Norway in a Nutshell in One Day
If you want to get a taste of the natural beauty of Norway, the easiest way to do it is through a route that is commonly known as “Norway in a nutshell”. It takes you, via train, to a ferry ride through the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord located between Oslo and Bergen. Ideally it would be done as an overnight (or two or three) on the way from Oslo to Bergen. However, it is possible to do it as a day trip from Oslo. Which is what I did. It makes for a VERY long day but, if you plan ahead just right, it can be done.
Here is what I did. There isn’t much wiggle room if you are trying to do it in a day. I’ll include some tips that I think would have helped me in my planning. Alternatively, you may want to check out a package deal if putting this together makes you queasy — especially during July and August when things sell out.
I made the trip in June. I believe you can do the trip any time of the year. It is quite popular with tourists over the summer.
Train from Oslo to Myrdal
6:28 Depart Oslo Central Station
11:37 Arrive Myrdal
NOK 619 ($73) Purchase online at vy.no
Book ahead, trains can sell out and prices go up closer to the date
The first train of the day leaves at 6:28. You will want to be on this train if you are hoping to make the journey in one day. If your hotel includes breakfast, ask if they can put together a to-go bag for you to take to the station with you. Thon Hotel Cecil was able to do this for me. You can also purchase food at the station or on board the train.
I purchased Comfort Class for +NOK 100 (about $12). The only difference is a bit more leg room at your seat and free coffee on the train.
The train is modern and very comfortable. Which is good because you are going to be spending a lot of time on it! There is a cafe car that serves better food than you can get on the ferry so I suggest getting lunch (and dinner) on board.
There is also an entire car on the train for families that includes a kid play area.
There are power outlets on the train at each seat but no wifi. But don’t worry, there are great views the entire way. I had cell reception about half the time on the train.
As you leave Oslo, you start to climb through the Norway countryside including many lakes and towns.
As you get deeper in and start into the mountains, you encounter lovely rivers and waterfalls.
About an hour before Myrdal you ascend above the tree line. The landscape is barren and beautiful. it is amazing that people live in this area. You’ll notice houses each have an outhouse — I would guess no/limited plumbing.
My train was delayed by about 30 minutes getting in to Myrdal, but they hold the Flåm train so it wasn’t an issue with making the next leg.
12:20 Depart Myrdal
13:15 Arrive Flåm
NOK 440 ($52) Tickets may be purchased on the train or online
Tickets can technically sell out — however, the people I spoke with said that you can almost always still get on and pay the conductor
It is a bit of a madhouse at the Myrdal station. During my visit in late June, there were a ton of tour groups. Many tour groups had their own train car. “Singles”, or those not in a group, had to get on the first car. Luckily there are staff around to help you figure out where to go.
The train is pretty basic and old, I don’t even know that there is a bathroom on the cars. For better photos, move to the end of the car where the windows can be opened.
The trip is a steep one. You start in the mountains and end up at sea level.
There is one tourist stop along the way at a waterfall. People can get off the train. Listen for the music and look closely above the falls for a surprise…
Waterfalls and small villages line the valley as you snake your way down to the fjord.
13:30 Depart Flåm
15:45 Arrive Gudvangen
NOK 405 ($48) Tickets may be purchased at the dock or online
Once you reach Flåm, you will want to catch The Fjords official ferry. The dock is located to the right and back a bit of the train depot.
There are two types of boats that make the trip between Flåm and Gudvangen — classic and premium (hybrid/electric). I was on the classic ferry along with a literal boat-load of other tourists. I can’t tell you how many selfies I saw being taken. There is a rush to get to the front of the boat for the best spot… but you will be more comfortable with “settling” for a spot along the sides where you can come and go and wander as you like.
The boat ride is roughly two hours. There are bathrooms and a cafeteria on board. Interestingly I had full cell reception the entire boat ride.
The sites are stunning. The best views are the last 45 minutes as you go through the narrowest portion of the fjord. There are a number of towns along the way and depending on if someone wants to get on or off, you may stop quickly at one of the docks.
The scenery is stunning. The other tourists make the boat ride a bit less enjoyable but it is forgiven each time you see a waterfall.
Upon arriving in Gudvangen you will encounter other tourists waiting to make the opposite direction.
There is not much to see in this town so head straight for one of the waiting buses to take you up to Voss.
Bus to Voss
~16:00 Depart Gudvangen
~16:50 Arrive Voss
NOK 59 ($7) Tickets may only be purchased on the bus — no reservations
The buses wait for the ferry to arrive. Most of the ferry passengers will head to their tour busses, look for the orange buses — number 950. You can’t miss it.
The bus winds its way through a tunnel, makes a loop to a hotel, down a corkscrew STEEP hill, past a waterfall, and then up to the town of Voss where it drops you off at the train station. Hopefully on time for your train.
Train from Voss to Oslo
17:10 Depart Voss
23:00 Arrive Oslo S
NOK 789 ($93) Purchase online at vy.no
Book ahead, trains can sell out and prices go up closer to the date
I purchased a round trip from Oslo to Voss. However, I think you might save a bit of money if you booked 2 one-way tickets (Oslo-Myrdal and Voss-Oslo) so do a little research once you know your dates. As Voss is past Myrdal by about 45 minutes, it is a long train ride back to Oslo.
If you are worried about cutting the return too close, you could book a later train but that is getting you in to Oslo even later. It might be worth paying a bit more to get a refundable/changeable ticket just incase some part of the above trip is delayed.
Realistically you are looking at an 18+ hour day. It is a beautiful adventure and I found the scenery from the train to be as interesting as the fjords. Still, bring an audio book or podcast and know you are in for a long day.
Have you done the Norway in a Nutshell trip? Did you do it in a day? Is it crazy to even consider?
2 thoughts on “Norway in a Nutshell in One Day”
So cool! What an adventure!
Wow! Great trip and great summary! I missed it earlier.