Norway in a Nutshell...By Car!

Everyone will tell you that you have to do Norway in a Nutshell, a train ride from Oslo to Bergen to top all other train rides. I definitely believe there couldn't be a prettier train ride, but I still think it is better to see the same route via car, because then you can stop along the way! We did this drive in the fall, so obviously the leaves all along our drive were jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It will be beautiful whenever you go, but I can't recommend the fall enough. Here were our favorite stops:

What to do

  • Flam - This is a tiny and charming little town on the Sognefjord, with multiple options for getting out onto the fjord in a boat so that you can get a view from below, although the view from above is not bad either (see Stegastein below...).
  • Fjord Safari - Not to be missed, this excursion will take you out onto Sognefjord and down the famously narrow Naeroyfjord (which inspired the setting for Frozen, Arendelle!), all while teaching you the history of the place, pointing out tiny little farms up on the cliffs (I still can't believe anyone climbs up there), and racing along the water at a speed that probably feels much faster than it actually is. Don't worry, they have snow suits and goggles so your limbs and/or faces don't fall off.
  • Stegastein - This is one of my very favorite spots in all of Norway. At 2,000 feet above the fjord, it provides a gorgeous view, and you feel a bit like you are flying when standing on the end next to the glass wall. I especially love that you can drive right up to it, no hiking required!
  • Nærøy Valley - I am a sucker for a valley view from above, and this one cannot be beat. Go to the Stalheim Hotel for the best view.
  • Borgund Stave Church - The stave churches all over the country are so cool and look a little bit like churches but a lot like haunted houses. This one is the best preserved (or so they say!) and is especially spooky with all of the tombstones surrounding it.

Where to stay

  • Fretheim Fjordhytter - This makes my top 3 lodging experiences ever. There are four cozy cottages (those picturesque red ones in the first photo) sitting right on the fjord, and each one comes with its very own boat that you can take out for a spin. It felt immediately like home, as you get a whole cottage to yourself, and cozying up on the couches with a cup of hot cocoa with THAT view was extraordinary. If you go to Flam, don't consider staying anywhere else. We made this our home base for everything else we saw on the road from Oslo to Bergen.
  • Stalheim Hotel - This hotel is nothing fancy, but it is absolutely the best location to see the Nærøy Valley from. If you don't stay here, at least stop by just to see it.