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.
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.
- 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.
- Aurland or more correctly Aurlandsvangen is the municipal centre, with a notably little masonry church
- Undredal is inhabitated by 100 people and 500 goats. Undredal is a small beautiful village. There you will also find Undredal stave church, built in 1147. It only seats 40 people, it is therefore 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.
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.
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 Flåm railway (Flåmsbana), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: 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 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.
- 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: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 11AM-7PM. 180 degree surround cinema. Showing a 23-minute film about Flåm.
- 3 Gallery Vinjum, Aurland, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. 9AM-3PM. Art gallery showing the painting of Johannes Vinjum, who was inspired by the fjord landscape. Free.
- 4 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 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.
- 6 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.
- 7 Undredal stave church (Undredal stavkyrkje). A tiny stave church, seats 40 only, white painted exterior, decorated interior. Medieval origin, 12th century, exact age unclear.
- 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, ☎ , , e-mail: 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.
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.
- 2 Toget Café, ☎ , fax: . Eateries in two old railroad cars.
- 1 Ægir Bryggeri, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 12.00-22.00 in the summer. Craft brewery in a beautiful building.
- 2 Vangsgaarden Gjestgiveri, Aurland, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 3 Garnes private accommodation, Flåm, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. From kr 300.
- 4 Flåm Camping og Vandrarheim, Nedre Brekkevegen 12, 5743 Flåm, ☎ , e-mail: 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.
- Flåm Hotell, Flåm, ☎ .
- 5 Flåm Marina & Apartments, Flåm, ☎ , fax: .
- 6 Flåmsbrygga Hotell, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. 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: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- 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.
|Routes through Flåm|
|Bergen ← Gudvangen ←||W E||→ Lærdal → Oslo|