The Scenic Flåm Railway, officially known as the Flåmsbana, is known as one of the most scenic train trips in Europe, if not the entire world. This engineering marvel travels along a track with one of the steepest grades in the world and winds through curving tunnels and spectacular valleys from the base of one of Norway’s famous fjords up into the mountains. Passengers can book independently or, as we did, book a ticket as part of a cruise excursion. Here’s everything you need to know about booking and traveling on the Flam Railway.
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What is the Flåm Railway?
Connecting the small town of Flam, Norway to Myrdal Station. From there, you can turn around and return to Flåm or catch a connection on the Oslo to Bergen line. Known as one of the most scenic train rides in Europe, construction on the railway was begun in the 1920s. The track is 12.6 miles/20.2 km long and gains 2841 feet/866 meters along the way. A one-way trip will take you around an hour, but since we were returning to our cruise ship, we had a round trip journey. Its original purpose was to provide access from the Oslo-Bergen line to the Sognefjord, but nowadays it’s almost exclusively a tourist route full of passengers gawking at the spectacular valleys, waterfalls, and peaks that the track winds its way past.
What’s it like to ride the Flåmsbana?
It’s gorgeous! We were a little worried because there was heavy fog that morning, but it cleared up enough to leave us with wispy, sort of mystical clouds hanging in the valleys on our uphill journey. By the time we were on the way back, the sun was out and it was spectacular.
Our journey started in Flåm, just two meters above sea level and approximately a 1 minute walk from where our ship was docked. We were lucky that day – we were the only ship tied off at the pier and the other two smaller ships had to tender their passengers in from where they were anchored – so factor in the potential for needing extra time if you’re booking Flam Railway tickets independently.
While we were waiting to board, we noticed that a couple of the windows in each car were able to open a little at the top, so we made sure we got seats next to those so my mom and I could take pictures without shooting through the glass. Fair warning – one of the windows that was supposed to open in the car behind us was jammed shut, so if this is important to you, try to test the window before the car fills up (assuming you have time).
From the Flåm end, you’ll leave the Aurlandsfjord behind as the train journey begins by traveling alongside a river. Throughout your journey, you’ll crisscross the river several times. You’ll also be able to see a spot where the river was rerouted through a tunnel in the mountain to prevent the railway from relying on bridges.
You’ll be treated to all kinds of spectacular views along the way. There are countless waterfalls both large and small tumbling down from the cliffs, beautiful brightly colored houses and barns, and lots of green vegetation. We even saw a few mountain goats seconds after this picture was snapped, but my photo of them didn’t turn out well. Seeing how they were perched on what seemed to be an impossibly precarious ledge was so cool though.
One of the top attractions is a stop at Kjosfossen, a large waterfall that tumbles right below the tracks. The railway has a special station there where the train pauses for a few minutes for tourists to hop out and take some photos. There are even special dancers near the waterfall representing a Huldra, a forest spirit from Norse mythology. Pro tip: Don’t worry if you don’t have time to get the picture you want on the way up. The train stops there going in both directions and as most of the passengers originated in Flåm, almost no one got off the train on the return trip from Myrdal so the platform was nice and clear. That would be the ideal time to hop off to get a group shot together without fighting through crowds.
The last stretch of the train ride passes through several tunnels with quick views of the surrounding mountains. When you arrive at Myrdal station, the train will wait for 10-15 minutes for passengers to disembark and new passengers taking the Myrdal to Flåm route to board. Then you’ll reverse down the track back to your starting point in Flåm.
Tips for riding the Flåm Railway
- If you’re boarding in Flåm, I thought the righthand side of the train had better views. Someone on the cruise ship told my mom that her mom had ridden it in the past and said that the lefthand side was more scenic, but we were joking that she was trying to sabotage us so she’d have a better shot at the seats on the right by the end of the trip (It’s also possible that her mom only rode from Myrdal to Flåm.) because we followed her advice and sat on the left and there was definitely more scenery passing by the other side of the train.
- That being said, because the tracks crisscross the river several times, you will see scenic views from both sides of the train.
- Because the train reverses down the track rather than turning around, you’ll be seeing the same scenery you saw on the way up when you make your return trip. While we were waiting at Myrdal, the people in the seats across the aisle from us asked if we wanted to switch sides to change up the views, which was fantastic because we’d kind of been whispering amongst ourselves about brokering a swap anyway. If you’re going round trip and want to see out the other window, there’s no harm in politely offering a trade with someone on the other side. Just, you know, don’t be a jerk if they turn you down.
It’s open seating on the train, so be ready to board as soon as possible to have the best selection of seats. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get a window seat or even sit together. We were joined in our cluster of four by one lady who had been split up from her husband because there weren’t two seats left together when they boarded.
- Try to snag one of the windows that opens at the top if you want the best photos. This gives you the best shooting angles and eliminates the glare problem.
- If you’re planning on snapping pictures along the way, bring more than a point and shoot. You’re going to want a faster shutter for photos from the moving train. I offered to snap a couple out the window for the lady sitting with us and I could tell just from the image previews that the ones on her camera just didn’t come close to the quality I was getting. I recently upgraded to a Sony A6500, but the A6000 I was using until a couple weeks ago (and brought with me to Norway as a backup) is a phenomenal starter mirrorless at a lower price point.
- Try to book your tickets ahead of time as this is a very popular attraction and they do sell out.
- If you’re planning on booking as part of a cruise excursion, do it asap! We were traveling slightly off-season, but the two excursions including the Flåm Railway were the only ones sold out before the trip began.
- You can never predict the weather, but I’d choose an afternoon departure if I had no other time constraints. It was very foggy in the morning for all of our port days in Norway and then tended to clear up a lot as the sun burned off some of the clouds. I overheard people from the earliest departure on our cruise ship later that night complaining about how they’d paid so much money to ride the train up to the top and sit in the fog, but by the time we boarded it had cleared up a lot and the sun even came out for the second half of our ride.
- The Flåmsbana trains do have bathrooms available for your journey, though I’d recommend going before the trip starts or while you’re stopped at the station before reversing course because you won’t want to miss the view out the window.
- The Flåm Railway takes a little under an hour in each direction with a stop in the middle, so expect to spend around 2.5 hours on this activity.
How to buy Flåm Railway tickets
If you’re only booking travel on the tourist portion from Flåm to Myrdal or Myrdal to Flåm, you can purchase Flåm Railway tickets on the official site here. However, if you wish to combine your segment on the Flåm railway with a connection to the Oslo-Bergen line, you’ll need to book here. The current price for independently booked Flåmsbana tickets is 590 NOK, roughly $66 USD for a round trip. Please check the official site linked below for current prices as these will change.
Our ship, run by Celebrity Cruises, offered three different excursions that included Flåm Railway tickets, so if you’re cruising to Flåm, you’ll almost certainly have the opportunity to book as part of an official cruise activity. You will, however, pay substantially more money for your tickets. Even if you’re cruising, you can always purchase your tickets independently, but I’d recommend trying to select a departure time in the middle of your ship’s expected docking in case you arrive later than planned or there is a schedule change that requires you to leave early.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Flam Line
Does the Flåm Railway sell out?
Yes! In busy seasons it does. Tickets are much easier to get during the off-season. I’d recommend booking as early as possible to guarantee yourself the departure time you want. If you’re booking through a cruise excursion, this will likely be one of the most popular trips and will almost certainly sell out.
Where does the Flåm Railway go?
The Flam Railway runs from Myrdal to Flåm or Flåm to Myrdal with a few platforms in between. In Myrdal, you can connect to the Oslo-Bergen line. In Flåm, you can hop a ferry that goes out to different locations in the fjords.
Is the Flåm Railway worth it?
Absolutely! Unless the mountains are completely fogged over, you’ll get to see some amazing scenery. There’s a reason it’s consistently rated as one of the top tourist attractions in Norway.
Is the Flåm Railway wheelchair accessible?
Yes. Wheelchairs can board at both the Flåm and Myrdal stations via ramps. However, the Kjosfossen stop where passengers can get off to view the waterfall is not accessible.
Where is the Flåm Railway station?
The Flåm Railway station is located right in the middle of the tiny town of Flåm, so it’s almost impossible to miss.
How far is the Flåm Railway from the cruise terminal?
If your ship is docked, you’re looking at a 2 minute walk from the ship to the train station. If your ship has to anchor in the fjord and tender in, factor in some extra time before your departure.
How long is the Flåm Railway?
The Flåmsbana is 12.6 miles or 20.2 kilometers long.
Which side of the Flam Railway should I sit on?
I highly recommend getting a seat on the righthand side of the train’s forward motion if you’re boarding in Flåm. (Your back will be to the fjord.) If you’re boarding in Myrdal, pick the lefthand side of the train’s forward motion.
How much does the Flam Railway cost?
Current rates are 590 NOK, which is around $66 USD.
How long is the Flåm Railway trip?
Each direction takes about an hour, so plan to dedicate around 2.5 hours for a round trip when you include boarding, and the pause at the other station before your return trip.