While Norway’s cities consist of intriguing Scandinavian architecture and a vibrant cultural life, it’s the space between that will truly leave you breathless. We arrived in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, for a brief stay until we headed to our ultimate destination, Bergen. While we initially opted for a plane ticket to jump across the country, we quickly realized our potential mistake when we heard word of arguably the most beautiful train ride in the world. Outside of its urban neighborhoods, the real treasures of this land is found beyond the city walls.
After reviewing options to travel from Oslo to Bergen, we stumbled upon Norway in a Nutshell. A scenic ride that includes a death-defying train, ferry and bus ride through the Norwegian countryside and fjords. Although we knew it would be a pretty penny, this once-in-a-lifetime venture was worth the splurge for us. With varying routes, you can tailor the trek to your needs. Since we were on a bit of a time crunch, we chose the one day of travel rather than stopping over night. Looking back now, we had wished we could’ve stayed a night in Flåm, a charming village nestled in the fjords at the inner end of the Aurlandsfjorden (say that three times fast..or ever once). Nevertheless, we soaked up as much Scandinavian air we could through this incredible journey.
Our tour began early in the day with a train ride heading west from Oslo through scenic mountain terrain on the Bergen Railway. The snow capped mountains and streams of water allowed for gorgeous photographs. Pro tip: sit on the left side of the train traveling form Oslo to Bergen to take in the more scenic views. We end up sitting on the right but I had no shame climbing over people to get the perfect shot. The lengths one goes to for the perfect insta shot, I tell ya. Upon arrival in Myrdal, we disembarked and switched trains to the “legendary Flåm Railway”. As noted, this ride allowed for “spectacular panoramic views to some of the wildest and most magnificent nature in the Norwegian fjord landscape.” Our hopes were high.
I will note that by this point we were STARVING. While there were some snacks on the train, we should we would be able to grab a quick lunch in Flåm before our boat ride. Well, apparently, so did everyone else. Lines were insanely long and we were only barely able to grab a croissant before the ride. Definitely make sure to bring extra snacks. As the queen of snacks myself, I couldn’t believe I was left trail mix-less. Some bottles of waters are necessary as well.
While the train ride was magnificent, the real show stopper was the fjord cruise we picked up in Flåm. With weather in the seventies and the sun at full blast, we couldn’t have hoped for a more beautiful experience. The cruise takes you through the magnificent Aurlandsfjord along the dramatic and narrow Nærøyfjord. While I’m certainly one to write home about this experience, the pictures truly do speak for themselves and I’ll refrain from writing about the sparkling aqua water and breathtaking overhangs.
At the conclusion of our cruise in Gudvangen, a quaint town nestled in the innermost part of Nærøyfjorden, we hopped on our bus ride into Voss. When they say this ride has steep hairpin bends of through Stalheimskleiva, they aren’t messing around. I mostly pretended to be calm through this part while enjoying the magnificent waterfalls and little villages throughout the ride. Between you and me, my hands were sweatin’ like crazy though. Our charming made some musing comments about the brakes not working and while I appreciated his light-hearted humor, I fought the urge to knock him upside the head.
Once safely off a cliff, we boarded our last train ride on the Bergen Railway to Bergen. Yet again, if you think you’re getting food in Voss, think again. A small village with limited food and a quick transition time meant we could only munch on the last bit of our croissant. We opted to use this ride to take a nap and regain our energy for our evening in Bergen.
Have you ever been to Norway? What’s your favorite way to travel between cities?