The beautiful Norwegian village of Flåm sits on the shores of the Aurlandsfjord, overlooked by towering snow-clad mountains.
It’s a tiny place with less than 500 full-time inhabitants, but welcomes around 450,000 visitors each year – almost 1000 for every resident!
Many of them arrive on cruise ships or via the dramatic Flåmsbana Railway, one of the steepest standard-gauge railways in the world.
Quick take: our 3 favourite activities in Flåm
- Flåm railway: Norway’s best train ride by far, the ultimate mountain railway switchbacks its way down a steep valley to the fjord past wooded slopes, gushing rivers and waterfalls.
- Fjord safari: Take a small RIB ride through the Aurlandsfjord, so you can see thundering waterfalls and mountain-climbing goats up close, and look out for seals and porpoises in the water too.
- Stegastein Viewpoint: For the best views over Flåm, the fjords and towering mountainside, walk out onto the modernist Stegastein Viewpoint, that juts 30 metres out from the mountainside above the fjord 650 metres below.
Another reason it’s so popular is because Flåm is one of the highlights on the Norway in a Nutshell tour, which you can do as part of an organised trip or on a cheaper, DIY version of the tour.
Then there’s the stunning scenery, the fresh clean air and excellent range of activities that include kayaking, hiking in the mountains, boat trips on the fjords and mountain biking.
But which activities are best, and which should you choose to get the most out of your time in Flåm? Here we go!
There are plenty of options for fjord cruises from Flåm. One of the most popular is the quiet electric boat that cruises through the stunning Aurlandsfjord and the Unesco-listed Nærøyfjord, Europe’s narrowest fjord, to Gudvangen.
Alternatively, you can take the slightly cheaper ferry from Flåm to Gudvangen. Both take around two hours, and you can either do the return trip by boat or come back by bus, a 20-minute trip.
And if you want a longer trip, you can cruise all the way from Flåm to Bergen along the scenic Sognefjord, the longest fjord in Norway, a journey of around 5 hours, 30 minutes.
Norway’s top train journey (and some even say one of the world’s best rail trips), the Flåm Railway runs from Myrdal high up in the mountains down the steep and meandering valley to Flåm at the bottom, on the shores of the Aurlandsfjord.
The journey takes under an hour, as the train switchbacks down the mountain valley, past forests, gushing waterfalls and craggy cliffs.
Chances are you’ll arrive in Flåm this way, but if you don’t it’s worth doing the trip anyway just for the fun of it – see our guide for more on the Flåmsbana.
Flåm is a also great place for hikes. One of the most popular is the walk to the Brekkefossen waterfall, with a drop of 625 metres into a large pool.
From here, you get lovely views back over Flåm and the fjord. It’s not a very long hike (about 5km round-walk), but the final bit up to the waterfall is steep, so we wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a decent level of fitness.
Another good option is to take the train up to Myrdal then to walk back down the valley. It’s a beautiful walk of about 13 miles (downhill all the way!) and can be done in around five hours.
If you’re up for a more challenging walk, we like this guided hike to the Aurlandsdalen Valley for its wild, untouched atmosphere and rugged mountainscapes.
Known as the “Grand Canyon of Norway”, it’s a landscape of canyons and gorges, rivers and waterfalls, and unspoilt mountain villages.
One of the region’s best bike rides is along the Rallarvegen Road, an old navigational road built during the construction of the railway, and now a popular cycle route.
It runs for 50 miles from Haugastøl to Flåm, through beautiful landscapes, and takes a good seven hours to cycle.
If this a bit too challenging, you can just do the final downhill section, by taking the train from Flåm to Myrdal Station, where you can rent bikes from Café Rallaren and cycle back down.
You can leave the bike at Flåm station, where it will be picked up and taken back up to Myrdal.
Although Flåm is small there are a few sites around the village that are worth exploring.
Flåm’s pretty 17th-century wooden church lies a couple of miles from the waterfront in what was the old village centre.
The walk there is pretty, and if the church is open you can look inside at the impressive painted wall art.
And if you want to learn more about the Flåmsbana railway, its construction and its impact on the local community, we suggest you drop into the Flåm Railway Museum in the old train station. It’s free to enter and has an old engine on display inside.
In summer, kayaking is a lovely way to explore the fjord – it’s peaceful, quiet and gives you a real sense of connection with the water and the towering mountains above.
You also may get to see seals and porpoises while you’re paddling.
From May to September, Njord runs guided kayak trips that give you two to three hours out on the water. Or you can rent your own kayak or SUP and stay as long as you like.
We also really love this three-day kayak adventure, where you head off in kayaks with all your gear and spend two nights camping beside the water, cooking on a campfire and paddling around the fjord.
The ultimate thrill for adrenaline-junkies is the Flåm Zipline. At 1.4km long, it’s northern Europe’s longest zipline and reaches speeds of around 60mph (it feels a LOT faster than 60mph when you’re actually hanging there!).
The zipline runs from Vatnahalsen down the valley to Kardalen, giving stunning views over the tree-tops, the river and switchback road down the valley.
Vatnahalsen is the stop before Myrdal on the Flåmsbana, so you can get the train to top of the zipwire. From Kardalen, at the bottom, it’s a beautiful 3–4 hour walk down the valley back to Flåm, or you can rent a bike at the kiosk and cycle back.
Alternatively, you can rent a bike at Myrdal and bring it with you on the zipwire!
After all those adventurous activities, we recommend something more relaxing, like a sauna.
And where better than on a floating sauna on the fjord?
The sauna has large glass windows so you can take in the view while you steam and of course there’s a ladder into the water in case you feel like taking a bracing dip as well.
Eating and drinking
If you’re looking for a tasty pastry, a sandwich or freshly-baked bread, aim for the Flåm Bakeri.
It has tables out front so you can watch the comings and goings on the waterfront, the cinnamon buns are delicious and it makes good pizzas to take out.
And we also really like the Ægir Brew Pub, for its locally made craft beers and Viking-inspired menu.
Built to resemble a Viking stave church, the buzzy beer hall’s most popular dish is the Viking plank which pairs beers with dishes such as slow-cooked venison and salmon tartare.
Look out too for the local delicacy, a traditional Norwegian svele, a type of fat savoury pancake served with local goat’s cheese.
Where to stay
It’s definitely worth staying overnight in Flåm, so you get to experience the village once all the tourists have gone home and the cruise ships have left port. Here are some of our favourite places to stay.
Stay in a tiny house
We love this cosy cabin, which may be small but has everything you need for a comfortable stay. With tables and chairs on its own terrace by the river, it’s about a mile up the valley from the waterfront.
Our top choice in Flåm, if your budget can stretch to it, this comfortable hotel is right in the thick of things, with good-sized rooms, some of which have a balcony overlooking the fjord. The staff are friendly and the Ægir Brew Pub is right next door.
The Brekke Gard Hostel
Just a mile up the valley, this good-value hostel has simple but clean double and twin rooms plus dorms, all with shared bathrooms. There’s a communal kitchen and plenty of outdoor space to play, so we think it’s a good choice for families.