I recently took the popular Norway in a Nutshell tour. It was not exactly what I expected and I hope to help others to better plan with a review of this trip.
If you haven’t heard of it, then you probably have never typed Norway into Google. I’m exaggerating, but if you research Norway a bit, this will come up. It’s a great concept. It is not a tour but simply all the public transport you may need arranged and purchased for you, with a convenience charge. You can combine bus, train, and fjord cruises with hiking, kayaking and other activities.
The original “tour” can take you from Oslo to Bergen, or the reverse, in a day. On the way you will have a fjord cruise and scenic train ride on the famous Flam railway. This is apparently fantastic according to other travelers. This is probably a very nice way to get a taste of the striking natural beauty of Norway if you are traveling in between cities. You also can do round trip from either city, or stay overnight in the various cities along the way. The options are endless.
I was planning to hike Trolltunga from Bergen so I was looking for a trip that was round trip from Bergen to Trolltunga (near the Hardangerfjord) that included all the beautiful Norwegian scenery. I chose the Hardangerfjord/Rosendal trip.
This trip was $178 USD. You can read a generalized description of your tour but you really don’t get the details of what you are actually doing with dates and times until after you book and pay. This is not ideal. My schedule was as follows:
|Departure from||Arrival to|
|08:50||Bergen||10:45||Rosendal – Express boat|
|15:45||Rosendal||16:35||Odda – Bus|
|17:00||Odda||17:35||Lofthus – Bus|
|Departure from||Arrival to|
|10:10||Lofthus||11:45||Eidfjord – Express boat|
|11:45||Eidfjord||13:45||Vøringsfossen – Bus|
|14:00||Vøringsfossen||14:20||Eidfjord – Bus|
|14:40||Eidfjord||15:10||Ulvik – Express boat|
|15:15||Ulvik||16:10||Voss – Bus|
|16:37||Voss||17:58||Bergen – The Bergen Railway
It already is a little confusing and leaves out some details such as the stop at the nature center.
When I arrived in Rosendal, I was immediately confused. My schedule told me my next mode of transport was a bus to Odda at 1545. Since it is not really a tour, you are on your own. I had no idea what I should be doing in Rosendal for so many hours. There was literally nothing around the ferry stop except a bus stop (very conveniently located close to each other) and thankfully, an information center.
I walked into the information center to see what I could possibly do here. I remembered that there was supposed to be Norway’s smallest castle here. There was a large house, a 17th century Barony, but it was closed. I did enjoy the gardens for free.
Everything was closed on a Monday in Rosendal. I was thankful I had a protein bar because lunch was not in my future. I walked around and saw a 12th century church, a waterfall in the distance and some pretty farms where I decided to put on a fashion show for the sheep.
Clearly the Norway in Nutshell company should warn tourists about this kind of thing. Four hours is a lot of time to kill in a town where everything is closed.
I decided to take an earlier bus to Odda, at 1400. I missed the next bus from Odda to Lofthus by a few minutes and after a two-hour wait, finally boarded the bus for my destination, Lofthus and the Hotel Ullensvang, which I was very excited to see. I had a nice dinner, since I was famished, and really didn’t have much time to enjoy the hotel. I really wished I had just came straight here earlier in the day.
After hiking Trolltunga and having the best sleep of my life, I boarded a boat directly outside the hotel on the Hardangerfjord for a cruise that took us to the smaller Eidfjord. This was perhaps the only two hours of the entire two days of Norway in a Nutshell nonsense that I thought was worthwhile.
The scenery is majestic
After the cruise, we were dropped of in the town of Ulvik, which looked incredibly cute and I would have liked to explore, but Norway in a Nutshell keeps you on a tight schedule. We boarded a bus in Ulvik and were taken to a nature center. Apparently this is where we were supposed to have lunch but this is not made clear. Again, I’m lucky I had a protein bar. I can’t believe how close to starvation I was in these past few days.
After the nature center, a bus to the Voringsfossen waterfall. Ok, this was pretty cool. I liked it.
After this, a bus to Voss…with a random stop and bus change along the way. Voss is another beautiful town that is probably nice to enjoy. I’m sure you’ve heard of the water from here.
From Voss, the Bergen Railway back to Bergen. Some passengers went back to Oslo via train.
I was excited for the scenic ride I was supposed to have on the Bergen Railway and made sure I got a window seat. It was a rainy day, but I was still excited. This entire train ride felt like it was in a tunnel. I really saw just a few minutes of scenery out of the entire two hours.
I think it is clear how disappointed I was. There’s nothing worse than feeling that you wasted precious vacation time doing something you didn’t love. I hope that nobody makes the mistakes I did. If you do the original day trip I’m sure it is great, as I said earlier. However, the trip I chose was not ideal and I believe Norway in a Nutshell should be more forthcoming about some aspects of this trip.
It is easy to travel to Flam from Voss and enjoy the Flam railway. I regret not having the choice to do this. The company doesn’t make it obvious, but you can easily plan this on your own, as I found out too late. Simply look at the places they take you and then separately look up the public transportation options and save some money and frustration.
What would I do differently?
I would spend the day the Bergen and take evening bus to Tyssedal. Stay in Tyssedal Hotel. Hike Trolltunga. Next day Fjord cruise. See waterfall. Bus to Voss. Bus to Flam. Flam railway then train back to Bergen. Boom.
I don’t want to sound like a complainer because part of traveling is learning these kinds of things but I write this as a
warning guide to others planning similar adventures. Just know that doing this kind of trip, you spend a lot of time on a bus or train and you need a window seat to really be able to make the most of it. It is challenging to get photographs in this manner which is another con of the trip. Ideally take time to be able to have more stops and actually experience first hand all this natural beauty.
I am always happy to answer questions so contact me or comment below! I encourage you to visit this spectacular striking and scenic country and seeing the fjords is a must!
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