Easter 2019. 4 days of holidays and good weather gave us a chance to try out Norway. Norway is at the top of every tourist blog, book or list. There are numerous options in Norway to visit: Trondheim, Oslo, Tromsø etc. But, one place which grabbed attention and has been in the bucket list for years was Bergen!
Bergen is a city on Norway’s southwestern coast. Surrounded by mountains, Bergen is a good starting point to access all the fjords including Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest. Moreover, the Bryggen (harbour) in the west of Bergen features colourful wooden houses along the sea coast.
On recommendation from a colleague of ours, we decided to try the popular Original Norway in a Nutshell tour (Link). This tour takes you through Norway’s most breathtaking UNESCO-protected fjords and mountain scenery, as well as a trip on Europe’s top scenic rail journey. The trip is available as a day tour or as a tour with overnight stays en route. One can start the tour in Oslo or Bergen and slots are available throughout the year. One good thing about the tour is that you can customize the tour by adding hotels and activities of your choice along the way.
Our itinerary was as follows: Bergen – Myrdal – Flåm (Overnight) – Gudvangen – Voss – Bergen (Info: Link)
The booking is quite simple. The Norway in a Nutshell tour website has a very easy booking system with the option to split the trip by adding accommodation or tours on the way. The original tour was a day trip which starts early in Bergen at 0839 hrs and returns to Bergen at 17.56 hrs. We booked the original tour as it is with the only change was to have an overnight stay in Flåm. Once the booking is done, the organisers send a detailed itinerary with tickets for individual journeys via email.
As there is not much of a difference between the tour cost and cost of individual journeys, it is recommended to use the booking directly.
Bergen – Myrdal
Bergen had direct, convenient and low fare flights from Stockholm regularly via Norwegian Air (Link). Our stay in Bergen was at Skuteviken Apartments 40 – a very convenient and affordable place with all facilities. We took a bus to the Bergen Railway station. There was already a crowd waiting at the station. Convenient luggage storage facility at Bergen Railway station and convenience stores with fresh food and drinks are available. After loading ourselves with food, we boarded the train (Seat numbers are already assigned).
The journey from Bergen to Myrdal takes about 2 hrs 10 minutes and is one of the most scenic journeys. We passed beside lakes, mountains, fjords, villages and each moment was spectacular. The weather was really good and offered us the best sights of a lifetime. One of the major stops along the way was Voss which is a city at the edge of a beautiful lake and an ideal overnight/extended stop along the journey if needed. We continued instead directly to Myrdal.
Myrdal – Flåm
The train journey from Myrdal to Flåm is via the legendary Flåmbana (Flåm Railway) known also as the most beautiful train journey in the world (Link). It is a mad dash from the train which arrives in Myrdal to the Flåmbana which is on the other side of the platform. As there is no seats assigned, everyone starts jumping out and running towards the Flåmbana to make sure they have good seats on the journey. Be careful!
During the journey, the train travels beside rivers, deep gorges, waterfalls, snow covered peaks turning into mountain farms and picturesque valley of Flåm which sits at the edge of Aurlandsfjord – part of Sognefjord, the worlds longest fjord.
Note: Make sure you take the seat either at the end or the start of any carriage as the windows can be opened which would be a good chance to take photos!
Flåm is a heaven on earth. Sitting at the edge of a fjord and in a valley, it has some of the most breathtaking sights. As the village has a population of about 350, the area depends on tourists and hotels. There are couple of options to stay overnight in Flåm – either stay at the hotels near the train station (prices about 300 euros per night) or walk further into the valley and book shared accommodations (price less than 100 euros per night).
We booked ourselves at Brekke Gard Hostel. Pros include its location – right at the edge of a waterfall while the only challenge is the 1.5 km trek from the station. No shops nearby mean its recommended to stock up on food before going to the hostel. The hotel did have all kitchen facilities including microwave, cutlery, oven and stoves etc. After a dinner of packaged frozen food, we retired for the night.
Personal recommendation would be to pick the hotel near the station for the views of the valley cum fjord and convenience.
Stegastein Viepoint: There are numerous options for exploring Flam including hiking, cycling, kayaking etc. which should all be pre booked for the sake of availability. An excellent place to start would be Visit Flam (Link). We booked for a bus tour from Flam to Stegastein viewpoint which sits about 700 m above the Aurlandsfjord and offers spectacular views of the fjord.
Day 02 included our return journey to Bergen via Gudvangen (Part 2 – soon)