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Stay in Balestrand and not miss Naeroyfjord when doing Nutshell Oslo to Bergen direction?

I know this is a well-worn topic, but I'm hoping someone had a similar dilemma, and at the least, had an alternative that was just as fun and well worth the time.

Planning a July trip to Scandinavia w/ 3 nights in the NIN area because I'd like to do more than the one-day marathon described by RS. Wish to rent a car in the area to access areas difficult to do via public transit efficiently.

  1. Train from Oslo to Flåm (Bergensbanen, then Flamsbana)
  2. Flåm to Balestrand; see the very limited sights in town- night 1
  3. Visit stave church in Vik; 1/2-day excursion to Fjærland and Jostedal Glacier - Night 2
  4. Scenic drive from Balestrand to sights on the Lustrafjord (if time permits, Solvorn/Urnes Stave Church), but wish to continue to Aurland via the Aurlandsvegan one way w/ return via tunnel, then time permitting, see the Borgund Stave Church on the way back to Balestrand. Return car-- Night 3
  5. Heading on to Bergen via Flam (resuming NIN so as not to miss the Næroyfjord. – sleep in Bergen

I’ve read many comments about Balestrand not being worth the time (too quiet, not much to do), but besides wanting to leave the bustle of a busy cruise ship stop, I want to see more of north side of Sognefjord and drive down the “Snow Road.” Is there a better way to experience the sights I included in the scenic drives? Should I spend my nights elsewhere? And of course, still do the NIN route over 3 days? Did I also mention I want to avoid a very expensive one-way car rental? I’m sure you see how I ended up with a mess of an itinerary. I know there will be trade-offs I will need to make, but I’m needing some other perspectives/ideas. I would sure appreciate them.

Posted by
7 posts

Hei Patricia!

Your itinerary looks nice, however there will be a lot of back and forth on the Sognefjord for you. Round trip Flåm-Balestrand and then to Gudvangen...

Have you considered the possibility of renting a car in Flåm? From there you could drive the scenic Bjørgavegen (Aurlandsvegen) over the mountain, and cross the fjord with a car ferry at Fodnes to Mannheller. Then you'll be on the north side, and can do your scenic drive etc. You can consider staying in Fjærland or in Solvorn.

I don't really buy the comment on Balestrand being too quiet and not much to do. All those small places along the fjord are quiet.. But that's also part of the charm I think, and there is so much to do in the area. Kayaking, scenic drives, stave church, hiking, glaciers +++

I hope this input was of some help. When you return back to Flåm you can take the same route, but drive through the Lærdal tunnel (faster)
God reise!

This Hotel in Fjærland has a good reputation
Also this hotel in Walaker

Posted by
37 posts

Hei Pål

Thank you for your thoughts and recommendations!

I have looked at renting a car in Flåm and making Aurland my home base, but perhaps making Solvorn my home base is better? What are your thoughts on this itinerary?

  1. Arrive in in Flåm mid-day, pick up rental car, drive to Solvorn; stay in Solvorn.
    Enjoy some of the sights on the way there via Bjørgavegen, and anything we miss, we can experience on the way back to Flåm when we drop off the car.

  2. Take a scenic drive west along the north side of the Sognefjord toward Balestrand. I’m not sure what specific route, but figure I can ask locally for recommendations? That would should take all day with the return to Solvorn as I know the roads, though well maintained are often narrow and must be driven with care. Stay in Solvorn overnight.

  3. Drive back to Flåm early, (stopping at the Borgund stave church on the way back if we skipped it on the way to Solvorn due to time), return car and resume NIN via Næroyfjord and onto Bergen.

As you see, I reduced my time to just two nights. I supposed that takes away the “leisure” part of the experience. I’m wondering what I would with the third night in the area. Maybe return the car and stay in Aurland overnight? I would rather not stay in Flåm in the peak cruise season. I know we would need to take a bus back to Aurland from Flåm, but I read it’s not far. And the next morning we’re not stressing out on making sure the drive for Solvorn to Flåm doesn’t run into issues and we miss our connection.

My traveling companions are my husband and 8-year-old daughter. We are physically fit (we all play ice hockey – though I am in the slow 40+ division) so kayaking, hiking, etc. are doable. They aren’t that interested in going to far to see as many glaciers as possible, much less walk on them.


Posted by
1666 posts

I faced the same challenge when I did my Norway trip. I ended up staying two nights in Balestrand, using the day in between to rent a car and do an absolutely stunning drive, and on the next day heading directly to Bergen by ferry, so I missed Naeroyfjord. I have some regret about that, but my general travel philosophy is to love what I do and not worry about what I don't do.

If you're interested in my driving route, which I highly recommend, you can visit my blog (link in my bio) and search for a blog post entitled "A contest (and some other stuff)." Or PM me and I'll send you the direct link. I wasn't really interested in visiting stave churches, preferring to seek out natural beauty, so I don't know if my route will satisfy you.

But you could do the one-day driving trip and then go back to Flåm to pick up NIN from there so you get to see Naeroyfjord.

Whatever you do, you're going to love it!

Posted by
7 posts

Hi again Patricia!

I think there is no right or wrong answer as to stay in Solvorn or Aurlandsvangen. There are some nice hikes in the Aurland area though, so that might be a reason for staying there... And you make a good point of staying close to Flåm (but not in Flåm)... I would not stay in Flåm either.

I think whatever you do, the most important is to avoid having to go back and forth too many times on the Sogne fjord, as you were first initially thinking. Sorry I don't have more input, but my time is a bit limited these days :) I hope you'll figure it out, and that you'll have a wonderful trip!