DIY: Norway in a Nutshell

Norway in a Nutshell is a popular tour that takes visitors through beautiful fjord landscapes. The tour goes along the picturesque Bergen railway, steep but stunning Flåm Railway, then on a boat through the Aurlandsfjord and the narrow Nærøyfjord. You can customise this tour with overnight stops, activities, and accommodation. You can also start or finish the tour anywhere – Oslo, Bergen, Voss or Flam.

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Kjossfossen Waterfall
Kjossfossen waterfall, locked in ice

The beauty of travelling with Norway in a Nutshell is that you can chop and change the itinerary as much as you want, then book it all via a one stop shop – everything, including train tickets, ferry rides, hotels, even ski passes if you fancy some skiing in Voss, can be booked through one portal. However, if you’re looking to try and save a little money, you could always do-it-yourself. We spent NOK2,700 by booking everything (excluding accommodation) independently, compared to Norway in a Nutshell’s quote of NOK4,620.

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Myrdal to Flam
Picturesque little town with a stave church

Step 1: Decide on an itinerary 

There are lots of options for getting around, as well as how long you want to stay in a particular area. We decided on Oslo-Myrdal-Flam-Gudvangen-Voss-Bergen-Oslo, breaking journey by spending a night in Voss, then catching the overnight train back to Oslo from Bergen. Pricing this out on Norway in a Nutshell, it came up to NOK6,110 for two, staying at a 3 star hotel for one night.

Step 2: Decide on times

Once you’ve decided on an itinerary, check out NSB and Fjord1 for train and ferry schedules. Match up which trains and ferries you are planning to catch and make sure they synchronise. You won’t need much more than 10 minutes to change over to the Flam train at Myrdal; similarly the buses that run from Gudvangen to Voss are timed to serve passengers getting off the ferry, so the likelihood of missing it is very low. Bus tickets are sold on board. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the train station in Oslo and Bergen. An easy way of making sure your times are practical is to use the Norway in a Nutshell website to create a preliminary schedule, then use this as your guide.

On the Flam railway

Step 3:  Book NSB train tickets 

As the Norway in a Nutshell tour runs off public transport, technically you can book all the tickets yourself, so get familiar with NSB, Norway’s national rail website. Schedules and prices are all listed online. There is an English version and if all else fails (like it did when I tried to purchase the tickets – my Australian credit cards did not go through), give them a call. The operators all speak English and are very helpful.

Make sure you book early for the minipris tickets, which are available three months in advance and are heavily discounted. Prices start from NOK249 to NOK499. For the itinerary above, we only booked two sections in advance: the Oslo-Myrdal leg (NOK398 for two) as well as a sleeper cabin for the Bergen-Oslo leg (NOK624 for two). Tickets were readily available onboard for the Myrdal-Flam and Voss-Bergen trains; however it may be prudent to buy these tickets in advance if you are travelling in high season.

Dockside at Flam

Step 4: Book ferry tickets 

As we travelled in winter, there was only one departure from Flam to Gudvangen. We booked tickets in advance (NOK570 for two) just in case seats filled up, but in hindsight, there was lots of availability; however, the same may not be true if you go in summer. Fjord1 is the company that runs the ferries that ply the routes across the fjords. The website has schedules and prices. The journey took about 2.5 hours – ample time to soak in all that scenery.

Sunset at the waterfront, Bergen

Step 5: Book accommodation 

On Norway in a Nutshell, the only available accommodation in Voss that was offered is Flesicher’s Hotel, the most expensive hotel in town. The building is imposing and gorgeous, and right next to the train station so it is also very convenient, but we wanted to save money. Instead, we booked a night at the Voss Hostel, which was clean and pleasant, with a great breakfast spread, wonderful views and two separate fire places to sit by and warm up. Two bunk beds there cost us NOK650.

Views from Voss to Bergen

Step 6: Print out all records 

As you’re running your own tour, you need to make sure you have all your confirmations and tickets. Train and ferry tickets will be sent to you as .pdf attachments. Save them on your phone or use Tripit to keep track of all the details easily.

Norway in a Nutshell itinerary
Norway in a Nutshell itinerary

DIY Norway in a Nutshell total costs (for two)

 Oslo to Myrdal train Minipris tickets bought in advance from NSB NOK398
Myrdal to Flam train Available onboard NOK560
Flam to Gudvangen ferry Tickets bought in advance from Fjord1 NOK570
Gudvangen to Voss bus Available onboard NOK188
Voss Hostel 1 night’s accommodation 2 bunks in a 6 bed dorm, booked in advance NOK650
Voss to Bergen train Available onboard NOK368
Bergen-Oslo overnight train Sleeper carriage, minipris tickets bought in advance from NSB NOK624

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  1. tawant04 says:

    thank you very much for this information, it’s been very helpful for the planning of my trip to Norway next month 🙂

    1. Peggy Tee says:

      I hope you enjoy your trip! Norway is a beautiful country. Safe travels.

  2. tawant04 says:

    Thank you very much for this very helpful information! 🙂

  3. Michelle Ng says:

    Thanks a lot for the information~ It’s extremely helpful!

    1. Glad you found it helpful!

  4. Elis Veloir says:

    Great tips! When were these pictures taken? I see you show a plan for NiaN for June, but surely these pics weren’t taken in June, with all the snow?

    1. Hi Elis! The photos were taken during my trip in March. There was still lots of snow then!

      1. Elis Veloir says:

        Was it more in the beginning of March, or more towards the end? I have a trip planned to the last week of March and first week of April 2015, hoping with it being the beginning of spring and all, the weather would be a tad more pleasant hehehe 🙂

        1. It was at the end of March. The weather was clear with very little snowfall in Oslo and Bergen. Average temps was 0-2ºC. It was cold but clear and that was good! Here’s hoping for excellent weather for you! Have you decided on an itinerary yet?

          1. Elis Veloir says:

            Well, we are flying into Stockholm on the last Sunday of March and flying out from Oslo two weeks later. The itinerary is still up for (heated) debate! We initially thought we’d take a train from Stockholm down to Copenhagen, then another train to Oslo, then a DIY NiaN to Bergen with an overnight stay, and then finally back to Oslo to catch our flight home. However… we are now tempted to ditch Denmark altogether and fly up to Tromso instead, to try and see the Northern Lights (and then we would be flying into Bergen for an overnight stay and DIY NiaN into Oslo). Still, Copenhagen sounds interesting, and going up to Tromso is no guarantee we’ll see the lights… We’re very torn! Any thoughts?

          2. I’m a big Northern Lights fan (seen them twice, in Tromso and Reykjavik) and would take the chance to see them again over visiting Cope. Cope is a very pretty, charming city, but if you are going to go to Stockholm you’d get a taste of what Cope has to offer anyway. I would go to Tromso, go dog sledding, stay in a lavvu overnight, and try my luck with the Lights if I were you!

            Compare these two write ups and think about it!



          3. Elis Veloir says:

            Very interesting, we might go to Tromso afterall! Thanks for all your help 🙂

  5. Michelle Ng says:

    Hi, is Flam Railway station and the wharf close by? i checked google map it’s 16km away….

    1. Hi Michelle. Flam railway station is not far from the wharf where you catch the ferry to Gudvangen from. In fact it’s very close! You might be looking at the Myrdal station, which is about 16km away from Flam.

      1. Michelle Ng says:

        Yes, I finally saw that it’s just next to the whard~

  6. Michelle Ng says:

    Can i ask another question? 😀 I will travel from Bergen to Flam instead of how you traveled. The train arrives at Voss at 9:58 and the bus leaves Voss to Gudvangen at 10:05. Is there ample time? I’m very prone to getting lost.. unless it’s very straight forward (like , just one exit…) , otherwise i’m considering taking an earlier train. Should I do so? There’s a one-hr gap if i were to take an earlier train.

    1. It should be okay as the bus to/from Gudvangen arrives/departs at Voss Railway Station. The bus is located outside the railway station. So you should have no trouble. The Gudvangen bus should wait if your train is late, but it’s Norway, and things usually work out pretty perfect! Voss itself is a cute town – if you would rather have an hour to explore there that can be an option. Otherwise I would say go ahead and book the connections.

      1. Michelle Ng says:

        Great~ then my schedule will be all set~ thanks! you’re of great help~!

  7. Mary Ho says:

    hi Peggy, your blog just clear out my headaches except the Voss to Gudvangen bus bit. I am not doing the trip DIY for cost saving. But because Norway in a Nutshell will not let me ride on the Myrdal to Oslo train in daylight hours! I will stay in those towns overnight. But is there a way i prebook the bus tickets too?

    1. Good luck with planning your trip! Staying in Myrdal should be good, and you’ll get to see more scenery if you are staying overnight in a town instead of taking the overnight train. There is no way of pre booking the bus between Voss and Gudvangen – just rock up and buy them on board. The buses are linked to the ferries so you won’t miss them, as they’ll wait for you to get off before leaving. Have fun, Norway is a splendid place!

  8. Fadhilah says:

    Peggy, you don’t know how much this has made my day! I’ve been thinking of booking the Norway in a Nutshell but felt like the accommodation was not to my liking (expensive!) and this information you’ve provided is extremely helpful!

    1. Hi Fadhilah, no worries! Glad it was useful. Let me know if you have any follow up or further questions, would be happy to help! Good luck booking your own Norway in a Nutshell tour!

  9. Judy says:

    Is it easy to transport your luggage – I would have a smallish pull along bag?

    1. Yes – it’s very accessible along the Norway in a Nutshell route.

  10. tsheppard25 says:

    Hi, I just arrived in Oslo and trying to figure out the best way to visit Bergen. I like your DIY route but wondering if I should take all my luggage (backpack and carry-on roller) and stay overnight somewhere? I’m traveling solo for 10 months so have the time to make the most of the trip. I want to move on to Sweden next so I thought I would do a day trip to Bergen then overnight it back to Oslo – train to Sweden. But, I also want to go north to see the Northern Lights and or go dog sledding. Would this even be feasible in May? Ugh…so many options.

    Any advice or suggestions will be very much appreciated.

    1. When we did the Norway in a Nutshell DIY, we left our backpacks in the lockers at Oslo train station – it’s pretty reasonable rates. We packed a daypack for 2 nights going up to Bergen and back again.

      May is probably not the best time for the Northern Lights, from memory the season is up to mid April or so. If there is still snow you can go dog sledding, though again, it’s at the tail end of the season for it. I would suggest going back up north to Tromso later in the year when the nights are darker and the landscape is frozen in snow – I doubt now would be great for Northern Lights or dog sledding, really. And Sweden is fabulous too – I loved Gamla Stan in Stockholm! Good luck and let me know what you eventually decide to do!

      1. tsheppard25 says:

        Thank you so much for the advice. Yeah, I figured I was too late for the dog sledding – bummed. I decided to head to Bergen tomorrow (doing the NIN route) and will stay 2 days. I really didn’t want to take my luggage with me but I was assured that I would be ok…I just have a backpack and a small roller carry-on. I”
        m not returning to Oslo. Found an inexpensive flight to Stockholm and decided to start my time in Sweden after Bergen.
        Thanks again. Safe travels!

  11. Michael says:

    Thanks for writing such a great post. I am in the process of booking my own DIY NIN trip for this summer and your guide was really helpful! Also I’d recommend this updated 2015 DIY NIN post for updated pricing.

    1. No worries Michael, glad you found it helpful! Have a great time in Norway!

  12. nieda says:

    thank you very much.this is very helpful as am in the midst of planning my Scandinavian trip. regards from Malaysia 🙂

    1. No problems! Good luck with the planning and let me know if I can help with information.

  13. seonghar says:

    I am also currently planning a DIY Norway Nutshell tour myself. I am following the Nutshell timetable, with the encouragement from the forum here by Taking To the Open Road. I am booking the Oslo-Voss-Oslo route, will inform you in Sep when I am back to Malaysia.

    1. Good luck and have fun! 🙂 Let me know via update how you go.

  14. Catlyn says:

    Thank you so much for such useful information. It really helped out my trip planning. We’re going in October. I have a few questions would like to ask you.

    1. Can I book flamsbana ticket via nsb website? or can I buy at any train station in Norway?
    2. I can’t book the ferry ticket between Gudvangen and Flam via Fjord1. Can I buy it on board and is there sear reservation?

    Thank you very much…

    1. Hi Catlyn!

      1. You can buy the Flamsbana ticket on the train itself – no need to pre-purchase. The conductor will come through during the journey. Just make sure you have cash on you.
      2. I don’t know about buying the ticket on board – I managed to buy my ferry ticket online. I would assume you can buy your tickets on board and as you are going in October i.e. shoulder season there shouldn’t be a problem with capacity. There are no seat reservations on the ferry – you can walk up and down, go outside on the deck or sit inside to watch the views.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Catlyn says:

        Yes… that was helpful. Thank you once again~!!

  15. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for taking time to write this all up, it has been invaluable for self-planning my NIN trip from Oslo to Bergen!

    1. You’re welcome! Have you had your trip yet? How did it go?

  16. Ermira says:

    Hello! This is very useful. Thank you. I am so excited about my trip! We are leaving Kuala Lumpur on 16th Oct at 2320 and arrive Oslo at 1230 the next day. I suppose I will be taking the same route on 18th 😀

    1. No worries, I hope you had fun! Do tell me how it went?

  17. ahlaytravel says:

    Thank you so much for this information. I was just now able to book it and we saved $335 for our family of 4. Crazy haha. To anyone else trying to book their own DIY tour, TripAdvisor’s forum and this guy’s post were also really helpful with step by step instructions.

    1. Glad you found it useful! It isn’t super hard to book it on your own. Have a fantastic trip!

  18. zulaikha zulkifli says:

    Hi, thank you very much for the information. It really help me alot. But i do have several question to ask you. My plan is to travel from Bergen to Oslo instead of Oslo to Bergen (January). Do the ride(train,bus,ferry) is similar to Oslo to Bergen or it only have direct train from Bergen to Oslo. And me and my friend planning to see the Northern Lights in Bergen. Is it possible? Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Zulaikha

      You can retrace the journey Bergen to Oslo, just in reverse from this itinerary. You should be able to use the same resources as I’ve listed here in this post. As for the Northern Lights, if they are strong enough and there is no cloud cover you might be very lucky and be able to see them from Bergen, but I would suggest going further north and further inland if you want to give yourself the best chance to see them. I suggest going to Tromso. Good luck!

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