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The magical Flåm Railway

Even though the small village of Flåm is fairly remote and hidden away in the stunning Aurlandsfjorden in rural Norway, it’s a thriving tourist destination that’s a real dream to a lot of travellers from both near and far. Part of the appeal of this idyllic Norwegian mountain village is the world-famous Flåm Railway, which has been dubbed the most beautiful train journey in the world.
The Flåm Railway - Flåm, Norway
In this article, we’ll tell you the history of the Flåm Railway and some more about why this magical railway is such a coveted destination for so many people. We will also give you a great overview of the stunning region of Flåm.
Flåm Station - Flåm, Norway

The history of the Flåm Railway

From its humble beginnings as an iron workhorse through to the popular tourist attraction it is today, Flåm Railway is a must-have experience while you’re in Norway. If this sounds as if it must be an exaggeration, consider the fact that esteemed travel journal The Lonely Planet named Flåm Railway as the “best train journey in the world”.
If you’re keen to know more about this beautiful railway, here’s a quick rundown of what the Norwegians know as the Flåmsbana from past to present.
Happy girl on the Flåm Railway - Norway

About the railway

The Flåmsbana, or Flåm Railway, cuts through the mountainside taking passengers on a magical journey through the wilds of the Norwegian countryside, providing a glimpse of the natural scenery which would otherwise be impossible to access.
Flåm Railway holds the record for being the steepest railway run on regular gauge in the world, giving the journey a real sense of drama. With 80% of the route run at a steep 5.5% gradient, and a descent of 863 meters, there’s a real sense of moving away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The railway is 20km long and runs between Myrdal and Flåm, lasting approximately one hour. During the journey, you’ll be taken through no less than 20 tunnels which spiral and twist inside the mountain before emerging to the clear and fresh beauty of fjords and clean air.
It’s almost impossible to see everything along a single journey but keep your eyes peeled and you’ll spot farms dotted high up on the slopes, tumbling waterfalls and no shortage of panoramic views.

The Flåm Railway - From iron workhorse to tourist magnet

The railway as it is today took many years to develop, first emerging as an idea in 1871. It took until 1908 for the Myrdal-Flåm to be approved by the Norwegian government, with an expected 22,000 passengers per year.
Construction for the railway didn’t get started until 1924, at which time 18 of the tunnels had to be painstakingly carved out of the mountainside. Every metre of tunnel took approximately a month of hard work. With a total of 5691 meters of tunnel to be created, it’s hardly a surprise that the construction took so many years.
In 1940 the railway was finally complete and the first steam locomotives were sent trundling along the tracks, despite the impending war. Passengers enjoyed their first journeys in 1941 after extra brakes were installed.
Three years later the Flåm Railway was electrified but due to various complications due to the hostilities, electric locomotives didn’t start running until 1947.
By 1953, 115,000 passengers were traveling on the railway every year. A decade later this had increased to 175,000. Over the years visitors from home and abroad flocked to experience the train journey, with almost 800,000 passengers per year 2015.
Today, the railway has undergone a number of updates including the installation of computerized commentary and LCD screens bringing together the very best of technology and history in one perfect package.
The Flåm Railway arriving the station

Where is Flåm?

Flåm is located in the idyllic Aurlandsfjord, which is known as one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords. Aurlandsfjorden is an offshoot on the southern side of the vast, stunning Sognefjorden. It’s one of the most picturesque regions of Norway, and it’s well-worth exploring. Why not try our very popular Norway in a nutshell® tour? The trip will take you along the Flåm Railway for a stunning scenic journey along the spectacular Norwegian landscape.
The Flåm Railway -Norway

The world’s most beautiful train journey

Flåmsbana, known in English as Flåm Railway, is generally considered to offer tourists the world’s most beautiful train ride. In fact, Lonely Planet named Flåm Railway the world's best train journey, and National Geographic Traveler Magazine named Flåm Railway one of the ten best train journeys in Europe. These days, the historic Flåm Railway is famous around the world, and people travel from all over the globe to experience this scenic train journey.
Running through the valley of Flåmsdalen, the stunning train ride shows you the incredible natural scenery of Western Norway. On this spectacular journey, you get to enjoy unrivalled views of majestic mountains with snow-capped peaks, narrow fjords, powerful waterfalls, charming little mountain farms and so much more as you ride comfortably through the landscape. The train will also make a stop at the well-known Kjosfossen waterfall, so you can snap some photos of this stunning natural attraction.
Enjoying the view  - Flåm Railway, Flåm, Norway

Why is the Flåm Railway so popular?

In recent years, Virtual Flåm has contributed to the hype around Flåm Railway. Virtual Flåm is a virtual reality train journey which has opened a lot of people’s eyes and shown them why this train journey is so popular for so many. For those looking for a true Norwegian adventure, this train journey is the perfect option, with a train ride that stretches over 20 km across the picturesque Norwegian landscape. The journey will take you from the bottom of the beautiful Aurlandsfjord to the mountains in Myrdal, which is known as one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. If you’d like to read more about it, you can do so here.
Norway in a nutshell® - Kayaking on the Nærøyfjord

What is there to do in Flåm?

There’s a lot to do in the beautiful village of Flåm. Beyond the incredible outdoor experiences available to you, the area also has a rich history and offers amazing cultural experiences. Whether you’re most interested in hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, swimming, visiting local museums and galleries, or sampling local delicacies, there’s plenty to do in this spectacular area. Flåm is perfect for keen cyclists and hikers, and there is a range of stunning local walks and hikes that’ll take you through some of the most beautiful landscapes Norway has to offer. There are many exciting activities in Flåm, so you can choose what you’re most interested in. If you’re looking for an action-packed activity, why not try Flåm Zipline – the longest zipline in the Nordic region?
The Bergen railway - Voss, Norway

Enjoy the scenic Bergen Railway

Many tourists choose to combine a journey on the iconic Flåm Railway with the beautiful Bergen Railway. To make the most of your visit to this gorgeous area in Norway, it’s recommended that you plan to ride both of these popular railways during your stay. The trip is quite flexible, and you can decide for yourself where you want to start and end the trip, and how long you want to stay in different areas along the way. You can easily combine the two with other experiences, such as a memorable fjord cruise in the stunning narrow fjords with huge mountain walls towering above, or a calm kayaking excursion. 

Create your dream rail-journey

A trip along the Myrdal-Flåm Railway can be combined with many other activities in the area, offered by Fjord Tours. With trips ranging from the peaceful and relaxing to exhilarating and active, the fjords of Norway has something for everyone. Find a tour that suits you here.

The best things to do in Flåm

Book an exciting activity as part of your Nutshell tour or as a stand-alone booking. Check out our exciting collection below!