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Trip Down Memory Lane: Scandinavian Trip Summer 2019 - Part 2

Updated: May 3, 2021

In this series I'm scratching the travel itch by re-living a trip across Scandinavia in the Summer of 2019.

Day 3: Norway in a Nutshell

Before checking out of the room it was time to scope out how hotels in the Nordics do breakfast. As it was included in the price of the room, we weren’t expecting much. Boy howdy, were we in for a surprise! There was everything one could want including an entire buffet table of charcuterie! For breakfast. Yes, please!

There were also warm options such as eggs, bacon, sausage, and even fishcakes. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to graze as we had to head to Bergen Train Station for the self-guided Norway in a Nutshell tour.

The tour is a route utilizing various public transportation methods to efficiently see Norway’s natural beauty. It includes time on trains, a bus, and even a ferry! Since we were headed towards Oslo next we might as well enjoy the route on our way.

Two of the legs of Norway in a Nutshell are aboard Vy’s Bergensbanen Route, often cited as one of Europe’s most beautiful train journeys. This first leg of the tour is about 75 minutes from Bergen to the mountain town of Voss. Our seats were on the left side of the train so we had clear views of the scenery as we gently climbed in elevation along the fjord.

Once we arrived in Voss it was a short walk to board the buses heading towards Gudvangen. The photos on here may throw you off but Norway in a Nutshell is a popular tourist activity with large crowds. We were able to dodge the masses somewhat by walking a few extra steps. Out of the numerous buses waiting to pick up passengers the closest ones were filled to capacity but the one on the end wasn’t even half full, meaning we could switch seats during the journey to get the best views from each side. And, let me be honest, those views are spectacular!

As the bus climbed further up the mountains we passed several lakes with a few snowy peaks in the distance. As we began to crest the mountains near Stalheim Hotel the bus left the highway for a dramatic mountain road with many hairpin turns. It is pretty much a slow moving roller coaster in the most amazing setting.

If the mountains, valleys, forests, and lakes are not breathtaking enough, the waterfalls definitely bring it over the top.

A short while after descending into the valley we arrived in the village of Gudvangen just in time to board a pedestrian ferry to Flåm via the Nærøyfjord and Aurlarnsfjord. This two hour ride is incredible. The deep blue waters, vibrant greenery, and the small villages scattered between the tall cliffs took my breath away.

As comfortable as it was inside the ferry I couldn’t leave the deck with views like this. Sure, a few snowflakes may have fallen, even in late June, but if anything it just added to the magic.

Once we arrived in Flåm it was time for some lunch as there were about 2 and half hours before boarding the Flåm Railway. There isn't much in Flåm beyond a few restaurants, gift shops, and cruise ship terminals within walking distance. That’s alright though, I will happily eat a shrimp sandwich while I wait.

The Flåm Railway is a vintage line now used mostly by tourists to climb the 866 meters (2,841 feet) in elevation to Myrdal. We sat on the right side of the train and were not disappointed in the views.

The most anticipated moment of the Flåm Railway is when the train stops at Kjosfossen and passengers are allowed to disembark the train to view the majestic falls. This time we were even lucky enough to see a Huldra (a traditional forest creature) dancing near the falls! Sure, she might have been paid by the Railway to appear on schedule, but I embraced the theatrics.

Shortly after departing Kjosfossen we arrived in Myrdal to connect back with the Bergensbanen. There isn’t much here besides the station. Definitely enough time to grab some coffee before boarding the final leg of the tour!

Back on the Bergensbanen the route travels through the Hardangervidda plateau. The plateau causes this train route to be the highest mainline railway in Northern Europe. Even in the beginning of summer the snow still lingers.

The five hour ride slowly descends the plateau from above the tree-line and through the immense forests of Norway. I enjoyed contemplating what life would be like in the colorful small villages along the way.

After a 14 hour voyage through the stunning Norwegian landscape we arrived at Oslo Central Station at 11 p.m.

Our hotel, Comfort Hotel Børsparken, was located a few short blocks away from the station. We were exhausted and ready to get some sleep before a full day in Oslo.

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