3 Reasons Why You Should Take the Norway in a Nutshell Tour in Winter
I did it. I finally booked a trip to Norway.
And, once I did, I couldn’t have been more excited to finally check this dream destination off of my travel bucket-list. For years I’ve wanted to see the country’s rolling green hills, dramatic fjords and quaint Norwegian villages. There was only one problem: my hectic work schedule paired with the fantastic airfare deal I found meant that my first trip to Scandinavia would be in the off-season. Not “just” the off-season…the dead middle of Norway’s blistery winter: my first trip to Norway was planned for January. Not how I imagined it…
I was fine with breaking out my puffy jacket and winter boots, typically saved for the occasional ski trip. I had come to terms with the fact that my “travel outfits” were basically going to consist of fleeces and sweaters, and had accepted that my “accessories” would more or less be limited to whether I would be wearing a winter hat or earmuffs on that particular day.
These realities of the trip didn’t bother me.
What bothered me was the fact that I would be taking the famous Norway in a Nutshell tour in winter and not summer or spring as I had always envisioned. I scoured travel blogs and review forums looking for some insight as to what to expect on the tour in midst of winter, but I found nothing.
Surely, I wasn’t the only person who had the “wild idea” of doing the Nutshell Tour in January, was I?
Well, based on my internet search, it sure seemed like it. And this concerned me. But, I couldn’t allow myself to travel to Norway without taking the Nutshell Tour I had heard so much about! So, I booked with Scandinavian American World Tours and hoped for the best.
What is the Norway in a Nutshell Tour?
Now, let me back up a moment: if you’re not familiar with Norway in a Nutshell, it’s an iconic tour where you travel by train, bus and cruise to experience Norway’s mountains and fjords, all in as little as one day. The tour runs from Bergen to Oslo, or Oslo to Bergen (or, you can even take it roundtrip). The tour is a popular way for tourists to get out of the cities and see more of beautiful Norway, especially travelers on a tight time frame.
So, How Was Norway in a Nutshell in Winter?
I’m not saying that taking the tour in spring or summer is a bad idea. We’ve all seen the gorgeous pictures of the bright green fjords contrasted by speckled red farm houses. The tour is different in winter, but I would argue that it’s equally amazing.
And, speaking from personal experience, there are benefits of taking the tour during the off season.
3 Reasons Why You Should Do Norway in a Nutshell in Winter:
3. You’ll See Spectacular Snowy Scenery.
There’s no arguing that the fjords are also breathtaking when they are snowcapped. I mean, look at this scenery:
Yes, you’re going to want to wear your winter jacket, hat and gloves, but with this typical cold weather gear, you’ll be fine. Before my trip I was worried that it would be far too cold to be outside during the best part of the tour – the fjord cruise. It wasn’t! You’re not going to want to on the ship’s deck for the entire two hour cruise, but I was outside for a good portion of it taking photographs and enjoying the scenery. From time to time I would pop inside the toasty ship to to warm up a bit. (Plus, there are hot drinks available for purchase inside).
1. You’ll Avoid the Crowds.
During my pre-trip research, I didn’t find any travel blog posts about taking the tour in winter, but I did find plenty of posts about the tour during peak season. Everyone loves the tour, but most travelers had one complaint… the tour is very crowded in summer!
Not in winter. While on the Scenic Flam Railway each couple had enough space to spread out and take up a whole row on the train. This was ideal to be able to see the scenery and sights on both sides of the train. The conductor would point out a village on the left and then a waterfall on the right – had the train car been packed, everyone would have been clamoring from side to side and leaning over each other, struggling to take photos over people and out the window.
The same was true while on the fjord cruise – there couldn’t have been any more than 15 or 20 people on the entire medium sized boat. I was thrilled that the boat wasn’t crowded and that I had plenty of time to photograph the fjords without having to wait long or battle pushy tourists for a chance to stand in the “prime locations” at the front of the ship.
Are There Cons of Doing Norway in a Nutshell in Winter?
Of course, just like there are cons of taking the tour in the (crowded) summer. What are they? For me, there was really only one major con: visiting Norway in January meant that the sun set around 4:00 p.m. What does that mean for the Nutshell Tour? Basically that after the fjord tour it will be dark, meaning that you can’t see anything on your bus ride from Gudvangen to Voss, or the train ride from Voss to Bergen. I was okay with this given the fact that (in my opinion) the fjord cruise is the “crown jewel” of the tour, so after it I was ready to wind down, relax and flip through my guidebooks.
No doubt that this tour is GORGEOUS all year, but I would encourage you not to rule out winter as an option.
Are you planning a trip to Norway? You can find great deals on your hotel, apartment, B&B or guest house here.
Curious exactly how the tour is conducted and what the day consists of? Stay tuned for a follow-up post detailing exactly what you can expect when you take the Norway in a Nutshell Tour. You can also check out my other posts on Norway and Sweden, and find a great deal on your Norway hotel here.
Is visiting Norway and the iconic Norway in a Nutshell Tour on your bucket list? Would you go in winter?
Although I was a guest of Scandinavian American World Tours, as always, the opinions (and love for the snowy fjord scenery) expressed in this post are all my own. Some of the above links are affiliate links, which mean that if you choose to book through them I earn a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your continued support to keep this site up and running! You can find FWTG’s full disclosure policy here.
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