Norway: Fjord Sightseeing with Norway in a Nutshell - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Norway: Fjord Sightseeing with Norway in a Nutshell

Norway is often referred to as the country of the fjords, but what does this entail? While a normal inlet also can be categorized as a fjord in some cases, most people probably would associate fjords with narrow inlets surrounded by steep-sided mountains. This type of landscape can only be found in a handful of countries, with Norway's fjords frequently being ranked as the best in the world

If you find yourself in Norway and are longing to see the fjords you can find daily trips to the fjords from both Oslo and Bergen* during the whole summer season. We went for a day-trip with the tour "Norway in a Nutshell", which has become to be known as Norway's most popular fjord trip.

*or any of the stations on the Bergen Railway, including Flåm and Voss
Voss station
In our case we started out in Bergen, a city known as the "gateway to the fjords". We left by train from Bergen Station at 8:45 in the morning heading for the first destination of the trip; a small town called Voss. This place is known mainly for Voss water (believe it or not) and for extreme sports. In fact, this tiny place with a population of around 14,000 people receives more than 40,000 visitors for their annual festival "Ekstremsportveko" (the Extreme Sports Week) or just "veko" held late June.

For those who are interested in spending more than a day on the trip it is possible to stay a night in Voss and for instance try out rafting before heading towards the fjords. If not, you will only have a short break before the bus leaves so there won't be any chance to go sightseeing in the town if you follow the regular schedule of the tour.
The bus takes you to the Nærøydalen valley, which is the place where the fjord cruise starts, but even on the way there you can enjoy the sight of marvellous nature combined with the characteristic wooden houses often painted in red or white.
Another highlight from the bus trip is the descend down the winding path of one of Northern Europe's steepest roads, the Stalheimskleiva. The road has a one to five (20%) gradient at its steepest point, and you'll get the chance to take a good look at the fabulous scenery as the bus gets maneuvered through 13 sharp hairpin bends.
Rainbow over the Stalheimsfossen waterfall
On the way down you get to enjoy the sight of two beautiful waterfalls; the 140 meter high Sivlefossen waterfall, and the 126 meter high Stalheimsfossen waterfall. The picture above shows Stalheimsfossen waterfall where we had the pleasure of seeing a beautiful rainbow.
Once you reach the bottom of the Nærøydalen vally you'll find yourself in a small town called Gudvangen. Here you have the chance to stay the night if you'd like; right by the ferry terminal lies Gudvangen Fjordtell & Apartments, a charming hotel with a beautiful view of the Nærøyfjord (And yes, the name is a wordplay on fjord and hotel).
But even if you decide to continue on with the trip right away you'll have approximately 25 minutes to for instance check out the souvenir shop, take pictures of the viking ship by the shore or perhaps try out a local beer or a viking shot while you enjoy the view of the fjord from the restaurant.

Viking shots in the bar

A fireplace inside the main building

The main building of the Gudvangen Fjordtell seen from outside
After the brief stop in Gudvangen it is time for yet another highlight of the trip: the fjord cruise from Gudvangen to Flåm.  This cruise takes you through the stunning Nærøyfjord and into another fjord called Aurlandsfjord, both part of the West Norwegian Fjords inscribed into UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2006
Did you by the way know that the word "fjord" comes from the old norse word "fjörðr"? This word could mean to "travel over to the other side", and has the same roots as the word "fare" (as in "farewell"). While fjords in ancient times were vital trading routes for vikings connecting local villages, today the fjords serve as popular routes for tourists annually attracting millions of travellers from all over the world.
It looks idyllic when there's only one seagull in the picture. But believe me, we had way too many seagulls following our boat.
The stunning nature you can see in the fjords has led to them being described as "the best unspoiled travel destinations in the world" by the National Geographic Magazine. In addition to the beautiful surroundings you can also spot some wildlife during the cruise if you're lucky, as the fjords are home to a range of animals such as porpoises, seals and eagles. On the other hand, if you're unlucky all you'll get to see is seagulls. Loads of seagulls. You'll most definitely see seagulls whether you want to or not.
One of the characteristics of the Norwegian fjords are the surrounding steep-sided mountains, but there is a lot to the fjords that one cannot see from the surface. The fjords are said to have been formed over a span of millions of years by glacial erosion, and some fjords go down over a thousand meter below sea level. The difficult terrain has historically made it hard to reach the local settlements along the fjords, many of whom can be accessed only by boat. Until a road connection was established in1988 this was also the case for the village in the picture below called Undredal, which you'll pass along the way to Flåm. Undredal is the home to approximately 100 people and 500 goats, and is known for its traditional goat cheese called brunost (Norwegian brunost - brown cheese - is a must-try if you find yourself in Norway).
The tiny village of Undredal, nestled in between magnificent mountains
Arriving in Flåm you'll again have a break - this time approximately 40 minutes - to explore your surroundings. Flåm is really a beautiful little town, and if you have the time I would recommend staying the night before continuing your trip. Some of your options (if you decide to stay here) include going on a 3-hour kayak trip in the fjords or, if you visit during the winter, perhaps a snowshoe hiking trip. There is also a local museum dedicated to the Flåm Railway where you can learn more about its history, or you could simply climb up the nearest hill and enjoy the spectacular view of the fjord and the snow capped mountains.
You can probably spend hours just enjoying the view of the fjord in Flåm
The Flåm Railway Museum
After the break - which is the longest you get during the trip - it is time to leave the town, once again travelling by train. This time you get to ride the Flåm RailwayFlåmsbana, which was ranked as the most beautiful train ride in the world by Lonely Planet in 2014. The ride only takes about an hour, but in this short time you'll get to pass by majestic waterfalls, steep mountains and no less than 20 tunnels. The trip takes you on a steep ride from sea level up to 865 meter above sea level, and depending on the month you visit you'll even get to see loads of snow once you get close to the end stop in Myrdal. 
Tourists getting on the train by Kjosfossen
The train stops one time on the way to Myrdal by Kjosfossen, a waterfall with a total fall of around 225 meter

Here you'll see a short performance by a dancer dressed up as a huldra, which is a creature from Scandinavian folklore. The forest spirit huldra was believed to take the appearance of an incredibly beautiful young woman, and she would lure the men to follow her into the wild nature with her sweet song. However, the poor men who chose to follow her suspiciously often ended up loosing their lives, for instance by drowning in waterfalls.

Still snow in Myrdal mid-May
The last stop of the trip is Myrdal Station, a mountain railway station and junction with direct connections to both Oslo and Bergen through the Bergen Railway. From here you can either end your trip by taking the train back to your starting point or continue your way to the opposite side of where you came from. The train ride from Myrdal to Bergen is about 2 hours, and it takes approximately 4 1/2 hours to get to Oslo.

When to Travel: 
The "Norway in a Nutshell" trip is extremely popular, and during high season there are swarms of tourists visiting the Norwegian fjords. If you want to avoid the crowds I would recommend arranging a trip in mid-May, as the weather already has become warmer but the tourists season has yet to fully begin. On the 17th of May you can use the opportunity to participate in Norway's largest festival - the Constitution Day. This National Day is still a relatively unknown treasure that Norway has to offer tourists, and the best day of the year to experience traditional Norwegian culture up close.

Thanks for reading!
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or comments.

Basic Info
  • ・Name of Trip: Norway in a Nutshell by Fjord Tours AS
  • ・Route:Bergen - Voss - Gudvangen - Flåm - Myrdal - Bergen
    *you can also choose different routes when you make your booking
  • Prices: 
    • ・Rountrip from Bergen: NOK 1320
    • ・Rountrip from Oslo: NOK 2350
    • ・From Bergen to Oslo (or opposite) incl. the sightseeing: NOK 1770
  • ・Official Home Page:

Recommended Hotels in Bergen

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Bergen

Thon Hotel Bristol Bergen

Det Hanseatiske


Related blogposts

Author Image

About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

  • 0Disqus Comment
  • Facebook Comment

Leave your comment

Post a Comment

comments powered by Disqus

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
・Read more →

Recent Posts


Random Posts