Combine Flåm and Myrkdalen on your trip to Western Norway
The little fjord community of Flåm in the Aurlandsfjord is famous for fjord experiences, the Flåm Railway, the historic Fretheim Hotel and dramatic nature. Its location along the E16 and its link to the Bergen Railway make it easy to get here from both east and west.
Myrkdalen is situated 45 minute’ drive from Flåm. Myrkdalen Mountain Resort is perhaps best known as the largest ski resort in western Norway in winter, but the little mountain village in the municipality of Voss has just as much to offer in summer. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, all you have to do is take your pick – with or without a local guide. There are also plenty of cycling options available, with more and more being added every year.
If you combine the two destinations, you’ll get to experience the heart of the Norwegian fjords and the very best that the fjords and mountains have to offer.
1. Flåm railway – one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys
The Flåm Railway more or less speaks for itself. This detour from the Bergen Railway between Myrdal and Flåm has been named one of the most beautiful railway journeys in the world. Over 20 kilometres and 20 tunnels,
the Flåm Railway takes you from the fjord to 867 masl at Myrdal – or vice versa – while providing views over the beautiful valley, steep mountains, tiny farms, thundering waterfalls and the clear blue river. 80% of the route is actually on a 5.5% gradient, making it one of the steepest railways in the world. If you’re travelling to or from Flåm by train the Flåm Railway is a part of the journey, otherwise you can make a return trip to and from Flåm. Or you can travel one way before cycling or walking back to the fjord through the Flåmsdalen Valley.
2. Fjord experiences at the Nærøyfjord World Heritage site
It is not without reason the Nærøyfjord has been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List as part of West Norwegian Fjords. The narrow arm of the fjord extending from the Aurlandsfjord into Gudvangen is almost entirely untouched in the modern era, and the only way to travel through the fjord is by boat. If you take a
fjord cruise on one of the electric boats, Future of The Fjords or Legacy of the Fjords, you can enjoy the silence of the fjord and panoramic views of the tiny, roadless fjord communities and waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you might see seals sunning themselves on the rocks.
You can hop off the boat if you feel like a walk from one of the roadless fjord villages in the Nærøyfjord, and get on the boat again later in the day. From Styvi, you can walk the old Royal Postal Road – that’s 5 km to Bleiklindi and back. From the idyllic village of Dyrdal, there’s a gravel road 5 km up into the mountain to the Hjølmo summer farm. If you’d like a really really unique all-day trip, join a guided
Bike & Hike at the Nærøyfjord – this combines a fjord cruise, electric cycling and a hike to the peak of Breiskrednosi.
3. The Aurlandsdalen Valley – Norway’s answer to the Grand Canyon
The Aurlandsdalen Valley, where east meets west, is perhaps the nearest thing we’ll get to a Grand Canyon in Norway. This is a hike that should be on the bucket list of anyone who’s interested in the great outdoors! This valley offers wild nature that is full of contrasts, with everything from lush valleys to rocky landscapes. You can choose to walk the entire valley from Finse to Vassbygdi in Aurland, or just do the last and most popular part of the route. If you decide to hike from Finse, you’ll need 3 days and be prepared to spend the night in places along the way. The most popular part of this trip starts in Østerbø and takes you down to Vassbygdi in Aurland in about 6-7 hours. If you’re spending the night at the
Fretheim Hotel, you’ll be given a packed lunch for your trip and enjoy after-hike refreshments in the Lobby Bar when you return from Vassbygdi.
4. Rallarvegen from the mountain to the fjord on a bike
If you’ve never cycled Rallarvegen -The Navvies Road, now’s the time to do it. Rallarvegen runs from Ustaoset to Flåm and was built by the navvies who built the Bergen Railway Line. Not only will you enjoy the fantastic nature here, you’ll also be impressed by the incredible engineering feats that were necessary to build the railway across the mountain. The
Finse to Flåm section can be completed in a day and takes you from 1222 metres above sea level at Finse to Fagernut, 1343 metres above sea level, and then on via Vatnahalsen to Flåm at the fjord. You can buy yourself a waffle at the old cabin at Fagernut, and at Vatnahalsen you can swap your bike for the Flåm Zipline down to Kårdal.
5. Mountain hiking with fjord views
The World Heritage landscape between Myrkdalen and Flåm is absolutely fabulous for tourists.
Bakkanosi and Breiskrednosi are two of the trips offering the most spectacular views and start out from Jordalen, a small mountain community on the boundary between Voss and the municipality of Aurland. From these peaks, you can look more than 1100 metres straight down into the Nærøyfjord! These are relatively long hikes, about 20 km there and back, so we recommend booking a guided tour if you’re not used to the mountains. And if you do, you’ll find out lots about the local area and nature into the bargain.
If something a little shorter is more your thing, Hovdungo at Aurland or Rimstigen from Bakka just past Gudvangen might be good (but steep) alternatives.
6. Local food and drink
Nobody can live without food and drink, and you really won’t go hungry in either Myrkdalen or Flåm.
The Tunet family restaurant at the Myrkdalen Hotel offers an à la carte menu and stone-baked pizza based on organic local ingredients – and of course, you can also enjoy the views while you eat.
Arven at Fretheim Hotel serves traditional dishes with a modern twist made from local ingredients, often with a hint of goat – after all, goats are more or less a symbol of the villages in this fjord landscape. If you need a top-up during your day need to buy something for a packed lunch, pop into Flåm Bakeri for home-made sandwiches and other tasty sourdough products.
For something to drink, we recommend fruit juice from the Sognefjord area – it’s ideal as a refreshing drink during the day or as an alcohol-free alternative with dinner. What’s more, we reckon no visit to Flåm is complete without having tried Ægir, the local beer.
7. Peak trip with chairlift
Myrkdalen is maybe renowned first and foremost as a ski resort, and we can benefit from that in summer as well. To make it even easier to get to the mountains, you can take the
Myrkdalen Express chairlift directly from the centre to Ondrahaugen in July and August. There are a number of alternatives from there – one option is to head for Finnbunuten, 1358 metres above sea level. There are fantastic views across Vikafjell and Stølsheimen here, as well as the fjord landscapes towards both Sogn and Hardanger. Another option is to walk down to the idyllic Mørkvesstølen – you can swim in little pools in the river along the way.
8. Cycling for all ages
Cycling is fun, as well as being a great way to explore an area, and in Flåm and Myrkdalen you can hire bikes for both children and adults. Electric bikes are a good option if you’d like to make your way off the beaten track to an extent. For example, these bikes make it easy to travel from Myrkdalen up to the Vikafjell mountain plateau and you can stop wherever you like. How about combining a cycling trip with a mountain hike? Myrkdalen offers guided
bike & hike trips in summer.
You’ll also find a cycling trail for children and beginners around Myrkdalen Hotel. This has one blue and two green trails and an 850 sq m pumptrack. Also available are
beginner and technical courses on trail cycling for both children and adults. These take place every day from mid-June until the end of August.
9. Scandinavia’s longest zipline
The Flåm Zipline opened in the autumn of 2018. It’s 1381 metres from its starting point at Vatnahalsen to Kårdal at the bottom, which makes it the
longest zipline in Scandinavia. You’ll also find Rallarrosa Stølsysteri at Kårdal farm – the café here is open throughout the summer. Take a break with a Norwegian svele pancake with goats cheese while you get your breath back after your trip down with the zipline. You can get to Vatnahalsen with the Flåm Railway, and if you’d like a full day of experiences we recommend hiring a bike and cycling back to Flåm after your zipline adventure. Alternatively, you can walk to Blomheller station and jump back on the train there.
10. Family-friendly mountain and fishing trips
Vikafjell, the mountain plateau 15 minute’ drive from Myrkdalen towards Vik in Sogn, has plenty of family-friendly trips to offer, as well as superb waters that you can fish and swim in. Sendedalen is a great favourite with people of all ages. This child-friendly, slightly undulating trail passes four mountain lakes. If you don’t have your own fishing tackle, you can join in with a
guided family trip there – the group decides the length of the trip, which can be anything from 2 km to 10 km there and back. If you’d like to walk further, you can also go back to Myrkdalen via Mørkvesstølen from here.