It will take your ship 7 to 8 hours to sail from open sea to Flåm and visa versa. In total the distance is 180 km / 112 miles. Because this fjords is one of the longest in the world it cuts far land inwards and you could imagine that the scenery is breathtaking.
At the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord we find the village of Flåm where your cruise ship will dock for the day. Flåm is a very small and remote village. There are about 500 people that live in this village. The Aurlandsfjord is a branch of the Sognefjord which is one of the largest fjords in the world.
After you sail out of the Aurlandsfjord your ship will be in the Sognefjord. The Sognefjord is the largest fjord in Norway and the second longest in the world.
A fjord is a u-shaped valley, carved out by a glacier that is now filled with seawater. The Sognefjord was created about 10.000 years ago. It reaches a maximum depth of about 1,300 metres (4,301 ft) and cliffs surrounding the fjord can rise almost sheer from the water to heights up to 1000 meter. Sailing through these fjords is a true privilege as it is the Norwegian fjords at its best. Check the map and text underneath to learn what route you will take when sailing from Flåm to open sea. Please know the first hour before arrival and after departure are the most scenic hours!
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B: Otternes Bygdetun
Approximatly a 110 meters above the fjord lies Otternes Bygdetun. This is an old mountain farm that is famous throughout the country for its history and for being a famous movie set location. Otternes Bydgetun has traces of settlements dating from about 300 AD. The oldest buildings still standing today were built around the year 1700. Imagine that in the 1800’s around 30 people lived and worked on the farm in this remote part of the world. It stayed in used even up to the 1970’s. Today Otternes Bygdetun is a museum and often used as a movie set because of its historical charm.
This is the centre of the Aurland Municipality and the biggest village of the area with a populationn of 750. Aurlandsvangen is famous for its beautiful stone church from the 1200’s and shoe factory.
It is hard to imagine that you can find a network of hydro electric power stations build in the surrounding mountains of Aurlandsvangen. Between 1969 and 1984 five powerstations and a 136 km of water tunnels were developed here in the mountains. The power stations cover 40% of the need for electrical power in Oslo and provide 50 permanent jobs in Aurland.
This small town is home to a 100 people and about 500 goats. It is therefore also known for its local brown goat cheese that is still produced here according to traditional methods. It is also a town known for Norway’s smallest stave church. The church was build in the 1140’s and can seat 40 people. The title “stave church” is unfortunately a title they officially cannot have since the Norwegians put windows in to it and therefore it technically is not a stave church anymore. Spot this white church with red roof in the middle of town.
E: Stigen farm
This farm is situated approximately 300 meters above sea-level. At the water level you will find a steep path that winds up the mountainside. This is the only way up to the farm. In the past a ladder was used to get up the cliffs. The story goes that the farmers who lived here previously pulled up the ladder whenever the tax collectors would come. That is why the farm is named Stigen: it means ladder in Norwegian.
Beitelen is the name of the vertical mountain which divides the Sognefjord into the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord. Along the steep shoreline, you can often see grazing goats, and if you are lucky you may also catch a glimpse of the harbour seal, a species that is particulartly abundant in the Nærøyfjord. Here in the fjord, there is an estimated population of over 100 different animal species.
When sailing out of Flåm you will get the opportunity to look into the Nærøyfjord. This is a fjord listed on the UNESCO world heritage list together with the Geirangerfjord. They are known for they breathtaking scenery and especially the Nærøyfjord is considered to be one of the most dramatic fjords in the world.
The first hour is the most dramatic part of the your journey through the fjords. See the total route back to open sea on the map underneath: