Norway in a Nutshell – In a Nutshell

Norway in a Nutshell – In a Nutshell

Earlier this month I set off on a trip unlike my other travels this summer and I experienced Norway by embarking on the Sogneford in a Nutshell tour. Because of her Norwegian heritage, my friend Ashley wanted to include this excursion to Norway when she visited me in Copenhagen along with our friend Marilyn. Over four days we experienced the breathtaking Scandinavian IMG_1162.JPGlandscape from Bergen to Oslo through the fjords and mountain trains with stops in Flåm and Myrdal. Norway was never high on my travel bucket list, but on this trip I was pleasantly surprised and the getaway made me reconsider my travel priorities going forward!

So what is Norway in a Nutshell?

Nutshell Map
There are a ton of options, we chose the abbreviated Sognefjord in a Nutshell tour providing this route from Bergen to Oslo through Flåm and Myrdal

The Norway in a Nutshell tour is a popular summer voyage that takes travelers across Norway with a combination of cruises buses and train rides. Throughout the cross-country trek you get to take in the beautiful views and nature that is so well-preserved by the Norwegian people. There are a plethora of options available through NSB (Norwegian Railways) where you can book different routes, round trip tickets and different length voyages with overnight options in multiples cities. We opted for a shorter variation, the Sognefjord in a Nutshell (tour pictured above). This gave us highlights of Bergen, Flåm, Myrdal and finished in Oslo. You can also book online – if you have ever considered a trip to Norway, there’s an option for you and you won’t be let down!

Norwegian Flag near the top of Mount Ulkrien
Just chilling with the Norwegian Flag near the top of Mount Ulkrien – highest peak in Bergen, Norway

To begin our tour, we spent two nights in Bergen, the nation’s second largest city located on the Southwestern coast of Norway. In Bergen we enjoyed the natural beauty and fascinating history of this quaint waterfront city surrounded by seven mountains.

Bergen Harbor Medieval Houses
Bergen Medieval Hanseatic Merchant Houses Lining the Harbor

Beautiful sky, mountains and water in Bergen Harbor next to the fish market
Beautiful sky, mountains and water in Bergen Harbor next to the fish market

Upon our arrival we wandered around town to take in the sights: steep mountains dropping into the Byfjorden or “city fjord,” medieval merchant houses lining the harbor and a fresh seafood market with fishing vessels unloading their daily catch. Our position on the globe meant the sun did not set until after 11:00PM and full darkness came well later. We took advantage of the daylight to make the most of our first night and grabbed a snack and a drink at one of the many pubs lining the waterway.

Bergen Harbor
Almost Sunset – This was 11:30PM

The following day we took a cable care to the top of Mount Ulriken, the highest of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen. The views from the top and the challenging hike made this one of the early highlights of the trip. Every step we took, the sight of our elevated surroundings and the city and harbor below grew more and more exquisite.

After enjoying some time at the peak, we made our way back to the cable car station to have a few drinks at the restaurant there. We then descended via cable car and to took in dinner along the waterfront. The fresh seafood options and gorgeous backdrop made for a wonderful evening at Fjellskål Fisketorget. The restaurant and fish market is also located conveniently beneath the tourist information center.

Cable Car Ride up most of Mount Ulkrien (logo is Jared Kushner)
Cable Car Ride up most of Mount Ulkrien (logo is Jared Kushner)

Seafood Dinner in the fish market at Bergen Harbor
Seafood Dinner in the fish market at Bergen Harbor

Our final day in Bergen consisted of city exploration and admiring the cute streets and homes built along the mountainous fjord city. We meandered the city center and walked around the harbor to Bergenhus Fortress. Located at the mouth of the harbor, this structure is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. While some European castles can be impressive but overwhelming, Bergenhus was simple and best of all – free.


The streets of Bergen, Norway built into the mountain
The streets of Bergen, Norway built into the mountain

The Fortress at Bergen Castle
The Fortress at Bergen Castle

Finally we were ready to leave Bergen and continue the Sognefjord in a Nutshell tour. The first leg of our transportation package was an early morning cruise through the coastal archipelago and deep into the Sognefjord. Unbelievable mountain scenery and tumbling waterfalls got more impressive the deeper we cruised into the fjord.

After five hours we arrived in Flåm, a tiny mountain hamlet on the edge of the fjord. While we didn’t have much time in Flåm, we were able to take in the beauty, eat lunch at one of the many food options and visit the Flåm Railway Museum. Explaining the history of the region and the construction of one of Europe’s steepest railways, the museum made me excited for the next stretch of our journey – The train from Flåm to Myrdal along the Flåm Railway, named one of the world’s most beautiful train rides.


The landscape and water features that awaited us on the Flåm Railway were worth the entire trip. From our tiny traincar we scaled the mountains and witnessed the true beauty of nature in Norway. The pictures that I captured on this portion of the trip don’t do justice to the actual views but made me happy that we purchased a new camera before moving to Europe. On the ride we stopped at Kjosfossen Waterfall to take in the stunning sight of this masterpiece of nature.

Mountain snow melt river
Mountain snow melt river – photo taken from the train window

Whatever TLC – Chase Kjosfossen Waterfall, it’s amazing!

From Mydral we were in for another four and a half hour train ride to Oslo. By now it was 6:30PM and we had been trekking across Norway since 8:00AM. The first stretch of the final leg had more gorgeous views but the last half of the ride was simply transactional – it took us to the city we were flying home from the next day.

My takeaways from this trip:

  1. Norway is gorgeous. Besides history and nightlife, I will now consider the natural attractions of places that I choose to visit.
  2. Norway is expensive. Normally I mention prices of the places that I write about, but Norway is expensive and most people know that before visiting. For reference, beer is $10-12, meals are $30-60 and our tour was $255.
  3. Norway takes a while to cross. I loved this trip and highly recommend Sognefjord in a Nutshell or looking into the full Norway in a Nutshell tour. Still, be aware that doing even this shorter version of the Norway in a Nutshell trek will take over 16 hours of travel. This was a heavy lift in one day, especially the day before we flew home. If I was planning this trip over again I would rearrange our cross-country travel day and spend a full day in Oslo, or break up the travel day to spend a night in the Norwegian interior.
  4. Norway is a MUST!

Derek Hartman

Derek Hartman is an American expat from Philadelphia, currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark. His blog, Robe Trotting focuses on travel, expatriation and lifestyle topics.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Who knew Jared Kushner was into cable car art!!!

  2. What a great write up and photos. Thank you for posting this. Norway has now moved into my next 5 places to go.

    1. It was a trip I never would have booked myself, but I am SO happy that I went – highly recommended!!!

  3. Norway’s regions can vary greatly in temps and weather conditions so pack accordingly. And, please, leave flip flops at home, solid footwear for hiking paths and hills. Get out and enjoy the outdoors as Norwegians do.

    And if you’re driving, distance isn’t an accurate gauge of the time to reach destination; research it or ask locals. Know where gas refueling sites are located in rural areas; they’re not found in many small towns. Better yet, check out cruise, rail, bus schedules or day tours & intra-Norway air, instead of driving. Finally, know that Norway has one of the toughest alcohol & driving laws; even 1 drink & driving can put you at risk for stiff fines.

  4. Thanks for posting! Have a trip booked for May with the ex so still figuring that part out, but the flight from D.C. RT was only $186! We are flying in and out of Oslo so I think doing the train in reverse to Bergen via Flam, and then renting a car to drive south and do a night in Stavanger and hike Preacher’s Pulpit. 6 days seems too short but may be wise with how expensive it is

    1. It’s so expensive there but it’s so gorgeous! The train is long but has some pretty points, the Flåm to Myrdal portion is the best and the fjord boat ride was pretty as well. There are a TON of options though so you can break it up and even book the transportation when you arrive too.

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