When one thinks of Norway, one thinks of fjords, and the area just north of Bergen is one of most accessible places to experience these natural wonders. Part of the allure is the convenience of the popular Norway in a Nutshell (NiaN) self-guided tour, a package of rail, bus, and ferry trips that sweeps visitors from Bergen or Oslo through fjord country. Some people do the loop from Bergen in one day, but that seemed rushed, so we completed the loop over two days.
We collected our booklet of tickets from Bergen’s train station in the early morning of day one and we were off! The first leg of our journey took us on a one-hour train ride to Vossevangen. It was absolutely pouring, but we had 4-and-a-half hours in town, so we did our best to enjoy it. Bordalsgjelet Gorge is only a 45-minute walk from the train station, but it felt like an eternity in this weather. There was something quite peaceful about walking in nature with only the sounds of our feet on the dirt and the rain on the trees. On the way to the gorge we spent some time appreciating the pedestrian covered bridge at 60.619773, 6.423996. Once back in town, we grabbed lunch at Tre Brør (bacon and egg sandwich, chicken bacon salad), where we did our best to dry off. It was here we realized everyone else, who were all clearly much more prepared than us, were wearing waterproof pants. Now we know for next time!
Next up was a one-hour bus ride to Gudvangen. The views from the bus during our descent from the mountains to Nærøyfjord were amazing; Rico duked it out with another keen photographer and came away with some nice shots. Our stay in Gudvangen was brief; our last bit of travel for the day was a 2-and-a-half-hour ferry over Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord to Flåm. Though a long ride, the views made it anything but boring. The fog and clouds made for a dramatic and surreal environment.
Once in Flåm, we checked into the Fretheim Hotel and grabbed dinner at Ægir Microbrewery (pulled pork burger, chicken burger, apple crumble, strawberry cheesecake), which we’d highly recommend for its fun atmosphere and delicious food—perfect for refueling after a long travel day!
In the morning we set off for a four-hour guided kayak tour with Njord Seakayak and Wilderness Adventures, which was booked as an add-on through NiaN; the group of 7 or 8 of us was led by two young entertaining guides. Best yet, we were lucky enough to see the clouds break and sun come out for this trip! We spent a couple of hours on the fjord, then stopped on a small beach to walk through the hills and eat lunch. Tired muscles and choppy waves meant a difficult ride back to Flåm! After kayaking we hiked through Fretheimshaugane a bit and enjoyed panoramic views of the fjord. A yummy lunch was had at Bakkastova Café (goat sausage, quiche).
Wrapping up the excursion, we grabbed a one-hour train to Myrdal. We stopped at a viewing platform within soaking distance of Myrdalsfossen Waterfall near the end of the journey where we were serenaded by a Huldra—a seductive troll girl in Norwegian folklore. From Myrdal it was a two-and-a-half-hour train ride back to Bergen. The ride was scenic, but decidedly less impressive having come from the fjords.
Our long weekend in Norway was wet, but we enjoyed our time in nature with good company. NiaN is one of the classic itineraries in Europe and Bergen is a charming seaside city that offers a playful view into Norwegian culture. With so much of this large country left to explore, there’s no doubt we will someday return!