The Flam Railway is a mountain railway line with a vertical drop of 865.5 metres, making it one of the steepest railway lines in Europe and it has been described as one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys. I did some research and booked all of my tickets for this journey before I left the UK and I would recommend this – the NSB (Norway’s rail system) is easy to navigate and tickets do sell out fast. My journey started early with an extremely comfy 4 1/2 hour train journey from Oslo to Myrdal, then joining the Flam Railway on the scenic route to Flam, with some time in Flam itself, before going all the way back again. A long day, but absolutely worth it.
The Oslo-Myrdal part of my journey actually offered some stunning views of its own and an arguably nicer journey – the Flam Railway, in the height of summer, is a packed affair with people trudging along with large suitcases to join the ferry to Bergen and no assigned seating so it can be a bit of a free for all. I did enjoy getting to see some of the interior of Norway though and was actually slightly surprised by how much snow and ice was evident in Myrdal.
Construction of the line started in 1924 and was completed in 1940, with much of the work being completed with the use of horses (I’ll go into more detail about this in the next post, about the Flam Railway Museum). It’s not really till you see a map of the route that you get a sense of the technical ingenuity that was involved, though at a few moments you do get close.
The train also stops to allow you to take photos of the magnificent Kjosfossen Waterfall. You can either do this from the train or, as I did, on the viewing platform. Be warned, you will get very, very wet. Also, as you stand out there music will begin to play and about half-way up the mountain a woman dressed in red will begin dancing about; she’s supposed to represent the spirits who were said to lure men into the forests, but the set-up is slightly bizarre and I have so many questions about what she does with herself between trains and how this is someone’s actual job that I don’t know where to begin.
I’d suggest trying to get a window seat as the press of people can make it too hard to properly see at times and make sure that if you are doing the return journey you sit at different sides of the train on the way down and up as there are points of interest on both sides.
Those niggles aside (the railway is after all one of Norway’s most visited tourist attractions) it really is a journey worth doing at least once. At places the scenery is breathtaking and I can also imagine it looking quite magical in the winter time. There are also waterfalls of varying sizes everywhere. Do be mindful that the view is at times constricted by tunnels and snow shelters, so don’t expect a completely uninterrupted view.