Flåm, Norway, is one of the most sensational destinations in the world. Situated in the dramatic southwest fjord region of Scandinavia, this minuscule village is surrounded by grandiose nature.
An enchanting storybook destination lying northwest of Bergen, right at the end of Aurlandsfjord, Flåm offers plenty to do for the discerning traveler.
From hiking glorious slopes to swimming and kayaking in a mist-covered fjord, Flåm is particularly well-suited to nature lovers. There’s culture, coffee, and relaxation, too, if you lean towards more leisurely vacation activities.
Discover everything you need to know about Flåm, Norway, from when to visit and what to do when you get there.
Why Visit Flåm, Norway
Flåm boasts some of the best natural attractions in Europe, if not the world, making it one of the most beautiful places to visit in Norway.
The village is tucked into the innermost arm of the glassy Aurlandsfjord, an 18-mile narrow branch off Norway’s longest fjord, Sognefjord. This deep fjord is framed by tall, serrated mountains interspersed by sweeping valleys that look like a real-life watercolor painting.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Flåm. Hiking, biking, swimming, and kayaking are popular activities. There’s culture, too, with a traditional museum, historic church, and heritage railway line to explore.
The village itself is compact, too, which means travelers could combine a more active adventure with exploring the center of Flåm all in one day.
History & Culture of Flåm
Flåm may be small, home to around 350 people, but it’s been a popular European vacation destination for centuries, with travelers arriving by water and, since the 20th century, by train.
The village’s traditional timber buildings are gathered around the harbor, painted in beautiful shades of mustard yellow and auburn red, reminiscent of fall leaves. The exception is Flåm Church, a charcoal-hued structure built in 1670, making it the oldest building in the village.
The launch of the Bergen to Flåm railway line opened the village and its surrounding hills and mountains up to more travelers in the early 20th century.
Launched in 1940, the 10-station Flåmsbana further strengthened the connection between this pastoral region of southwest Norway with Bergen and Oslo.
The Flåm to Myrdal line was—and still is—considered a magnificent feat of Norwegian engineering. Built over 16 years to become the world’s steepest railway line, it is a proud symbol of the village.
Wildlife & Nature
Stunning Norwegian mountains, fjords, valleys, meadows, and waterfalls; visitors to Flåm don’t need to look far to find an abundance of fantastic wildlife and nature.
The 25-mile-long Flåmselvi—a popular salmon-fishing river—curls through the countryside, emptying into Aurlandsfjord in Flåm. Hiking and biking trails unfold beyond the village, weaving through the Flåm Valley to offer travelers up-close experiences in nature.
Several local waterfalls can be seen via a scenic journey on the bucket-list-worthy Flåm Railway, including Kårdalsfossen, Rjoandefossen, Kjosfossen, and Brekkefossen.
The sweeping landscape lends itself to a range of spectacular wildlife that Norway is known for, including mountain goats, sheep, seals, salmon, porpoises, and eagles.
Tips for Visiting Flåm, Norway
Tranquil Flåm might be small, but it packs in plenty to do on a short visit. Hiking boots are a must to explore the landscape on foot.
Pack bug spray, too, especially if you plan to swim or kayak. Many travelers to the region overlook the fact that mosquitos love the still water of the Norwegian fjords during summertime.
If you’re wondering what souvenir to pick up in Flam, Norway, opt for a handmade goat’s cheese made by Skjerdal Stølsysteri, a local mountain farm overlooking Aurlandsfjord. Consider hiking via the narrow old farm road to Skjerdal Stølsyster, passing grazing goats to reach the farm’s café.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Flåm, Norway, however, it’s also useful to carry a small amount of cash, particularly if you intend on tipping. The local currency is Kroner (NOK).
Things to Do in Flåm
Embark on the Flåm Railway
Regarded as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, Flåm’s star attraction is its legendary railway.
Operating from the center of Flam since 1940, the 12.6-mile track follows a route high up into the mountain to reach Myrdal station, 2,844 feet above sea level.
Savor the wonderful views from the comfort of the train’s soul-warming vintage carriages. Seats are decked out in red upholstery while pine cladding covers the ceiling. The focus is what lies beyond the windows, though.
One of the steepest railway lines in the world, the majority of the route operates at a gradient of 5.5 percent, traveling through 20 tunnels and passing frothing waterfalls and green mountainsides.
A highlight of the journey is the roaring Kjosfossen, a 305-foot cascading waterfall beside which the train pulls up.
The journey takes one hour in each direction. Opt to take the return and visit Flåm Railway Museum on your return. Images, video footage, and artifacts are on display, including an old locomotive.
Visit Borgund Stave Church
One of the most famous and best-preserved stave churches in Norway, Borgund is hauntingly beautiful.
Built around 1180, the tiered church is known for its timber frame and triple nave. Borgund Stave Church glows a burnt-orange and brown hue, emphasized by its emerald-green natural backdrop.
The church’s exterior gables are adorned with four dragon heads, with weather-worn gravestones dotted around the grounds opposite the Lærdalselvi River.
Next door to Borgund Stave Church is Borgund’s vermillion-red newer church, built in 1868.
Designed by Christian Christie, the wooden church was built in the stave style, complementing its much older neighbor.
Stop at the Borgund visitor center and see the exhibition, which explores stave churches in the Middle Ages. A second exhibition features Viking Age artifacts from the ninth century.
Bathroom facilities and a café are also housed at the modern visitor center.
Marvel at the Breathtaking Scenery From Stegastein Viewpoint
Towering 2,132 feet above Aurlandsfjord, Stegastein is an extraordinary viewpoint designed by Todd Saunders and Tommie Wilhelmsen.
The 30-minute drive to Stegastein from Flåm follows the fjord’s east shore before coiling inland, over zig-zagging roads.
The steel and pine viewing structure projects almost 100 feet over the mountain resembling the form of a tumbling waterfall.
Soak up the spine-tingling views of the forest-covered mountains and glassy Aurlandsfjord from this unmatched elevation.
Whizz Through the Air on the Flåm Zipline
Flåm Zipline is perfect for travelers who are looking for their next adrenaline-pumping adventure—and perfect if you’ve got teens in tow.
Opened in 2018, Flåm Zipline is billed as the longest in the Nordic countries—spanning 4,530 feet and reaching up to 62 eye-watering miles per hour.
The starting point is Vatnahalsen, just outside of the Flåm line station, and you’ll finish in Kårdalen, near Rallarrosa Mountain Farm in the Flåm valley.
Take in the tremendous mountain views of dense, undulating pine forests as you swoosh through the air. Even during summertime, some of the mountains remain topped in snow.
Sweat it Out in a Floating Sauna
Step inside a hot sauna on the banks of the Aurlandsfjord for a steamy two hours in Flåm.
A floor-to-ceiling window offers direct views of the fjord’s inky water. This nifty sauna also features a bathing hatch and ladder leading straight into the fjord, allowing visitors to enjoy an ice-cold dip after sweating it out.
Changing facilities are provided. There’s also a shower, which is powered up for use between May and September. Swimwear and a towel are required.
Kayak in Aurlandsfjord
With still water and breathtaking scenery, the Norwegian fjords are a paradise for kayakers.
Starting from Flåm’s small beach next to the harbor, join a guided tour to glide on a section of the serene Aurlandsfjord.
Take regular breaks to soak in the scenery and search for local wildlife, with eagles, seals, and otters spotted in the vicinity. Pack your camera in a waterproof case to capture the stirring landscape as you glide over the water.
Explore the Village of Lærdalsøyri
The reflection of handsome buildings shimmers on the river in the idyllic village of Lærdalsøyri, near Flåm.
Dating back to the Middle Ages, Lærdalsøyri is centered on its old town, Gamle Lærdalsøyri, featuring colorful houses with neat white picket fences. Wander around the waterfront to Laerdal Old Town Viewpoint to capture the postcard-perfect old houses on camera.
From there, continue to the village’s photogenic Hauge Church. Built in 1869, the church follows Lærdalsøyri’s pretty clapboard uniform, painted white with ivory frames.
Visit the Sogn og Fjordane Art Museum, located within the Wild Salmon Center. Here you could discover the artwork of Hans Gjesme who spent much of his life painting in Lærdal.
The collection of Gjesme’s work was left to the municipality before his death in 1994 at the age of 94, with drawings and watercolor paintings among the pieces on display.
Take a break at Laksen Bakery & Café for sandwiches, cakes, and drinks. If you’re curious about the Wild Salmon Centre, take a peek inside to learn about the region’s salmon-fishing traditions. The salmon observatory offers a glimpse of this shimmering native fish up close.
Drive to Tvinde Waterfall and the Viking Village of Njardarheimr
The mesmerizing Tvinde Waterfall lies an hour’s drive south of Flåm, spilling 360 feet into the valley below.
Before reaching the multi-tiered falls, visit the Viking village of Njardarheimr in the hamlet of Gudvangen at the end of the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord.
Njardarheimr offers a taste of what life was like for Vikings a thousand years ago. Join a guided tour of the village to take part in an axe-throwing contest, watch historical reenactments, try Viking-era handicrafts, and learn about how Vikings lived and worked.
Explore the village’s array of grassy-roofed buildings, including longhouses, guild halls, small houses, and a harbor with longships.
Gudvangen is gorgeous and well worth spending time exploring, too. Head for the waterfront for a front-row view of the majestic Nærøyfjord.
Continue your journey south, traversing Stalheim Road’s series of hairpin bends surrounded by soaring mountains, waterfalls, and evergreen forests to Tvindefossen. During summertime, water rushes over the cliff face, cascading in multiple tiers towards the verdant woodland below.
Hike a Section of the Idyllic Flåm Valley
There are plenty of hiking options in Flåm. Opt for the relatively easy route to the attractive Flåm Church, roughly a four-mile round trip.
Starting in the center of Flåm, trace the Flåmselvi for two miles through Flåm’s bucolic countryside to reach the 17th-century church. This historic wooden building is surrounded by gravestones and enclosed with a white picket fence.
Pack your camera and water and stop to enjoy the many scenic photo opportunities along the route.
Food & Drink in Flåm
Food in Flåm leans toward traditional Norwegian flavors. Plates of dill-garnish smoked salmon on rye or sourdough are common, along with herring, mussels, crab, and trout plucked from the shores around southwest Norway.
Flåm Valley-grown herbs, berries, vegetables, and dairy are plentiful, too. Brown and white goat cheese—along with a curious goat salami—are local delicacies made on a mountainside farm.
Offering a masterclass in hygge—a sense of comfort and coziness—Flam Bakeri is a one-stop destination for coffee and cake in a soothing setting. Sample cream buns, cinnamon rolls, or stout sourdough bread with delicious bean-to-cup coffee or velvety hot chocolate.
Flåm even has its own microbrewery, Ægir BrewPub. Ægir produces a range of drinks from light ales to dark, fruity beers with tasting and presentations at the brewery available. If you’re not a beer fan, you could try the brewery’s Heimdall Gin, flavored with juniper berries, coriander, and orange peel.
Ægir BrewPub offers a Viking-inspired menu of beer-paired dishes. The menu features hyper-local ingredients, such as mussels and venison, marinated in Ægir brews.
Best Time to Visit Flåm, Norway
To take advantage of Flåm’s range of outdoor pursuits, the best time to visit is between May and August.
Summertime is also the best time to see waterfalls in action, with the snow that heaps down on mountains during winter thawing into thundering falls in summer. Other attractions, such as Flåm church, only open during summer, too.
Weather is typically mild at this time of year, though it can also be unpredictable. Pack waterproofs and layers to cover every eventuality.
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