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Norway in a Nutshell
Oslo, Bergen, and the Fjords Shine in Early Spring

"Should we really be doing this?" asked my wife Rita, her breath crystallizing in the evening air. "Norway in March?" We had just arrived at the Oslo airport and were bundled in jackets waiting for the shuttle train to the city center.

I had been thinking the same thoughts. We’d planned this trip after finding attractive shoulder-season airfare and lodging prices to experience the best of Norway: the country’s largest and most historic cities, Bergen and Oslo, its most majestic fjords, and its snowy rugged highlands. Would the trip timing make for a good vacation experience?

Our fears were soon put to rest. The next morning we stopped at the ice-rink on Oslo’s main square bustling with skaters, young and old. We’d been exploring the town’s beautiful harbor and other sites in full sunshine. It was the first day of our ten-day visit and it turned out to be the model for each day to come. We were already saying to ourselves, "Yes, this is the time to be in Norway. The temperatures are crisp, yet comfortable, the winter sports and activities are still in full swing, there are almost no tourists, and the energy of longer days and emerging spring is in the air."

Ice Rink
Oslo's outdoor ice rink on Karl Johans Gate

Norway in a Nutshell

Norway in a Nutshell is a travel package that includes a highlands train all the way across the country, from Oslo to Bergen or Bergen to Oslo, with the option of a return to the city of departure. The features of the catchy-phrased tour was what first enticed us to experience this country that the United Nations has ranked as the world’s most livable. The beauty is that the purchaser can go on any date, get off at any point along the way, and then continue the journey at any time. The package includes a trip down to the fjord village of Flam at sea level via an incredibly steep narrow gauge rail spur lined by waterfalls. From Flam the traveler takes a small ferry to view incredible Aurlandsfjord and Naeroeyfjord, Norway’s narrowest fjord. Here again, the tour provides great flexibility by allowing the traveler to stay as long as they choose in one of the small villages lining these waters. The trip picks up with a bus ride from Gudvangen at the end of Naeroeyfjord back to the high-country train connecting Oslo and Bergen. The Norway in a Nutshell excursion presents the best sights in the country in a convenient, customizable manner. Great lodging deals are also available with the associated Fjord Pass. We tailored our Norway in a Nutshell odyssey by staying four nights in Oslo, two nights in the village of Aurland on the fjord, three nights in Bergen, and a last night in Oslo before flying home. It was 10 days in paradise. We’ve listed some of the trip highlights below.


Oslo Cathedral

Viking Ship Museum

City Hall
Oslo City Hall

Norway’s Highlands and Fjords

Aurland Fjord

Fjord ferry

Kjosfossen Waterfall


Bergen from Floibanen hill

Harbor and Hanseatic quarter

Fish Market
Fish market

  • On Norway’s west coast, Bergen is Norway’s most historically rich city. We enjoyed the self-guided walking tour, which included the Hanseatic quarter dating from the 1400s. By the 1500s it was home to 2,000 German bachelor merchants who controlled trade for most of the North Sea and Baltic area. The Hanseatic Museum, Fish Market, 13th-century Rosenkrantz Tower, and St. Mary’s church were some of the major sites in the surrounding area.
  • The Floibanen funicular took us to the top of the hill that looks down on all of Bergen and its beautiful harbor and fjord.
  • A ferry shuttle across the harbor and a hike over the hill took us to a quaint old neighborhood down from Klostergate and leading to the Ole Bull Theater and cultural center.
  • A bus trip and country hike outside of Bergen to Edvard Grieg’s home rewarded us with views of his beautiful snow-covered lake and the studio where he composed his major symphonies and classical works. His Victorian home from the late 1800s was a delight to behold, brought to life by the stories told of Edvard and his family by the friendly guide who met us at the front door.
  • Our favorite meal in Norway, a salmon dinner, was served up at Vagsbunnen Restaurant on a narrow cobbled street just up from the fish market.

When You Go

Norway in March makes for an unforgettable travel experience. The traveler can hike, cross-country or downhill ski, ice skate, and see the country's best sites without contending with the high summer prices and hordes of tourists. We strongly recommend purchasing a Norway in a Nutshell travel package connecting Oslo, Bergen, and the fjords. Our recommended guidebook is Rick Steves’ Scandinavia. Look for Internet airline deals to Norway with S.A.S. during the Christmas countdown promotion and other winter deals. Very attractive pricing is offered for trips through the winter and into March.

Norway in a Nutshell site: www.norwaynutshell.com/default.asp
Fjord Pass for great lodging deals: www.fjord-pass.com/default.asp
SAS site: www.scandinavian.net

Les Furnanz
Photos by Rita Furnanz

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