AN AUTUMN TRIP TO FLÅM BY THE AURLANDSFJORD

One evening in October, I boarded the train at Oslo Central Station. I was going to take the train along Bergen Railway to Myrdal. Finally, I was going to experience the Flåmsdalen valley, the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord in autumn colours again. It had been far too long since the last time.

 

Go Fjords - Flåm by the Aurlandsfjord

My plan was to walk along the Flåmsdalen valley and take a fjord cruise on the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. At the end of my stay in Flåm, I met a friend who was going to hike at the lower part of the Aurlandsdalen valley. I couldn’t say no to the offer to join.

 

Season and Safety

Many of the activities and attractions mentioned on this website are open only in summer and are closed in winter. This also applies to many of the roads and accommodations mentioned. Season and opening time will vary. It depends on where it is and what activity, attraction, road and accommodation it is, it usually opens in the summer and closes in the autumn, depending on i.a. the amount of snow and the risk of avalanches in the area. Read more about season, important safety information and your own responsibility…

Visit Sognefjord

Visit Sognefjord is the official destination company for the Aurlandsfjord, Nærøyfjord and Sognefjord area.

Accommodation in the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord area

Overview of where you can spend the night in the area around the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord.

FJORDS NORWAY - Beautiful autumn colors in beautiful Flåmsdalen.
Beautiful autumn colors in beautiful Flåmsdalen.

Hiking along the Flåmsdalen Valley

The train arrived in Myrdal in the middle of the night. It was dark and cold and too early to start the hike down along the Flåmsdalen valley. I had done some research in advance and knew that Café Rallaren at Myrdal was closed, but the waiting room at Myrdal Station was open during night, so I went in and waited there until it got light. It was nice and warm in there, but the benches were horrible. I didn’t get much sleep that night 🙂

When it got brighter, I started the hike down towards the Flåmsdalen valley. I walked a short distance on a nice gravel road before I reached the top of Myrdalssvingene which is near Vatnahalsen Hotel. The road down the 21 hairpin bends along Myrdalssvingene is steep and ends down in the upper part of Flåmsdalen. The frost hadn’t come yet, so it was nice to walk there that day.

It was a great experience to walk along Flåmsdalen that day. I spent the whole day on the hike and got to experience the wild and beautiful nature in fantastic autumn colours. I also met the train along Flåm Railway several times, it gave an extra dimension to the adventure to see the train winding away far up the steep mountain sides. Below you can see some photos from the hike.

About Flåmsdalen Valley

Flåmsdalen is a beautiful small adventure. The valley between Myrdal (866.8 masl) and Flåm by the Aurlandsfjord is 21 kilometers long. The valley is narrow and the mountains are steep, and there are waterfalls and rivers wherever you turn around. Flåm Valley is a great place for hiking and biking. Flåm Zipline sends you off at over 100 kilometers per hour, you are just hanging in a thin steel wire high above the valley. Rallarvegen ends in the upper part of Flåmsdalen, and you can take the train up and down Flåmsdalen with Flåm Railway. Brekkefossen Waterfall is a popular hiking goal close to Flåm.

NOTE – Many of the activities and attractions in Flåm and Flåmsdalen are open only in summer and are closed in winter. Look at the websites of the different activities for more information about the season and opening times. Flåm Railway and Fjord Cruise on the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord are open all year.

NOTE – About 1.5 kilometers north of Rallarrosa Stølsysteri (where the Flåm Zipline ends) you have to go through a tunnel which is about 100 meters long. This tunnel is narrow, be aware that there may come cars and cyclists in the tunnel when you go through it. Try to avoid walking in the tunnel at the same time as cars and bikes are in the tunnel.

Below you can see a short video from when I was cycling along Flåmsdalen Valley in the summer of 2010.

Fjord Cruise on the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord

The next day I joined a fjord cruise on the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord. After buying a cup of coffee and something good to eat at Flåm Bakery, which is located right next to the pier where the fjord cruise started, I boarded the boat from The Fjords. This boat runs on battery that is charged up on short-distance hydroelectric power. The boat trip is both climate-friendly and silent, which makes the trip on the fjord an even better experience.

Large parts of the two fjords are roadless. Numerous wild and beautiful waterfalls and rivers characterize the landscape, crossing the rugged mountains and deciduous and coniferous forests on their way down to the fjords. Beautiful villages with a sustained cultivated landscape with remainders of old farms and mountain pastures and unique cultural monuments gives an extra dimension to the dramatic natural landscape.

The sun was shining on this autumn day. The Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord were as clear as a mirror, some banks of fog lay over the fjords and down the mountain sides, and the autumn colours were strong and beautiful. Never have I seen these fjords more beautiful than this day. Here are some words that I got from a tourist who was on the same boat trip. He posted the comment on a timelapse video I made from that fjord cruise:

– My girlfriend and I were on this cruise that day and it was truly a magical morning. The water was like glass and the rising sun kept changing the mountain views around all around us as we silently glided through the fjord.

FJORDS NORWAY - It is a fantastic experience to sit in the back of the boat from The Fjords and see the beautiful and wild nature. Here from the Nærøyfjorden.
It is a fantastic experience to sit in the back of the boat from The Fjords and see the beautiful and wild nature. Here from the Nærøyfjorden.

A fjord cruise on the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord can be done both ways. You can start the fjord cruise from Flåm or from Gudvangen. You can do a round trip or one way only, starting from Flåm or from Gudvangen. I recommend you to do a round trip, I did that this day. You cruise throught the same fjords, but the experience is totally different when you cruise through the fjords the opposite way.

NOTE – Remember to book a bus ticket between Flåm and Gudvangen if you need that , you can book a bus ticket when you book the fjord cruise. Season: all year.

Pictures and video from my fjord cruise from Flåm to Gudvangen

Here you start at Flåm and are sailing out the Aurlandsfjord and then round mt Beitelen where you enter the Nærøyfjord. The fjord cruise will continue to Gudvangen at the innermost part of the Nærøyfjord. At Gudvangen you can visit Njardarheimr Viking Village.

Pictures and video from my fjord cruise from Gudvangen to Flåm

Here you start at Gudvangen and are sailing out the Nærøyfjord and into the Aurlandsfjord to Flåm at the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord. Flåm is a great base for exploring the fjords, valleys, mountains and viewpoints in the area.

And the best thing of all, you can visit Flåm Bakery and have a coffee and something good to eat. If you want a great burger or pizza and a beer or a glass of wine, Flåm Marina is the place to go. Flåm Marina also has the best fjord view in Flåm. Flåm Camping and Hostel is a nice campsite within walking distance of the center of Flåm.

A short trip to the Aurlandsdalen Valley on the last day

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, I met a friend who was going to hike the lower part of Aurlandsdalen. I couldn’t say no to the offer to join him since I was going to take the train on the Flåm Railway to Myrdal later in the evening, so I had time for a bonus hike.

We took a bus from Flåm to Vassbygdi, which is located at the bottom of Aurlandsdalen. The bus runs between Flåm, Aurland, Vassbygdi and Østerbø and is adapted to the hike in Aurlandsdalen. The bus service is provided by Norway’s Best, the 2022 season was from the end of June to the beginning of October. Remember that the season for this bus route may vary from year to year.

For most of the people who hike Aurlandsdalen, the hike starts at Østerbø and ends down in Vassbygdi, but many also walk Aurlandsdalen in the opposite direction. That day we walked up along Aurlandsdalen, from Vassbygdi to Sinjarheim and back. The trail goes through a fantastic and wild landscape up towards the abandoned mountain farms Almen and Sinjarheim.

FJORDS NORWAY - Almen, the last farm in Aurlandsdalen before Vassbygdi. The house is well protected under a large rock, which is perhaps why the house is in such good condition.
Almen, the last farm in Aurlandsdalen before Vassbygdi. The house is well protected under a large rock, which is perhaps why the house is in such good condition.

Almen is the lowest located farm in Aurlandsdalen. The house at Almen is well protected under a large rock, which is perhaps why it is in such a good condition. They say that the people who lived there always spoke so loudly, this to drown out the noise of the river that flows right below the house.

Sinjarheim, which was the last farm to be abandoned in 1922, was used as a mountain farm until 1964. The mountain farm consists of seven buildings, including a drying house for corn, and has through the last few years been restored to its former state. So now, once again, there is farming in the summer and the students from Sogn Agricultural School in Aurland use it as a practical teaching station.

We spent about five hours on the hike from Vassbygdi (50 masl) to Sinjarheim (580 masl) and back, a hike that is six kilometers each way with a 530 meter climb. We took our time and had a long lunch break at Sinjarheim. It was probably a bit too late in the year to go on this hike, there were frost and ice on the trail on some of the parts that were lying in the shadow. The pictures below are from the hike up from Vassbygdi to Sinjarheim.

Aurlandsdalen – About season and other important information

GUIDE: We recommend you to join a Guided Tour to Aurlandsdalen.

SEASON: July to mid September, depending on temperature and snow. This is a landslide-prone area, always make your own evaluation about this danger before and during this hike.

NOTE –  This is a summer- and Autumn hike. We recommend to avoid this hike in the spring and during and after rainfall due to this gives a higher risk of landslides. Remember that there is no mobile phone coverage in large parts of Aurlandsdalen. Read more about the hike along Aurlandsdalen…

Hiking the Aurlandsdalen Valley is not without risk. There is a risk of rock fall and rock avalanches, especially during spring and early summer, and during and after rain. The bridge across the Veiverdalsevli River/Waterfall, just 250 meter south-east of Sinjareheim, is not secured with railings. And sometimes the river just north of Sinjarheim is flooding over the trail, and it can be difficult to cross this river at high water levels.

NOTE – This hike is not suitable for children! This is a long and demanding hike, you should be an experienced hiker to do this hike. There are several steep, narrow and exposed sections on this hike.

NOTE – Most of the pictures in this article are from hiking the lower part of the Aurlandsdalen Valley, not over Bjørnestigen.

Flåm by the Aurlandsfjord

Flåm is a fantastic starting point for many great adventures in beautiful and wild nature. Where the Aurlandsfjord ends, the Flåmsdalen Valley starts. If the Aurlandsfjord is an adventure, the Flåmsdalen Valley is an even more beautiful adventure, and both should be experienced.

You can see and do a lot with Flåm as a starting point. In Flåm there are many places to eat and sleep. It is also a short distance to other beautiful fjords where you can visit idyllic fjord villages and experience beautiful and dramatic nature.

Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord – What to See and Do

The Aurlandsfjord is a 29 kilometer long branch of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord. Along the Aurlandsfjord we have the villages Undredal, Aurland and Flåm. At Mt Beitelen, 11 kilometers from where the Aurlandsfjord starts, the Aurlandsfjord devides into two fjords; the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord.

The Nærøyfjord is a 17 kilometer long branch of the Aurlandsfjord and was in 2005 included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The landscape on and around the Nærøyfjord is considered to be one of the most scenic fjord areas on earth, and was added to the list due to its unique natural quality and beauty.

Flåm, Aurland and Gudvangen are perfect starting points for experiences in and around the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord, two of the world’s most beautiful and dramatic fjords that are also included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Join a fjord safari or a fjord cruise. See the fantastic view from Stegastein viewpoint and taste the local goat cheese in Undredal. Visit the Viking village Njardarheimr in Gudvangen and experience the history and culture of the Viking Age. Flåm Railway is the train journey from fjord to mountain, perhaps the most beautiful train journey in the world. Combine this train journey with cycling along Rallarvegen which goes from the high mountains via Flåmsdalen Valley to Flåm. Aurlandsdalen Valley is one of Norway’s most popular hikes. The Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord are both part of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord which is located in the northern part of the county of Vestland, in the middle of Western Norway.

Accommodation in the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord area

Overview of where you can spend the night in the area around the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord.

Sakte – Stay and Explore the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord 



“Sakte” is a collaboration between companies that provide adventures, accommodation, dining and short-travelled food- and products. “Sakte” are located in the area around the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord and is an offer for those who want to contribute to a sustainable society in the world heritage area.

FJORDS NORWAY - Reis Sakte - Hiking towards Skjerdal and the Aurlandsfjord
Reis Sakte – Hiking towards Skjerdal and the Aurlandsfjord

How to travel to the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord area

It is easy to travel to Flåm and Aurland, the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord. Almost “all roads” go to Flåm and Aurland, and you can also travel there by train, bus and boat. It is only a short distance between the two neighboring villages of Flåm and Aurland.

You can start this fjord adventure by train from Oslo or Bergen to Myrdal station. Then you get to experience the Bergen Railway between Oslo and Bergen and Flåm Railway, one of Norway’s most spectacular railway lines, from Myrdal station to Flåm, which is located down by the Aurlandsfjord. If you take Flåm Railway, you get to experience the beautiful Flåmsdalen valley at the same time.

There are several daily bus departures between Oslo/Bergen and Flåm.

There is also an Expressboat from Bergen to Flåm. This fjord cruise takes you from Bergen and north along the beautiful archipelago of Nordhordland and Ytre Sogn and into the Sognefjord and Aurlandsfjord to Flåm. There is no more beautiful boat trip. Season for this fjord cruise is from May to September. The season can vary from year to year, check the website for updated information about the season.

The nearest airport is Sogndal Airport at Haukåsen near Kaupanger. Most flights that go to and from Sogndal Airport come from and go to Oslo and Bergen. From the airport to Flåm, it is 70 kilometers by road, including a wonderful crossing of the Sognefjord by ferry.

FJORDS – Accommodation in Western Norway

Great Hotels in the Fjords of Norway
Bath and Spa Hotels in the Fjords of Norway
Fjords Living – Special Accommodation in the Fjords of Norway

FJORDS – Useful Links

Go Fjords – Big and Small Fjord Experiences
Visit Norway – Official page for Norway
Fjord Norway – Official page for Fjord Norway

Flåm, Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord – Map Overview