Thinking of a Norway in a Nutshell DIY tour? Although there are bigger…much bigger…countries, Norway’s lengthy expanse plus its coast of twisting fjords and waterways can make it difficult to figure out how to get where you want to go.

Thus, the tourist gurus there have come up with a package tour deal called “Norway in a Nutshell” (NiN) that gets you from Oslo to Bergen via the historic Flam Railway and along famous Aurlandsfjord and Naeroyfjord. The journey involves a collection of trains, buses and ships and a puzzle of coordinating schedules. The NiN package means you don’t have to think for yourself about what is a bit of a frenetic trains-buses-and-boats travel day (Note: NiN is not a guided tour. It is simply booked for you in one fell swoop).

The packages are more expensive than doing it on your own, despite having been told the contrary. Yes, you really can do your own so-called Norway in a Nutshell DIY tour with relative ease – and you’ll save hundreds of kroner if you book early.

Why did we bother? For one, HI Travel Tales found the Norway in a Nutshell packaged schedules to be a bit limiting and wondered if a Norway in a Nutshell DIY tour would cost less. Curiosity needs fulfilling so we did just that. For two, isn’t saving a little money a grand idea?

The result: For our November trip, the cost on our own came to approximately 1100 kroner per person (approximately USD $161) – or about 450 less (USD $66) than the price for the Fjord Tours package. OK, maybe that’s not a huuuuge difference – and for some people the comfort of knowing it’s being done for them may be worth the cost. But we are independent-minded and curious sorts….

Norway in a Nutshell Oslo to Bergen train

One of the many incredible views from the train from Oslo to Bergen — be sure to sit on the left-hand side of the train when you book your Norway in a Nutshell DIY itinerary.

We found all of the Norwegian-based representatives with whom we emailed at various tourist agencies, city tourist bureaus, or transportation companies to be very responsive and very helpful.

 HITT Travel Planning Guides: You will want to spend at least 48 hours exploring Bergen — your ending or beginning point for a Norway in a Nutshell DIY tour. We’ve made it as easy as possible for you with detailed information and links to transportation, hotel, key sites and attractions, information centers, maps and discount cards. Click here to start planning your Bergen visit. Click here to explore hotel accommodations in Bergen.

So here’s the 411 for creating a Norway in a Nutshell DIY adventure:

  • Oslo to Myrdal (train): Start planning your Norway in a Nutshell DIY itinerary with your train ticket with the Norwegian state railway to go from Oslo to Myrdal on the westward Oslo-Bergen line. The NSB has so-called “minipris” tickets for one rail journey (no stopovers) between any two cities. At the time of this writing, the lowest minipris price was 249 kr per person (an amazing USD $36). Think of them as an early-purchase discount and, yes, they are not refundable so be verrry sure of your plans. Those early-purchase prices slowly eke upward by about 50 kr as quotas for the lower prices are gradually sold out. But these specials can save you hundreds of kroner per person. www.nsb.no/en/.
     HITT Tip: Create a login so your travels remain housed in your account online. And if you don’t book early enough to nab a minipris, the NiN package could indeed be less expensive, although minipris tickets only creep upward in increments 0f about 50 kr.
  • Myrdal to Flam (train): Next up is the steep, historic Flåm Railway that drops you from Myrdal on the main line to Flam on the water. You have two choices: Either you can also book this trip with NSB (indeed, booking as one journey, Oslo via Myrdal to Flam). Or you can book it directly with the “Flamsbana” railway. The cost is the same (300 kr per person at this writing, for this leg). And the Flam Railway portion is fully refundable up to 24 hours before departure no matter where you book it (and refundable minus an administrative fee up to departure).
     HITT Tip: The Norway in a Nutshell package touts free admission to the Flam Railway museum with its ticket. Question authority, we say, and, yes, we discovered the museum is free to anybody, all the time.
  • Flam to Gudvangen (ferry): OK, you’re in Flam, which is more of a jumping-off point for ships, hikes, trails and skiing than much else. You can choose to stay there for such adventures, or you can skedaddle onwards. Click here to explore accommodations in Flam. Here’s the dilemma: If you take the reasonable 8 a.m. train from Oslo, you don’t get to Flam until about 1:50 p.m. after your transfer in Myrdal. That connects you to the scenic cruise at 3:10 p.m. along the fjords, which will ultimately get you to Bergen as late as 9:00-10:00 p.m.! WHEW, that’s a day! Aren’t we on vacation? To avoid the “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium” frame of mind, you can instead choose to stay the night in Flam and take a morning ferry onwards. Which works fine, except between Oct. 1 and April 30 when the ONLY ferry onward is the one at 3:10 p.m. Which means the last part of your fjord cruise from Flam to Gudvangen will be in total darkness, depending on the time of year. What? It’ll be dark? And I won’t be able to see the UNESCO World Heritage fjords? You got it. So choose wisely as you plan your Norway in a Nutshell DIY itinerary. The Fjord1 company site is where you can check out schedules and buy advance tickets.
     HITT Tip: The folks at the Flam tourist office are very responsive and helpful if you have questions.

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  • Gudvangen to Bergen (bus and/or train): Now, from Gudvangen onward to Bergen you have a few choices although it may be a matter of personal preference since the cost is the same. You can take a bus from Gudvangen to Voss, then transfer back to the Oslo-Bergen train line in Voss to get to Bergen. OR you can continue with the bus from Voss to Bergen. You may still have to change buses in Voss so the choice comes down to preference. The schedules change a bit with the time of year so you’ll need to consult online schedules and compare them to figure out your best connection. The country’s transport collective website at  gives you overall travel info for many areas, while the NOR-WAY Express Bus website will also give you route information and also allow you to buy tickets at a slight discount in advance online.
     HITT Tip: Once off the ship in Gudvangen, some buses leave from a stop at the harbor (“Kai”) or a short walk up on the “E16” roadway, for which you’d need to allow 10-20 minutes or so, depending on your speed and baggage. For essential tips and help planning your Bergen visit, click here to view our Bergen Travel Essentials guide.

Norway in a Nutshell Bergen warfs

The colorful Bryggen wharf in Bergen as depicted by an iPad watercolor painted by Michael Hodgson. To view more artwork by Michael click here.

If all this Norway in a Nutshell DIY planning sounds difficult and complicated, it’s not really. Our suggestion after spending a lot of time researching these sites and schedules (which seem to change a bit year to year and season to season) is to find the routes that apply to your journey and then print them out so you can compare what segments connect to what to avoid errors. Nearly everything is available in English also.

Now lose the fear and take charge of your independence!

 HITT Tip: Of course, Mother Nature is always in charge. During our November 2014 trip, the Flam Railway was flooded out and was not operating at all! So be prepared and watch for alerts on the NSB website regarding any travel plans you have. The NSB was very good at issuing refunds and rebooking.
You deserve a vacation - unwind, relax, breathe. Booking.com

Oslo Main Train Station

Think of Norway train lines somewhat like an x-y axis – one major line goes north-south, and another goes east-west, both with a few offshoots or onward connections to, say, Sweden. Click here to download a PDF map.  Once you know this, it’s easier to get around. The Oslo main station, Central Station (more commonly known as Oslo S), has several departures/arrivals daily on the east-west Oslo–Bergen route, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. We took it from Oslo to Bergen on an early winter day and can confirm that the route is certainly gorgeous, not to mention convenient and affordable. Of course, there are frequent departures to all points in Norway from Oslo’s Central Station. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Bergen Main Train Station - Bergen

Myrdal Train Station

Flam Train Station

Gudvangen Ferry Terminal

Roros Visitors Center

National Museum of Decorative Arts - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Ringve Music Museum - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Trondheim Museum of Art

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Old Town Bakklandet - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Nidaros Cathedral - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Archbishop's Palace and Museum - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Old Town Bridge - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Kristiansten Fort - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Sverresborg - Trondelag Folk Museum - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Stiffsgarden Royal Residence - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Medieval Church Ruins in the Library - Trondheim

https://hitraveltales.com/eight-reasons-to-visit-trondheim/

Alesund and Sunnmore Tourist Office

https://hitraveltales.com/beautiful-alesund-inspires-artists-photographers/

Centre of Art Nouveau - Alesund

https://hitraveltales.com/beautiful-alesund-inspires-artists-photographers/

Fjellstua Viewpoint - Alesund

https://hitraveltales.com/beautiful-alesund-inspires-artists-photographers/

Theta Museum - Bergen

Theta Museum — It was a secret room then and, for many, it still remains a secret museum and hidden room today. It is the itty-bitty Theta Museum, a minute 170-square-foot (16 square meters) low-ceiling room hidden away on an upper floor of the Bryggen wharf area in Bergen. The museum was the headquarters of the Theta Group, an important part of the Norwegian Resistance during WWII. Its hours are quite limited to plan around them to not miss this gem! Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Bergen Maritime Museum - Bergen

Bergen Maritime Museum — The Bergen Maritime Museum presents the history of shipping, its development and importance to Bergen and Norway. We loved the museum’s vast collection of ship models – including Viking ships. Getting There: The museum is situated 150 meters from Johanneskirken (the red church), in the middle of the University campus.. Admission is NOK 50 or free with a valid Bergen Card.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

University Museum of Bergen

University Museum of Bergen — Although the Natural History Museum is undergoing restoration and will not reopen until 2018, the History Museum is well worth a look, containing some of the largest cultural collections in Norway. Since it is adjacent to the Maritime Museum, time your visit to enjoy both on the same day. Admission is NOK 50, or free with a valid Bergen Card.   Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Bryggen - Bergen

Bryggen — This is what you likely think of when you think of Bergen. In 1360 the Hansas – a German guild of merchants – set up one of their import/export offices on Bryggen and dominated world trade for the next 400 years.  Though destroyed many times by fire, each time it has been faithfully rebuilt, on top of foundations that were created in the 11th century. Now on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, Bryggen is made for wandering, slowly. Meander through narrow passageways and enjoy the myriad of tiny shops, offices and artist studios.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Fløibanen Funicular - Bergen

Fløibanen Funicular — Do not miss the breathtaking view from atop Mt. Floyen, 320 meters (1,050) feet above sea level). Certainly one of Norway’s most-often mentioned attractions, the Funicular runs every 15 minutes from early morning until 11 p.m. The journey lasts approximately 8 minutes up or down. We watched for Northern Lights from the summit one evening during a recent visit, though swirling mist obscured a view of the sky, but not the twinkling lights below. Admission is NOK 85 round trip or NOK 43 one-way. Bergen Card is valid for a 50% discount May 1 through September 30 and gives you a free ride the rest of the year.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Bergenhus Festning - Bergen

Bergenhus Festning – A bit further up the road from Bryggen Historic District, take the time to visit the historic fort, Bergenhus. Here you will see the Rosenkrantz Tower, considered one of the most important renaissance monuments in Norway and, when open, offering an impressive view of Bergen. Plus, there is Hakon’s Hall, built by King Håkon Håkonsson as a royal residence and banqueting hall in the 12th century – granted you won’t need a lot of time there. Bergenhus Festning, 5003 Bergen. Admission to each is NOK 70 or free with a valid Bergen Card. Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Hanseatic Museum - Bergen

Hanseatic Museum — One of the best-preserved buildings in Bergen, the Hanseatic Museum shows how the German merchants from The Hanseatic League lived and worked. From 1350 to 1750 these merchants traded stockfish (chewy, dried fish) and grains from their office in Bergen. It is the only house on Bryggen that has kept its original interior. In summer, there are daily guided tours in Norwegian, German, French and English. Admission NOK 90.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Bergen Aquarium - Bergen

Bergen Aquarium – The Bergen Aquarium claims to house one of the largest collections of North Sea fish and invertebrates in Europe. The aquarium features indoor 60 tanks, a shark viewing tube, and two outdoor pools with seals and penguins. Cost – From March 1 to October 31, entrance runs NOK 200. A Bergen Card discounts that by 25%. The rest of the year, entrance is NOK 150 or free with a Bergen Card. Since the aquarium website is only offered in Norwegian, click here to find aquarium information on the official Tourist Information website, thankfully in English.  Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Det Lille Kaffekompaniet - Bergen

Bergen is made to get lost in on foot because it’s so compact and so walkable, albeit hilly. Explore narrow side streets, particularly those around the base of the funicular’s lower terminal off Lille Øvergaten. Just follow your nose. Take the time to sit and enjoy a coffee and delectable in one of the many small cafes you will encounter … we loved Det Lille Kaffekompaniet in the Lille Overgaten. Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Skottegaten - Bergen

Bergen is made to get lost in on foot because it’s so compact and so walkable, albeit hilly. Explore narrow side streets, particularly those around the base of the funicular’s lower terminal off Lille Øvergaten. Just follow your nose. Also worth exploring is the hilly area all around Skottegaten just west of the main part of the old town and between there and the Hurtigruten terminal. Your nose and your feet will be your guides. Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Hurtigruten Terminal - Bergen

Shipping and ferry services are Bergen’s connection to the outside world as well as much of Norway. You will arrive or depart from here by ferry for part of the Norway in a Nutshell tour, if you choose that version. And this is also where the well-known Hurtigruten (the Coastal Express) ferry tours depart daily for trips up to Kirkenes in the far north (stopping in numerous Norwegian coastal towns and villages along the way). Click here to read our What To Do In Bergen travel planning guide.

Hurtigruten Terminal - Kirkenes

Hurtigruten Terminal - Trondheim

Vigeland Park - Oslo

Don’t miss the Frogner neighborhood and the Vigeland Park with its spectacular lineup of Gustav Vigeland’s works. If the weather is nice – remember, this is Scandinavia – the park is a popular destination for jogging, walking and picnicking. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Royal Palace - Oslo

Take the time to wander down Karl Johans Gate, starting at the Central Station. Karl Johans Gate is the main street in central Oslo and features a tree-lined promenade bordered by restaurants, cafes and upscale stores. There is, naturally, great people watching and at the end of the walk you will find yourself at the Royal Palace, home of the Norwegian royal family. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Old Aker Church - Oslo

Old Aker Church – The church is and old medieval building and is listed as the oldest remaining building in Oslo dating back to the 11th century. Admission: Free. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Oslo Domkirke - Oslo

Oslo Domkirke (cathedral) — This is considered the most important church of Oslo where all the royal ceremonies have been held for centuries. It has a delightfully rich interior. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Edward Munch Museum - Oslo

Edward Munch Museum — Edvard Munch – probably best known for modern painting known as “The Scream” — has a unique position among Nordic painters and is considered a pioneer in expressionism. The Munch Museum’s collection, left to the city of Oslo by the artist, consists of paintings, graphical prints and drawings. By constantly changing the exhibitions, the museum presents the variety in his life. Be sure to visit the museum website prior to planning your trip as the museum does close for short spans due to exhibition changes. Admission: NOK 100. Free with valid Oslo Pass. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Norwegian Museum of Cultural History - Oslo

Norwegian Museum of Cultural History — Located on Bydgoy next to the Viking Ship Museum the Museum of Cultural History is a large open-air museum that is full of wonderful replicas of traditional Norwegian buildings throughout Norwegian history. The most famous building is the intricately carved stave church – which is truly stunning. Admission is NOK 80 or free with a valid Oslo Pass. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

The Viking Ship Museum - Oslo

The Viking Ship Museum — The Viking Ship Museum presents historic Viking ship discoveries discovered during excavations at Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune as well as other finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. Most significant are the displays of the world’s two best-preserved wooden Viking ships, built in the 9th century. Admission is NOK 80 or free with a valid Oslo Pass. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Akershus Fortress - Oslo

Akershus Fortress — Akershus Fortress, located in the city centre overlooking the Oslo fjord, is a great place to take in wonderful views of Oslo as well as the surrounding fjord. The building of Akershus Castle and the fortress began in 1299 under King Håkon V. The medieval castle, which was completed in the 1300s, was strategically located at the end of the headlands overlooking the fjord. King Christian IV (1588-1648) modernized the castle and had it converted to a royal residence. Admission is free. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Resistance Museum - Oslo

Norway’s Resistance Museum — The Resistance Museum is located in a 17th century building on the grounds of Akershus Fortress, right adjacent to the memorial for Norwegian patriots executed during the war. It is a fantastic museum – plan on a couple of hours (or more depending on your passion) to view the displays covering five years of occupation recreated with pictures, documents, posters, objects, models, original copies of newspapers and recordings. Read our What To Do In Oslo planning guide here.

Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion

Honningsvag

Honningsvag is a small fishing port far up the northern coast of Norway, nestled in a pocket among islands and fjords north of Tromso. From the Hurtigruten ship heading north, the town is uber-cute, hugging the base of a hill. Aside from fishing, it is the capital of the “North Cape” areaRead our Photographer's Diary story on Honningsvag here.

Looking to explore more of Norway?

Then in addition to our own Norway resources — What To Do In Norway —  you will enjoy reading this article from our friend Jen Miller at jenreviews.com, 100 Best Things to do in Norway

Heads up! This information on Norway in a Nutshell was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.