“Perhaps the most impressive and surprising of the whole journey by the Oslo-Bergen railway is encountered in the tunnel near Myrdal, when through openings in the tunnel wall you can look many hundred feet down into the Flåm valley, a gigantic rift between grey-green-white mountains massifs. Through this narrow and wild valley runs the 13-mile Flåm line, from Myrdal down to Flåm…”
Flåm in Norway is one of those wonderful places that remains forever etched in my memory – even though it’s almost 30 years since I travelled there. It’s an idyllic village situated on the spectacular Aurlandsfjord – a tributary of Norway’s longest fjord, the Sognefjord (204 km).
My trip to Flåm was part of a three-day round-trip from Oslo to Bergen return; and was only a small moment in a three-month adventure in Europe. I was only 19-years-old and had never experienced such incredible scenery as I did on this journey.
On the first day, we travelled by train from Oslo to Myrdal – a five-hour journey – and then took another train via the 13-mile Flåm line (Flamsbana). From Myrdal, it’s 53-awe-inspiring-minutes via Norway’s steepest train line to Flåm, passing through 20 tunnels, with views of majestic mountains, spectacular waterfalls and, of the course, the fjords.
In Flåm, we stayed in cute little cabins and spent a couple of hours walking through the tiny village and beyond – enjoying views of the fjord and soaking up the incredible atmosphere of the setting we found ourselves in.
The following day, we took a ferry trip along Aurlandsfjord from Flåm to Gudvangen – it was overcast and misty, but this was equally beautiful. From here we took a bus to Voss and continued by rail to Bergen. On the third day we took the train directly from Bergen back to Oslo.
I wrote in my journal: “Words cannot describe the fantastic few days I’ve just had … this has been the highlight of my trip so far and it would be very hard to surpass.”
Almost 30 years later, with many more travel adventures under my belt, I’m yet to experience another train journey to its equal.
It’s really funny to look so far back, to a time when there was no Internet for researching travel destinations. All I have left are photos, my journal notes, and a page that I tore out of a travel brochure. But, if you search the web now, there’s so much information readily available. As well as the train journey, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and biking.
Flåm has developed so much since I was there and one obvious change is the presence of huge cruise ships. I’m fairly certain there were only small ferries plying these waterways back in 1985.
But the one thing that hasn’t changed at all is the absolute beauty of this place. National Geographic Traveler Magazine named the Flåm Railway as one of the top 10 train journeys in Europe and Lonely Planet named it the best train journey in the world in 2014. I would love to go back.
Do you have a favourite train journey? Or have you ever stayed in a place like Flåm that has captured your heart? Please tell me about it in the comments below.