village in Aurland, Norway

Flåm is a village in Sogn og Fjordane county, at the innermost point of the Aurlandsfjord arm of the Sognefjord. Flåm is among the busiest cruise ports in Norway. This article also covers the neighbouring villages of Aurlandsvangen, Gudvangen and Undredal, located approximately 10 km (6 mi) away in either direction; and Myrdal station at the junction of Bergen railway and Flåm railway. The small village of Gudvangen is at the other end of the popular boat ride Flåm-Gudvangen. The area is known for iconic fjords, numerous tall waterfalls, canynon-like valleys and impressive railway engineering.

Approaching Gudvangen along the Nærøyfjord.

Understand edit

Approaching Gudvangen along the Nærøyfjord.
View from Stalheim towards Gudvangen

Flåm sits at the south end of the Aurlandsfjord, an arm of the great Sognefjord. Flåm is also the end station for the Flåm railway, the only railway in Sogn og Fjordane and connection to the Bergen railway between Oslo and Bergen. Thanks to the railway and the sightseeing boat to Gudvangen (as well as a large number of cruise ships), Flåm has become one of the most visited places in the Western Fjords. These deep fjords allow the largest cruise ships to enter.

Nærøydalen and Flåmsdalen valleys are home to several impressive waterfalls, including some of the tallest in Norway.

Villages edit

Undredal cafe and dock at Aurlandsfjord
  • Flåm is the end station for Flåmsbana and a good starting point for a cruise to Nærøyfjord, an arm of Sognefjord, and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005. Flåm sits at the mouth of Flåm valley that runs from the high plateau at Myrdal station to the fjord.
  • 1 Aurland (Aurlandsvangen). Aurland, or more correctly Aurlandsvangen, is the municipal centre, with a notable little masonry church. Aurlandsvangen sits at the mouth of Aurlandsdalen (Aurland valley). The middle part of the valley is occupied by Vassbygdevatnet lake. Beyond Vassbygdi settlment Aurland valley has only foot paths and is a popular hiking trail.  
  • 2 Undredal. Undredal is inhabitated by 100 people and 500 goats. Undredal is a small pretty village. There you will also find Undredal stave church, built in 1147. It only seats 40 people and is Norways smallest church. Undredal is 16 km (10 mi) from Flåm. With car follow E16 towards Gudvangen, turn right after the first tunnel. Undredal is also accessible by the ferry between Flåm and Gudvangen.  
  • 3 Gudvangen. Gudvangen is village at the end of famous Nærøyfjord, a world heritage site. The Nærøydalen valley runs from Gudvangen to Stalheim viewpoint. The area is home to a number of great waterfalls, among the tallest in the world. Road E16 runs through the village.  

Get in edit

Location of Aurland district within Sogn og Fjordane county

By plane edit

There is a small airport in Sogndal. The closest international airport flights is Bergen airport. Oslo airport, Gardermoen is some 5-6 hours driving.

By car edit

Flåm is on the European route 16, and could be reached along this from Bergen in 2 hr 45 min. Driving from Oslo would require 5 hr 30 min. Flåm can be reached from Geilo in Buskerud on route 50. In summer this is also the quickest connection from Oslo. In winter, the route 50 can be closed due to bad weather conditions.

By bus edit

Seven daily departures from Bergen, Sogndal and Lærdal.

By boat edit

Approaching Flåm - Sognefjord

Flåm is Norway's fourth largest cruise port, with about 175 cruise ship calls annually, bringing hundreds of thousand visitors to the tiny town. Flåm has space for one cruise ship to dock at its pier; others would tender to the central pier.

A catamaran route links Flåm with Bergen and other villages along the Sognefjord. This is a great way to see the fjord. Departures once daily between 1 May and 30 September. There is also a car ferry which goes from Flåm to Gudvangen (kr 665 for a car and its driver).

By rail edit

The famous Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana) from Myrdal, a station on the main Oslo-Bergen line, is in itself a major tourist attraction. Many travellers continue onwards with a scenic cruise through the fjord itself to Gudvangen, from where you can catch a bus back to the mainline. This roundtrip is known as Norway in a nutshell.

  • 1 Myrdal Station (Myrdal stasjon).    

The Oslo-Bergen railway is operated by the Norwegian State Railways. If you buy your ticket online well in advance, fares may be as low as kr. 199 for a one-way ticket. For an additional fee of kr. 90 you may upgrade your ticket to NSB Komfort, the equivalent of first class, with better seats, free coffee and tea, power supply and a more quiet spot in the train.

There should be a special car accessible for people using a wheelchair on all trains between Oslo and Bergen. A reservation is recommended. The train staff will assist you to get the wheelchair on board.

Alternatively, access Myrdal and Flåm by bike on Rallarvegen (Navvies' Road), running from Haugastøl via Finse and Hallingskeid.

Get around edit

Map of Flåm

Walking is a good option since Flåm near the fjord is very compact. The rest of Flåm near the fjord can easily be covered by foot. More of the village is located a few miles up the river, along the route of the Flåmbana. The railway and bicycle are good options in the Flåm valley between Flåm village and Myrdal station. The upper part of Flåm valley and Myrdal station is not available by car, and caravans/motorhomes can only drive in the lowest part of the valley. The local road in Flåm valley is dead end and there is little traffic. Until the church the valley floor is flat and barely above sea level.

A good place to start is at the Flåm Railway Station and Visitor Center (Flåm Turistinformasjon), where one can pick up a map of the village, browse a large gift shop, and buy tickets for boat, train, and bus sightseeing tours/rides. They also have wifi (must purchase vouchers) and washrooms.

Aurland is also a compact village that can be covered on foot. Stegastein viewpoint is a long walk steep uphill. Aurland valley from the village to the lake is flat and easy, but to Vassbygdi better use car or bus. Gudvangen is a very small village only 200 meter across. Nærøydalen valley is largely flat and easy, but traffic can be fast. About 10 km to Stalheim.

Bus, car or cycle are the options between Flåm and Aurland. Undredal is accessed through a 5 km tunnel from Flåm (12 km tunnel from Gudvangen), and hiking and cycling to Undredal is not possible from Flåm or Gudvangen. The European route E16 highway passes by Flåm and Aurland. Heading west, E16 enters the Gudvanga Tunnel on its way to the village of Gudvangen, located at the end of the narrow Nærøyfjord where the Nærøydalselvi river empties into the Nærøyfjord.

See edit

Flåm railway up the steep valley.
  • 1 [dead link] Flåm railway (Flåmsbana), +47 57632100, fax: +47 57632350, . This railway climbs from sea level to 866 m (2841 ft) in 20 km (12 mi), making it the third steepest normal railway in the world. The railway is an engineering achievement. Several switchbacks are needed to climb the steep valley, one tight switchback is inside a tunnel. One tunnel, known as the Shelf, has a "window" allowing view from within. The switchback system at one point creates 3 or 4 levels of rail stacked up. The rail was opened in 1940 after 17 years of construction. Tunnels were largely built by hand and 1000 metres required 10 years of labour. With 5.5% gradient it is one of the steepest rail tracks in the world. View of high mountains and waterfalls through the gorge-like valley. A power station was built at the waterfall to provide electricity for the trains. Single ticket: Adults: kr 300, Children: kr 150, kr 210 for holder of Eurail and InterRail; Return ticket: Adults: kr 400, Children: kr 300.    
Flåmsbana museum
  • 2 [dead link] Flåm railway museum (Flåmsbana Museet) (near the train station/visitor center, opposite pier 1), +47 57632310, fax: +47 57632311. 1 May-20 May: 09:00-19:00, 21 May-30 Sep: 09:00-20:00, 1 Oct-30 Apr: 13:30-15:00. Museum telling about the Flåm railroad and how it was constructed. Exhibits include an authentic El 9 locomotive, an old electric shunting engine, and a number of rail inspection trolleys. Photography permitted. No toilets and no wifi in the museum, but you can find toilet facilities and wifi in the nearby train station/visitor center. Free.
Map of the Fretheim Kulturpark, located behind the Fretheim Hotel
  • [dead link] Fretheim Cultural Park (Fretheim Kulturpark) (behind Fretheim Hotel in Flåm). Many walking trails up the hill behind the hotel, playground, artworks, and the Bakkastova Cultural Café, with good views of the fjord and mountain.
  • Flåm Panorama, Flåm (next to Torget Cafe), +47 47462727, fax: +47 63836147, . 11:00-19:00. 180-degree surround cinema. Showing a 23-minute film about Flåm.
  • 3 Gallery Vinjum, Aurland, +47 57632975, fax: +47 57632901, . 09:00-15:00. Art gallery showing the painting of Johannes Vinjum, who was inspired by the fjord landscape. Free.
Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • 4 [dead link] Nærøyfjord. The scenic and narrow Nærøyfjord, a branch of the large Sognefjord, is 18-kilometre (11 mi) long and only 500 metres (1,600 ft) wide in some parts. Since 2005, the Nærøyfjord has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also featured on the Norway in a Nutshell daytrips, which includes a ferry, bus, Bergen train, and Flåmbana segments. To see Nærøyfjord from Flåm, one can take a 20-minute bus shuttle through the Gudvanga Tunnel to Gudvangen and then take a 2-hour ferry from Gudvangen through Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord back to Flåm. Or try the reverse direction, ferry from Flåm to Gudvanger and bus back to Flåm. Alternatively, you could do a Norway in a Nutshell tour from Flåm.    
Kjelfossen waterfall, one of the highest in the world by overall height, the single vertical drop is 150 meters some 900 meters above the valley floor.
  • 5 Kjelfoss (Kjelfoss Waterfall), Gudvangen. This waterfall can be seen from boatquay or from road E16 through the valley. The total height is 755 m (2477 ft), although some sources give the height at 840 meters. The highest single vertical drop is 149 m (490 ft). The waterfalls begins at some 900 meters above the valley floor which is close to the sea level. Kjelfossen is one of the tallest in Norway and one of the tallest in the world. Free.  
  • 6 Nærøyfjorden. Nærøyfjorden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beautiful scenery of the fjord surrounded by mountains up to 1800 metres tall will take the breath out of you. The fjord is 17 km (11 mi) long. At the most narrow it is only 500 m (1600 ft) wide.  
  • 7 Stalheim and Stalheimskleiva (10 km south of Gudvangen driving on the E16). Stalheim is known for the great view down the gorge-like Nærøydalen valley with unusual shapes and tall waterfalls. The best view is from the plateau at Stalheim hotel, though often crowded by busloads of tourists. You may be required to pay for a cup of coffee to be allowed access to the plateau, as it is private ground only accessible through the hotel. Two of the waterfalls are beneath the hotel and not easy to see from there. Stalheimskleiva is one of the steepest roads in Northern Europe, built during 1842-1846. The road has 13 hairpin bends. On either side of the road you can see the Stalheim Waterfall (126 m) and the Sivle Waterfall (142 m). Stalheimskleiva is a one-way road going down. As of May 2021 the road is permanently closed to motor vehicles due to unstable conditions of the fundament.

Cultural edit

  • 8 Flåm church (Flåm kyrkje), Flåm (a few miles up the river, in the valley, in the view of Flåmbana). The little 1670 church has richly decorated interior.    
  • 9 Vangen church (Vangen kyrkje). Vangen church, parish church for Aurland, is the largest of the few masonry churches in Sognefjord area, often referred to as Sogn Cathedral. Built around year 1200. William Gladstone, UK prime minister, visited the church in 1885.    
Undredal church
  • 10 Undredal stave church (Undredal stavkyrkje). A tiny stave church, seats 40 only, white painted exterior, decorated interior. Medieval origin, 12th century, exact age unclear.    
  • 11 Stalheimskleiva (10 km south of Gudvangen driving on the E16). One of the steepest roads in Northern Europe, built during 1842-1846. The road has 13 hairpin bends, with Stalheim Hotel located at the top overlooking the road and the Nærøy Valley. On either side of the road you can see the Stalheim Waterfall (126 m) and the Sivle Waterfall (142 m). Stalheimskleiva is a one-way road going down. As of May 2021 the road is permanently closed to motor vehicles due to unstable conditions of the fundament. Open to bicycles and pedestrians only.

Do edit

  • 1 Hiking in Aurlandsdalen valley. Different marked route. One great option is using the bus from Aurland to Østerbø and walk back. You will walk between high mountains and waterfalls. On the way you will pass abandoned, but preserved old farms. You will wonder how the farmers could make a living here.  
  • Njord, +47 97194511, +47 91326628, . Two hour tours start, 1 Jun-15 Sep: 11:00, 14:00 and 17:00. Kayaking in the fjord. Tours lasting from two hours to three days. Two-hour tour: kr 370.
  • Cycling the Rallarvegen, +47 7 32 08 75 64. Taking the scenic train from Flam up to Myrdal and beyond, you may rent a cycle at particular train stops and cycle back down to Flam leaving your rental at the station there.

Get on Flåmsbana and enjoy one of the steepest train journey along the Flåm valley. With a gradient of one in eighteen on 80 % of the 20 km-long ride.

If you have the guts, get on your bike to Vatnahalsen and further on through the 21 twists and turns along the 19 km of Rallarvegen down the Flåm valley.

Buy edit

Goat milk cheese, geitost from Undredal is considered a delicacy. Norwegian goat milk cheese differs from the Greek feta cheese. There are several types, but the most common one has a sweet taste.

Eat edit

Toget Café in Flåm
  • 1 Furukroa (Between the railwaystation and the harbour), +47 57632050, fax: +47 57632051, .
  • 2 Toget Café, +47 57632155, fax: +47 57632329. Eateries in two old railroad cars.
  • Cafe Rallaren (Myrdal station). open from mid-April to the beginning of October.

Drink edit

Sleep edit

Myrdal Fjellstove.

Budget edit

Mid-range edit

Flåmsbrygga Hotell
  • Flåm Hotell, Flåm, +47 57632200.
  • 5 Flåm Marina & Apartments, Flåm, +47 57633555, fax: +47 57633544.
  • 6 Flåmsbrygga Hotell, +47 57632050, fax: +47 57632051, . A newly opened hotel (2008). All rooms have a balcony and fjord view. The hotel has a modern design, making use of Norwegian pine, driftwood, natural stone and glas.
Fretheim Hotel and ferry at Flåm harbour
  • 7 Fretheim Hotel, Flåm, +47 57636300, fax: +47 57636400, . Built on the former Christian Fretheim farm, the historic Fretheim Hotel has a total of 122 rooms, including 17 historic rooms with antique furniture. There are banquet rooms and conference facilities, restaurant, library, apple orchard, and gardens. From the rose garden, you can stroll on to Fretheim Cultural Park, with its pretty viewpoints, art installations and attractive scenery.
  • Vatnahalsen Høyfjellshotell (Flåm railway, next to Myrdal station), +47 57 63 37 22. A decent and comfortable hotel with restaurant and outdoor swimming pool. About kr. 1200 per night for a double room in the high season.

In the wilderness edit

Camping under the open sky or in a tent is permitted in the wilderness such as in the uplands beyond Myrdal station. According to the Norwegian right to access, you may stay for up to two nights in one spot, provided that you leave no trace.

Go next edit

Aurland, seen from the Snow Road.
  • The mountain road to Lærdal. This road reach an altitude of 1306 m (4285 ft). It is named the Snow Road because snow is piled up beside it, several metres high, in summer. From the top of the serpentine road from Aurland there is an awesome view over Aurland, and the fjord.
  • Catch the train to Finse, and cycle back on Rallarvegen(Navvies Road). This road was used under the construction of the railway. You will pass over mountain passes, before cycling down the steep valley to Flåm. The distance is 55 km (34 mi), the trip takes about five to eight hours. Bicycles are available for hire in Flåm or Finse for 250 NOK.
  • Voss and Bergen
  • Balestrand
Routes through Flåm
BergenGudvangen  W   E  LærdalOslo

This city travel guide to Flåm is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.