Flåm, Norway

Norway is such a stunningly beautiful country it’s hard to know where to begin. Picking a starting point might be agonizing, but no matter where you start, you can’t go wrong. We’re choosing to start in Flåm (pronounced Flom), located about 100 miles inland from the southwest coastal city of Bergen, arguably one of the most beautiful coasts in the country. Flåm is a village in southwest Norway in an area known for its fjords. It sits at the end of Aurlandsfjord, which is a branch of the vast Sognefjord. In 2019 its inhabitants numbered about 350 so if you’re picturing an idyllic scene, you’re spot on.

Flåmsbana Railway, in addition to being one of the leading tourist attractions in Norway, has been described as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. The train is powered by locally produced hydropower and runs from the end of Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord, up to the high mountains at Myrdal station. The journey highlights some of the most stunning scenery of Western Norway.

There’s no doubt that if you’re in this part of Norway the fjords are the draw. Nærøyfjord is featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and there are tours that cruise along this fjord all year. There are a number of tours to choose from with 4 departure points including Flåm. Nærøyfjord has award-winning, fully electric sightseeing vessels, the Future of the Fjords and Legacy of the Fjords, and both are also powered by locally produced hydropower. To say this fjord is breathtaking would be a gross understatement. Each season dresses the fjord for the occasion; frosty colors, white mountain peaks and ice-covered waterfalls during winter, blooming deciduous trees and chirping birds in the spring; verdant expanses filled with green trees and long, bright nights in the summer; and autumn ushers in colorful terrain and the refreshing clear air that’s a harbinger of winter. RIB (rigid inflatable boats) fjord safaris are offered in Nærøyfjord and can be combined with a hike to a goat farm where you can sample luscious local goat cheese. With a focus on the environment, E-Mobility offers electric car rental giving visitors the option to explore Gudvangen or Stegastein. The cars have GPS systems in several languages.

Maybe a panoramic view of Aurlandsfjord is more your thing. A bus from Flåm via Aurland will get you to the spectacular Stegastein Viewpoint. The structure extends 30 meters out from the mountainside, 650 meters above the fjord, and offers an unparalleled panorama.

Your entire visit to Flåm could be spent looking in awe at the majestic fjords, but there’s a lot more to discover. Flåm is a hikers paradise, and the options are endless. Bicycles are available for rent, giving cyclists the opportunity to take in Flåm is also home to one of the longest ziplines in the world, which starts at Vatnahalsen near the Bergen Line and the Flåm Railway and ends in Kårdalen, close to the Rallarrosa Cheese Farm in the upper part of the valley. If you’ve ever wanted to fly this is as close as you’ll get and the views are simply breathtaking.

If you’re curious about the Viking era and want to learn more a visit to the Viking Village is for you. Located in Gudvangen, the people in the village live the Viking lifestyle and do it the way the Vikings did, like spinning their own yarn, making their own bread and hammering out metal in their on-site blacksmith shop. The residents are lovely and happy to share their skills and knowledge, including lessons in archery and axe-throwing. It’s an immersive history lesson.

How about exploring the fjords via kayak? They’ve got you covered. Kayak tours leave from Gudvangen, a short 20 minutes from Flåm where the kayaks are launched. They offer half-day tours, single and double kayaks, and what’s sure to be one of the most unforgettable experiences of a lifetime.

When you’ve worked up a thirst and appetite you’ll have choices that range from pastries and coffee to microbreweries. The Ægir microbrewery looks like a winter lodge paradise, and their food and drink menu really does have something for everyone. Don’t forget the aquavit!

In its ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility, beginning in 2022 Flåm will offer shore power to cruise ships. In addition, the railway and sightseeing vessels on the fjord are powered by locally produced hydropower.

Norwegians take great pride in their country and are happy to share their history so visitors can understand what makes this country so special. Be prepared to fall in love with the beauty and nature that defines Norway. It’s pretty hard to resist.

Image credit: Port of Flåm

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