Boarding Norway’s Most Famous Train: the Flåm

Can you name the most famous train rides in the world? The reverie-inducing, slightly unattainable, bucket-list worthy type? I bet the Trans-Siberian, the Orient-Express, and the Swiss glacier come to mind.

And then, of course, the Flåm train.

I honestly didn’t know how my week in this country could possibly get any better. But again, Norway outdid itself and blew me away, by offering me the simplest of things: its scenery.

About the Flåm Train

Flåm train

The Flåm train isn’t just any train – oh no.

It’s one of the steepest railway lines in the entire world – mathematically, this means the ride is on a 55% gradient on over 80% of the route (not that I understand that concept – remember, my left brain is just no use to me).  In other words, it’s very steep most of the time, and slightly scary on some bits – especially in the tunnels that spiral in and out of the mountains.

The train line officially opened in 1923 and was a much-appreciated addition to the grandiose Bergen-Oslo railway at the time. The odd 22,000 passengers in the first half of the 1900s quickly grew into one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions, nowadays carrying over 600,000 passengers every year.

The Flåm Train Itinerary

Flåm train

While much shorter than its equally beautiful competitors, the Flåm train doesn’t fail to impress.

(I could go on and on with cheap “size isn’t everything” jokes, but I’m not sure that would go down well).

The train leaves from the Flåm railway station, the gorgeous albeit slightly tiny village nestled in the Aurlandfjord. From there, the train will travel through the dramatic high mountains and waterfalls of the Flåm valley, all the way until the Myrdal station, which is 865 meters above sea level (i.e. absolutely freezing). That’s where the Flåm Railway meets up with the Bergen-Oslo line for connecting trains to either side of the country.

The Flåm train ride is 20 kilometers long, and lasts about an hour – which, I assure you, will go by in the blink of an eye. I really felt like a kid at the amusement park who just doesn’t want to go home.

Wait, mom! Is this it?”

Not disappointed in the activity itself – quite the opposite, really – but utterly sad that it’s over, and already longing for more. “Just one more time, mom!”

Photos of the Flåm Train

But despite its fascinating history and journey, the true interest of the Flåm train lies in its scenery. See for yourself.

Flåm train

Flåm train

Flåm train

Flåm train

visit Flåm 4

Flåm train

In the space of a short 20 kilometers ride, the scenery is drastically transformed. The closer the train gets to its final destination, Myrdal, the more stone, the more snow there is, and also, fewer houses and signs of life. The train isn’t express – there are a few stops along the way, with the odd commuter.

And I couldn’t help but wonder – in this rugged and isolated region that is virtually empty of just about anything modern, where do they live, and what do they do? I never got the answer to that question, and it still amazes me that despite the harsh climate and lifestyle, and the rise of urban living, there are still people in the area, just like nothing had changed for the past century. Honorable, and fascinating.

Pictured below is the beautiful Kjosfossen waterfall, which is around 225 meters tall, and located just a few kilometers outside Myrdal.

Luckily for tourists like me, the train makes a quick stop there, just long enough to take a few photos but not so long that you get completely drenched by the drizzles of the strong current.

The spectacle, as you can see,  is quite fascinating.

Flåm train

Flåm train

Flåm trainFlåm trainFlåm train

Flåm train

And then, on the fast train to Oslo, the landscape morphs into lunar-like, otherworldly stone formations. The weather changes almost every instant, going from powerful winds to a snowstorm to a glimpse of sunlight to threatening black clouds. All in the space of just a few minutes.

After an hour or two into the ride towards the capital, the scenery ever so slowly merges into the peaceful, grand Norwegian forests we so often picture, dotted by lakes of all sizes and, if you’re lucky, one of the most magnificent sunsets you will have ever seen.

Flåm train 3

Again, the Flåm train isn’t your average train ride. It is by no means luxurious, nor it is particularly comfortable. But it will amaze you, it will make you wish you were Norwegian, and it will undoubtedly ruin all other train rides you will ever embark on.

How is this possible?
I believe only the Flåm train has the key to this question.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Visit Norway & Eurail.com. As always, all opinions are my own. Norway really does rock my socks.
 

28 Comments on Boarding Norway’s Most Famous Train: the Flåm

  1. InACents
    March 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm (5 years ago)

    Wow, my boys would love to board this train, and us parents would enjoy the beautiful scenery!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      March 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm (5 years ago)

      A little something for everyone! :)

      Reply
  2. Vicky
    March 8, 2013 at 6:44 pm (5 years ago)

    Did it from a cruise two and a half years ago. Although it was a wet day, it was a wonderful trip.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      March 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm (5 years ago)

      Yes, me too! I arrived in Flam after a cruise, it was wonderful indeed.

      Reply
  3. Sophie
    March 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm (5 years ago)

    Yes, we Norwegians do live in the oddest places, everyone on their own mountain top. I haven’t taken the Flåm railway in more than 20 years – something to think about for summer. You got some very nice photos. Was it just after rain?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      March 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm (5 years ago)

      You should go back – although I’m sure it’s not any different, it certainly is worth doing again, and again. Yes, it rained on and off during the day, hence the hazy and grey photos. Thanks Sophie!

      Reply
  4. Kathy
    March 9, 2013 at 3:10 am (5 years ago)

    The Flam railway is incredible! Although the pictures are beautiful, it’s so much impressive in real life. Would love to return!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      March 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm (5 years ago)

      Indeed – I love my photos but I too was “disappointed” in them – it was so much more impressive in reality!

      Reply
  5. Renae Besler
    March 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm (5 years ago)

    My husband and I were fortunate to ride this train and it is one of our most memorable trips. We have relatives in Norway and they took us all around southern and western Norway. We lost everything in a forest fire and all pictures, but our memories are still with us. A must for all visitors to Norway to ride this train.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      March 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm (5 years ago)

      Aww, that’s sad for the photos! I think you should go back and take new ones ;)

      Reply
  6. Cheryl
    March 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm (5 years ago)

    Wow, such a scenic and beautiful ride. I’d do this in a heartbeat.

    Reply
  7. Wendy
    March 14, 2013 at 11:29 pm (5 years ago)

    Wow, how beautiful! That’s been on my bucket list. What time of the year did you go to see those beautiful fall colors?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      March 18, 2013 at 10:08 pm (5 years ago)

      I went in the first week of October. Gorgeous, gorgeous weather. Perfect time of the year to visit. It’s admittedly a bit chilly but not very cold.

      Reply
  8. Budak kampung
    January 19, 2015 at 9:45 pm (3 years ago)

    Must try this.. in my bucket list for almost 10 years now.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      January 28, 2015 at 2:25 pm (3 years ago)

      You must! It is one of the most spectacular train rides in the world.

      Reply
  9. Shobha
    September 5, 2015 at 1:52 pm (2 years ago)

    This looks so pretty! I would love to visit and the Flam train is on my to-do-list. The summers are just too short!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 6, 2015 at 11:01 pm (2 years ago)

      Yes, indeed! This was taken during the first week of October, so you can see autumn is pretty early in these parts. Best to go in the summer for sunny weather!

      Reply
  10. LisaLDN
    May 31, 2016 at 3:59 am (2 years ago)

    I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the Flåm Railway! I’m actually from Aurland, and have worked in the ticket office in Flåm Station for several Summers! I always love coming across bloggers who have visited my village <3

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 2, 2016 at 6:33 pm (2 years ago)

      That’s amazing! What a beautiful setting for a summer job ;)

      Reply
  11. Chloe
    August 15, 2016 at 6:18 am (2 years ago)

    It looks amazing! Would you say that there is a better side to sit when travelling from Flam to Oslo?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 17, 2016 at 1:52 pm (2 years ago)

      I would be tempted to say the right-hand side of the train, especially on the first leg of the journey!

      Reply
  12. Nat
    October 1, 2016 at 5:28 am (1 year ago)

    Hi! Really lovely photos. We’re going to Bergen in a few weeks and I’m wondering how easy this would be to do outwith a tour – whenever I research it, it seems to be as part of a day-long tour…

    Reply
  13. Kristin Wang
    October 4, 2016 at 2:37 pm (1 year ago)

    My friends and I are going to Norway in two weeks! Just curious, but if we are heading out of Oslo towards Mydral, is there anything to do in Myrdal or should we hop back on the train and head back?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      October 6, 2016 at 11:52 am (1 year ago)

      There is absolutely nothing to do in Myrdal, except maybe some hiking (but even then it might be covered in snow by the time you get there, as Myrdal is really quite high in altitude). Your only option would be to take the Flam train to Flam and then a cruise in the fjords or a train onwards to Bergen.

      Reply
  14. Katie
    April 29, 2017 at 1:12 pm (10 months ago)

    Can you use a inter rail (Norway) ticket for this journey? It looks beautiful.

    Planning a trip to Norway for my partners 50th birthday and want it to be really special

    Katie

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 3, 2017 at 12:07 pm (10 months ago)

      Yes, I used my Eurail pass for this journey!

      Reply

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