Flam Railway (the ‘Flamsbana’) is recognised as one of the most stunning railway journeys on the planet (indeed Lonely Planet voted it #1 in 2014)…

Flam Railway: Norway's Most Beautiful Train Journey

The Flam Railway (the ‘Flamsbana’) is one of the most stunning railway journeys on the planet, indeed Lonely Planet voted it #1 in 2014.
 
The 20km railway line descends 866 metres from the ice capped mountainous terrain of Myrdal to the lush green fjord-side setting of Flam. For 45 glorious minutes, the train slaloms its way through 20 tunnels and over one bridge. Some of the tunnels even have viewing ports, allowing passengers an almost continuous view of the scene unfolding in the valley below. The stunning scenery includes waterfalls cascading down mountainsides, hill top farms and a river flowing along the floor of the valley far below
I’ve always enjoyed the cinematic experience offered by a train journey. The prospect of hitching a ride on the Flam railway was an exciting one. I had read about it before the trip and, needless to say, I was not disappointed. The 45 minute journey was breathtaking.
 
You can book tickets for the Flam Railway through the Visit Flam and NSB websites.
The Flam Railway - a picture of the train carriages

Practical tip: for the best views sit on the left side of the train when descending – this is the side of the train furthest away from the platform in Myrdal (or the right side if ascending from Flam). I would also recommend sitting next to the windows that you can actually open. This will enable you to lean out and take more pristine photos. 

A couple of kilometres into the descent, the train comes to a stop next to the mighty Kjosfossen waterfall, which is one of Norway’s most visited attractions. At this point passengers can leave the train and go out onto a viewing platform to see the waterfall up close. White frothing water cascades down over 93 metres of rock into a clear blue pool, below. During the summer months, music plays over the roar of the falls. An actress draped in red robes sings and dances as a Huldra, which is a forest spirit in Scandinavian folklore.

The mighty Kjosfossen Waterfall – if you look carefully you might stop the Huldra

After admiring the Kjosfossen, we hopped back onto the train and continued our journey. The train travelled through more tunnels and over steep gorges to the valley floor below, before finally arriving in Flam.

It’s not only the scenery which is mind boggling. The railway itself is a feat of engineering, constructed before the modern machinery and engineering practices which we have today. Between 1924 and 1940 hundreds of workers dug the tunnels through the mountainside and laid the track by hand! For the train enthusiasts amongst you, the line includes the steepest grade of any European railway that runs on standard gauge track. It is hard to comprehend how difficult this project would have been to undertake (well, actually it isn’t – there is a free museum in Flam which details the history and construction of the railway).

Have you ridden the Flamsbana railway? If so, what did you think? Let me know your thoughts, or any other stunning railway journeys that you would recommend, in the comments section (below)

By CHRIS BURCHILL

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