Why You Should Visit Norway's Breathtaking Flåmsbana Railway

The iconic Flåm railway
The iconic Flåm railway | Courtesy of Visit Flåm
There’s probably no more more poetic and mindful way of traveling than a train ride. Combine that with breathtaking scenery, opportunities for outdoor adventures and sites the train actually stops for, and you have an unforgettable experience. Flåmsbana, the iconic railway in Fjord Norway that runs from Flåm to Myrdal and back again, offers all that and more – and should definitely be on your bucket list.

The surrounding area

Sogn og Fjordane county has so much to offer! For starters, the fjords: here you can see Sognefjord, the longest fjord in the country (and second longest in the world). Stemming from Sognefjord are the famous Nærøyfjord, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Aurlandsfjord.

Aurlandsfjord ends in the picturesque Flåm, from where you can take the Flåmsbana – but if you have some time, you should also explore the surrounding area before jumping on board. If you’re looking for a vantage point to take it all in, you’ll find none better than the Stegastein viewing platform. Once you’ve had your share of looking around, it’s time to head to the train station.

Cruising the head of Aurlandsfjord, near Flåm © Dan Lundberg / Flickr

A historical train ride

The Flåm Railway was completed in 1940, after 20 years of construction. The train itself, with a design that oozes old-world charm, is a site to behold – and the ride is so steep it is considered “a feat of engineering“. You are at sea level (or fjord level) when you get on board in Flåm, but during the one-hour ride, you’ll ascend to 867 meters before reaching Myrdal.

The ride itself is beyond beautiful: lush forests, towering mountainsides, cascading waterfalls and no less than 20 tunnels (one of which took 11 years to build). Thankfully you’ll have the time to take it all in, as the train runs slowly and it will even stop at the most significant sights. Once you reach Myrdal, you can decide what you want to do from there. In any case, a visit at the café at the station is a must, not just because of their pancakes but because of the antiques, memorabilia and old equipment you’ll find here from the café’s early days of entertaining train guests.

Flåmsbana en route © Aapo Haapanen/Flickr

Making your own way back

From Myrdal station, you have several options. You can hop on the Bergen line and head to Bergen or Oslo, or you can take the Flåmsbana back to Flåm (they have round-trip tickets on their website). If you’re feeling adventurous though, you can also opt to hike or bike your way back, following the railway through the Flåm Valley. This is probably Norway’s most spectacular cycle route and there are mountain farms you can stop along the way, waterfalls to admire, a deep gorge and a church built in 1667. If you time it right, you can even catch Flåmsbana passing through – and take some amazing photos.

You can hike or bike next to the Flåmsbana railway © Sverre Hjørnevik, Courtesy of Visit Flåm