One of the most popular tourist destinations in the western fjords region is Flåm, best known for the Flåmsbana Railway, which runs from Flåm, up through the Flåmsdal Valley, to Myrdal, a village which cannot be reached by car. The train takes 50 minutes to climb 900m, passing through numerous tunnels including one with a hairpin bend, through which the track changes height by 300m. It took some years to build in the 1920s, and much of the tunnel excavation was done by hand.
We took the train both ways, although you can choose to walk all or part of the way up/down. The scenery from the train is good and it stops around halfway up for a photo opportunity by an impressive waterfall. To get the best views, sit on opposite sides on the way up and way down and get a seat with a window that opens (for taking photos).
Flåm is also a cruise ship port and we had our first (of two) sightings of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 whilst there. Our second sighting came two days later, when we visited Bergen. This is a city I would recommend and was worth a look around. Parking is pretty difficult for motorhomes – there is a dedicated overnight parking area for motorhomes that is easy to find with a map, but which is not signposted. We did not use it and managed to find another pay and display space (Nkr16/hour) for our van – but only because it can fit into a car parking space.
Much of the city’s signposted parking is multi-storey – no use for motorhomes. On street parking for up to two hours is easy enough to find, but this does not really give you enough time, especially if you want to go up Bergen’s funicular railway, the Fløibanen, which costs around £10 per person and gives a great view of the city from the summit (320m) of Mount Fløyen.
After leaving Bergen, our route took us on route 7 to Norheimsund, then on another ferry and along route 550, one of Norway’s designated tourist routes. Although it was scenic, it was by no means the best of the designated tourist routes which we followed while in Norway. After the 550, we continued via the 520 and 13 towards Jørpeland, last stop for provisions before Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock). This is a major tourist attraction that’s well covered by guidebooks and is well signposted. The size of the overflow car park (unused when we visited in June) gives an idea of how busy the path must be in summer.
The guide time for the walk is 2 hours each way and it is steep and rocky in places. It took us 1h40 going up and about the same coming down, but we were not dawdling. A bit of clambering around is required – decent footwear is the most useful thing you can take with you.
The view from the top is very impressive, although the changeable weather on the day we visited meant that for about 50% of the time we spent at the top, all you could see was cloud. It’s good when it clears, though, although the number of visitors is such that there can be a queue for the best photo opportunities.