Flam (Photo:wojtaro76/Shutterstock)
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Flam

Flam, meaning "little place with steep mountains," could not have a more perfect name. The storybook hamlet, population 450, is nestled on Aurlandsfjord, the innermost arm of the world's second longest fjord, Sognefjord, which stretches halfway to Sweden. With its snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, river, meadows and picturesque farms, Flam is beautiful throughout the year, but most popular in the summer when travelers flock here for the dramatic fjords and outdoor activities. Flam is also a good starting point for a day trip to Naeroyfjord, an arm of Sognefjord, and newly designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

About Flam


Pro

Hikers, cyclists, kayakers and train enthusiasts will all find beautiful routes out of Flam

Con

Weather is changeable, and downpours can make outdoor activity unpalatable

Bottom Line

When the weather is nice, there's much to explore by boat, rail, wheels or foot


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Flam's popularity as a tourist destination began in the late 19th century with the arrival of steam ships carrying English and German passengers. Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm and Europe's royals were also frequent summer visitors -- attracted by salmon fishing in the Flam River. In 1909, the opening of the Bergen Railway established Flam as a junction for passengers and goods between Oslo and Bergen. Back then, horse drawn buggies carried vacationers through the spectacular region.

Today, Flam is Norway's fourth largest cruise port (by number of calls -- fifth largest by number of passengers). Around 175 cruise ships squeeze through the narrow fjord annually, bringing thousands of visitors to the tiny town. As terminus for the celebrated Flamsbana, considered one of the world's most scenic rail trips, Flam also receives several hundred thousand train visitors a year. Thousands of Norwegians come in summer and fall to experience Rallarvegen, a spectacular cycling route.

Where You're Docked

The Flam cruise pier is right in town and a short walk to everything. Three ships can be in port on the same day.

Good to Know

The weather in fjord country can change quickly, so it's best to be prepared and dress in layers and bring an umbrella. If you're booking tours in advance, consider whether you're willing to do them in the pouring rain before you commit.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The official currency is the Norwegian krone (NOK). For current currency conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. Unlike Denmark and Sweden, Norway is not a member of the European Union, and the euro is not legal tender. Aurland Sparebank has an ATM one minute's walk from the ship.

Language

Norway features two official languages; bokmal or "book language," derived from Danish, and nynorsk (new Norwegian), derived from many rural Norwegian dialects. Bokmal is the more common, with nynorsk spoken in the fjord country along the west coast and in the central valleys. Norway's oldest language, Sami, is spoken by the country's indigenous people. Most Norwegians also speak very good English. Interestingly, fjord is a Norwegian word that's become part of the international lexicon.

Shopping

You can certainly pick up Norwegian's signature knitwear (Dale and Oleana are good, but pricy brands), cheese slicers, troll figurines and Norway T-shirts and gifts at any of Flam's souvenir shops. But for something truly local, go to Aurlandskoen, by the Fretheim Hotel, and pick up a pair of shoes made in nearby Aurland. They look like penny loafers and come in an array of neutral and bright colors. Alternatively, the shop at the Railway Museum sells Flam Railway logo items.