Travel from the mountains to the fjord in just one hour.
Known as one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys, the Flåm Railway (flåmsbana) connects the tiny village of Flåm on the shores of the Aurlandsfjord (an arm of the Sognefjord) with the Oslo to Bergen railway. It also provides connecting ferries to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Nærøyfjord.
For this reason, combining a trip on these two trains with a fjord cruise and/or a couple nights in Flåm, Aurland or Gudvangen is a hugely popular itinerary with Norwegians and international visitors alike. Package deals can be booked from Oslo or Bergen, or you can create your own itinerary.
The train journey
In less than one hour, the train takes you from more than 850 metres above sea level down to the shores of the Aurlandsfjord. To get a feel for what you’ll see on the journey, you can watch this movie from the comfort of your own home.
One of the steepest standard-gauge railway lines in the world, the railway runs through the spectacular valley alongside a stony trail that’s popular among cyclists and hikers. Passengers will see steep mountainsides, gushing waterfalls, lush vegetation, travel through 20 tunnels, across a bridge, and get the chance for a couple of great photo opportunities.
The most famous of these is this powerful Kjosfossen waterfall. The train stops here for a couple minutes to allow passengers the chance to see the waterfall up close. During the summer season, an actress dressed as a huldra (a temptress from Norse folklore) dances in front of the waterfall.
“The Flåmsbana is such a revered and beautiful journey that there is a real buzz as we board the train. People rush to get window seats and as we start our journey, people jostle for a good view but will also move aside to let others get a good view. Perhaps this level of natural beauty brings out the best in people?” – Chris Butler
If you’re not on a tight intinerary, Flåm itself is worthy of an overnight stop. When a cruise ship is in port, the village is overrun by visitors but during the evening, there’s so much more space to breathe. A couple of interesting restaurants and a supermarket make this a very pleasant place to spend the night. Just try to move on before the hoards return!
Even if time is tight, call in to the Flåm Railway Museum by the train station to see an authentic EL-9 locomotive and many black-and-white photographs that tell the story of how the line was built in the days before computers. Plans were approved by Parliament in 1916 but construction didn’t begin until well into the 1920s. Regular operation began in November 1944.
The village is also a popular spot for hiking. The nearby Flåm Church (Flåm kyrkje) is a gorgeous 17th-century church an easy 3km walk back along the railway line.
The main reason to stay in Flåm however, is to catch a ferry to the Nærøyfjord. Passengers can choose to return on the ferry, on a bus, or stay in the village of Gudvangen and continue their journey from there.