The Flåm railway in Norway, or Flamsbana, is often touted as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, and it is one of the most popular attractions in Norway. The train travels from Flåm to Myrdal in under an hour and back in the opposite direction. Some people choose to do the round trip, but we chose to do the Myrdal–Flåm trip and stayed a night in Flåm before travelling on to Bergen.
The Flåm railway was officially opened in 1940 and is still one of the steepest railways in the world making it an engineering feat in itself. The train travels an incredible distance in height of 863 metres from its highest point at Myrdal to sea level at Flåm, all the while traversing man-made constructions such as tunnels, stations and a bridge, and natural obstacles such as waterfalls and mountains. If you are interested in more of the history behind the construction of the Flåm railway, there is a comprehensive Railway Museum in Flåm.
I have to be honest and confess that I was a little underwhelmed by the Flåm railway. A result of too much hype and high expectations? I’m not sure. The scenery and soaring vistas were stunning; however, a lot of time was spent in dark tunnels and any time there was foliage or a waterfall in sight, everyone grappled to take photos in time before the next tunnel loomed in sight. I know, I know – I sound exactly like a conceited traveller (notice how I didn’t say tourist?), but I thought the train journey between Bergen and Oslo was as – if not more – spectacular as the Flåm railway.
The slight disappointment may also have something to do with the fact that we had just come from Iceland, which has possibly ruined me forever because there will always be that point of comparison: ‘Yes this is nice…but have you seen Iceland?’
During the train journey, the Flåm railway makes a quick stop at Kjosfossen, a powerful waterfall that drops dramatically through the jagged mountainside, and passengers are able to disembark to take photos.
What I wasn’t expecting was the folk music blaring through the speakers and a performer – water nymph? – emerging from the mist of the waterfall and entertaining us with a theatric dance. Now that is a cool job. I learned later on that according to Scandinavian folklore, huldra are siren women that seduce men with their song to lure them into the forest.
The most scenic part of the train journey was when the Flåm railway started rolling into the Flåm village at the base of the valley. The colourful wooden houses dotted along the winding turquoise water set against the mountainous terrain is a picture straight out of a Nordic fairy tale.
A night in Flåm
We stayed one night in Flåm at the Flåm Hostel, which was the cheapest accommodation we could find in town. The facilities were excellent and we were even upgraded to a 4-bed cabin!
Flåm is a sleepy village and we didn’t do or see much aside from wandering around the small town, spending too much time at the Railway Museum (thanks to the hubby) and admiring the stunning Aurlandsfjord – the last we could have done for days on end.
I was so excited to go on a fjord cruise the next day, which would take us from Flåm to Gudvangen. The landscapes that you experience as you cruise along the fjord is extraordinary – and in case you’re wondering, it’s definitely on the scale of Iceland!
From Gudvangen, we caught a bus to the town of Voss, where we then took a train on to Bergen. This may seem like a significant detour to take to get to Bergen, but we were able to see so much that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen had we just taken the Bergen line from Oslo direct to Bergen.
Flåm railway booking
The Flåm Railway is very easy to do as it is a convenient detour on the Bergen Railway between Oslo and Bergen.
If travelling from Oslo, take the NSB train from Oslo S Station to Myrdal where you’ll embark to catch the Flåm Railway. If you’re lucky it won’t be too long between connections but if there is a bit of waiting time then bring a book as there’s not much to see and do in Myrdal. NSB tickets can be purchased online in advance or from the Oslo train station.
The Flåm railway runs regular services daily depending on the season – there are up to 10 departures during summer and 4 departures during winter. I would recommend booking the Flåm railway tickets in advance. The timetable and ticket prices can be found here.
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