I'm sitting on my Norwegian Air flight after a whirlwind 4 day tour of Bergen and one of the fjord areas featured in the Norway in a Nutshell program. I did an enormous amount of research on this forum and several others, and while I enjoyed all of the posts, there were seven or eight sentences from here and there that really helped my trip. I hope to offer practical advice as well.
Warning - I am a somewhat cranky, entitled, slightly narcissistic traveler who hates overcrowding and cigarette smoke. I avoid entire countries for these reasons. I realize a tourist getting angry at other tourists who just want a nice vacation too is unreasonable - hence the warning.
So my original plan was taking the one day nutshell trip from Bergen to Flam - Gudvagen (sp?). I even tried to buy the tour online but my credit card wouldn't go through. My first of many lucky breaks.
I originally booked three nights in a Bergen air bnb with the plan of a 1 day tour. Then I read a post by someone who I owe a beer, even an eleven dollar Norway beer. He stated that the boats in the middle of the day are often packed because the people on the one day plan are all on one or two midday boats. It's a three or four hour trip to Flam and they can't arrive in time for first two boats and they have to leave before the last boat. This changed everything for me. Thankfully, he made no mention of smoking or I would have crossed Norway off my list and missed wonderful trip with a couple of those travel moments you'll never forget.
So the question I asked myself, and you should too is, why am I going to Norway? What is the first word that comes to mind. Fjords? Northern Lights? Oslo? Bergen? For me the word was fjords. On the one day trip, you'll spend an hour and a half or two hours on the boat. That's it. That is it for those who made the trip to Norway to see the fjords. And you'll be on the most crowded boats. And as you probably know, when it comes to weather, this area gets a lot of rain. So all of your eggs are in a two hour basket (I realize this makes no sense but you know what I mean).
So it became obvious to me that I should spend one or two nights in the Fjord are and less time in Bergen. I opted to spend two nights in the Fjords and the last night in Bergen which gave me two half days to see Bergen. I can safely say that this worked out perfectly. Bergen is a gorgeous waterside city and I enjoyed it immensely. I envy the people who live there. I want to be careful how I say this, but there are beautiful seaside cities in North America like Boston, San Francisco, Seattle or Vancouver for a lot less money. Believe me, I would love to see any Scandinavian city or village but I only have so much money. This was a fjord trip.
So I was ready to to do this on my own, God knows I did enough research. But for those who actually spend time at work doing their job, unlike me, I think Norway in a Nutshell can be a good option. But I'd suggest staying in a fjord village for several reasons. First, you'll be by a fjord, which is good. But the primary reason is you give yourself a bigger window for better weather. It's possible that it could rain for two days, but two hours of rain during the one day trip is much more likely. And you can take the earlier/later rides which are less crowded. You can book a Nutshell tour for multiple days using
their hotels or booking your hotel or bnb on your own.
However, there is one problem that even the best planning can't get around. Waiting too long to buy a ticket and having the boat sell out. If only we could show up and buy a ticket based on the weather for that day. Too risky. So I did buy a ticket two months in advance, and it was a cloudy misty day (more about his later) As it turned out I didn't need too as there were definitely seats available for the two days I was there. But I went slightly after peak season.
I'm almost at the limit, I hope I can continue. First time I've done this.