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The Flåm Railway, also known as Flåmsbana, has been deemed by several to be the most beautiful train journey in the world with spectacular views of fjords and majestic waterfalls. The railway contains panoramic views and is one of the steepest railway lines in the world at a gradient of 5.5% along 80% of the line. The 12.5 mile (20 km) line was built between 1920 and 1940 and contains 20 tunnels, 18 of which were built entirely by hand.
The Flåmsbana line begins in Myrdal, where both Olso and Bergen connect. The ride takes one hour and descends from an elevation of 3,117 feet (950 m) down to sea level. I arrived at the Myrdal train station from Øystese, a small village 1.5 hours northeast of Bergen, where a friend from college lived. I took a local bus through the countryside, then walked a dirt path down to a small train station. It was from there that I was able to arrive at the Myrdal Train Station.
Boarding the Flåm Railway was fairly easy and the signs were well marked. The vintage train compartments have open seating and during the busy point of the year, they can fill up quickly. I highly recommend timing your Flåm train ride to when there is no cruise ship docked in the village. Flåm has a population of approximately 500 and when a cruise arrives in port, the number of people in town increases dramatically. Hence why taking the train when there is no cruise ship can make the experience that much better.
While on the train, I made sure to get a seat with a window that could roll down so I could take photos without having to worry about the glare from the glass. Not all windows roll down, so be sure to check before you sit! The train does not have assigned seats. While on board, the 1-hour ride offered stunning views of the fjords, mountainsides, and even made a stop at Kjosfossen where you can depart from the train for 5-minutes to take in the scenery. Many times, the stop includes a somewhat touristy show where a woman appears halfway up the waterfall and dances, depicting Huldra, a forest creature. The Kjosfossen Waterfall is rated as one of Norway’s most beautiful waterfalls and stands at a height of 738 feet (225 meters). It’s not until you are out on the platform that you realize just how powerful the falls are.
When arriving in Flåm, you are surrounded by picturesque fjords. Flåm sits on the Aurlansfjord, one of the longest and deepest fjords in all of Europe.
I visited the small village on a holiday weekend, and shortly after arriving, the only cruise ship docked left. The town turned from a popular tourist destination to a beautiful camping spot for Norwegians. The Flåm Camping and Youth Hostel was overflowing with campers and everyone was outside enjoying the beautiful weather and company. I stayed in a cabin at the property but there are more upscale options available in Flåm at Flåmsbrygga Hotel and Fretheim Hotel.
Tips for the Flåm Railway
- Book ahead of time with the railway. The tickets do sell out during peak season. Direct booking will offer the best pricing at https://www.vy.no/. The stations are Myrdal Stasjon to Flåm Stasjon in Aurland.
- Large tourist companies have been seen blocking off sections of the train but know that they do not have the approval to do this and you can ignore these signs completely.
- Pick a seat with a sliding window so you can get glare-free photos.
- Book tickets for when there are no cruise ships docked in Flåm.
- Bike from Myrdal to Flåm and take the train back to Myrdal. Bike rentals are available at the Myrdal Train Station at Cafe Rallaren. Bikes can be returned at the Flåm train station so you don’t have to worry about a round-trip adventure. From Myrdal to Flåm is a downhill route that 21 hairpin bends down the mountain before coming across the Flåm valley floor and river. The route takes 1.5-2 hours to complete. Bikes are available to reserve online at https://caferallaren-eng.squarespace.com/bike-rentals
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