Aurland’s dramatic scenery makes it a magnet for tourists. Here, you can still see traces of our Viking ancestors, and King Sverre’s family on his mother’s side lived here. It was a good place to live, sheltered by mountains and with the best ‘highway’ imaginable to the rest of the world: the fjord.
In our opinion, ecotourism is the only sustainable kind of tourism in this magnificent landscape. Having a fjord inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List is not something that can be taken lightly. It comes with responsibilities.
In 2005, the Geirangerfjord in the neighbouring county of Møre og Romsdal and the Nærøyfjord here in Aurland were inscribed on the World Heritage List as ‘West Norwegian Fjords – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord’.
‘World heritage status is the highest international hallmark of quality a landscape can be assigned, and only areas that can document outstanding cultural and natural qualities, combined with good stewardship, are included on the list,’ said then Minister of the Environment Knut Arild Hareide.
Since then, National Geographic Traveler magazine has twice voted the West Norwegian Fjords the best-preserved attraction on the World Heritage List. We repeat: not ‘the best’, but ‘the best-preserved’. Look after it for posterity.
We are part of the SAKTE alliance, an organisation of food and craft producers and activity providers that offer local products based on the World Heritage. Sakte is Norwegian for slow, as in slow food, slow as in take your time.
NORWAY IN A NUTSHELL
In the 19th century, members of Europe’s royal families, Kaiser Wilhelm among them, sailed up the fjord on their steamboats and were then taken by horse and carriage to the rivers and mountains. Nowadays, huge cruise ships call at the quay in Flåm, the fourth busiest port of call for cruise ships in Norway.
Flåm is the terminal for the Flåm Railway, the unique train journey that runs from the high-mountain station at Myrdal on Bergen Railway down through hairpin bends and past cascading waterfalls to the Aurlandsfjord.
A trip on the Flåm Railway is part of the popular ‘Norway in a nutshell’ round trip that continues by boat up the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord. But: Aurland is so much more than Flåm, it is not just a brief – and crowded – port of call for cruise ships. And, sorry to have to say it, the cruise ships cause pollution.
THE FLÅMSBANA RAILWAY
National Geographic Traveler Magazine has named Flåmsbana as one of the top 10 train travels in Europe, and Lonely Planet stated in 2014 that the Flåm Railway is the “world’s most beautiful train journey”.
The trip takes an hour between towering mountains and roaring waterfalls. The Flåm Railway ends at “Myrdal” located on the Bergen Railway, and connects with the trains from Oslo and Bergen. The fit among us can replace the descent or ascent with a bike ride or hike down the popular Rallarvegen trail.
The train ride takes 50 minutes one way and runs throughout the year, with frequent departures furing the summer months. The roundtrip “Norway in a Nutshell” is popular and stars with a ride on the Flåm Railway to Flåm, before continuing by boat out the Aurlandsfjord to the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjorden, where mountains tower 1800 above the fjord. This is one of the world’s most beautiful fjord journeys.
There are small pastures with settlements along the route that have not given up to either weather or centralisation. Little Undredal has the country’s smallest stave church and possibly the best goat cheese. From Gudvangen it’s back on the bus to Flåm, or further by bus to Voss and Bergen. The tour departs several times daily from Flåm.
Book at www.visitflam.no
Green power, lighting Europe with Aurland's clean energy