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The Flåmselv river at close quarters, with green forest and snow-capped mountains behind
The Flåm Railway, viewed through the window
 A woman and a man smile at one another in front of Kjosfossen
Two cyclists by the river in Flåmsdalen

Why you should experience the Flåm Railway at least once in your life

Tourists come from all over the world to travel on the Flåm Railway. Why is it so popular? And what makes it so spectacular that National Geographic has named it one of the top 10 railway journeys in Europe, while Lonely Planet went even further and named it the best in the world?

Two trains on the Flåm Railway meet in the valley, seen from a window with tourists sitting in the carriage

The Flåm Railway – a railway journey for your bucket list

Every year the steep, fertile Flåmsdalen Valley and the iconic train encourage people from all over the world to visit Flåm. Flåm Railway, which runs between Myrdal and Flåm, has been one of Norway’s most popular attractions for many years. Together with a number of other international railways, this line is on many people’s bucket lists. Whether you love adventure or are keen on trains, it’s a must on your trip to Norway.

The mix of wild nature, interesting history and lovely mountain farms will make your trip on the Flåm Railway a spectacular experience.

A train on the Flåm Railway in the snow-covered Flåmsdalen Valley in winter

Just as beautiful all year round

Over the last few years, tourists have discovered that Flåmsdalen is just as beautiful all year round, not just in summer. It’s almost more dramatic on a cold winter day as on a warm day in July. On days when the temperature is below zero and there’s snow on the ground, that really makes you think about the people who built the railway – but also about the people who used to live here. The valley is a riot of red, yellow and orange in autumn, while in spring the waterfalls are at their greatest and the mountain peaks are still white. 

Lots of water flowing down Kjosfossen along the Flåm Railway

Dramatic Flåmsdalen

With steep mountainsides bearing the clear marks of landslides, huge waterfalls, the crystal clear waters of the river and the steep Myrdalsberget, perhaps the best way to describe the Flåmsdalen Valley is “dramatic”. If you take the train, you can enjoy excellent views of all this. You’ll be able to clearly see the three waterfalls Brekkefossen, Rjoandefossen and Kjosfossen. The train stops for a few minutes at the latter so you can get out and feel the spray from the waterfall on your skin.

And combined with bright green or autumnal-shaded farms and mountainsides, I think we’d go so far as to say as the view is breathtakingly beautiful.

The Flåm Railway as it heads down the Flåmsdalen Valley

Incredible engineering

There’s good reason as to why the construction of the Flåm Railway is said to be one of the most daring and technically outstanding feats of engineering in Norwegian history. It took almost 20 years to build this section of railway, 20 kilometres long, from the time work began in 1923 until the railway was completed in 1940. The height difference is no less than 865 metres from the station in Flåm at the Aurlandsfjord to Myrdal, 867 metres above sea level. There’s a gradient of 5.5% over 80% of the route.

Of the 20 tunnels, 18 were built by hand. One of them even curves through 180 degrees, providing views over the Flåmsdalen Valley from both sides of the train. And yes, there is something about the number 20!

Quite simply, you can’t help but be impressed by this work when you’re travelling on the train on your way up or down the valley.

Flåm Railway Museum at the old station building in Flåm offers a beautiful exhibition showing the incredible history of the railway. Free entry for all.

Goats in the sun in front of a farm in Flåmsdalen

A living valley

This railway journey is absolutely beautiful, but it also provides you with a good insight into cultural history. Most of the farms up the valley were occupied and run long before the railway arrived, and people still farm there now. You’ll find Rallarrosa Stølsysteri, where cheese and other products are made from goats milk, at Kårdal farm at the bottom of Myrdalsberget at the top of the valley. The old centre of Flåm, with Flåm Church and the school, are a bit further up in the valley from what we think of as the centre nowadays, and this is where most residents live now.

Cyclists on Rallarvegen heading down the Flåmsdalen Valley in summer

Starting point for other activities

The Flåm Railway isn’t just a great trip in itself – it also provides an excellent starting point for other activities. Vatnahalsen is a beautiful place to start from if you enjoy hiking. Here, you can go round Reinungavatnet, along Rallarvegen or down through Flåmsdalen.

If adrenaline is more your thing, the Flåm Zipline starts off at Vatnahalsen as well. Scandinavia’s longest zipline will take you down Myrdalsberget to Kårdal farm. From there, you can hire a bike and cycle back to Flåm. Alternatively, you can walk to Blomheller station and jump back on the train there.

Cycling the entire valley from Myrdal to Flåm is also a fantastic trip, and it’s the point along Rallarvegen where the snow clears earliest in the season. First, you’ll cycle down to the 21 hairpin bends from Vatnahalsen to Kårdal. If Rallarrosa Stølsysteri is open, we recommend stopping here for a Norwegian svele pancake with goats cheese. Most of your onward journey is downhill, past lovely little farms and along the beautiful Flåmselv river. Watch out for goats in the road! Stop off at Flåm Church, which dates back to 1670. If it’s open, it’s well worth having a look inside at the art and wall paintings.