It is Norway’s longest fjord, ranked as one of the world’s most beautiful fjord landscapes and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site – the Sognefjord comes with a whole lot of superlatives and even more expectations, but it certainly didn’t disappoint. We’d already had a sneak preview of the fjord’s stunning scenery from the shore in a walk around Flåm, but it was time to get out on the water and explore it properly.
Think of Norway and you probably picture sailing through the deep blue waters of the fjords, hiking through the mountains or watching the Northern Lights from a husky sled in the Arctic. Or maybe visiting the cosmopolitan cities, with their sleek architecture and great nightlife, is more your thing. Either way Norway is overflowing with riches – but there’s one big problem, and that’s that you need your own riches to pay for it.
Norway has no shortage of fjords, but the longest and deepest of them is the Sognefjord. It stretches over 200km inland from the ocean, and the tiny town of Flåm lies at the end of one of its most scenic stretches. The best way to see the fjords is by boat, but before we got to that there was time for a taster with a walk along the waterside in Flåm. In one direction, steep cliffs rose out of the water, with trees clinging perilously to sheer rock faces.
From the train window I watched snapshots of Norway’s stunning scenery flashing by, one after another – steep rocky cliffs, deep blue fjords, lush green meadows, neatly painted red and white clapboard houses, mountains topped with a sprinkling of snow. I was expecting the Flåm Railway, or Flåmsbana, to be impressive – it’s ranked as one of Europe’s most spectacular rail journeys – but we hadn’t even arrived at the start yet.