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Flam is one of the most visited areas of Norway, and at first glance it’s easy to see why. Nestled between tall, steep mountains and sitting ever so photogenically on the shore of the Aurlandsfjord, this small yet magnificent village looks like a postcard from heaven. The village is one of the main stops for large fjord cruises as well as those who purchase the popular tourist package Norway in a Nutshell. Because of this, the village of just 350 residents welcomes nearly 450,000 tourists each year. People visit Flam for the scenery, but there is much more to the village than incredible photo opportunities. There are a lot of things to do in Flam, whether you are visiting with your kids, or are on an adventure-seekers trip. From hiking to taking a ride on one of the world’s most scenic railways, you’ll have plenty to keep you entertained for one day in Flam or several more.
Best things to do in Flam in one day
If visiting Flam in a day, you may not be able to see and do everything. For a small town that serves as a brief stopping point for those traveling across Norway, there are a lot of great things to do in Flam. Here are some of the best activities in and around Flam, Norway.
Take a ride on the Flam Railway
Perhaps one of the most popular things to do in Flam, Norway is to take a ride on the scenic Flam Railway. It is considered one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, and the views do not disappoint. Winding through the majestic mountains of central Norway and passing by countless waterfalls, the 2-hour, round-trip train ride on the Flam Railway is worth every penny.
The train stops for about 5 minutes at the Kjosfossen waterfall. Passengers can get out and take photos of the massive waterfall and even feel the mist on their face. Soon after you step off the train onto the viewing platform, a beautiful Norwegian folk song starts playing loudly for all to hear. A woman cloaked in red emerges from the forest and begins to dance atop a cliff near the waterfall. Some tourists find the performance strange and possibly a bit cheesy, but we watched in awe. The song itself is captivating. You can find video of it here.
The story of the Flam Railway Waterfall Dancer
The dancing woman at the Kjosfossen waterfall is the most memorable part of the Flam Railway experience. Although the woman is actually a student at the local dance school, through her dance she tells the old Norwegian folk legend of the Huldra. A Huldra is a beautiful forest spirit that lures men into the woods to seduce them. In Norwegian folklore, the Huldra is stunningly beautiful although from behind she has the tail of a cow or fox.
There are several variations of the story of the Huldra. Some versions of the Norwegian folk story describe the Huldras intentions as to simply seduce men so she can gain freedom and become human, but other stories are a bit more sinister. Some legends say the Huldra must steal the man’s soul in order to gain her humanity. If the second story is more enticing or entertaining to believe, then the woman atop the cliff at the Kjosfossen waterfall would actually be luring men to their death. Be careful guys!
Tips for taking the Flam Railway tour
Make sure you book your tickets in advance as the train ride fills up fast, particularly during the high season for tourism.
Visit the small Flam Railway Museum next to the railway station. It is free to visit and tells the story of how the steepest railway in the world was built.
Kayak through the fjord
Adventure-seekers or those who simply want to experience the beauty of nature can enjoy a kayaking tour through the fjord. Paddling through the peaceful fjord on a three-hour long guided tour feels perfectly serene. Although the fjord is extremely deep, the surface is smooth, so this isn’t extreme kayaking. You might even see Norwegian wildlife on your up-close and personal scenic journey through the fjord.
Take in the scenery aboard a Norwegian fjord cruise
If you prefer to sit back and relax without having to pick up a paddle, then opt for a fjord cruise instead. The Nærøyfjord is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the main reasons people visit Flam. The fjord cruise takes you through narrow channels surrounded by steep mountains with cascading waterfalls. The fjord cruise travels from Flam to Gudvangen and is probably one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever traveled. It takes approximately 3 hours. You have the option to stay seated inside the climate controlled ferry and view the sites through the seat-to-ceiling windows or step out onto the deck to capture the perfect photo. The modern boat has bathrooms and a snack bar on board, as well, both of which are necessary when traveling with kids.
Tips for taking a fjord cruise in Norway
Just as with the Flam Railway, you’ll want to book your tickets in advance for the fjord cruise.
They also recommend arriving thirty minutes in advance.
We took the first departure of the morning and it wasn’t crowded at all.
You can take a bus ride back to Flam after taking the fjord cruise, or continue onto Bergen as part of the Norway in a Nutshell package. If traveling on, there is plenty of places to store luggage aboard the boat.
Sample goat cheese in Undredal
Just a twenty minute bus ride from the town of Flam, the charming village of Undredal is worth the short trip if you have more than one day in Flam. Undredal, Norway is known for its incredible goat cheese. So it’s no wonder that one of the most popular activities in the small village would be to sample and buy locally produced goat cheese. You can also learn about the process and tradition of cheese making in Undredal at Eldhuset. The village also has a cute stave church, although it is not as notable or iconic as some of the other stave churches throughout Norway.
Take a waterfall hike
Only secondary to the fjords, Flam is known for the many waterfalls surrounding the small village. Brekkefossen is perhaps the easiest waterfall hike in Flam and one of the most beautiful. The entrance to the trail that leads to Brekkefossen is about a 10-15 minute wakl from the train station and the main area of Flam. The first part of the hike involves natural stairs. The second half is more of a dirt trail and series of switchbacks. When you get to the top you have a beautiful view of Flam’s Brekkefossen waterfall. You can continue hiking and walk down toward the base of the waterfall, as well.
Although you might lose your breath a few times, and you’ll definitely get a cardio workout, the Brekkefossen waterfall hike would probably be rated an easy hike in Flam. We were able to do it with our 3-year-old, who walked some of it and rode on our shoulders during other parts of the hike. I’d recommend packing a picnic and sitting down to enjoy the grassy area at the top. The views of the waterfall, the village, and the fjord are worth the hike.
Walk out over the fjord
For 360 views of one of the best fjords in Norway, take the 30-minute drive to the Stegastein viewing platform outside of Flam. The platform extends out 650 meters above the Aurlandsfjord. The road to Stegastein is narrow and windy, but you can book a tour and you won’t have to worry about driving it yourself!
Where to stay in Flam, Norway
Although it’s a small town, there are a few hotels, apartments, hostels, and even camping sites in Flam, Norway, so you can find lodging options for every budget. We decided to stay at Brekke Apartments. If visiting Flam as part of the Norway in a Nutshell tour and arriving from Oslo by train, the apartments are roughly a 10-minute walk from the train station. The Brekke Apartments are on the edge of town near the base of the Brekkefossen waterfall.
At check-in we were given towels and sheets to make up the bed and the pull out sofa. Although we did have to dress the beds, which is more typical in hostels than hotels or rental apartments, the accommodations were clean and spacious, and we enjoyed our stay. Traveling with a child we typically prefer apartments over hotels, and Brekke Apartments is a great place to stay, especially if you plan to spend more than one day in Flam, Norway.
If you prefer hotels or just don’t want to make the short trek to Brekke Apartments, there are several options right on the fjord.
Is one day in Flam, Norway enough?
Most people spend one day in Flam as part of the widely popular Norway in a Nutshell tour. Some people stay the night in Flam, but only a few stay longer. Although it is a very small town, I recommend spending a couple of days in Flam to really experience the fjords and enjoy this incredible area of Norway. We felt more relaxed and in touch with nature in Flam than perhaps we ever have anywhere. Our Scandinavian itinerary started in Copenhagen, Denmark, journeyed up the West Sweden coast, and took us across Norway, from Oslo to Bergen. But Flam truly blew us away.
Traveling with kids – especially babies or toddlers – is hard. It rarely feels like a vacation. But in Flam, we were able to truly relax. There is something about the natural beauty of this area that puts you at ease and soothes the soul. Even our 3-year-old seemed to appreciate and benefit from the natural surroundings of Flam.
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Have you been to Flam, Norway? How long did you stay, and what are some of your favorite things to do in Flam? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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