The spectacular train ride from Bergen to Flåm

The highest mainline railway in Northern Europe, the scenic rail journey from Bergen to Flåm is one of the highlights of a visit to Norway – and a great way to get a taste of the fjords. But is it really worth it? And what’s the best way to ride those rails?

The Flamsbana railway, Norway
Flickr: Kenny Louie

The journey
Buying tickets
Tips for riding the railway
What to do in Flåm
Where to stay
Where to eat in Bergen and Flåm
When to go

The journey: Bergen to Flåm

The first part of the journey, on the main Bergen to Oslo line, skims past boathouses and red painted cabins before climbing to Norway’s craggy, windswept uplands.

The most remote sections see few signs of human life, and it becomes clear just what a feat of engineering it was to build this line at the end of the 19th century.

After changing trains at Myrdal (867m above sea level) onto the private Flåmsbana, you head down into the wild Flåm valley.

Guided tours to the Flåm railway

If you’re on a budget, we recommend booking your own train tickets and choosing somewhere cheap to stay (we’ve included a few suggestions below).

Otherwise, it can make a lot of sense to join an organised tour. This round-trip from Bergen lets you ride the Flåm railway and cruise on the spectacularly narrow Nærøyfjord, with plenty of photo opportunities along the way. It’s a long day (at least 10 hours all in) but we think it makes sense if time is tight.

A little more luxurious (with a price tag to match) this minivan tour from Bergen ensures you’ll travel in a small group of less than 12 other tourists.

Starting from Oslo? This private one-day tour is a good but very pricey option, whisking you to the railway and back in a private car.

This is the most dramatic and scenic section of the ride and – in our opinion – the most stomach-churning!

On this final 20km leg, the train has four sets of brakes in case the worst happens as it threads its way down the mountainside. There’s even a switchback turn in the middle of a tunnel to keep the journey interesting.

But, despite being one of Europe’s steepest mountain railways, it’s also one of the most beautiful. So, we think it’s well worth the slightly scary steep approach.

After 50 minutes, you reach your final destination of Flåm on the shores of the Aurlandsfjord, a branch of the famous Sognefjord.

How long is the trip?

The full journey from Bergen to Flåm (four trains daily) takes between 2hr 45min and 3hr 38min using the fast Bergen to Oslo service.

View of the fjord from Flam

The fast train stops at Arna (boarding only); Dale, home of the eponymous traditional knitwear; the winter resort of Voss, where skiers jump off the train and schuss off; and Myrdal, the junction station for the Flåmsbana.

Myrdal is where Flåm’s farmers used to bring their livestock to summer pastures, though no-one lives here permanently today.

Pretty much the only building is the station with its Café Rallaren (open April to October), where you can hire a bike (June to Sept; around 420 NOK/day) and freewheel the 20km down to Flåm – OK, more like hang on for grim life to the handlebars with the brakes on. You can leave the bike at Flåm station.

From Myrdal, the Flåmsbana has nine departures daily from May to September, and four to six daily from October to April.

Where can you stop?

Stops include the thundering 140m-high Kjosfossen waterfall, where the train halts for a photo opportunity, and Berekvam, where you can get off and hike down the old road into the valley in two to three hours.

In summer when the train stops at the Kjosfossen waterfall, look and listen out for the Huldra. 

We love this mythical forest spirit who (legend has it) sings folk songs in a red dress by the waterfall. 

Spoiler alert: she’s sometimes actually played by students from the Norwegian ballet School, some of whom are male – if you look closely you can sometimes see her sporting a beard!

Which side of the train is best?

There’s not really a best side, both sides are beautiful at different stages of the journey.

If you have a pre-assigned seat you’ll have no choice in the matter, but you can get up and walk around the train, so that you don’t miss the most scenic sections.

Travelling from Flåm to Myrdal, we think that the right side has the best views for the first third of the journey.

Then, we suggest moving over to the left-hand side of the train for the middle section, and back to the right-hand side for the final third of the trip.

Top tips for riding the Flam railway

  • The train can get very busy in high season, so we recommend avoiding July and August if possible.
  • Most cruise ship passengers ride the railway in the middle of the day, so we suggest travelling early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds.
  • Check the Flam harbour website to see if there’s a cruise ship in port when you arrive. If there is, pick a different day, if you can.
  • We think winter is the best time to ride the railway if you want to avoid the crowds. The surrounding scenery looks beautiful covered in snow and there are fewer people around.
  • There are only a couple of public toilets on the train. We suggest using the facilities in Flam or Myrdal, so you don’t spend most of the journey in the toilet queue.
  • There’s no buffet car on the train, so bring your own water bottle and food if you need a snack.

Buying tickets: Bergen to Flåm

You can buy tickets up to 90 days in advance and reserve a seat from Bergen to Myrdal on long-distance Bergen to Oslo trains (not local trains).

There are no seat reservations on the Flåmsbana. Check here to find departure times, book online and get an e-ticket sent straight to you.

Interrail and Eurail passes are valid from Bergen to Myrdal (paid seat reservations essential), and will get you a 30% discount on single tickets from Myrdal to Flåm (regular single fare 470 NOK).

Without a pass, Bergen to Flåm costs 841 NOK each way, depending on the time and date of travel.

Take a look, too, at the Norway in a Nutshell circuit, which you can get from Bergen or Oslo. 

Bergen to Flåm is just a part of it, so check whether the set itinerary matches with where you want to go. 

For more on the tour and whether it’s right for you, see our guide, Norway in a Nutshell: the DIY option.

What to do in Flåm

While the journey is easily doable as a day trip, it’s worth staying overnight in Flåm to enjoy the fjord in peace once the day-trippers and cruise passengers have left.

Village on the fjords near  Flåm

This also gives you time to head out on a guided kayaking trip with Njord Sea Kayak, or go cycling or hiking.

The tourist office has free maps, with trails of various lengths from 45min to five hours.

There are lots of sightseeing trips and fjord cruises too, including a dramatic ferry trip from Flåm to Gudvangen past orchards and farmsteads into the Unesco-listed Naerøyfjord. Return on the same ferry or the cheaper and quicker bus (five daily).

We also really like this guided tour from Flåm of the picturesque Laerdal valley, with its fruit farms and rural scenery. It takes in the historic Borgund Stave Church and fantastic views of the Aurlandsfjord from the dramatic Stegastein viewpoint.

Where to stay in Flåm

Lots of people whizz in and out of Flåm, but you’ve come all this way and it would be a shame not to spend some time in this picturesque village.

We really recommend staying the night in Flåm if you have the time – and there are plenty of places to options to choose from.

If you’re on a budget, our first choice would be the Flam Camping og Vandrerhjem (open April to October), a 300m walk from the station.

This pine-clad, lodge-style hostel has bunks rooms sleeping up to six (550 NOK per person), plus singles, doubles, twins, and quads, as well as grassy pitches for tents (from 360 NOK).

Alternatively, try Heimly Pensjonat (open late May to September), a quiet guesthouse 500m walk from the station.

Converted from a 1930s home and renovated in 2018, it has 22 small rooms (from 2500 NOK), some with fjord views, and all with private bathroom.

And although we didn’t actually get to stay there on our trip, we recommend checking out the lovely Flåm Marina right on the waterfront. They have family rooms and rooms with a kitchenette so are great if you’re self-catering.

Where to eat in Bergen and Flåm

Since there’s no buffet car on the Flåm railway, you’ll probably want to eat before your trip or afterwards.

Here are a few options we like in Bergen and Flåm.

If you want to pick up a tasty pastry or sandwich for the journey, we like the Flåm Bakery, right by the train station. It sells freshly made bread, cakes, croissants and pizzas to eat in or take with you.

For something more substantial, the Flåm Marina hotel has a good restaurant with lovely views of the fjord. It serves traditional Norwegian dishes and pizzas – we suggest you try the fish soup.

Bergen has loads of places to eat. If money is no object, our top choice is the Lysverket restaurant at Bergen’s KODE art museum. 

Specialising in New Nordic cuisine, this Michelin-star restaurant serves a tasting menu (1849 NOK) that features dishes such as brown crab, rice and truffle and langoustine tempura.

And if you’re on a budget, we recommend the Daily Pot for its tasty vegetarian bowls of soups, curries and salads – we particularly like the vegan cheesecakes!

When to go

Several thousand people a day can descend on Flåm (resident population: 450) on summer weekends. Don’t let this put you off, though – there are plenty of ways to avoid the worst of the crowds.

It all comes down to timing: travel in spring or autumn, or at least midweek in the busy months of June to August.

Kjosfossen near Flåm in Norway
Pic: Yorian (CC)

May is one of our favourite months to travel on the railway, as the waterfalls are particularly dramatic and full of melting ice water, and surrounding fields and countryside is lush and green.

Winter is a good option, too, when the deep turquoise of the frozen waterfalls along the route is unforgettable.

See also: 
Visiting Bergen on a budget
A guide to Scandinavian rail passes

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Melanie
Melanie
1 year ago

We are flying into Oslo this winter and planned to travel to Bergen by rail. If we want to see Flam too should we plan on buying two separate tickets on the way back to Oslo with an overnight in Flam?

Jill
Jill
2 years ago

We are doing the Hurtigruten cruise and are adding on some days in Bergen and Oslo and want to experience the train trip between the two. We’ld like to travel on the Flam railway too. Is it reasonable to take the Oslo/Bergen train and detour to Flam from Myrdal and return to continue the trip?

Tina
Tina
4 years ago

Will be coming via cruise ship to Bergen, & would like to ride the Flam railway. We will be in port from 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Is this possible to do in this time frame with time to check out the waterfall in Flam & look around a little also? What time should I book our train out & back & what is the best way to get to the train station in Bergen? Thanks!

Renae A Vaillancourt
Renae A Vaillancourt
5 years ago

1. I would like to take the train from Bergen to flam ,spend the night and continue on to oslo. do I need to purchase my tickets from different places? or would this be all one purchase. sounds like the train into Flam is different? 2. does the train from Bergen to Oslo go thru Flam? I just want to see as much as I can in my short time. unable to do Norway in a nutshell as the other couple we are traveling with feels it will be too much [physically]

Routes North
Admin
5 years ago

Looks like you could overnight in Flåm but if you wanted to go to Oslo you would have to change at Myrdal first. Easiest option is probably to buy tickets separately!

Donna Weiss
Donna Weiss
5 years ago

I’m a bit confused about how to plan the trip. We fly into Oslo and from Oslo should we get a train to Bergen to then go to Flam?

Routes North
Admin
5 years ago
Reply to  Donna Weiss

Hi Donna!

That would work, yep – or you could fly to Bergen if you wanted to. It’s about an hour’s flight.