The sleepy town of Flåm (pronounced ‘Flom’) lies at the tip of the Aurlandsfjord, midway between Oslo and Bergen. The town is home to just… Visiting Flam

Visiting Flam: a practical guide to a fjord-side stay

The sleepy town of Flam (pronounced ‘Flom’) lies at the tip of the Aurlandsfjord, midway between Oslo and Bergen. The town is home to only 800 permanent residents. The slower pace of life offers a good opportunity to chill out and unwind away from the hectic pace of modern life. Flam’s setting, backed by the steep hillsides and the fjord is postcard perfect. There is a chance, however, that a hulking great cruise ship may spoil the view. We were fortunate that our first day was cruise ship free 🙂

~ Getting to Flam ~

Visiting Flam is best done by train, either from Oslo or Bergen. Visiting Flam is best done by train, either from Oslo or Bergen. You will need to change trains in the mountains at Myrdal station. From here, wait to board the Flåmsbana railway, recognised as one of the world’s most spectacular train journeys. The railway is very popular, so I would recommend booking your tickets in advance via the NSB website) . For 45 glorious minutes the train descends from the snowcapped mountain backdrop of Myrdal to the lush, green setting of Flam. There are panoramic views of waterfalls cascading down mountainsides, hill top farms and the river winding through the valley below.

Once they arrive in Flam, a lot of people will head straight back out again, either to ride the railway or as part of the Norway in a Nutshell Tour. I would advocate staying in Flam for a day. The town has a quiet charm and offers good access to the Norwegian countryside.

The sleepy town of Flam (pronounced ‘Flom’) lies at the tip of the Aurlandsfjord, midway between Oslo and Bergen. The town is home to only 800 permanent residents. The slower pace of life offers a good opportunity to chill out and unwind away from the hectic pace of modern life. Flam’s setting, backed by the steep hillsides and the fjord is postcard perfect. There is a chance, however, that a hulking great cruise ship may spoil the view. We were fortunate that our first day was cruise ship free 🙂

Practical tip: for the best views on the Flamsbana, 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).

~ Things to do ~

Nærøfjord – Norway’s ‘most stunning fjord’, the Nærøfjord, is round the corner from Flam. Ferries leave from Flam throughout the day. You can book tickets through the visit Flam website. For practical tips and what to expect when visiting Norway’s western fjords, click here.

Taking a trip on the fjords

Getting off the beaten track

Scenic walksVisiting Flam and enjoy walking? I have good news for you, there are a number of scenic walking trails. Pick up a map from the visitor centre. The walks are a great way to get out and enjoy the stunning landscapes which surround Flam and the fresh air. Living in a city, I sometimes forget what real fresh air tastes and feels like. One deep breath of Norwegian countryside air made me feel alive!

Our favourite walk was the walk up to Brekkefossen waterfall, which is the most popular hike in Flam.  The waterfall lies a couple of kilometers to the south of the village. A round trip to the viewing area should take around 1 – 1.5 hours. The waterfall is pretty cool, although by no means the most impressive waterfall that we saw in Norway! The viewing area offers some spectacular views of Flam and the Aurlandsfjord (check out the panorama, below).

A panoramic shot of Brekkefossen Waterfall, Flam and the Aurlandsfjord

panoramic shot of Brekkefossen, Flam and the Aurlandsfjord from the waterfall viewing point

For the more intrepid amongst you, a path continues beyond the waterfall’s viewing area into the hills above. This will add another hour or so to the total journey time. A word of warning: it can be pretty treacherous and slippery, especially after rain, as I found out (thankfully I’m not adverse to a bit of mud!).
A long exposure of the upper part of Brekkefossen Waterfall, Flam, Norway

A long exposure of the upper part of Brekkefossen Waterfall

The Church in Old Flam is the main attraction of another popular walk. This walk is longer than the Brekkefossen hike – about 3.5km each way – but is flat and less taxing. It also makes for some lovely photo opportunities, deep within the valley.
The Church in Old Flam Village

Flåm parish church, located in the Old Town

~ Where to eat ~

Bakkastova – the cafe is a short walk from the main centre. The menu is simple; serving food that is both traditional and delicious. So much that we went back for lunch the following day. I would recommend stopping by to enjoy lunch. On the first day I had goat sausages accompanied by a simple potato salad and salad leaves (scrumptious). On the second day I went for the platter (smoked salmon, potato salad, eggs and bread). My friend Jenny opted for the carrot and ginger soup on both occasions. On top of this, the bread which accompanies the food is spectacular. Its served warm and topped with a generous dollop of garlic butter, which is very, very addictive!

Lunch at Bakkastova - goat sausage

Toget Cafe there’s no getting away from it, Norway is an expensive place to visit. For that reason, we were trying to keep costs down in Flam and opted to have dinner here. A decent pizza and a beer will set you back approximately £25.

Flam Bakery – is next to the visitor centre and offers a wide selection of pastries and sandwiches, baked fresh every day. These, along with the coffee, are great for a quick snack or breakfast-on-the-go before a trip to see the fjords.

Ægir BrewPub – this local, award-winning brewery has a pub in the centre of Flam. Outside, the pub resembles an old Norse church. The interior is decorated with dragon heads, rugs and a feature fireplace at the centre. A chimney over the fireplace rises through the mezzanine balcony level to the high ceiling, above. It’s warm, cosy and inviting; especially after a cold day out on the fjords.

~ Where to stay ~

There are quite a few larger hotels near to the station and ferry docking point. The trip was kind of last minute and most of the rooms that were still available were very expensive. In the end, we decided to book a room in the Brekke Gard Hostel, which is a 15 minute walk outside of Flam’s centre. The accommodation was fairly basic. The hostel had communal bathrooms (and a kitchen area, should guests wish to cook for themselves), but was cheap and homely. It was also super quiet at night, apart from the floorboards which could be quite creaky on occasion. 

Brekke Gard Hostel

One of the neighbours

I found Flam to be both an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Have you been? If so, what were your thoughts? Let me know, below.

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