30 Aug Exciting Adventures in the Tiny Town of Flåm, Norway
Flåm literally means “little place between steep mountains” and rightfully so–I can’t think of any better way to describe Flåm–it is sandwiched between towering mountains on three sides and the fjord on the fourth. This tiny town really deserves more than a quick pass through. Many people only spend a few hours here due to arriving on a cruise ship or in transition between the Flåm Railway and the fjord cruise boats on the popular “Norway in a Nutshell Tours”. We chose to spend the night, and wished we would have been able to stay even longer! The town is very peaceful and serene after the daytime crowds head out and believe it or not, there isn’t a shortage of adventures to partake in.
Due to time constraints, we were only able to participate in a fraction of the activities we wanted to explore, so we are going to share the adventures we had and those we wished we could have.
Hiking: Flåm is a hiking heaven–with its mountainous paths, roaring waterfalls and beautiful sprawling vistas, you are destined for a great time. Throughout the valley, the trails are plentiful; grab your best hiking shoes and map from the tourist information office, and you are set. Make sure to bring a snack and something to drink as well–you won’t be running into any convenience stores out in the middle of the mountains! Also, be careful if you choose to hike along the side of the road–the winding roads are narrow and don’t have a wide shoulder.
Fjord Cruise: There are many ways to see the fjords, and taking a boat along the Sognefjord starting in Flåm is a great experience. Unfortunately we didn’t ride the boat long enough as we decided to get off in Aurland and do some hiking and a picnic along the way, but I would have loved to ride all the way to Gudvangen and take the loop back to Flåm by bus. If you decide to go for a longer ride than we did, you will see so much more of the beautiful fjord–stunning mountains mixed with waterfalls, valleys and glass like water makes the ride along the fjord a treat for your eyes.
Train Ride: One of the steepest railways in the world, the Flåm Railway, descends from the mountains right down into the valley below. This journey is often voted one of the most beautiful train rides in the world as well. With its 20 tunnels and twisting turns, you can complete a one way journey in just under an hour. Peering out the windows, you will see steep cliffs, deep valleys, beautiful waterfalls, and small houses that seem to be in the middle of nowhere.
Browsing Gift Shops: There are a few gift shops in town–they are mostly filled with souvenirs, but I still enjoyed browsing amongst the trolls and viking helmets. I had to take a picture wearing a viking helmet because of a running joke we have at my office–I am officially named “Vigdis the Viking Princess”, and for a brief moment, I had the helmet to prove it.
Train Museum: Located in the old train station building near the end of the train track, The Flåm Railway Documentation Centre, is a museum dedicated to the Flåm Railway. Here you will find the history of the railway, along with information about the engineering and details about life in Flåm on a day-to-day basis. With free entrance, there is no reason to not pop in for a quick visit.
And, moving on to the events we had to save for our next visit…
Explore the nearby town of Aurland: Although we spent a small about of time wandering around Aurland we didn’t get to see much of what the town has to offer. There are shops, and a culture walk tour in town, as well as the traditional Aurland Shoe Factory. We tried stopping at the factory, but it wasn’t open on Sunday when we visited; if you happen to be in town when it is open, you will see the traditional craft of shoemaking and can glance at the shoe artists at work. There is also a beautiful looking viewpoint called the Stegastein Viewpoint that was built high above the town over the edge of a cliff. The platform extends out over the mountains edge–it appears as though you could just walk right off the edge of the platform, but thankfully, you are protected by a wall of glass.
Otterness Bygdetun: The Otterness is an old farm museum that is located inside a clearing on the mountain overlooking the fjord. You can explore the 27 buildings, watch the crafting techniques of the past and sample traditional foods.
Stave Church: In another little town, Laerdal, near Flåm there is a beautiful persevered church that was built in 1180. The Stave Churches of Norway were built and carved out of timber, and although many were lost to fires, there are still several that are standing today. Throughout the churches you can see carvings of dragon heads and other lavish distinctions.
Kayaking: We really wanted to kayak along the fjord on our visit, but we weren’t able to due to our train arrival and departure times. There is a place called Njord that offers kayak tours–they range from a few hours long to multi-day adventures. I had my eye on the 4 hour Old Kings Path tour which consists of kayaking and hiking past waterfalls and bubbling springs. Now that I am looking at these tours more–I would really like to sign up for the multi-day adventure as well!
At first glance, Flåm looks like a sleepy port town, but if you look a little harder you might just find an area with much more to do than it appears. This just adds to my theory that if you look deep enough, there is something of interest in any destination or small town that you happen upon. Keeping an open mind and having a sense of adventure can lead to many amazing experiences!