Imagine a land enchanting enough to inspire the landscape for an Oscar winning picture. Norway is that place. And if you saw Disney’s mega-hit, Frozen, you were treated to animated glimpses of Norway. From the mountains to the sea, each landscape is inspiring, each town intriguing, and each experience alluring. The Norwegian fjords are among the most famous nature-based attractions in the world. Villages with timber houses painted brown, red, and gold, rolling countryside, majestic mountains, and glistening lakes frozen in winter complete the postcard-worthy scenes.
The perfect introduction to these awe-inspiring sights is a Norway in a Nutshell tour. Travel by train through the mountains, cruise through the fjords by ferry and travel by bus through portions of the countryside. Norway in a Nutshell tours can be done as a round-trip or a one-way journey year-round with each season offering its own unique experiences. The tour can be done as a day trip but there is so much to see and do, why rush things? Customize your tour with overnight stays and packages of activities.
Here are a few of the highlights along the way.
At Bergen’s train station, climb aboard the beautiful Bergen Railway. The highest altitude railway in Northern Europe, the Bergen Railway travels through 62 miles of wild mountain terrain on its way to Voss. In the winter, travel through mountain tunnels and emerge to scenes of snow blanketed fields and frozen lakes. If you’re lucky you may even spot a moose galloping across the landscape.
From the railway station in Voss take a bus down Stalheimskleiva - one of the steepest roads in Northern Europe. Built from 1842 to 1846, the road has 13 thrilling hairpin bends flanked by the Stalheim and Sivle Waterfalls. The Stalheim Hotel sits at the top overlooking the road as it winds its way down to the aeroydalen Valley. The white-knuckle Stalheimskleiva experience is part of the Norway in a Nutshell tour from May to September. It isn’t something you would want to do in ice and snow.
In Gudvangen you will embark on a boat to Flam through Naeroyfjord. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Naeroyfjord is one of the narrowest fjords in Europe. The fjord is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, and remote farms and villages situated along the water’s edge. The cruise continues in to Sognefjord past the tiny village of Undredal. Home to 85 inhabitants and 450 goats, Undredal welcomes visitors arriving by rib boat from Flam. Locals share stories about life along the fjord and samples of the locally produced award winning goat cheese. When life gives you goats, make goat cheese.
Nestled in the innermost corner of the Aurlandfjord – a branch of Sognefjord – Flam is a charming village surrounded by steep mountainsides, cascading waterfalls, and narrow valleys. This is a perfect place to stay overnight and explore the surrounding natural wonders. Formerly a farm, the historical Fretheim Hotel offers a variety of rooms and amenities. Biking the Navvies road, hiking, paddling the Songnefjord, strolling the village, visiting the Flåm Railway Museum, and RIB boat rides to see the UNESCO World Heritage area are a few of the popular activities in Flam.
From Flam, the trip continues on the Flam Railway, one of the steepest normal gauge railways in the world. The ride to Myrdal is only 12 miles and lasts about an hour, but what it lacks in distance it more than makes up for in spectacular vistas. The twisting tunnels spiraling in and out of the mountain are testament to one of the most daring and skillful engineering feats in Norwegian railway history. Deemed the most beautiful train ride in the world, the Flam Railway has panoramic views of some of the wildest and most magnificent mountain scenery Norway has to offer. Rivers cut through deep ravines, mountain farms cling to sheer slopes, and waterfalls plunge dramatically from the tops of snow-capped mountains. The train also makes a stop at the famous Kjosfossen waterfall. As I stood amid the winter landscape overlooking the completely frozen waterfall I kept an eye out for Elsa, Anna, and Olaf.
Have you been to Norway? What were your favorite experiences?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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