Food and Drink in Flam
Scenic Flam is a good place to try Norwegian specialties like lamb in cabbage, smoked salmon, cloudberries and whipped cream, and goat cheese. It's also a fine setting for an ice cold glass of aquavit (a 40-proof potato-based liquor invented in Norway) or a beer.
Local Eats: Cafe Flam Marina is good for light snacks with scenic fjord views and outdoor seating. Flamsbrygga offers several dining options. Furukroa Cafe serves up game meatballs, venison burgers, sandwiches, ice cream and waffles in a cafeteria setting. (Hours vary; open 8 a.m. 8 p.m. June 1 to Sept. 2, 2018) Flamstova Restaurant is a sit-down restaurant with a lunch buffet from noon to 3 p.m. And the Aegir Brewery & Pub is open daily from noon for local beer tasting and serves pub fare (burgers, ribs, fish soup) after 4 p.m. The building is done in Viking style with a central hearth and wood furniture draped in furs.
Gourmet Option: Restaurant Arven at the Fretheim Hotel specializes in fresh ingredients from local producers. Along with an excellent lunch menu (two or three courses of fish or meat, as well as sandwiches) and dinner buffet, the restaurant serves up panoramic fjord views. (Offers breakfast from 6:30 to 10 a.m., and dinner from 6.30 to 9.30 p.m., May 1 to Sept. 30, 2018. For a more casual alternative, the Fretheim Hotel team also runs the train restaurant, serving a mix of Norwegian fare and pizza topped with local meats, cheeses and produce.)
Don't Miss in Flam
Flam Railway: This celebrated railway is considered one of the world's most exciting train journeys. The steep 50 minute, 12 mile route between Flam and the mountain village of Myrdal twists up (and then back down) nearly 3,000 feet, through 20 mountain tunnels. The scenery includes thundering waterfalls, the Flam River and Flam Valley. Cyclists can bring bikes on the train (for an extra fee), disembark in Myrdal and return to Flam on the Rallarvegen cycling route, a two-hour downhill ride. Hikers can do the same, but it will take five hours (or you can purchase tickets such that you reboard the train in Berekvam. The Flam Railway offers nine to 10 daily departures in the summer, and they generally sell out. If you wish to book independently, you can either purchase tickets for a group of 10 or more online, in advance, or you can buy tickets the day of your outing. (Just go early -- tickets sold out for all departures by 10 a.m. the day we visited -- and be prepared for crowds at the train station and long queues to purchase or pick up tickets.) The benefit of a ship's excursion on the train is that you'll disembark the train at Vatnahalsen, the stop prior to Myrdal, and have a bit of time to look around and stretch your legs at this more scenic stop before heading back to Flam.
The Flam Railway Museum chronicles the impressive construction of the world's steepest normal-track adhesion railway, with photos, videos and old train cars. It's located in the old station building, just to the left of the train tracks, and is free to all visitors.
Naeroyfjord and Aurlandsfjord: In 2005, UNESCO added the spectacular Naeroyfjord to its World Heritage List. An offshoot of the mighty Sognefjord, Naeroyfjord is Europe's narrowest fjord. It's surrounded by cliffs towering nearly 6,000 feet and cascading waterfalls. Seals, porpoises and eagles are often spotted there. Book a sightseeing cruise along both fjords with <a target=_blank class="plain" href="http://www.visitflam.com/sognefjorden/fjord-tours/whc-naeroyfjord/roundtrip-from-flam/" or take a ship's tour.
Or for a more active way to see the fjord, sign up for a three-hour kayak tour with Njord Kayak (located on the beach in town) or your ship's shore excursions department. For lots of adrenaline without the effort, Fjord Safari offers 1.5- to three-hour RIB boat tours (essentially fast Zodiacs).Hiking: In addition to training to Myrdal and hiking back to Flam, you have several options for easy and strenuous hikes in the Flam area. For the more adventurous, a 13-mile downhill trail through the historic Aurland Valley meanders past woods, farms and waterfalls. On the way, the path splits into the steep Bear Path and an easier route. The hike takes six to seven hours total; catch a bus from Flam Station to Osterbo and then back from Vassbygdi. You can hike along the fjord to Otternes Farm (2.5 hours), into the valley to the Brekkefossen waterfall (1.5 to two hours) or climb the hill behind the Fretheim Hotel (30 to 45 minutes). There's also a 1.6-kilometer Nature and Culture Walk behind the Fretheim Hotel. The path is dotted with sculptures and scenic viewpoints and offers an interactive section for kids. Pick up a map at the tourist office.
Aurland Fjord Lookout: A glass barrier is all that separates travelers from the water 2,000 feet below at the dramatic Aurland Fjord Lookout (called Stegastein locally). The wood platform is either a two-hour hike or 10-minute drive from Aurland (five miles northeast of Flam) along Old Laerdal Road. Take a tour, bus or drive yourself. While in Aurland, you can also stop at the shoe factory for a tour and some shoe shopping.
Laerdal: With richly carved dragon-like animals on its exterior, the 12th century Borgund Church is considered one of the most beautiful of Norway's 28 remaining stave churches. The Wild Salmon Center on the banks of the Laerdal River features an observatory, exhibitions, film and fly-tying work shop. Part of the fun is getting here. The 1.5-hour drive from Flam (public buses go here) includes the world's longest tunnel, at 24 miles.
Otternes Farm Museum:A scenic 2.5-mile bike trip or hike north along the fjord takes visitors to Otternes with over two dozen well-preserved 17th century buildings, including a farmhouse, cookhouse, storehouse and barn. In the summer, with traditional food making and yarn dying demonstrations, as well as goats, sheep and rabbits, the farm is a great choice for families. (Open June 1 to Sept. 15, daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Undredal: One of few places in Norway where goat cheese is still made the old fashioned way -- from pure goat milk -- Undredal is a town of about 100 people and 400 goats. Don't miss the sweet, caramel-flavored brown goat cheese, little known outside of Norway; you can try it at the country store or cafe. Undredal is also home to Scandinavia's smallest stave church, circa 1147, with just 40 seats and folk decorations. Undredal is 7.5 miles north of Flam; you can get there by boat, car or organized tour.