We arrived in Flam via P&O Azura, it is a beautiful town at the end of the majestic Aurland fjord and well worth visiting even if you don’t sail in. (It can be accessed by road or rail too)
The scenic railway journey starts a hundred or so metres from the dock, although you may have to walk further along the platform to get to your allotted carriage if you’re on an organised tour. (You can easily do this trip independently and save money, but if something happens and you’re not able to get back to your ship, that’s your problem and it could leave without you!)
Firstly as there is no buffet car or drinks on board, and if you’re so inclined, then make sure you take drink and food with you as there didn’t seem to be an opportunity anywhere along the route to purchase anything. It’s only 2 hours there and back but there are other factors to consider. Plenty of cafes sell hot drinks and snacks in the port of Flam, but as it’s Norway they are quite expensive.
Secondly, there is no doubt that the best and most frequent views are from the right-hand side of the carriage as the train travels up the line. As passengers don’t swap seats at the top, you’re generally stuck with the choice you make.
The train does not turn around in the traditional sense at the top, the driver merely switches to the locomotive at the back which becomes the front for the trip back down!
It makes several small stops on the journey, the most notable is at the Kjosfossen falls where you should catch a glimpse of the dancing lady (The Huldra, a forest spirit of Norwegian folklore) You are allowed out onto a viewing platform to see the falls and look for the Huldra, but the spray from the falls was quite fierce and people and camera equipment got very wet!
At the summit station, (Myrdal) the Flam railway joins with another line to Bergen. After a short wait the train leaves for Flam, making the same stops on the way down.
The carriages are old(ish) stock, relatively comfortable but just a tad cramped and and at the end of 2 hours I was glad to get up and walk. Each carriage has a screen with commentary in several languages, you get a map and a railway representative acts as a guide, imparting snippets of information not covered in the presentation. There is a toilet in the vestibule of each carriage.
Remember to get a seat on the right side of the train for the journey up. You’ll keep the same seat for the journey back!
Take your drinks and any snacks with you before you board the train,
Take a camera, the views are stunning
Expect to get wet (or damp) at the falls
Expect other travellers to lean across you to get a view out of the window.
Take warm clothing, it is a lot colder at the top than you might expect (we had snow there in June).