you recommend booking the tour from Bergen to Oslo with only one overnight that makes it possible to see the church?
It can be possible to make a short from from Flåm to Borgund with a Nor-way bus. So book it so that you have time for that.
I did the Borgund trip last summer, but I'm traveling now and don't have access to my notes. This response is from memory.
I did the Nutshell route from Oslo to Bergen, the opposite direction from you. I ended up spending two nights in Flam because the schedule seemed too tight to do the Borgund detour with just one night in Flam. I think it was going to be theoretically possible to manage it in the Oslo-Bergen direction, but it seemed I'd be on the last Flam-Gudvangen ferry of the day, and it's my philosophy to avoid last departures. Hotel costs in Norway are so high, I wasn't willing to risk not getting to Bergen on schedule. And there was the not-so-minor issue of having no place to sleep in chronically-fully-booked Flam if I got stuck there. I acknowledge that missing that last departure, or its cancellation, would be extraordinarily unlikely, but I'm the cautious sort.
The first thing to check on is whether the direct bus to Borgund will still be running when you need it. As of last year it was a seasonal route, and I don't know when the season ends. I'd find a Contact Us email address on the Nor-Way Bussekspress website and ask that key question. When the direct bus stops running, the trip can be made with connecting buses but the trip takes a lot longer, not least because the second bus doesn't go all the way to the church, leaving you with a substantial walk (at least one mile, maybe two). That's not a trivial concern given how much rain that part of Norway gets. I recall wondering about the potential for electrical storms, because there would probably be no place to take cover during that walk. In the end that wasn't a risk I had to face, because the direct bus showed up on the schedule at some point before I needed it (which was around June 20).
OK, to the nitty-gritty:
The bus departs Flam for Borgund at noon. My bus was about 20 minutes late, so you cannot count on everything being on schedule. The trip is scheduled to take just over an hour. The return bus departs Borgund approximately 1 hour later (in my case, just 40 minutes later). Therefore, the entire round trip takes something over 3 hours.
You have two ways to set up the basic Nutshell route. You need to look at the schedule each way to figure out which approach makes the most sense in conjunction with the Borgund side trip:
Earliest arrival in Flam (probably) but longest trip from Flam to Oslo after Borgund:
- Regular train Bergen to Myrdal (earliest departure takes 2 hr. 10 min.; see www.vy.no)
- Flamsbana Myrdal to Flam (about 1 hour)
- Borgund bus trip (over 3 hours)
- Flam-Gudvangen ferry (roughly 2 hours but doesn't run often)
- Gudvangen-Voss bus (roughly 1 hour)
- Regular train Voss to Oslo (minimum of 5 hr. 52 min.)
Shortest trip on to Oslo after completing Borgund detour, but less likelihood of making Borgund detour on Day 1):
- Regular train Bergen to Voss (66 to 76 min.)
- Bus Voss to Gudvangen (about 1 hour; not sure how well this aligns with train arrival and ferry departure times)
- Ferry Gudvangen to Flam (about 2 hours)
- Borgund bus trip (over 3 hours)
- Flamsbana Flam to Myrdal (about 1 hour)
- Regular train Myrdal to Oslo (over 5 hours)
None of the transportation you'll need runs super-frequently, so at every step of the way you could have an extended wait for the next leg of your trip. You need to check the schedules for each element of the trip to see how it all fits together.
acraven has the plan!
Assuming the bus is running, you mentioned 1 overnight en-route is ok - if so I’d recommend booking that hotel ASAP in Flam.
Day 1: Bergen-Myrdal-Flam-church-Flam
Day 2: Flam-Gudvangen-Voss-Oslo
I looked into whether you could make it a day trip using the Voss-Oslo night train but it seems difficult to get to Voss from the last fjord boat run of the day. Would be an extremely long day as well so probably not worth it.
This day trip to the Borgund Stave Church runs through August 20, 2023.