If you long to experience the majestic beauty of Norwegian fjords, Flam (or Flåm, as it is spelled in Norwegian) is a great place to add to your Norway itinerary. Nestled at the end of an awe-inspiring fjord, this little town packs a punch in terms of scenery and easy access to natural beauty.
Based on my memorable time there, I think there are 10 top things to do in Flam, Norway – and all of them involve spectacular fjord scenery!
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Why Visit Flam?
Flam was my favourite place that I visited during my week in Norway. It is a great place to visit in Norway because it has stunning fjord scenery and is easy to get to from both Oslo and Bergen.
Whichever way you get to Flam, its spectacular scenery will make you glad you did. Flam is situated at the end of the Aurlandsfjord branch of the Sognefjord (the ‘King of Fjords’) and it has wonderful views straight down the fjord. And it is a fantastic jumping-off point from which to explore the whole area – so it’s a great place to make your fjord base.
I couldn’t get enough of the dramatic landscape during my time in Flam and I think back to those magnificent mountains and still waters often… Naturally, most of the things to do in Flam are related to the beautiful views all around.
10 Things To Do In Flam, Norway
1. Ride The Scenic Flam Railway (Flåmsbana)
Whether or not you arrive in Flam by train, you should definitely consider riding on the Flam Railway, or Flåmsbana, even if it is just to ride the train and then come back to Flam again!
The Flam Railway is considered one of the most scenic railways in the world – and is arguably the most famous thing to do in Flam.
The railway runs through the Flam valley between the town of Flam and the mountain station of Myrdal. It was built in 1940 and is one of the steepest railways in the world, covering a vertical distance of 864m. However, the real marvel is the scenery along the way. You’ll be treated to views of the fast-flowing Flam river, its lush valley, many dizzying mountains and breathtaking waterfalls.
The journey between Flam and Myrdal takes around an hour and includes a stop at Kjosfossen waterfall where you can get off the train to view the waterfall for a few minutes.
I loved the journey on this train – the views were really lovely and the old-fashioned carriages made the whole thing feel a little like a time warp.
Top Tip: there are scenic views on both sides of the carriages, but they are slightly better on the right side if you’re heading from Flam to Myrdal (and on the left if you’re going from Myrdal to Flam). And if you get one of the windows that open, you’ll be able to take photographs without any reflections.
2. Enjoy A Fjord Cruise
If you’re in Flam, you really must get out on the wonderful fjord itself, and the most popular kind of boat ride is the Fjord cruise which operates between Flam and Gudvangen.
The boat offers a smooth ride along the water, with panoramic views of the magnificent Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the early morning, I was blown away by the reflection of the mountains on the silky water. I stayed out on deck the whole time, mesmerised by the scenery.
There’s a regular service that is not a tour (there’s no commentary, for example, and it makes local stops), but does have visitor-friendly features like spacious viewing platforms so you can stand on the deck to watch the mountains go by. It also pulls in close to one of the bigger waterfalls it passes. There’s plenty of comfortable seating inside, as well as a café offering food & drinks. You can do a return ticket, or you can get the boat to Gudvangen and a shuttle bus back, which is cheaper and quicker. You can book tickets here.
Tip: If you do want to enjoy the views from the deck, do bring something warm to wear, ideally a windbreaker: even on a warm summer’s day, the speed of the boat through the fresh air will create a chill.
3. Get Speedy On A RIB Boat Safari
If you fancy something a little more adventurous and faster than the cruise boat, a fun thing to do in Flam is to do a RIB boat tour. These super-fast boats race around the fjord, allowing you to see a lot in a shorter amount of time. Plus, they have some guided commentary to give you some context and tidbits of information about the area.
Fjordsafari is based in Flam harbour and offers regular RIB tours of the fjord. Before getting on the boat, they will suit you up in bright yellow floatation suits which will keep you safe should you accidentally end up in the water. They’ll also give you goggles to protect your eyes from the cold wind you’ll feel when out on the fjord at such speed.
I really enjoyed this experience – it was such fun to be going so fast, bouncing over the ripples from other boats when we passed them!
4. Kayak The Still Waters Of A Fjord
One of my top wishlist items for Norway was kayaking in a fjord, so I made sure to do this when I was in Flam.
Njord Kayak operates from Flam beach and they offer kayak hire and guided kayak tours. I opted for the latter, as I was travelling solo in Norway, and while I have kayaked before, I thought it wise to go out with other people rather than alone.
I was given thorough instructions about how to kayak safely, including how to get out of the splash deck, should I go in the water. However, as I went kayaking in summer, I didn’t need a wet suit (though they were available if I had wanted to wear one).
The tour lasts 3 hours and takes you along the left-hand side of Aurlandsfjord, going at a leisurely pace, with plenty of breaks. My arms ached a bit afterwards, but it was totally worth it!
It was so peaceful being on the water…utterly serene.
5. Marvel At The View From Stegastein
After being on the fjord itself, one of the best things to do in Flam is to get up into the mountains for a view looking down into the fjord, and the best place to do this is Stegastein Viewpoint.
This is a steel and wood structure jutting out from the mountain above Aurland, offering extensive views of Aurlandsfjord towards Flam and also out past the headland into Sognefjord. It’s a great place to see the fjords from a different vantage point, and on my visit, I was amazed by how much snow was on top of the mountains, most of which I hadn’t been able to see from down in the valley.
If you don’t have your own car, you can take a minivan with El-Tour from Flam to Stegastein viewpoint. This gives you around 25 minutes at the viewpoint, which is likely to be enough time, as there’s just one place to get the view and not much else up there to do.
Top Tip: if you need the toilet while you’re up there, choose the cubicles nearest the cliff, because these have windows with views, too.
6. Take A Scenic Drive
If you do have your own car, Flam has some wonderful scenic drives, including winding roads between the valley and the mountains. In fact, there’s a 47km scenic route between Gamle Lærdalsøyri and Aurland called the Aurlandsfjellet scenic route. You could do the scenic route one way and return via the faster Laerdal tunnel the other way. Nb, this scenic road is normally closed in winter.
If you don’t already have a hire car, you can hire electric cars in Flam at eMobility.
Top tip: some of the roads and bridges are single lanes, so keep your eye out for passing points when you meet vehicles going in the other direction.
7. Do Some Cycling
As well as driving, there’s plenty to tempt keen cyclists around Flam. In fact, I saw many cyclists on the steep winding road between Flam and Myrdal. I didn’t feel tempted to join them, though: I felt like I took the right option for me, enjoying the view from my train carriage, haha!
But if you do want to cycle without doing yourself in on the steep hills, you could get the Flåmsbana train to Myrdal with your bike (you need to book a bike ticket, not just a normal ticket), and then cycle back downhill to Flam. This way you can enjoy the scenery at your own pace without killing your legs!
If you want to explore Flam by bike, there are plenty of bikes for hire in the town.
8. Go Hiking
And of course, where there are mountains, there are hiking trails, and there’s plenty to see if you go hiking around Flam. A nice short hike is from Flam to the Brekkefossen waterfall, which is not far from Flam village and has a mainly paved route, with some steep steps near the waterfall. The route is 7.4km as a round trip and takes around 1.5 hours.
You can get hiking maps from the Flam Visitor Centre.
9. Relax In A Sauna
If you’ve been active during your time in Flam, or even if you have not, you might fancy a nice relaxing sauna at the end of the day.
Fjord Sauna is a floating sauna on the dockside in Flam, just a short walk from the main harbour. Here you can relax in a baking hot Finnish sauna, with views along the fjord. And if you’re brave enough, you can do the customary plunge into the cold water of the fjord afterwards.
Now, you may have heard that many Norwegians go naked in the sauna – but in this particular sauna, swimwear is required – so don’t strip off!
10. Sit On The Shore And Enjoy The View Of The Fjord
Although there are a lot of different things to do in Flam, I highly recommend taking at least a little time to just simply enjoy the views and the peaceful atmosphere of the fjord.
There are two good spots you can do that. One is on Flam beach, slightly north of the harbour. There are a couple of picnic tables here and I saw people having BBQs on the beach.
However, my favourite spot is the other side of town, east of the harbour and the sauna. Here there’s not exactly a beach but a short stretch of shore where you can get down close to the water. There were a couple of row boats moored here when I was there and it was very serene.
Map: Things To Do In Flam
Here’s a map of the best things to do in Flam and where you can find the right places to be.
How To Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one. If you click the star next to the map’s title, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’ or ‘Saved’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.
Where to stay in Flam
Accommodation in Flam can get booked up in advance because it’s a popular destination – and a stop on the ‘Norway In a Nutshell’ tour. I left it a little late to book my accommodation (<2 months out), so I was left with very little choice. I stayed at Heimly Pensjonat on a half-board basis. The cons were that the room was small and basic, with no air con. However, the pros were really great food for dinner and stunning views along the fjord.
Now, if you don’t want to stay in Flam at all, you can still enjoy its beautiful scenery on excursions to Flam from other places, including this tour of Nærøyfjord and Flåmsbanen from Bergen and this tour of Sognefjord and Flåm from Oslo.
Though it is a small town, it offers a lot to visitors, and you can easily fill your days there with plenty of choices of beautiful things to do in Flam. These include getting on the peaceful, still water in a variety of boats, cycling, hiking, driving and simply enjoying the stunning views. Enjoy!
And for more ideas about how to experience Norway, check out my 7-day Norway itinerary.