Located in southwestern Norway near the Aurlandsfjord, the village of Flåm is home to the historic Flåm Railway, one of Norway’s top tourist attractions, which offers scenic railway tours aboard a 20th-century train route. Early documentation of the village of Flåm dates back to the mid-14th century, with the village’s name being derived from the plural form of the Old Norse term flá, which was used to refer to the Flåm River’s floodplains.

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History

The village’s historic Flåm Church, which is the smallest extant stave church in the country, was constructed in 1670 to replace an older stave church. Regional tourism began to flourish in the late 19th century, when large numbers of English tourists traveled to the area for salmon fishing, causing the development of several hotels in the region. In 1871, plans for a railway between the village and nearby Myrdal were developed, and in 1923, the Flåm Railway received financing from the country's Parliament. The railway line opened for operations in 1940 and remains in operation to this day as a scenic railway line, chosen by National Geographic magazine as one of the top 10 most beautiful train routes in Europe.

Attractions

Today, Flåm is located within southwestern Norway’s Aurlandsfjord region, which is a branch of the larger Sognefjord. The village is home to a population of around 400 and has been primarily operated as a tourist town since the mid-20th century. As one of the most popular cruise harbors in the country, the village offers a variety of scenic tourist activities and overnight accommodations.

Top attractions within the region include the Flåm Railway, which was commissioned in 1908 but not completed until 1941 due to the advent of World Wars I and II. The railway stretches for 20 kilometers between Flåm and the nearby village of Myrdal and features a height difference of 863.6 meters throughout its route. As the fifth most-visited tourist attraction in the country, the railway offers a Flåm Railway Museum attraction within its old station building, which showcases exhibits on the railway’s development, the everyday life of Flåm villagers, and other similar railways throughout Norway. The village is also home to the 17th-century Flåm Church, the country’s smallest extant stave church. Nearby in the village of Gudvangen, the Njardarheimr Viking Village recreates the area’s Viking history and offers a wide variety of cultural demonstrations and activities throughout the summer months.

Outdoor attractions in the Flåm region include the Nærøyfjord, which has been named to UNESCO’s World Heritage List and showcases dramatic waterfalls and mountains within its 1,800-meter valley. Fretheim Cultural Park also offers 1,600 acres of nature trails through the region’s natural landscape, along with a playground designed by artist Geir Gjetland and a variety of public artwork. Outdoor activities available within the region include snowshoe hiking at the Stegastein overlook area, which offers spectacular views of the Aurland fjord during the winter months from atop a 650-meter viewing platform. FjordSafari adventure excursions are available aboard RIB boats, exploring the UNESCO site, and biking trails are available throughout the region for biker exploration. A Flåm Express Boat is also available for service between the village and nearby Balestrand.

Cruises embarking from Flåm Harbor include the Fjord Cruise Sognefjord, which travels to nearby Gudvangen and Kaupanger, and the Fjord Cruise Lysefjord, which highlights natural landscape features such as the Pulpit Rock and Kjerag Mountain. The Fjord Cruise Fjærlandsfjord travels to the Balestrand and Fjærland glaciers, while the Fjord Cruise Geirangerfjord explores a 15-kilometer branch of Storfjord that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage List site. The Fjord Cruise Hjørundfjord is also available, showcasing the Sunnmøre Alps.

Dining within the village includes the Flåm Bakery, which serves freshly-baked pastries and homemade breads, and the Toget Cafe, which offers light meals such as sandwiches and pizza. The Bakkastova Cultural Cafe, located within Fretheim Cultural Park, also offers local delicacies and coffee shop selections. Fine dining is offered at the Arven Restaurant, located within the Fretheim Hotel, which is a historic hotel dating back to 1870, offering 121 visitor rooms and suites and a large conference center. The hotel offers a variety of activity programming for visitors, including salmon fishing, fjord safaris, ice fishing, and wilderness camping activities. As a fully modern tourist hotel, the hotel boasts magnificent views of the surrounding fjords and offers a variety of luxury amenities. A storehouse suite within the hotel is available for large groups traveling together, offering five bedrooms and a common living room, bath, and shower. Accommodations are also available at the Heimly Pensjonat, a guest house offering 22 rooms along with a panoramic dining room, lounge, and outdoor garden with dramatic fjord views.

P.O. Box 42, 5742 Flåm, Phone: 00-47-57-63-14-00

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