Norway in a Nutshell is one of the most popular tourist routes in Norway, it is a great way to see Norway with kids. The easy to follow Norway in a Nutshell itinerary includes 3 train rides, a bus, and a ferry. It may sound daunting to do Norway in a Nutshell with children, toddlers or a baby but it is very easy to follow, well set up for families and almost impossible to miss a connection. Read on for the information you need to plan your own DIY Norway in a Nutshell with kids. An adventure to the land of Trolls, Waterfalls, and Fjords.
This was my first solo backpacking trip with my 2 kids and it was the perfect trip to launch off with. Norway is a very child-friendly destination.
I took a backpack and a stroller, a 2-year-old toddler, and a 5-year-old. You could equally do this with suitcases and it would be suitable for families with younger babies and also families with teenagers.
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It is possible to complete the Norway in a Nutshell tour in one day, starting out early from Oslo and returning on the overnight train from Bergen but I highly recommend you stay overnight in Flam and spend some time in Bergen.
NORWAY IN A NUTSHELL WITH KIDS: How to Book?
For my Norway in a Nutshell family friendly itinerary I saved approximately a third of the cost by booking each component separately.
- You can only book your train ticket yourself 90 days in advance, where as the package tour can be booked further out so the Flam railway may be fully booked in peak times.
- The price of each individual leg goes up depending on popularity so there is no guarantee it will be cheaper
- If you want to price out DIY Norway in a Nutshell you will find the links at the bottom of the page.
NORWAY IN A NUTSHELL PART 1: Train from Oslo to Myrdal
The Oslo train station is large sleek modern building, it is easy to navigate with clear signage. There are plenty of eateries and convenience stores where you can buy some snacks for the journey.
Book your train well in advance to ensure you can reserve a seat in the family carriage.
The family carriage has a separate soft play area, a television with children’s programming and a large bathroom with a fold down change table.
Babies and toddlers will ride on your lap but when making the booking you can also reserve a space for your pram or stroller free of charge, giving you somewhere for babies to sit and nap during the journey. These spaces are limited so you may need to collapse and stow your stroller with your luggage if they are already reserved.
Children are given an activity pack by the conductor. There is also free wifi in every carriage, and the ability to heat baby food and bottles in the cafe car.
The Norway in a Nutshell itinerary is as much about the journey as the destination so these extra facilities really add to the comfort and make the 4 and a half hour train journey a pleasure.
The trip from Oslo to Myrdal takes you through a picturesque national park. The train passes through hilly green countryside, rugged desert like mountainous areas, and past lakes, which we found still frozen in early summer.
Blake and Ella spent most of the journey playing with other children in the play area. I was able to enjoy the scenery and catch up on some emails without once being asked: “Are we there yet?”. It was great to watch the kids, along with their new found friends, excitedly rush to look out the windows each time we rolled past a snow covered landscape.
For the best views try to reserve seats on the left-hand side of the train.
NORWAY IN A NUTSHELL PART 2: The Flam Railway from Myrdal to Flam
The Flam railway is one of the steepest railways of its type in the world. The line drops 867 metres down to a tributary of the Sognefjord; Norway’s largest and deepest Fjord. Rolling past steep mountainside impressive waterfalls and through 20 tunnels it’s clear to see why the Flam railway has been voted one of the world’s most beautiful railways and is loved by train enthusiast the world over.
Our train arrived on the same platform as the departing train to Flam so it was easy to walk across the platform to board the next train.
The schedule is coordinated to coincide with the arriving train from Oslo while still giving passengers enough time to transfer. Our train was running late and the Flam train had waited approximately 10 minutes after the scheduled departure time for our arrival.
According to our ticket, it was open seating meaning we could sit anywhere on the train, we soon found out this wasn’t the case after jumping onto the closest carriage we were soon told there were a number of carriages that were allocated only to tour groups. It was too late to change carriage so we were allowed to stay where we were until the next stop.
The carriage was taking a huge tour group from China. Ella with blonde ringlets and huge blue eyes is seriously cute and our fellow passengers obviously thought so too. We soon had a dozen passengers hovered over her with cameras clicking and bulbs flashing, this was quite upsetting to Blake who jumped in to protect her like Kevin Costner in the Bodyguard. Heart warming to see him so protective of his little sister, he soon realised a few photos weren’t going to cause any harm and he was soon playing up to his new found fans.
It wasn’t long before the train came to a stop at one of the largest waterfalls, we were able to disembark to get pictures and change to the appropriate carriage.
Getting off the train you can immediately feel the spray from the waterfall so have rain jackets on hand. Up above the waterfall an opera singer in a flowing red velvet dress sang a haunting tune, this was all quite surreal, not to everyone’s taste but it certainly added to the drama.
Back onto the train and now seated next to a group of Scottish grannies whose cruise ship was in port in Flam.
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We passed many more waterfalls, bursting with water and falling from a great height down sheer cliffs, the train travelled slow enough to have time to take in the view and take some pictures. The hour passes very quickly and looking back I wish I had considered taking the trip again the following day.
Flam itself is a small town set on the shores of the Fjord. It is easy to navigate on foot. We took the short walk across the river to Flam Camping & Youth hostel where I had booked a cabin. My initial thoughts had been to book a hotel, but with limited availability at the time of booking, a cabin at the campground was the only option. Sometimes these forced opportunities can be a blessing in disguise.
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Our 2 bedroom cabin with kitchen and bathroom was set on the side of the hill in a position to maximise the view of the Brekkefossen waterfall and across the valley.
The views were idyllic, it was so quiet I could hear the rush of the waterfall in the distance.
The was plenty of space for the kids to run and also a playground on site for them to enjoy.
Flam is just a small town so you don’t need a lot of time here but we certainly needed some downtime after the day of traveling I chose to stay 2 nights.
Pick up a trail map of some of the hikes in the area from the tourist office, or download one here.
My plan had been to walk to the Brekkefossen Waterfall but we were warned the path was slippery after recent heavy rain. Instead, we took a trail that leads up onto farmland and gave a beautiful view out over the Fjord, a cruise ship was in port which dwarfed the town.
There were a number of playgrounds around the town and plenty of open space for the kids to run and play.
We took an early dinner in the Aegir Brew Pub, Flam’s own microbrewery. With a children’s menu and a cozy atmosphere, it is family friendly.
The menu consists of refined Viking inspired meals made from locally sourced produce. For craft beer lovers there is an excellent selection of world class beers from hoppy IPAs to rich, chocolatey porters. I highly recommend the matched beer and food tasting menu.
NORWAY IN A NUTSHELL PART 3: Naeroyfjord Ferry from Flam to Gudvangan
The ferry from Flam to Gudvangan travels down the Naeroyfjord. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and making up part of the larger Sognefjord.
Waterfalls cascade down the steep sides of the fjord which seem to rise straight out of the ocean and then ascend steeply to snow covered peaks.
The newer electric boat is a quicker journey. With an electric motor, it is able to cruise with almost no sound in keeping with the tranquility of the area. Large panoramic windows also allow the view to be enjoyed from inside the cabin.
Our trip was on the classic boat, which is a slightly longer journey. On the classic boat the best views are found on deck. Since it was a clear day we took a seat outside on the back deck.
As we pulled out from the port seagulls knowingly followed the boat, they cautiously ate bread scraps straight from the passenger’s hands. The kids were impressed, I was reminded of picnics at the beach chasing birds away from our fish ‘n’ chips.
Even though it was a sunny day in July the air was still cool. Not thinking we would need mittens at this time of year I had to get a bit inventive and fashioned gloves out of socks to give the kids a bit of extra warmth, be sure to have a few warm layers within easy reach.
NORWAY IN A NUTSHELL PART4: Bus from Gudvangen to Voss
There were plenty of buses waiting at the terminal when our Ferry arrived. The ticket is included in the Norway in a Nutshell package but if you are doing DIY you can purchase a ticket from the driver. I had emailed the bus company on the advice of the Flam tourist board to request a car seat for Ella who by Norwegian law would be required to ride in one. There was a permanent car seat on each bus but I would recommend prearranging, for your own peace of mind, especially if you are travelling with more than one child.
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I was blown away by the scenery on the bus ride, after already seeing so many beautiful landscapes I wasn’t sure how a bus ride could compare.
Try to take a seat near the front for the best views. The bus goes up to the Stalheim Hotel and then loops back down to the back to the mainroad via the famous Stalheimskleiva, one of the steepest roads in Northern Europe, with 13 hairpin bends and fantastic views back down. The road passes waterfalls that are so close they spill onto the roadside.
Even once on the main road to Voss, there is still plenty to see, remote farmland, crystal clear rivers, lakes and many more waterfalls decorate the landscape.
NORWAY IN A NUTSHELL PART5: Train from Voss-Bergen
There is the option of taking a regional train or a local train from Voss. I chose to take the regional train since the timing worked well for our arrival and we could utilise the family carriage again. The default option when booking Norway in a Nutshell as a package is a local train. The journey only takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes so it is not really worthwhile adding extra transit time just to take the better train.
Don’t expect the scenery to be any less impressive though, the train runs along a number of narrow lakes before following along the southern shoreline of the Sørfjorden. Choose seats on the right for the best view across the Fjord.
Arriving in Bergen marked the end of our Norway in a Nutshell itinerary and a successful first attempt at solo backpacking with kids.
It was raining in Bergen, considering it is one of the rainiest cities in the world this wasn’t unexpected. An easy short flat walk to our hotel where we enjoyed an afternoon tea of cardamom waffles and Norwegian brown cheese.
- Bus Purchase tickets from the driver, timetable here. Choose Gudvangen ferjekai, Aurland for Departure and Voss stasjon, Voss for arrival. Check that the stop “Stalheim” is listed as buses that do not stop here and only stop at “Stalheim kryss” do not take the scenic road.
- What to do in Bergen
- What to do in Oslo
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