Travelling to Norway conjured up images of Nordic culture and sweeping vistas over deep blue fjords. Reading about Norway in a Nutshell made me want to take a train ride through the mountains and a boat ride through the waters. Flåm was where my dreams of Norway most came true. In fact, this is a popular cruise stop for showing off the country and sits right in the middle of Norway in a Nutshell’s itinerary. For the Norway that I visited, I felt like I was the farthest away from the United States that I could get.
What is a fjord and why would I want to visit one?
A fjord is a long, deep inlet coming off the ocean. Because it is made from glacial erosion the sides are generally steep cliffs. You should visit because they are really incredibly beautiful!
Why visit Flåm?
Flåm is a small tourist town at the inner end of the Aurlandsfjorden. This is a branch of Sognefjorden which is the longest fjord in Norway and the second largest in the world! Because it is right on the fjord’s edge you can fully immerse yourself in the experience of the fjord.
What is there to do in Flåm?
Because of its location, Flåm is the perfect set-off place to really experience this country, whether you want to get out into nature or sit by a window. The starting point for most of these excursions is the Flåm Visitor’s Center. There are also many restaurants within walking distance.
Ride the Flåmsbama, or Flåm Railway
For some Flåm is a stop on their railway journey to somewhere else. In 2014 the route from Flåm to Myrdal was named by Lonely Planet as the most beautiful train ride in the world. I would definitely recommend reservations for this and the ferry ride as they are two of Norway’s biggest tourist attractions. My dad and son are huge train fans and loved the ride. I found it lovely, but not that different from the exploring we had been doing on our driving road trip. There is a free and very complete railroad museum at the train station. The round trip took about two hours.
Ride the Ferry
This ferry ride was a highlight of my trip. This is a working ferry that transports travelers up through the fjord. From Flåm there is a roundtrip through Nærøyfjord which includes a bus to bring you back to Flåm. From the deck of the comfortable, modern ferry you can appreciate how incredibly high the sides of the fjords are. You will also see numerous waterfalls streaming down the cliff faces and view small towns hidden in nooks in the mountains. The ride takes about 3 hours. There is a cafe and restrooms on the ferry. Due to lack of planning, I had to wait for space on a ferry to open and I traveled off-season, so make a reservation!
Cycle through the mountains
You can book a train ride for you and your bike up to Myrdal, then ride the 2 1/2 hour trip through Flåm Valley back down to Flåm. Bikes are available for rent at the Flåm Visitor Center. During this bike ride you will descend on a 21 hair-pin turn road through the valley!
Hiking through the Flam Valley
Spend a day hiking along the fjord from Flåm to Aurland.
Kayak on the Sognefjorden
You can rent kayaks in Flåm or Undredal.
Just ten minutes up the road from Flåm is the village of Undredal. It is so stinking cute! It is much smaller than Flåm and nestled right into a nook at the bend in the fjord. There is a well-preserved stave church. A stave church is a post and timber medieval church found throughout northern Europe. This is in the best shape of the ones we saw. They also are famous for making Undredalsosten, a questionable tasting brown goat cheese. Seriously, I love cheese and didn’t hate this, but it tasted indescribably strange.
The Culture of Norway
I was really impressed with the natural beauty of Norway. Although it is very expensive, it is a very easy country for Americans to visit. I didn’t meet one person who didn’t speak American English perfectly- with an American accent. The only thing I was disappointed by was how it was hard to really find the Norwegian culture. Routinely when I asked locals to be directed to some authentic Norwegian food they sent me to an international restaurant. There I could get burgers, pizza and barbecue ribs, even Chinese food. Even when I was driving through tiny towns in the Norwegian wilderness. But in Flåm I found Norwegian food and even tried reindeer! That brings me to where to stay because we ate at our hotel restaurant and it is fabulous.
Where to stay in Flåm
We stayed and ate at the Flåmsbrygga Hotel. It was my favorite hotel that we stayed in during our week in Norway. The decor was darling bare wood, it was comfortable, the staff was very helpful, the location convenient and the view from our room was really incredible. One of my happiest times was waking up seeing the fjord in a light covering of snow. We had the Viking meal at the Flamstova Restaurant.
When should I visit Norway?
I have to be honest. Norway is expensive! But it is so worth visiting- one of my favorite countries. We visited one week before the tourist season started and saved so much money by doing that. We had one day of snow, but generally the weather was pretty good.
Be sure to check out the rest of my travels in Europe or stay tuned for more posts about Norway. Be sure to read about RomanRoams exploration of Norway’s Waterfall Valley. I have lots more to share about this stunning country so subscribe to not miss a single one!