I’m a fan of Fläm
Chances are, you’ve never heard of Fläm, Norway. This small town on a massive Norwegian fjord deserves attention though as the perfect jumping off point for an exploration of the fjords, mountains, and pristine cascading waterfalls of the area. Nature lovers will absolutely love the beauty of the area. But there’s a ton to do in this small town for everyone. Shoppers and craft beer aficionados will find plenty to love about the charming town as well.
The best way to get acclimated to the area is with a journey on foot around the head of the Fjord along the nice pages path that runs alongside the main road through the town and out. I took a short run up the path, quickly escaping the crowds in town killing around the shops, restaurants, and train depot crawling with tourists. A few hundred feet from the center of town I quickly found myself alone with nature and great views of the water.
Further along, I passed a number of cottages along the water with small fishing boats tied up. These were a great indication of the main industry of the area outside of the few short summer months when tourism takes over the town.
I also ran past a large waterfall pouring down from the side of the massive fjord cliffs and feeding the Fjord. These huge waterfalls are so common in the area that this didn’t even have signs. After a couple of peaceful miles along the Fjord, I headed back to town to explore more of the area off of my feet.
Fläm is home to the historic Flâm railway, a short but stunning track through mountains overlooking the waters of the Fjord as well as massive waterfalls that rock down the mountains. The ride to the station at the top of the mountain is only a few miles, but the journey of about an hour is packing with stunning sights.
The train is still a functioning public transport and one of the main ways people get into and out of town. While the short section between Fläm and Myrdal is the most scenic, travelers can continue from there all the way to Bergen, getting a great taste of the coast and interior of Norway’s west. Instead, we elected to take a return trip back down and into Fläm.
Near the end of the journey up the mountains, the train stops at the top of a massive waterfall that actually powers an electric plant. The area is supposedly populated by mysterious spirits that lure men into the mountains where they never return. Visitors should be on the lookout for such spirits near the waterfall.
There is a reason the train journey through the mountains above Fläm is often voted the most scenic train ride in the world, the sights are stunning and spectacular. The trains get very busy, so make sure to book early and far ahead. Early morning rides are less packed and you are more likely to get a window seat. Trust me, you’ll want one.
Back in town, Fläm is a bustling tourist hub with restaurants and plenty of shops. During the summer, a small market opens up outside with local food and craft vendors. You might even find whale meat sausages, reindeer furs, and Viking helmets (not authentic but fun). It’s also a plasce to shop for warm Scandinavian outerwear for rainy and chilly days.
A large outlet store offers a huge selection of jackets, coats, gloves, hats, and tons of kitschy souvenirs to bring back home.
Craft beer enthusiasts should definitely stop by the town’s microbrewery, Aegir. It’s easy to find the brewery as it is housed inside an authentic looking wooden stave church, adding to the atmosphere and ambiance. Inside feels like a Viking hall with lots of dark wood, low lighting, and communal tables. The brewery is still fairly small so only offers a few distinct styles, but the beer is good and the servings are huge enough to fill a Viking. The beer isn’t only tailored to Vikings with traditional malty, hop-free flavors. They also embrace the more hop forward styles popular now with a pilsner and pale ale.
The beer was not the best craft beer I’ve had, mostly falling in the average category, but the atmosphere is unique. There aren’t many other places where you can drink just like a Viking.
The only downside inside the brewery is the lack of sunshine on a nice day and the fairly loud buzz of conversation from other tables. If you want to continue enjoying the beer while actually getting some vitamin D, several restaurants nearby have outdoor seating and actually serve the brewery’s beers. There’s a massive cafe and restaurant (and ice cream shop oddly enough) next to the brewery with a huge wooden deck patio where you’ll find a couple of the brewery’s brews, maybe even ones that the brewery isn’t currently serving. When the sun is out and shining down on the Fjord, you’ll want to be outside to enjoy it.
Fläm is a tiny town overlooking a fjord, much like other tiny towns in Norway, and it would be possible to easily overlook it. This awesome town packs a mighty punch though and combines so much of what makes Norway great. There aren’t many places where you can start the morning with a historic train ride through the scenic mountains overlooking a fjord, stop under a waterfall, and then head back for locally brewed craft beer. Fläm makes up for its small size with these great experiences and belongs on everyone’s travel list.