Sognefjord in a Nutshell & Flam, Norway

When traveling to Norway, everyone asks if you’re going to see the fjords. So when planning our trip, I researched all different ways to visit them. Eventually, I settled on the Sognefjord in a Nutshell tour for a few reasons. 1) We could take it roundtrip from Bergen, which easily fit into our itinerary. 2) We could experience the fjord from the water via a ferry and Norway’s countryside via a scenic railway journey.

The Norway in a Nutshell packages are famous for a reason. They really are so well planned, so simple, and so beautiful. The tours are self-guided—there’s no tour group or guide. Basically, Fjord Tours books your travel for you and then sends you everything in one handy PDF, including simple instructions for transfers. You can customize your trip to add overnight stays, select different modes of transportation, add excursions, or adjust the timetables to fit your family’s needs. Other countries should absolutely follow this example!

The first leg of the trip was an 5-hour ferry cruise from Bergen to Flåm down the Sognefjord. The boat was so comfortable and accommodating to families! When we boarded, we were offered seats with extra legroom where we could keep our stroller open as an easy place for Little O to nap. There was also a kids’ playroom on board with a toy chest and room to run. Little O was the only child on board, so he had the room all to himself! He also enjoyed walking all around the boat and greeting the other passengers.

Passenger seating is indoors and then there is a viewing deck where you can go out to take in the scenery. This was a must-have as the boat moves at high speeds and rain sweeps in and out, so it would be hard to spend the whole trip exposed to the elements—though I’m sure some people do on very nice days! We enjoyed breakfast from the onboard cafe and then visited the viewing deck when the weather was clear or the boat was making a stop at one of several villages along the way.

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When booking our trip, I added on a two-night stay in Flåm and indicated we would book our own accommodations. We then booked this dream cabin on the fjord for our stay. My adult-self was pretty obsessed with this cabin, but my childhood-self would have been composing a novel about fjord mermaids after staying in this magical place. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer a view of the water that just invites lounging. The cabin itself was cozy, beautifully outfitted with every modern convenience (hello washer/dryer, I love you), but still charmingly hygge.

The owners, Anders and Sue, were also very helpful and welcoming, providing a crib and high chair for Little O. Anders stopped by to show us how to use the motor boat that was included in the rental, and also recommended some family-friendly hikes in the area. Andrew went out on the fjord with Anders to learn how to use the boat, but ultimately we decided not to take Little O out. The weather in Flåm was very mercurial—one minute the sun would be shining and the next minute a downpour would sweep in with gale-force winds. Because of that, we decided we felt more comfortable staying on land with our 13-month-old.

While in Flåm, we really took it fairly easy. We explored the town, went on a few short walks around the fjord, stopped in the Flåm Railway Museum during a particularly long downpour, and grilled at our cabin. It was a nice relaxing stop after our more action-packed days in Copenhagen and Bergen.

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The final leg of the Sognefjord in a Nutshell tour was a scenic railway journey back to Bergen on the Flåm and Bergen Railways. (You can choose to finish the tour in Oslo as well.) The Flåm Railway journey was spectacular, winding along the mountains and valleys of Norway past gushing waterfalls and idyllic villages. Near the end of the line, the railway stops at a viewing platform before a massive waterfall and invites everyone on the train to disembark for a better view. Then, all of the sudden, something very surprising and very Norwegian happens, but I won’t tell you what it is, so you too can be surprised when you go.

The Bergen Railway portion of the journey is still scenic, but less spectacularly so, and the train is a commuter line rather than a tourist scenic trip, like the Flåm line was. I was so impressed with how well organized and easy the entire trip was, even for a family with a stroller, car seat and luggage. We had no problem making our transfers, and the journey was peaceful and relaxing. I highly recommend!

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