Immersing yourself in Norway’s forests, fields, farms, and fjords isn’t that hard to do: nature is what Norwegians are all about. Even the famous Flåm Railway is built around the landscape of the Sognefjord, providing a quick yet scenic route through fjord country, but there’s a drawback: you’re limited to what your eyes can see.
Did you know that there’s an alternative route to the Flåmsbana (the local name for the Flåm Railway) that allows you to experience this part of fjord country with all five senses?
Rallarvegen is an old navigational road created during the construction of the Bergen Railway in the early 1900s: in Norwegian, ‘rallar’ describes the “navvies” or railway construction workers, while ‘vegen’ is the word for ‘road’. This famous road stretches 82 km (roughly 51 mi) from Haugastøl to Flåm and provides one of the most scenic, well-known biking paths in all of Norway. The spectacular fauna, flora, and landscape of these regions ensures that no matter where you start this biking excursion, there’s always something to see.
If you don’t have time to see all the sights from Haugastøl to Flåm, or if you’re not looking for a vigorous biking tour, you may want to try a shorter excursion: from Myrdal to Flåm. Biking the full traditional route from Haugastøl to Flåm can take up to 6.5 hours (longer, if you’re the type that likes to enjoy the scenery), but there’s a shorter, almost entirely downhill, and more convenient route from the popular fjord town of Flåm that still encapsulates many of the most scenic portions of the ride.
My tour of this portion of Rallarvegen came a few days after hiking a glacier for the first time, so I may be a bit biased in saying this, but it was truly one of the most relaxing experiences I had in the Norwegian countryside. It balanced well against the exhilaration and the strength required of the glacier hike; if you’re not doing something that strenuous beforehand, I imagine that biking down a Norwegian road to the edge of the Aurlandsfjord (an offshoot of the Sognefjord) would feel a little more on the adventurous side, but it’s an easy adventure. I hadn’t been on a bike in over a decade, and though I had to stop several times, it was mostly to admire the awe-inspiring scenery. It’s also an all-ages excursion; our group ranged in age from 28 to the mid-50s, and we came across older and younger travelers on the road. Best of all: since it’s short, you can afford to take your time!
We began by taking the 1-hour journey along the Flåm Railway from Flåm Station to Myrdal Station, making the scheduled stops at Kjosfossen Waterfall and Myrdal before backtracking to pick up our bikes at the smaller Vatnahalsen Station. Vatnahalsen is the most convenient starting point for the cycling excursion if you’re taking the short Myrdal-Flåm route: Rallarvegen is accessible right off of the platform. There’s even a prep area to become familiar with your rental bike before heading down the trail.
A few tips: as you navigate your way down the road, you’ll find that you encounter other hikers, bikers, herds of goats, and the occasional vehicle along the way. In the case of vehicles, it’s a good idea to get off your bike to let them pass as needed, particularly on the Myrdal Bends section. There are also points at which inexperienced bikers and children should walk alongside their bike, such as the Kårdal tunnel (118 m/387 ft in length) and portions of the Myrdal Bends.
The part of the journey that I found most enjoyable, by far, was both the road leading up to Rallarrosa Stølsysteri and the farm itself—featured as part of the video below.
A beautiful goat and dairy farm nestled in a flat region of Rallarvegen immediately following the Myrdal Bends section, Rallarrosa Stølsysteri is open in the summertime roughly from mid-June to mid-September (though their products can be found year-round in farmer’s markets like the one in Bergen). The farm sells various cheeses—including the famous Norwegian brown cheese brunost—as well as pepperoni-style sausage, flatbread, and jam.
The farm owner knew we were stopping by, but you can visit without an appointment, walk around the farm yard, and purchase snacks at the farm stand. If you’re lucky enough to arrive at feeding time, you can even spend part of your morning or afternoon with the goats! We were given a short introduction to farm life in fjord country, after which the farm owner called the goats in for feeding time—which, if you’ve never heard it, is quite the experience on its own.