Flåm is direct from a nature-lover’s dream. Its surrounding areas have mountains, valleys, fjords, waterfalls, hills, and the most exquisite views. This was not my first time visiting, so I was well aware that this port of call is much more than the initial impression you get from the dock (although the views from the ship are wonderful as well). I also knew that to fully take advantage of Flåm’s beauty, we needed to hit the tracks.
I HAD take the Flåmsbana Railway. There was no way I was leaving Norway without finally experiencing one of the world’s most beautiful train rides. Well, fate would have it differently. The trip was sold out. I was so so sad that I even teared up a bit. It had been my goal since visiting Flåm three years before, to enjoy that journey. But in an effort to move on and still take advantage of this region’s magnificence, we booked a bus up to the Stalheim Hotel which overlooks the incredible Nærøy Valley. We had to brave over 14 minutes of tunneled roads to get there but it’s totally worth it! Aside from the near total blackness of the tunnels, we were also privy to some remarkable scenery.
And once you get to the hotel, the view is so breathtaking, you won’t believe your eyes.
That trip made up for missing out on the train, but luckily, our itinerary had us returning to Flåm just a couple weeks later, so without hesitation we signed up to escort a guest tour on the famous train ride. Aside from not having seats, it was a stunning experience. “National Geographic Traveler Magazine has named the Flam 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.” – source. The train runs from Flåm to Myrdal along one of the steepest train routes in the world, rising up to over 2,800 feet above sea level, passing waterfalls, valleys, and mountains along the way. It even stops for a few minutes at Kjosfossen Waterfall to enjoy the view and snap some photos, if you can manage without getting wet! I’m so glad I researched this waterfall though because I could have sworn I heard someone singing, and it turns out that an actress dresses up as Huldra (kind of like a land-based siren) and performs when the train pulls it. It’s pretty mystical! Glad I wasn’t losing my mind.
We arrived at Vatnahalsen Hotel with time to enjoy the included tea and waffles, lay in the sun, and wander up a short trail to see this unbelievable scenery:
There is an option to bike back down to Flåm. That is what I would do if I ever get back to this magical land. I’ll leave you now to ponder and reflect. But first, have a look at how amazing it is to sail away from Flåm, one of my FAVORITE places: