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The village of Flam is your port of call for Nordic adventure. Located at the inner end of the Aurlandsfjord, Flam is tiny (population of 450) compared to the massive cruise ships that dock here. But what the European town lacks in size is more than made up for by the beauty of the rugged cliffs, lush meadows, and crystal waterfalls that frame this small hamlet.

The Aurlandsfjord

A branch of the largest fjord in Norway, the Sognefjord, the 17-kilometer-long Aurlandsfjord is one of the most picturesque in Europe. The surrounding area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason — it resembles a landscape out of a Tolkien novel. As you approach Flam by cruise ship, the mottled green mountains seem to grow taller and the fjord narrower, serving as a funneling point to your destination. On the way you’ll pass ancient farms perched on the hills, small Scandinavian towns, and scenery best described as Viking-esque.

Things to Do

Besides the awe-inspiring scenery of the fjord, there’s adventure to be found in the waters and hills of this idyllic landmark. Here’s a rundown of just a few of the activities you can experience:

No stop in Flam would be complete without a ride on the scenic Flam Railway — one of the steepest railroads in the world, with a gradient of 5.5 percent. The journey begins at sea level in Flam, ending at the mountain top station on Hardangervidda (over 2,800-feet up). This railway has been consistently recognized as one of the top train journeys in Europe.

Care to make some waves? Take a ride on a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) along the waters of the fjord. The boat makes stops along the way, allowing passengers the chance to take in some of nature’s wondrous creations, including seals, porpoises, and eagles. And at the end, why not wet your whistle with a pint at the Aegir Micro Brewery in Flam, known for its locally produced specialty beers.

Kayaking is considered one of the best ways to see the fjord. Paddle along slowly and take in the magical setting that is the Aurlandsfjord in the most up-close and intimate way possible. A sight to see is that of the farm animals seemingly defying gravity while they cling to the nearby cliffs. Guides can work with experienced as well as novice kayakers alike — so don’t be afraid to give it a try.

Another popular activity, especially among Scandinavians, is a hike along the hills surrounding Flam and the Aurlandsfjord. A great way to do this is a combination train ride/hike. Take the Flam Railway from Flam to the mountain village of Myrdal, and then hike down through the granite hills, taking in the farms, waterfalls, and rivers along the way.

Note that many activities can be booked ahead of time through Holland America.

Begin your Nordic adventure on a cruise to Europe with Holland America Line.