Where to Stay in Flam – In Town Or Nearby?

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on March 20, 2024.

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When it comes to planning a trip around Norway's western fjords, odds are good you will have Flam as a stop on your itinerary.

This town is one of the most famous spots for tourism in western Norway for its gorgeous fjord, train ride up to the mountains, and so much more.

But in being high on virtually everyone's list, so come the crowds. Although we still recommend visiting Flam when traveling in Norway, the simple truth is that you may not want to stay in Flam proper on your itinerary.

So in this one, we thought we would share a bit more why you may want to stay in Flam and also why you may want to stay in another town nearby.

Why You May Want to Stay in Flam

Flam Fjord Cruise

There are many reasons why Flam is an enticing place to stay when traveling in Norway.

The town has several popular hotels and apartment rentals, a disproportionately large selection of restaurants for its size, a stellar brewery in the heart of town, is the starting (or ending) point of a scenic ferry in the fjord, and has the Flam railway that is popular for its views as much as it is to reach larger cities like Bergen and Oslo with only one transfer to name a few.

Biking in Flam

All of this comes together to make Flam one of the most popular fjord towns in all of Norway and it is the kind of place you could spend several days at and not run out of things to do- especially with a rental car.

Why You May Want to Avoid Flam

Flam Cruise Port

Conversely, we have to admit that Flam is not a perfect destination. In fact, it is far from it. There are many reasons why you may want to avoid Flam when on your trip, too.

First, and perhaps most importantly, is that Flam is a town built almost entirely around tourism. The town's permanent population is roughly 350, and almost every bit of infrastructure you see was built solely to accommodate tourism- and you can feel it. While we do quite like the restaurants, brewery, and other attractions, it does feel manufactured at times. 

Flam Fjord

Second, Flam is a cruise port, and when ships visit (which is to say, most days), Flam is overwhelmed with thousands upon thousands of visitors taking the train up into the mountains, taking scenic boat tours, filling up restaurants, and the like. 

This is something you experience in a lot of the fjord towns of Norway, of course, but Flam is one of those destinations that hardly seems to get a reprieve. It is one of the most popular, and with that comes the crowds- often well into the evening. So if you plan to spend a bit of time in Flam, either staying or simply visiting for the day, be prepared for the crowds.

Other Villages Nearby for a Quiet Stay

Western Norway river

Thankfully, the fjord that Flam is found on has several small towns that have amenities for visitors, albeit on a much smaller scale than Flam.

We stayed in Gudvangen, about 20 minutes west of Flam by car. This sleepy town was the other terminus for the scenic ferry, had a bus line connecting to Flam as well, and was much quieter during our visit while still having a few restaurants to enjoy. Apart from the time the ferry arrived/departed, we often saw no more than a couple dozen people out and about and we often felt like we had the whole town to ourselves at our apartment rental (we visited, admittedly, during shoulder season, so this may change in the peak months).

As we had a rental car, this was much more our speed as we could explore nearby villages, scenic lookouts, and, of course, head into Flam at our leisure without being inundated with the chaos that was the cruise port traffic.

View from Flam Train

Other villages nearby, like Undredal and Aurlandsvangen all also have some amenities while having a much more relaxed ambiance away from the hustle and bustle of Flam. What you prefer is, of course, entirely up to you, but at this point, we hope you have an idea of which one fits your style.

That said, there is one class of traveler who we think would probably want to stay in Flam without a moment's hesitation, and that would be anyone coming into the region on the train and will not be renting a car at all. Flam is a major terminus for the ferry, train, and bus routes and is a great choice for those who will not have transportation at all. 

But for everyone else, keep in mind the popularity before making your decision. It is because of this that we can safely say that while everyone should visit Flam during a journey around the western fjords, not everyone should stay in Flam.

Where did you stay when you visited Flam? Did you like it or would you have stayed elsewhere if you could do it again? Comment below to share!

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About Jeremy

Jeremy from Living the Dream

About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.

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