Norway In A Nutshell

Certain months or dates of the year tend to flood me with travel memories, as many of my fellow travellers can likely relate to. One such date recently passed, which is May 17th: Norway’s Constitution Day, a commemoration of the day they were declared an independent nation. Several years ago, pre-pandemic, I was travelling through Scandinavia and unknowingly happened to be in Norway on this annual national holiday, about to embark on a cross-country tour. I attribute a great deal of my affinity for this country to the spirit of the celebrations that I witnessed, which included parades, festive attire, food shared among friends and family, singing, and imbibing with merriment.

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may already know that this trip to Scandinavia inspired my move to Vancouver Island, where I am currently residing (detailed further in my posts titled Finding My Place and An Ode To Scandinavia). Of all the countries visited on this journey, Norway captured my heart and imagination to an unforgettable degree, and I dream of going back to explore more of its mountains, fjords and quaint villages. In honour of this particular travel anniversary, I want to share more about how I spent this day falling in love with Norway.

While researching and planning this trip, I had come across the cheekily titled Norway in a Nutshell tour on a couple of different travel blogs. There was some debate about whether or not it was worth the cost, as undoubtedly you could try to piece together the components of the journey on your own at a more affordable price, but I can honestly say that it was well worth the money for a seamless and joyously scenic introduction to the country. The tour is a combination of bus, train, and ferry rides that takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in Western Norway. It is completely customizable to your preferences, allowing you to choose the route, length, optional accommodation and activities along the way. The tour includes a train ride on the Bergen Railway (also called the Bergen Line), which is the highest altitude railway in northern Europe and has been voted one of the most scenic train rides in the world.

The Norway in a Nutshell tour can be completed in one day, but it’s also possible to spread it out over two or three days; I would highly recommend at least two days, with an overnight stop in the charming village of Flåm which we absolutely adored. Along the way, there are many opportunities to stop and explore the small towns, try traditional food and baked goods, partake in excursions, and take in the abundance of natural beauty in the region. The route we took began in Oslo (commencing on May 17th!) and ended in Bergen, including the following main components:

• Oslo to Myrdal on The Bergen Line

This first leg of the journey had my friend and I boarding a train in Norway’s capital city of Oslo, bound for the village of Myrdal, where we enjoyed a brief stop and lunch at this remote mountain station. The train cars on the Bergen Line are clean, spacious and so comfortable. I simply lost myself in the tranquil scenery at every turn as we slowly climbed in elevation towards the Hardangervidda plateau and the snowy village of Finse, which is often referred to as a miniature Antarctica (pictured below). It was thrilling to slowly witness the landscape transition from vibrant greens to vast and stark wintry scenes.

*Nerdy fact for those who may appreciate it: In 1979, some of the scenes in the film Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back were filmed in this area. 🤓

• The Flåm Railway

After the break at Myrdal station, we excitedly boarded the famous Flåmsbana for a 20-kilometer breathtaking train ride that took us to the village of Flåm through the heart of the Norwegian mountains, past waterfalls, rivers and through steep valleys. Some of the windows on this train lower halfway, melding your senses even closer with the views of Norway’s fjord country. I can still clearly remember the wild freedom I felt being immersed in this landscape while hearing the train whistle echo across the valley.

Flåm offered such a peaceful reprieve in which to slow down and truly appreciate where we were; my time spent here was a highlight of the entire experience. There are meandering trails from the village up into the surrounding hills and orchards where animals are roaming and grazing in pastures. Great restaurants, bakeries and shops also abound. We stayed overnight at the Flam Camping & Hostel (pictured below) in a rustic cabin set at the base of the towering mountainside. Festivities for the Constitution Day were in full swing- I will never forget the laughs I had while watching a pleasantly inebriated man, singing joyously as he waved a Norwegian flag, walk through the hostel grounds towards the port as his lovingly exasperated partner followed behind, shaking her head in amusement.

• The Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord

After a replenishing sleep in our cozy mountain cabin, we awoke the next morning in anticipation of the next part of our journey- a cruise through the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. Fueled by cappuccinos and golden pastries from the Flam Bakery, we boarded the electric ferry boat in Flåm bound for the village of Gudvangen. This particular fjord area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its striking blue waters and steep mountains which are both spectacular and humbling.

• The Stalheimskleiva

Upon arrival in Gudvangen, we had time to leisurely wander and visit some of the nearby shops before boarding a bus to the adventure town of Voss. This route includes a drive down the steep and winding Stalheimskleiva- a road with 13 hairpin bends that offers breathtaking views of the Nærøydalen Valley and its waterfalls. If you are planning this journey on your own and looking for another place to spend a night, this road also takes you up to the Stalheim Hotel, which is situated on a plateau with an incredible vista overlooking the valley.

• Voss to Bergen on The Bergen Line

I will admit that I got a bit teary on the train during this last leg of the trip, from the sheer overwhelm of beauty and exhilaration during the entire journey. I loved how many methods of transportation were used to highlight the unique features of all of the areas included on the tour. Bergen, located on the west coast of Norway, was the perfect place to end our trip and spend a languorous few days digesting all that we had seen and experienced.

Would you consider seeing Norway in this fashion? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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22 comments

  1. We took the train from Oslo to Bergen and back. It was a great way to see the scenery and a nice respite from days of driving.

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    • Hi VJ- thank you so much for sharing. The Bergen Line was absolutely amazing and I agree that it is a perfect way to take in all of the incredible scenery in a very relaxed way. I love a road trip, but there is just something about train travel that speaks to my soul. I love getting to discover a new destination in this way! 🚆💕

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! It was fun to look back on all of these photos as I compiled this post. I sometimes still can’t believe that I was here and got to witness so much beautiful scenery all within a couple of days! I would recommend this journey to anyone visiting Norway 😊💕

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  2. Your photos are truly amazing, Laura, and wow, you even had a chance to ride the Flåm Railway which has often been described as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. What can be better than enjoying the changing scenery of Norway from the comfort of a vintage train compartment? Norway’s been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember but somehow I never made it to the Land of the Midnight Sun. Hopefully, one day 🙂 Thanks for sharing and inspiring. Aiva xx

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    • Thank you so very much, Aiva! This was the trip of a lifetime and I would absolutely agree that the Flåm Railway has got to be one of the world’s most scenic train rides. I’m quite sure my mouth was agape the entire time. Norway is a must-visit destination- I truly hope you make it there for a trip one day! It is a place that captures the heart very quickly. 😊

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  3. Great trip with great photos. The photos you posted are all inspiring and worth viewing. They’re all lovely photos. Keep going and enjoy. Have a great day.

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    • Thank you for such a kind and encouraging comment. I love taking photos while I travel, and hope that they help to convey the magic of a place that I have visited! I appreciate your feedback and hope you have a great day as well💕

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    • Hi Thomas- what areas of Norway have you visited? I am always looking for recommendations for when I eventually return. I would like to see more of Sweden as well as I only scratched the surface in visiting Stockholm. Thank you so much for your kind feedback regarding my photos- the reflection ones are some of my favourites, too! 💕😊

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    • Norway is definitely worthy of a top spot on any bucket list! I’m so glad you liked the photos- it was beautifully nostalgic to look back through them all as I compiled the post. I am so keen to return and explore more of the fjords.

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