A Guide to Riding The Scenic Flåm Railway in Norway
Undoubtedly one of Europe’s most spectacular train journeys, the Flåm Railway is one of Norway‘s highlights. Although only 20km in length, this engineering marvel transports passengers from sea level in Flåm, all the way up to Myrdal at 886 meters.
As the train snakes its way up the Flåm Valley, you’ll pass waterfalls, villages, and picturesque country houses. The trip takes about an hour, passing through 20 tunnels, stopping at several villages along the way on its journey from sea level to the mountain plateau.
Riding the Flåm Railway
Flåm lies in the innermost corner of the Aurlands Fjord, a tributary of the 204 km long and up to 1308 meter deep, Sogne Fjord. It’s a small town but it is used to accommodating tourists. There are tour agencies, different accommodations, a free museum, restaurants, cafes, and bike, car, and kayak rentals.
People have lived along the fjord ever since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. The rich fishing and hunting grounds and protection from the open sea made it a good place to live. It has historically been easier to reach Flåm and the fjord settlements by boat, rather than over the mountains.
The Flåm Valley is a typical west Norwegian fjord valley created during millions of years of weathering. Hiking trails criss-cross the valley in addition to one which covers the length of the valley. With the better part of a day, you could cover the 20km by foot, choosing to either hike up or down between Flåm and Myrdal, taking the train in the reverse direction. Hiking maps are available at the Flåm Visitor’s Center.
Myrdal station lies high on the mountain plateau with nothing but a waiting room, ticket desk, and small cafe. At nearby Vatnahalsen you’ll find a hotel where winter sport enthusiasts or hikers stay.
Myrdal lies on the Bergen Line which shuttles passengers between Oslo and Bergen in about 7 hours. So most passengers are likely to come from one of Norway’s two biggest cities. The trains to and from Flåm connect at Myrdal at convenient times with most day trains running between Oslo and Bergen.
The Norway in a Nutshell Option
The Norwegian tourism board promotes its Norway in a Nutshell route which gives the traveler a glimpse of the best scenery from several modes of travel. This involves a rail-boat-bus combo giving you a chance to see the splendor of the Sogne Fjord — Norway’s longest and deepest fjord. The route incorporates the Flåm Railway between Myrdal and Flåm, a boat ride linking Flåm and Gudvangen, and a bus connecting Gudvangen and Voss, or in the reverse direction. The Bergen railway connects you between Bergen, Voss, Myrdal, and Oslo.
Riding the Flåm Railway with Eurail
Norway’s Flåm Railway takes you through highlights of some of the country’s famous scenery. It’s also one of the world’s steepest railways. National Geographic Traveler Magazine named the Flam Railway as one of the top 10 train journeys in Europe and Lonely Planet named it the best train journey in the world in 2014. Flamsbana operates the line.
Travel time between Flåm and Myrdal is about one hour, including brief stops along the way to allow tourists to take photos and see the Kjosfossen waterfall. Eurail Pass holders are entitled to a 30% discount on the price of tickets. You don’t have to make a reservation. The line is operational throughout the year with four daily departures in winter and 9-10 in the summer. All seasons are scenic.