AN AUTUMN TRIP TO FLÅM BY THE AURLANDSFJORD

One evening in October, I boarded the train at Oslo Central Station. Finally, I was going to experience the Flåmsdalen valley, the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord in autumn colours again. And best of all, the whole trip was sustainable. Both the train, boat and car used on this trip were electric.

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.

Visit Sognefjord

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

NOTE – You can do this trip from Bergen also. You need to take the train from and to Bergen instead of Oslo. The fjord adventure starts at Myrdal Train Station. See Vy.no for time tables for train between Bergen and Myrdal.

Hotels and accommodation in the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord area

Overview of hotels and other places 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

FJORDS NORWAY - From Flåmsdalen Valley, the train on Flåm Railway up in the mountainside.
From Flåmsdalen Valley, the train on Flåm Railway up in the mountainside.

The train arrived Myrdal, which is a train station on the Bergen Railway,  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

The beautiful Flåmsdalen valley is a favorite hiking and biking destination near Flåm.
The beautiful Flåmsdalen valley is a favorite hiking and biking destination near Flåm.

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 – The upper part of the road in Flåmsdalen is closed during winter. 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

FJORDS NORWAY - From the Fjord Cruise on the Aurlandsfjord.
From the Fjord Cruise on the Aurlandsfjord.

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 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 something good to drink, 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

There are many waterfalls in Aurlandsdalen.
There are many waterfalls in Aurlandsdalen.

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 drove a car (electric car) from Flåm to Vassbygdi. In the season there is a bus service 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 (Østerbø – Vassbygdi) – Season and other important information

GRADING – Challenging. ALTITUDE DIFFERENCE –This hike starts at 820 masl (Østerbø Fjellstove). The hike ends in Vassbygdi, 50 masl.

GUIDE – Due to the steep terrain and the danger of avalanches, we recommend you to join a Guided Tour when hiking Aurlandsdalen. The guides also know when it is not safe to hike along 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. 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.

MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE – Remember that there is no mobile phone coverage in large parts of Aurlandsdalen.

FJORDS NORWAY - Crossing the river below Sinjarheim can be challenging and sometimes impossible when there is high water flow.
Crossing the river below Sinjarheim can be challenging and sometimes impossible when there is high water flow.

DURING HIGH WATER FLOW –The bridge over the Veiverdalselvi/fossen, just 250 meters south-east of Sinjareheim, is narrow and is not secured with railings. During heavy rain, parts of the trail along Aurlandsdalen can be flooded with water. Rivers can take new courses and cross/cover the trail at exposed points. This can make it difficult, sometimes downright dangerous and impossible, to cross the exposed parts of the trail in heavy rain and high water flow. One of the most exposed places, which during high water flows is often exposed to the river crossing the trail, is Grovselvi, which runs in steep terrain just north of Sinjarheim, between Sinjarheim and Almen.

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.

Flåm by the Aurlandsfjord

Otternes Farm Yard and Flåm by the Aurlandsfjord
Otternes Farm Yard by the Aurlandsfjord. Flåm in the background.

Flåm is one of several fjord villages located 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.

It is easy to travel to Flåm. “All roads” leads to Flåm, and you can also get there by train via the Bergen Line and Flåm Railway. If you take the Flåm Railway down to Flåm, you will experience the beautiful Flåmsdalen Valley at the same time.

You can experience and do a lot with Flåm as a starting point. A fjord cruise on the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord or a trip on the fjord with Fjord Safari is a must. So is a visit to Flåm Bakery, located on the quay near where the fjord cruise starts.

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

FJORDS NORGE - Nærøyfjord.
Nærøyfjord.

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. On 14 July 2005, the Nærøyfjord together with the Geirangerfjord became part of our common UNESCO’s world heritage.

From Flåm you can take part in a fjord safari or a fjord cruise on the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. You can take this fjord cruise as a round trip (both ways) or one way combined with bus between Flåm and Gudvangen. See the great view from Stegastein viewpoint, 650 meters above Aurland. Taste the local goat’s cheese in Undredal or in Skjerdal, two villages by the Aurlandsfjord.

Flåm Railway is the train journey from fjord to mountain, perhaps the most beautiful railway in the world. You can 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 lower part of Aurlandsdalen, which is also the most popular, starts from Østerbø and ends at Vassbygdi in Aurland.

The Flåm Valley is a beautiful adventure. The valley between Myrdal (866.8 masl) and Flåm by the Aurlandsfjord is 18 kilometer 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.

By the Nærøyfjord, we have the small villages of Gudvangen, Bakka, Styvi and Dyrdal. Styvi is the only place without permanent inhabitants during the winter, and is together with Dyrdal without road connection. Gudvangen is one of two ports where the iconic ferry trip along the inner part of the Sognefjord departs and arrives. Visit the Viking village Njardarheimr in Gudvangen and experience the history and culture of the Viking Age.

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.

Hotels and accommodation in the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord area

Overview of hotels and other places 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

Many roads lead to the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord area.
Many roads lead 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.

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.

 

HOTELS - LINKS - FAQ

Here you will find an overview of recommended HOTELS in addition to SPA & BATH HOTELS and OTHER ACCOMMODATION PLACES in Western Norway. The combination of beautiful nature, activities that you can do in all four seasons and a stay at a great accommodation is unique. A stay in one of these places will do you good, both for body and mind.

There are ten restaurants that have awarded Michelin stars and Michelin awards in Western Norway. Eight of the Michelin restaurants are in Stavanger and two in Bergen. Here you will find FJORDS MICHELIN, where you will also find a list of recommended hotels in Western Norway, recommended by Michelin.

USEFUL LINKS is a list of websites with great information on Norway and the Fjords. FAQ is an overview of articles that answer the most common questions you have when planning to visit the fjords in Western Norway.

Flåm, Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord – Map Overview