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Flåm Railway in the Winter

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Norway’s Flåm Railway is one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions, and is packed with people during the summer. But what’s it like in the winter? Let’s find out.

Have you ever been to the Norwegian fjords? If you’ve been by train or on a cruise ship, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll have visited Flåm. And if you have, you’ll probably have taken a ride on one of Europe’s most famous railways.

David on the Flåm Railway in the winter. Photo: David Nikel.
There was lots of snow for my winter trip on the Flåm Railway. Photo: David Nikel.

The Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana) was originally built to connect people and goods between the remote fjords and the Oslo to Bergen railway. But today, it's mostly a tourist attraction.

I've taken the trip several times before, but I really wanted to see what it would be like during the winter. Won't you come along for the ride?

Watch a Winter Flåm Railway Trip

If you prefer watching rather than reading, you can watch this article in video form below. I highly recommend watching the video to fully appreciate the scenery. Just hit the play button to get started:

If you enjoyed that video, read on for more information and lots of photographs of this winter wonderland.

From Bergen to Myrdal

Unless you’re arriving into Flåm by cruise ship, most people will take the Flåm Railway from Myrdal down to Flåm. To do this, you’ll need to take a Bergen Line train from either Bergen or Oslo to Myrdal.

And so it was that my day began in Bergen. I took the 8am departure towards Oslo and the train was busy as always with a mix of locals and tourists.

Flåm Railway Resources: Book a sensational day trip from Bergen including the Flåm Railway, Bergen Railway, and a fjord cruise. This self-guided tour takes care of all the ticketing.

If you’re starting your trip in Bergen, book your accommodation here and check out some other fantastic things to do in Bergen. And of course, don’t forget travel insurance.

One of the best things about doing the Flåm Railway is you get to couple it up with a ride on the Bergen Line, which has no shortage of fantastic scenery itself.

View from Bergen Railway in the winter. Photo: David Nikel.
View from Bergen Railway in the winter. Photo: David Nikel.

I was a bit nervous about booking this trip in mid-December as I didn’t know much snow there would be in the fjord region, which is notoriously wet. But within minutes of leaving Bergen my mind was put at rest as the winter landscapes unfolded.

In fact, as we approached Myrdal, the scenery became snowier and snowier, even approaching a whiteout at one point.

Arrival at Myrdal

In less than two hours we arrived at Myrdal, from where the Flåm Railway begins. Only a handful of people left the train, with the majority continuing on to Oslo. That’s a big difference from the summer, when many more people make this connection.

Bergen Line train arriving at Myrdal station in the snow. Photo: David Nikel.
Bergen Line train arriving at Myrdal station in the snow. Photo: David Nikel.

Myrdal station is tiny and with just two platforms it’s very simple to find the Flåm Railway train. With less than 15 minutes before departure, I headed straight over.

Boarding the Flåm Railway

The railway is well known as one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys, and I was super curious to find out how it would be in the winter.

But it seemed not many other people were, as I had the train almost exclusively to myself, with just 10 passengers spread across all the carriages.

Inside Flåm Railway coach. Photo: David Nikel.
Inside the quiet coach on the Flåm Railway. Photo: David Nikel.

That meant I could get my preferred seat and settle in for the 50 minute ride. And with that, we were off.

I always love taking this train but to take it with so few people onboard was just fabulous. I could enjoy the scenery on both sides of the train without bothering anyone else.

Shortly after departure, information is given in both Norwegian and English about the journey, something which happens every so often throughout the trip.

After just a few minutes, the train makes its first stop at Vatnahalsen. In the summer, it’s normal to see several people picking up the train here because of the popular hotel. But today in the winter, there was nobody to be seen.

Flåm valley in the winter. Photo: David Nikel.
My first spectacular glimpse of the Flåm valley in its winter coat. Photo: David Nikel.

It doesn’t take long to get your first spectacular view of the valley below, through this sort of cutout tunnel with windows, one of many tunnel sections along the route. It’s hard to believe there’s a railway winding its way down here.

Kjosfossen Waterfall in Winter

Soon, it was time to get off the train for a brief stop at Kjosfossen, the famous waterfall. Or at least, it’s usually a waterfall, one that tumbles down 225 metres. In the winter, Kjosfossen is one big ice sculpture!

Kjosfossen waterfall in the winter. Photo: David Nikel.
The famous Kjosfossen waterfall was completely frozen. Photo: David Nikel.

But the photos you leave with are no less spectacular, and the guard had just as much trouble herding everyone back on the train as they do in the summer.

If you have taken this trip in high season, you’ll know that there’s often a “surprise” appearance here for the tourists. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t happen in the winter!

Wonderful Valley Views

As we continued on our journey, it started to rain a little, but rather than spoil the view, this just served to add to the atmosphere.

As the train descended farther down into the valley, we began to see signs of civilisation. These are a mix of permanent homes and holiday cottages. Then the river came into view, and stayed with us for the rest of the journey.

Another Flåm valley view. Photo: David Nikel.
Another Flåm valley view. Photo: David Nikel.

It was only just now that I realised the view was now over on the other side of the carriage! You’re never quite sure which way to look on this railway trip.

Just as you think you’re almost at the bottom of the valley, it opens up once again for yet another fantastic view.

With about 10 minutes to go, we approached the old village of Flåm. Having walked there from the port just a few months ago, I kept an eye out for the old church. It was easy to spot, once I figured out where we were.

Old Flåm village centre seen from the train. Photo: David Nikel.
Old Flåm village centre seen from the train. Photo: David Nikel.

I promise you these pictures are not black and white! I know it’s hard to appreciate the views from these photos, so I encourage you to watch the video above to get a better perspective on the wonderful scenery.

We were now down at fjord level and rapidly approaching our final station. The journey took nearly one hour, but it had gone by in a flash.

Arrival in Flåm

My first thought upon arrival was simply, wow. I’ve always thought the mountains around Flåm look imposing, but in the winter, even more so. While the handful of other passengers wandered off, I just stood on the platform and took it all in.

Flåm station in winter. Photo: David Nikel.
Flåm station in winter. Photo: David Nikel.

My thoughts then turned to two questions. Why was this railway built, and in the days long before computing, how was it built? Having taken the trip before, I knew some of the answers, but I couldn’t recall all of the detail.

Flåm Railway Museum

The operators of the Flåm Railway must know those questions are front and centre in visitors minds, as there is a small museum near the station. Unlike many things in Norway, it is free to visit.

I’ve been before, but it’s always nice to get a refresher of this fascinating story. Construction of the line started in 1924, with the line opening in 1940. Yes, that means construction took 16 years.

That may sound surprising, but perhaps not so much after having just taken the journey during the winter!

David at Flåm Museum. Photo: David Nikel.
The Flåm Museum is free to enter. Photo: David Nikel.

Horses were heavily utilised in the early years, while the construction of the tunnels was the most time-consuming task. Tunnelling caused fatal accidents, while numerous landslides also caused problems.

Electric locomotives were soon introduced, and after the Second World War the line attracted up to 100,000 passengers per year, many of whom were tourists. Freight transport was important in the early years, but as roads improved, this became less relevant.

However, tourist interest has exploded, with almost 1 million people now taking the trip every year. Many of these are cruise ship passengers, but there’s plenty of day-trippers from Oslo and Bergen too.

Flåm and the Aurlandsfjord in the Winter

I had an hour to spend in Flåm before my return journey, so I headed straight for the port so I could take a look at the fjord in its winter coat.

Aurlandsfjord in the winter. Photo: David Nikel.
The Aurlandsfjord's winter look was stunning. Photo: David Nikel.

After walking about in the cold I was starting to feel the chill, so I headed towards the village centre to see what was open.

The local bakery was open and surprisingly busy. A sandwich and a very large coffee did the job for me and I was soon on my way back out into the cold.

The Return Journey to Myrdal

It was soon time for the return journey. This time, it was a little busier for the ride back up to Myrdal, but there was still plenty of room onboard. I shared a carriage with just four others.

The best thing about doing the return journey so soon is you know exactly what to look out for. It also gave me the opportunity to really take everything in, as I’d already taken a ton of photos and videos on the way down.

In the blink of an eye, although it actually took almost an hour, we were back at Myrdal. It began to snow heavily, and with an hour to wait until the train to Bergen, I headed inside.

Snowing at Myrdal station. Photo: David Nikel.
It was snowing at Myrdal station. Photo: David Nikel.

Although there is a cafe and small shop at Myrdal station, everything is closed outside of the high season. So it was just a case of sitting and waiting. Honestly, that was no bad thing after the visual feast of the last few hours.

Back to Bergen

After a short delay, the train from Oslo arrived to take me and a handful of other passengers back to Bergen.

It surprised me how many people got off at Myrdal, ready to take the Flåm Railway during the afternoon. They were likely doing the popular day trip known as Norway in a Nutshell.

Flåm Railway Resources: Book a sensational day trip from Bergen including the Flåm Railway, Bergen Railway, and a fjord cruise. This self-guided tour takes care of all the ticketing.

If you’re starting your trip in Bergen, book your accommodation here and check out some other fantastic things to do in Bergen. And of course, don’t forget travel insurance.

The train remained busy, so rather than hunting down my assigned seat, I did as I often do on Norway’s long distance trains, and headed to the dining car. I bought a beer, and gazed out of the window at yet more fantastic scenery on the way back to Bergen.

I know that many of you reading this will be planning to visit Flåm by cruise ship. Check out this video to see what a fjords cruise to Flåm looks like without the snow.

Have you been on Norway's Flåm Railway? I'd love to hear what you thought in the comments below.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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1 thought on “Flåm Railway in the Winter”

  1. I first travelled on the Flåm Railway some 45 years ago with my young son. There were few tourists & announcements were all in Norwegian, until we were thrilled to be welcomed in English as visitors from England. I still love the journey on quieter days.
    Incidentally I also learned not to go to Finse to view the Hardanger glacier in winter. Its invisible under the snow! The icicles in Finae were magnificant though !

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