Norway has always been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. There’s just something about the quaint little villages nestled between gigantic rocky cliffs, the tasty seafood that no one can ever get enough of, and all the friendly people that beckon a person to visit and stay a while.
Last summer Derik was tied up with school and I had a bit of free time on my hands, so I took a couple weeks off and traveled to Germany to see my brother-in-law, sister, and three sweet little nieces. During the time I was visiting, we took a 5-day trip to Norway with Norway in a Nutshell, and I absolutely fell in love. I’d have to say out of the very few countries we’ve visited in Europe so far (I think our tally is at 7), Norway has stolen my heart the most. I look forward to taking Derik to visit sometime in the next year or two!
Norway in a Nutshell Itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive in Oslo
Day 2: Start tour in Oslo >
Dombas > Åndalsnes > Ålesund – the train was shut down so instead of visiting Domas and Åndalsnes, we went through Lillehammer (had a few hour layover) and then got to Åndalsnes JUST in time to catch our bus to Ålesund — No layover.
Day 3: Depart from Ålesund > Fjord cruise on the Geirangerfjord on board the Hurtigruten > Geiranger > bus back to Ålesund > LATE NIGHT board overnight cruise from Ålesund > Bergen
Day 4: Afternoon arrival in Bergen via overnight cruise
Day 5: Leave Bergen via The Bergen Railway > Voss > Bus to Gudvangen for Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord cruise > Arrive in Flåm > Flåm Scenic Railway to Myrdal > leave Myrdal via the Bergen Railway > Oslo (End of tour)
What you should bring on tour:
We visited Norway in early August, and the weather was absolutely phenomenal. One thing to note though is that traveling through fjord lands can bring some rather unpredictable weather, so pack accordingly! You also need to keep in mind that with Norway in a Nutshell you are expected to carry your own luggage anytime you’re not in a hotel or on the cruise. So that means carrying it around the city as you race to catch your train at the terminal, carrying it from your hotel in Ålesund to the ferry terminal (our walk was a little over a mile) and anywhere in between. Pack light. Be prepared to wear your clothing multiple times. I would suggest finding some good pieces that mix and match well together so you aren’t wearing the same outfit in each picture. ;)
With three little girls (in diapers mind you), my brother-in-law, my sister and I, we still managed to pack one backpack each adult and one rolling carry-on bag #superpowers.
What I put in my backpack:
- A rain jacket (this is a must. I’m not even going to tell you it’s optional)
- Camera with extra batteries and SD cards
- One pair of jeans and one pair of black leggings
- Two flannel shirts
- Two short sleeved shirts
- One cardigan
- Two pairs of shoes (tennis shoes and sandals)
- Minimal makeup
- Curling iron (no blow dryer as sometimes those were found in the hotel)
Achievable? I think yes. Also my sister is a superwoman figuring out how to pack for three girls in diapers and have it all fit in one tiny little carry-on.
Now I want to take a moment to talk honestly about this tour.
Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Norway (the country itself was beyond phenomenal), Norway in a Nutshell was the first tour I’ve ever taken where I could blatantly see room for improvement. Instead of just taking our money and letting us fend for ourselves, I truly believe more staff could be hired to help those on tour navigate transportation errors, construction, and unforeseen challenges — Or at least check in every other day or so to see how everything is going. My family and I felt left pretty high and dry which was disappointing due to the fact that we had paid so much money per person for the trip. We also had three very small children (three under the age of three) with us, and having to travel an extra 12 + hours because of construction we didn’t know about was very tiring on them.
I wanted to give you a quick pros and cons list about our tour experience so you can decide if Norway in a Nutshell is right for you. My hope is that you can at least consider my points but please don’t let them completely change your decision. My sister had friends that went on this tour and absolutely loved it, so I really think it depends on what circumstances you come across and who you’re traveling with. If it had been just Derik and I on tour, yes it may have been a bit easier, but I think my experience would have been the same with the tour company itself.
Things we didn’t love about the tour:
- An unforeseen railway construction project in Oslo and surrounding areas meant an extra 12 hours in a bus we weren’t expecting. This cut into the very short time we had at certain destinations. For example, instead of getting almost all afternoon in evening in Ålesund (the place I was looking forward most to visiting), we arrived at late in the evening when all shops, family-friendly restaurants, and coffee shops were already closed and the sun had already gone down. We had to wake up the next morning at 6am to get a glimpse of the city in daylight before we left on our fjord cruise.
- Lack of communication and clarity when it came to schedule edits due to the construction detours above. Thankfully the public transportation system was accommodating and arranged replacement tickets for us using alternative means of transportation. This was a bit frustrating because it often meant waiting a couple hours within a terminal to get a spot on a bus or a taxi that accommodated small children.
- We spent more time in-transit than we did enjoying the actual locations. We could have avoided this by adding more days to our itinerary, but we honestly didn’t realize how much travel time we would be spending in a train or on a bus when we booked our five-day tour.
Things we loved:
- The friendliness and flexibility of the public transportation system when it came to our tickets that were no longer valid due to the railway system being under construction.
- Norway in a Nutshell provides an independent tour, meaning we weren’t stuck in a large group of people and could do whatever we wanted when we arrived at each location.
- We didn’t have to worry about purchasing tickets or figuring out how to get to our next Nordic destination because we already had that mapped out thanks to the tour.
- The sheer beauty we saw in Norway was beyond breathtaking.
I am looking forward to visiting Norway again in the near future, but I think this next time Derik and I will take two weeks and go the campervan or RV route! There were so many beautiful locations I just wanted to stop and enjoy — even for five minutes! If you have any suggestions or alternative ways to travel Norway please leave them in the comments. I would also love to hear your own experience with Norway in a Nutshell! Like I said before, we have known people that have taken the tour and absolutely loved it!
I’ll be writing detailed recaps of all the places we visited in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!
This post is not sponsored in any way, and I have no affiliation with Norway in a Nutshell. I just thought you, my readers, may benefit from hearing about our experience while on tour and make your own informed decision whether this tour is right for you or not.