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 cruiseports in Norway. This article also covers the neighbouring villages of Aurland 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 at the other end of the boat ride Flåm-Gudvangen is covered here.
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.
- 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.
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.
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).
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.
Walking is a good option since Flåm near the fjord is very compact. More of the village is located a few miles up the river, along the route of the Flåmbana. 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. The rest of Flåm near the fjord can easily be covered by foot.
Bus, car or cycle are the options between Flåm and Aurland. Undredal is accessed through a 5 km tunnel, and hiking and cycling to Undredal is not possible. 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.
- 1 [dead link] Flåm railway (Flåmsbana), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. This railway climbs from sealevel to 866 m (2841 ft) in 20 km (12 mi), making it the third steepest normal railroad 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 meters required 10 years 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.
- 2 [dead link] Flåm railway museum (Flåmsbana Museet) (near the train station/visitor center, opposite pier 1), ☏ , fax: . 1 May-20 May: 9AM-7PM, 21 May-30 Sep: 9AM-8PM, 1 Oct-30 Apr: 1.30PM-3PM. 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.
- [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), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 11AM-7PM. 180 degree surround cinema. Showing a 23-minute film about Flåm.
- 3 Gallery Vinjum, Aurland, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 9AM-3PM. Art gallery showing the painting of Johannes Vinjum, who was inspired by the fjord landscape. Free.
- 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.
- 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 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 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.
- 8 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.
- 9 Undredal stave church (Undredal stavkyrkje). A tiny stave church, seats 40 only, white painted exterior, decorated interior. Medieval origin, 12th century, exact age unclear.
- 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, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Two hour tours start, 1 Jun-15 Sep: 11AM, 2PM and 5PM. Kayaking in the fjord. Tours lasting from two hours to three days. Two hour tour: kr 370.
- Cycling the Rallarvegen, ☏ . 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.
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.
- 1 Heimly Pensjonat, Flåm, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Double: kr 995-1095.
- 2 Vangsgaarden Gjestgiveri, Aurland, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 3 Garnes private accommodation, Flåm, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. From kr 300.
- 4 Flåm Camping og Vandrarheim, Nedre Brekkevegen 12, 5743 Flåm, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Not a very quiet place (lying underneath the mouth of Flenjatunnelen (E16)), but quite good sanitary facilities and near the harbour and station of Flamsbana.
- Myrdal Fjellstove, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Call for information, reservations and to make sure it's open.
- Gudvangen Camping, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Cabins, rooms and places to put up a tent or park your camper van.
- [formerly dead link] Gudvangen Fjordtell, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A hotel with twelve double rooms and a number of apartments of different sizes. Suitable for people with a wheelchair, according to information given by the hotel.
- Flåm Hotell, Flåm, ☏ .
- 5 Flåm Marina & Apartments, Flåm, ☏ , fax: .
- 6 Flåmsbrygga Hotell, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- 7 Fretheim Hotel, Flåm, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 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), ☏ . 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 wildernessEdit
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.
- 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
|Routes through Flåm|
|Bergen ← Gudvangen ←||W E||→ Lærdal → Oslo|