Norway. It’s a hop, skip and a jump away from the UK and is visually stunning all year round. If you visit out of peak season, like I did back in March 2017, flights, accommodation and excursions can be a great deal cheaper. I had just five days to get from Oslo to Bergen and squeeze in as much as I could within that time.
The Bergen Railway is considered to be one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. I was absolutely hooked on the romantic idea of trundling through the rugged Norwegian wilderness, from Oslo to Bergen. Furthermore, I was also adamant that I wanted to see the fjords. These two factors alone, made planning my itinerary a great deal simpler.
Bergen is often described as the ‘Gateway to the Norwegian Fjords’, which are located along the country’s west coast. It was logistically perfect. I could simply fly to Oslo for a brief stint in the capital and get the train straight across the country to Bergen. The train journey would act as a mode of transport and an exhilarating experience in its own right.
I also figured that the most low-risk, simplistic and time-saving method in which to visit the fjords, in my situation, would be to go on some form of tour. After doing a little research, the Norway in a Nutshell tour seemed to tick the most boxes.
Here’s how my trip from Oslo to Bergen panned out:
Day 1 | Oslo
Having arrived the previous evening, I had one full day to explore the city. This mostly comprised of wandering around in the snow, taking regular coffee breaks and people watching.
Day 2 | Oslo to Bergen via the Bergen Railway
After some delay, my train to Bergen left the hustle and bustle of Oslo behind and made its way across rural Norway. The journey took roughly 7 hours. As we climbed higher into the mountains, lakes began to freeze, the snow began to thicken and my ears began to pop.
Frozen waterfalls cascading down dominating mountainsides gave their final glints in the remaining sunlight before disappearing behind thick sheets of mist and soon we were surrounded by the purest white I had ever seen.
My eyes were forced into an uncomfortable squint as they adjusted to the unbelievable brightness of the snow. The landscape before me had lost all shape and scope. It wasn’t until I caught sight of a couple of distant figures zooming past on skis, that I could fathom my surroundings a touch more clearly.
Day 3 | Bergen
Bergen is nicknamed the ‘City of Rain’ and is renowned for its poor weather. Coming from the ‘Rainy City’ of Manchester itself, I felt only even more fondness for the place. I embraced every boot squelch with open arms. I thoroughly enjoyed to huddle, coffee clasped in chilly fingers, in the many hygge cafés conveniently dotted around the city.
But come rain or shine, Bergen was simply beautiful and one of my favourite things about the city was that it didn’t actually feel like a city at all. With just a few turns, you can find yourself amongst the grand old town houses lining the steep, cobbled streets.
I loved every last detail; the pointy roofs, the wooden slatted facades, the array of colours, the peeling paint, the crookedness. It felt old, and homely, and lived in.
Day 4 | Norway in a Nutshell
From a trundle along the world-renowned Flåm Railway aboard the Flåmsbana; standing above the clouds gazing out over the Aurlandsfjord; to a boat cruise along the Nærøyfjord, Norway in a Nutshell was the perfect way to become acquainted with some of the most picturesque corners of the country. You can read all about my tour experience in my separate blog post.
Day 5 | Bergen
I spent a couple of days either side of my Norway in a Nutshell tour, ambling and eating my way around Bergen. I hesitantly took the funicular up Mount Fløyen on my final day. As suspected, the weather was too severe for a hike. Thick, fast moving blankets of cloud obscured any potential views over the city.
Overall, visiting in March was a fantastic decision. Firstly, because there were no crowds and prices were generally cheaper. Secondly, I got to experience Norway as an enchanting, winter wonderland.
I suppose the only downside was that the weather was a touch unpredictable. That is to say, it made my final day in Bergen another soggy one. However, this is just another reason to go back in the future!