As was our arrival into Flåm, so too was our departure a major highlight of our time in Norway.
This is not to say that we hated our time in Flåm. Far from it, as hopefully other reviews on this blog attest to.
The reason it was a highlight was that we left by way of a fjord cruise, one of the most popular cruises in Norway, to Gudvangen taking in the Aurlandfjord and the UNESCO world heritage listed Nærøyfjord, both in the upper reaches of the massive Sognefjord.
All did not start well though. With our ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ acquired tickets we lined up at relevant boat boarding area, as did many others with the same ticket, at the appointed hour.
When the boat started boarding priority was given to tour groups who had flooded Flåm on buses earlier that day. Those of us with ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tickets were assured there was plenty of space and we would be boarded shortly. This, as it transpired, was a total lie and when said tour groups were aboard we were told the boat was full and that we should go to the other end of the pier and board the boat moored there.
With no choice, we headed to that boat to be told it had nothing to do with ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ and the people from the other boat had no right to send us there. When persuasion didn’t work additional pressure was applied – namely in the form of our ‘hastily formed group’ boarding the boat anyway. Our brazen and forthright approach worked (they would have had difficulty identifying a dozen or so of us among 200 odd passengers, to kick us off) and we secured passage on the Lykkeper. As far as I can ascertain this boat is the one, or one of the ones, used by the regular cruise service I mention below in the practicalities section of this review.
As it turned out, the Lykkeper briefly stopped at a couple of small villages as we made our way, through what has got to be one of the most beautiful fjord landscapes in the world, to Gudvangen. While we did not have an opportunity to disembark, the boat’s stopping momentarily gave us a much better view of both Aurland and Undredal (pictures above) than we we would have had passing by on the larger direct boat for which we held tickets.
The boat itself was nothing flash though was perfectly adequate for our short sightseeing trip. While it was full there was ample inside seating, especially as many people had made a beeline for the upper outdoor decks. Boarding late as we did, we were not able to secure a prime outdoor spot but that was not really an issue as it meant we were able to move around and see things from all angles and not loose a seat we didn’t have in the process. There was a small scantily stocked and unappealing looking kiosk on board selling drinks and light food. I can’t comment further on it as I didn’t use it. Not many did.
Leaving Flåm our trip took us down Aurlandsfjord past the Otternes Farmyard with its collection of 17th century buildings on the hill to right and on to our first brief stop at Aurland village. From there we crossed the Fjord for brief stop at Undredal, another small village packed with the most picturesque of coloured wooden houses and an historic wooden church. I would love to have got off and spent an hour or two wandering around here but, sadly, couldn’t as time didn’t permit me to catch a later boat.
From here we moved on to Nærøyfjord, named after the norse god ‘Njord’, the god of the seafarer and the sea, passing a number of waterfalls as we did. In fact, beautiful thundering waterfalls glistening in the sun were a constant feature on our trip.
We could not have had a more beautiful day for our fjord cruise and everything looked its stunning best.
Soon we entered Nærøyfjord, the narrowest of all Norwegian (indeed world) fjords at 250 metres. The beauty and significance of this and Geirangerfjord have, in my view, justifiably – on the basis of Nærøyfjord alone – earned them a UNESCO world heritage listing. Their UNESCO listing describes them as ‘archetypical fjord landscapes and among the most scenically outstanding anywhere’.
While I took loads of photos throughout the cruise they really do not do these stunning fjords justice. For some pictures of the inner Aurlandsfjord from Flåm village see my separate ’Breakfast with a View’ review.
I simply could not capture the majesty, serenity or sheer beauty of the fjords set, as they are, amidst some of the most beautiful snow capped mountains, rising to 1500 metres above the tranquil waters, I have seen anywhere. And all this studded with quaint and colourful villages with their cute little wooden churches and animals grazing on adjacent lush green lowland pastures, you really do have to see it to fully appreciate it.
As they say, seeing is believing.
Out boat trip from Flåm to Gudvangen was booked as part our ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ package so I am unsure of what we paid for that component.
Return or one way tickets can be bought in Flåm (tourist office) or, more advisedly, in advance online via https://www.visitflam.com. A single boat ticket in 2015 from Flåm to Gudvangen cost NOK305, a return by boat cost NOK450 while a return boat with out/ bus back cost NOK380. In terms of timings – one way boat trip approx. 2hrs 15mins , one way by bus 20mins.
Combination tickets including a cruise and the Flåm Railway trip can also be acquired from the same source.
As you might expect, frequency of cruises vary throughout the year. Check on the website.
Address: Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord