The Sognefjord, Flåm and Aurland are popular destinations for people wanting to experience Norwegian nature at its best; the majestic mountains, the fjords and the serenity. Summer is by far the most popular time of year to visit, but people are slowly starting to open their eyes to visiting the fjords in the Spring, Autumn and Winter, and the area is becoming an all year round destination! Spending a weekend by the fjords is, in my opinion, the best way to experience the area, and here are my top tips on how to make the most of it!
Head this way for more details on visiting the Sognefjord in the Winter.
Many visitors spend a day or two by the fjords, and to me it seems the ideal time spent in order to make sure you cover all bases, whether you are here to relax, get some action, or to simply check the Norwegian Fjords off your list. Whether you are here in the Spring or the Autumn – you will always leave the fjords feeling refreshed and in awe of the impressive nature surrounding you.
Before you go to Norway, make sure you don’t miss this Norway travel guide, where I have done my best to ensure I cover everything you need to know before your visit!
A Weekend by the Fjords of Norway – The Ultimate Guide
Where to stay
No matter the time of year you visit, you will want to stay where you can feel at home, with great food and little walking distance to the action. Flåm Marina & Apartments are ideally situated in the Flåm Bay, a short walk from the train station and Visitor Center, and just out of reach from the crowds usually found in the center of the small village. The location around the bay is ideal for those who want to be close to the action, but still find some peace when needed.
With only 10 apartments, it is the perfect place to relax and enjoy your own space away from the crowds. Wheelchair-accessible rooms are also available, and all apartments have 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a kitchen, living room and private terrace or balcony. As opposed to other apartment-hotels, linens, towels and the final cleaning are all included in the price.
Don’t miss my eBook: Flåm and the Fjords! It’s a complete travel guide to Flåm, Aurland and the fjords where I grew up, and I am so excited to have written it! Find it here!
What to do
Most activities offered in the Flåm area are now available all year round, which gives loads of options for visitors from all over the world. Whether you are spending your weekend by the fjords in the summer or the winter, you’ll find loads of tours and activities to suit your needs. As mentioned below, the Flåm Railway is an activity loved by many, and one you may get to cross off ‘for free’ if you are arriving by train. Having been titled the most scenic rail journey in the world, it is not to be missed when in the area. Tickets can be booked online in advance (always a good idea, it sells out fast). The Flåm Railway runs all year round.
In this post I share one of my favourite hacks for scoring those Flam Railway Tickets!
Another year round activity is the fjord cruise from Flåm to Gudvangen, which will take you through the Nærøyfjord (UNESCO World Heritage listed). The brand new vessel Vision of the Fjords is the world’s first hybrid vessel built on carbon fiber, and will have its first voyage on the fjords this summer (2016). If environment-friendly and silent is your thing, you’ll want a ride with the ‘Vision’. Roundtrip tickets can be booked here, and you’ll have an option to return by boat (approx. 2 hours) or bus (20 minutes) in order to maximise your stay.
The new, more action-filled, activity in town are the recently-arrived Twizy-cars from eMobility. These battery-driven cars can drive up to 80 km/h, and require a valid licence. You can rent one for up to 2 hours between 1st April and 15th October, and they are a lot of fun! You’ll be guided around by the car, and can chose between several routes when you book the car. Not to be missed if you want an alternative way of exploring the fjords.
Another speedy adventure, available all-year-round is the always popular FjordSafari. The FjordSafari team will have you holding on to your hats as you speed by the villages along the fjord, stopping only to hear amazing stories from their talented guides – and to look for animals, of course (hence the name; FjordSafari). In the Winter, the team behind FjordSafari also offer guided walks around Flåm, and a very popular Snow Shoe Hike in the mountains above the Stegastein Viewpoint.
The Stegastein Viewpoint itself is also a popular attraction for many, and tours are available all year round. The panoramic viewing platform is a must for your weekend by the fjords, and on a clear day you’ll be able to get some beautiful photos. This is definitely the most affordable of the tours in the area (Norway is expensive, bear in mind), and can be booked here.
Where to eat
I’ll be completely honest here and say that you’ve got more restaurant options in the Summer than the Winter half of the year. But with a high season that is constantly growing (in Flåm you’ll hear talk of a ‘seven month Summer season’), you’ll have plenty of choices no matter what time you visit.
In the Summer, a meal on the docks of Flåm Marina is a must, as they use local meat and innovative chefs to create their Summer menu. For Sunday brunch you can’t go wrong with their Mudslide either (or ‘grown up milkshake’, as the locals call it).
Ægir brewery serves dinner all year, and make an effort to use beer in their menus! Their ‘Viking Plank’ is extremely popular, and will allow you to taste 5 of their locally brewed beer with great food to match. While visiting Norway make sure to keep an eye out for their brand in many grocery stores as well, as they are constantly expanding and extremely popular.
Flåm Bakeri will provide you with treats whenever you visit, and will be open every day, all year! Their bakers prepare their goods daily. Centrally located right by the train station; the bakery is convenient for those just arriving, as well as those who are in need of a hot treat on a cold Autumn evening.
How to get there
The end of the Sognefjord happens to be the start of one of the world’s most famous railways. The Flåm Railway – Flåmsbana – connects the fjords to the Oslo-Bergen Railway, and was originally built as a way for the boats entering the fjords to have access to the major Norwegian cities. Today it has up to 11 daily departures each way in the Summer season, and is a must for many visitors to the area. You can book your ticket from Bergen or Oslo to the heart of the fjords on the Norwegian National Rail (NSB) Website.
Another way of arriving to the fjords is by bus, which is also my favourite mode of transport in Norway. The major bus companies operating the area are Nettbuss and Nor-Way Buses. On their websites you can book your tickets in advance, and even chose your seats. Nettbuss operates from Oslo and westwards to the fjords, and the journey over the Hemsedal mountain is incredibly beautiful. In addition, there is free WiFi on board, so you’ll be entertained all the way to Flåm.
Additionally, if you are arriving by boat (as many do), Flåm Marina & Apartments are happy to provide a place on their docks for rent. Just contact them directly and they’ll get you sorted – all year round.
What hashtags to use
This heading may have caught you by surprise, but what better way to explore the area before visiting than knowing what hashtags are popular? In addition, your own photos may just inspire the next visitor to the fjords. Make sure to explore and use these hashtags while sharing your photos from the area:
Make sure to also check out Flåm Marina on Instagram!
I was compensated by Flåm Marina for writing this post, but as the fjords and all hotels, activities and restaurants in the area are all very dear to my heart, you can trust that I stand by every word in this article. Sharing my guide to spending a weekend by the fjords is the perfect way for me to share my hometown with you!