Fjords Galore!

Bergen Harbor at Sunrise

If you search for Fjord tours in Norway way, the market is almost completely cornered by "Norway in a Nutshell," by Fjord Tours. This company boasts transportation to many different fjords and famous spots around Norway. Even though it seems like it is a "tour" it isn't in the traditional sense, there is no guide leading you, it is a self-guided experience. The company books the transportation for you in a package and the rest is up to you. However, there are also options to add overnights in different places along the way. They will also book hotels for these overnights if you desire that option. They claim to have negotiated the best prices at these hotels. I couldn't independently verify that though. The stops along the way are very small towns with few options for hotels, so it is good to keep that in mind.

I chose the route that ran Bergen to Bergen in one day and would visit Sognefjord, the longest fjord in Norway. My main objective was to take the tour that would give me the most time on the boat. I had no interest in the express boat option. I wanted to cruise through the fjord all day. I picked the right one.

The Bergen to Bergen Sognefjord route also included a return trip on The Flam Railway and The Bergen Railway. The train/boat combination was common to most of the trips, they only differed in what order you did them. I started with the boat since I wanted the longer ride. That meant that I had to catch the boat by 8:00 am. However, since this was a last minute trip, I hadn't yet picked up my tickets. So I had to leave my Airbnb just as the sun was coming up, go to the train station to pick up my tickets (I arrived 15 min before they opened at 7:30 am) and then speed walk to the harbor to get on the boat by the time it left at 8:00 am. I made it but along the way I saw a curious thing, the town was trashed. It looked completely different than the day before, there was trash everywhere. I was quite confused. I later learned from my host that this was an every weekend occurrence. According to her people get belligerently drunk and trash the place.

Once aboard the Fjord Tour boat, I was treated to a colored sky and a brisk breeze. I went straight to the top deck. There was little to no seating, only one small bench that was clearly just a life jacket container. Almost all of the seating was inside downstairs. I thought this a bit odd for a sightseeing boat but I parked myself at the front and started to add layers. My backpack for the day contained a few snacks, my camera gear and three more layers. Once we got out of the beautiful harbor and into the open water, those three layers steadily came out one by one.

For the majority of the day, I was the only one on the top at the front because the wind was really intense. I loved it. It was cold, but I was prepared. Plus the best views were up there! I did travel around the boat quite a bit throughout the rest of the day but the front corner was where I spent most of my time. I did occasionally go inside for  a warm up and a hot chocolate.

Inside the boat.

The seating area inside has almost floor to ceiling windows so you don't actually miss much while inside. However, people were very serious about their seats. Even if they weren't in them and there was no sign that anyone was sitting in them (a lingering jacket etc), someone would come back and say you were in their seat and ask you to move. I thought it was kind of strange and rude. So I ended up sitting in the middle section when I was inside. If having a window seat is important to you, go get one first thing when you get on the boat. There is always room outside.

The boat makes stops at various towns, almost like a bus or a ferry really. The captain did share a few facts on interesting rock formations and stopped the boat when we had some whale visitors (see pic below). But other than that there was no part of this that resembled a traditional tour and that was alright with me. I prefer to find my own way. The stops that the boat did make happened so fast, that if you weren't ready for them, you would miss them completely. The boat barely stops. It pulls into harbor, drops the front plank down just long enough so that people can hop on and then it pushes back. If I wasn't in the front of the boat watching, I would have thought no one could get on in such a short amount of time. I had never seen anything like it.

Stop along the way...less than 3 minutes. 

We had some friends show up part way through the day. 

Depending on the season, it is worth exploring these stop overs and spending some time/ a night or two. There are incredible hiking and adventure activities all throughout this area for all seasons. You can add this stuff on through Norway in a Nutshell or do it on your own. But really they make it so easy with one stop shopping. Since my time was limited I stuck to the full day tour and I was happy with that. I left at dawn and got back at dusk.

The train from Flam to Myrdal was a lovely old railway like in the movies. Unfortunately, I dawdled during the one hour stop in Flam between the boat and train. I was looking for lunch but couldn't settle on anything even though there were a number of options including a small grocery store. So I got on the train a little bit closer to departure time than I had planned and ended up in car with a large tourist group. I had a window but the woman who was sitting next to me, kept trying to stick her DSLR out the window over my head every time we weren't in a tunnel. Then when the scenery moved to the other side, she invaded the space of the people across the row.

The train ride was beautiful and we stopped at a stunning waterfall for 10 minutes but I didn't even get out. I needed the 10 minutes to compose myself over the invasion of my space. The second train was more modern European type train. There was only one train that you could switch onto at Myrdal so it was not hard to switch, but you should still double check before getting on.

General Information 

Cost: Approx $185.00 USD (obviously not a budget option but worth every penny)
Time: 8:00 am to about 5:30 pm
Transport: Large boat, 2 trains
Route: Bergen to Flam by Boat (8:00 - 13:30) → Flam to Myrdal by Train (14:50 - 15:38) → Myrdal to Bergen by Train  (15:43 - 17:58)
Routes available: More than 10
Top Tips: If you want a window seat on the boat, claim that before you do anything else on the boat.  I would recommend bringing snacks at the least, or even lunch. If you are doing a day trip, this will be easier than finding lunch in Flam because the town is small and the whole boat gets off there. Not to mention the numerous buses that are already there when you arrive. Bring lots of layers for the boat no matter the season.

The day I went, the weather was incredible. It alternated between picturesque clouds and bright blue sky. By the end of the day, all of the clouds had cleared. But why am I telling you when I can just show you?!



So so so deep.

Don't worry, it's a fake owl, haha. 

Thanks for reading!