Norway in a Nutshell vs. Sognefjord in a Nutshell – Review & Itinerary

Norway in a Nutshell is one of the most popular tours available in Norway. As you begin researching your trip, you’re sure to come across this option. For us, there were a lot of dilemmas.

There are several tour options available and we were trying to figure out if this was the best tour for us.  After a bit of research, it came down to Norway in a Nutshell vs. Sognefjord in a Nutshell. See which tour we chose, which one is better, an honest review for both, and how to create the itinerary yourself below!

Norway in a Nutshell vs. Sognefjord in a Nutshell

There is little doubt that Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. One of our first experiences in Oslo was walking by a TGI Fridays and looking at the menu⁠—based on the current exchange rate, one hamburger costs about USD 40!

Easiest Way to Tour Oslo

Oslo is a big city to tour on foot. So much so, that it can be exhausting to explore. Make sure you either book the 2-Hour e-Scooter Tour or the 3-hour Bicycle Tour. Both, are fun ways to tour the city comfortably, and quickly.

 

e-Scooter Oslo Tour > Check Availability

Once we saw theliquor pricesr, we were glad that we decided to stay for only four nights in the country while backpacking through Europe. Nevertheless, we booked two nights in Oslo, one in Balestrand, and one in Bergen.

Furthermore, one beer in a supermarket will cost about USD 6, and USD 10 at the local pub. However, we didn’t come for the food and drinks, we were here for the fjords and the great outdoors.

The Flåm railway is lined with impressive waterfalls.

The only way to do Norway on a budget is to see what you want to see and get out quickly. Seriously, the more time you spend in the country the less money you’ll have. Everything’s ridiculously expensive—at least it was when visited.

The journey from Oslo to Myrdal takes you through snowcapped landscapes, even in August!
💰 Budget Tip: Check out WayAway—a new flight aggregator platform that provides travelers with the best rates on airline tickets. Users can also purchase the WayAway Plus membership plan, which gives cashback on flights, accommodation, car rentals, tours, and more. We saved a ton of money using WayAway!

Sognefjord in a Nutshell Tour

With the expensive prices hovering above us like a dark cloud, we were somewhat forced to do a quick tour of Norway. After a bit of research, we opted for the Sognefjord in a Nutshell tour, which travels through some of the country’s most spectacular fjord scenery.

Cruising down the Sognefjord.

Sognefjord is Norway’s deepest and longest fjord, it extends for more than 120 miles inland to the base of the Jotunheimen Mountains. During the tour, we traveled the following route:

  • 🚆 Bergen Railway – Modern railway from Oslo to Myrdal
  • 🚂 Flåm Railway – Classic train from Myrdal to Flåm, aka “the world’s most beautiful train ride”
  • ⛴️ Norled Ferry – Flåm through Aurlandsfjord and Sognefjord, overnighting in Balestrand, ending in Bergen
Colorful train cars line the train tracks along the route from Oslo to Myrdal.

Our itinerary consisted of flying into Oslo and flying out of Bergen. Based on cheap airfare, we arrived late in Oslo and stayed two nights in a nice vacation rental apartmenttoo have one day to explore the city.

Oslo Vacation Rental Apartment > Check Availability

On the third day, we began the Sognefjord in a Nutshell Tour. You’re able to complete the tour in one day, but even for us that was moving too quickly, so we booked an overnight in Balestrand.

Balestrand Hotel > Check Availability

St Olaf’s Church in Balestrand was near our hotel.Top 55 Most Popular Tours in Oslo

How Much Did Our Trip Cost?

The cost of the train from Oslo Airport to the city’s central station was about USD 25 per person. Our apartment in the Frogner neighborhood was about USD 125 per night. However, if you’d prefer a hotel, then check out Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Oslo. It’s a budget-savvy option near Oslo Central Station. The Sognefjord in a Nutshell Tour tour costs about USD 700 for two nights for two people (based upon the exchange rates when we traveled).

Thon Hotel Rosengrantz Oslo > Check Availability

Enjoying some tea on our way from Balestrand to Bergen. We asked for hot water and used our own teabags. When we say everything’s expensive, we’re not kidding.
Here’s what we were charged through “Norway in a Nutshell” Tours. At today’s rates, this trip would cost about USD 540 for two people.

Here’s the breakdown of exactly how much we paid for Norway in a Nutshell Tour (prices may vary based on exchange rates). Surprisingly, we departed Norway with our finances mostly intact and slightly thinner due to the high cost of food. By the time we made it to the Thon Hotel Bergen Airport (a good-budget hotel), we were down to the last of our cheese sandwiches. They started as ham and cheese, but eventually, we ran out of ham and didn’t want to take out a loan to purchase more cold cuts. We were lucky our stay included a free buffet breakfast.

The views from our hotel room in Balestrand.

Booking and Planning the Tour Routes Yourself

Unbeknownst to us at the time, it is possible to replicate “Norway in a Nutshell” Tours because all of their itineraries are laid out on their website. If you’d like to create your own “Norway in a Nutshell tour,” or any other tour on their website, you just need to find the itinerary that you’d like to copy and then book the train, ferry, and/or bus tickets separately.

Creating your itinerary will save you money and allow you to add more flexibility to your trip by booking extra nights along the route of the ferry. For example, you could add a night or two in Flåm, Balestrand, or any of the other 10+ stops along the way before reaching Bergen.

The Norled ferry schedule from Flåm to Bergen.

Keep in mind, that you will save some money by booking the transportation yourself. For example, in regards to the “Sognefjord in a Nutshell” tour, you’d save about USD 50 per person making the reservations yourself, booking:

  1. 🚆 Train from Oslo to Myrdal (Bergen Railway) > vy.no/en
  2. 🚂 Train from Myrdal to Flåm (Flåm Railway) > vy.no/en
  3. ⛴️ Ferry from Flåm to Balestrand (to overnight) > booking.norled.no
  4. ⛴️ Ferry from Flåm to Balestrand > booking.norled.no

After completing logistics be sure to make hotel reservations. We use this travel search engine to make sure we’re getting the best rates.

Balestrand was a quiet charming town to enjoy overnight.

Cost of Food in Norway

The food is so expensive in Norway that at a certain point, you just feel like you’re getting ripped off, at least we did. The entire trip without airfare cost us about USD 1,000 for four nights. For example, a gallon of milk currently costs about USD 7 per gallon, and a beer at a restaurant is about USD 9, or at a supermarket about USD 3.Top 33 Most Popular Tours in Bergen

  1. 😛 Taste Popular Norwegian Dishes > Food and Culture Walk
  2. 🛴 Get the Best Views of Bergen > Segway Day Tour
  3. 🚶 Past and Present > Walking Tour in Bergen

✈️ Need a transfer to the airport from Bergen? If you’re not renting a car and staying in Bergen, book a private transfer from your hotel or vacation rental to the airport.

It is possible to travel to Norway on a budget, but it will take a certain amount of sacrifice and creativity. For example, we lived off of ham and cheese sandwiches for about two days. We also decided to do a one-way trip instead of a round-trip, allowing us to fly into one airport (Oslo) and out of another (Bergen).

Charming inns and homesteads line the Sognefjord.

Norway in a Nutshell Tour vs. Sognefjord in a Nutshell Tour

Norway in a Nutshell vs. Sognefjord in a Nutshell

By far, the “Norway in a Nutshell” tour is the most popular that Fjord Tours offers. We don’t think you can go wrong choosing this option.

We decided to take the Sognefjord tour because it seemed like there was more time out on the water and we thought there’d be additional opportunities for sightseeing along the way. Also, the whole point of coming to Norway is to see the fjords so why not travel the length of the Sognefjord, the King of the fjords?

Weather Dependent

Our weather was pretty crummy the entire trip.

Unfortunately for us, the weather on our second day of the tour was awful, even though we were there in the last week of August. It was cold and we even had a great deal of rain and fog, making much of the fjord hard to see.

In fact, most people onboard the ferry seemed a bit bored. And you know what? I don’t blame them. Like us, they’re on vacation and spending a lot of money. Unfortunately, the weather was sort of ruining the entire experience.

Many other passengers seemed pretty bored along the way.

If you can afford to build some extra time into your itinerary (with the high possibility of poor weather), it may be worth considering.

Bad weather can put a damper on your trip.

Would We Do It Again?

Norway is a beautiful country and we’d love to be able to slow travel through it. For instance, we could picture ourselves hiking through postcard-perfect landscapes, enjoying the solitude of the peaceful wilderness, or taking amazing pictures on top of the fjords, but then we realize how freaking expensive it is and come to the logical conclusion that it’s probably not worth it, although exchange rates have come down since our visit.

Although we’re glad we went, we probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyonewhot doesn’t have a boatload of disposable income. For backpackers on a tight budget, it’s too expensive.

We’d recommend visiting the fjords in New Zealand, also a fairly costly destination but with much better weather. Simply put, Norway is just too overpriced for the scenery you can experience someplace else for about the same or less money—plus, we went during the warmest time of the year and it was still freezing.

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