Hike a classic trail through the lush Aurland valley
- Destination: Flåm
- Season: June–September
- Difficulty: Medium
- Distance: 16.6 kilometers (point‑to‑point)
- Elevation Gain: 1,100 meters
- Duration: 5.5–7.5 hours
The trail through the beautiful Aurlandsdalen “Aurland valley”, between the small settlements of Østerbø and Vassbygdi, is considered one of Norway’s truly classic hiking routes. This popular hike traces the Aurland river as it descends through the valley, providing stunning views the whole way. You’ll come across mountain farms, waterfalls and plenty of opportunities to soak up the Norwegian nature. It makes for a perfect day-trip from Flåm where you can enjoy a post-hike beer and feast at the Ægir brewpub.
By starting in Østerbø the trail is downhill, making for a much easier hike and constant views down the valley. If steep climbs don’t worry you it’s certainly possible to start hiking from Vassbygdi and follow the suggested route in reverse.
Daily departures from Bergen with NOR-WAY Bussekspress on the Øst-Vestekspressen route take you directly to Aurland in around 3 hours. Book your ticket for the bus here.
If you are already in Flåm, you can jump on the local bus to the Aurlandsdalen Turisthytte, where the hike begins. Here, you can grab a cup of coffee before hitting the trail. Alternatively, you can come up the night before and stay at the cabin.
From mid-June to mid-September there is an increase in local buses serving the area. Outside of this time it can be difficult to get around with public transport.
Just over 2.5 hours, driving from Bergen is easily achievable by heading east on E16. Pass through Voss and Flåm and you will arrive in Aurland.
The trail is a mostly dirt track that is very well marked with DNT signposts. It might be muddy if it’s still early in the season or there has been recent rain. Being a popular route, you will likely be sharing the trail with a good number of other hikers. It's a safe trail in general, but it can be narrow and there are some steep drops in parts so stay alert and always stop when enjoying the view.
After around 3 km you’ll come to the turn off for Bjørnestigen. This alternative route is steeper and tougher, climbing up from the river, but offers better views. It then descends, joining the other trail. This route adds an extra hour or so to the hike.
Just after the Bjørnestigen trail rejoins the lower trail you’ll see a sign indicating a small detour to the Vetlahelvete “little hell” cave. Pop in to experience the eeriness of this glacially-formed pothole.
After about 10.5 km you’ll be hiking right by the river. It's a beautiful spot for relaxing on the warm rocks and enjoying lunch.
Around two-thirds of the way along the trail, you’ll ascend to the 17th century Sinjarheim mountain farm, home to loads of goats enjoying summertime in the mountains. Shortly after, as your legs are starting to tire you’ll meet some beautiful waterfalls pouring down the steep hillside.
Once you reach the end of the end trail and enter Vassbygdi you’ll come across a small local store selling ice creams and drinks (yes, they sell beer). As the afternoon wears on a small crowd of tired hikers forms at the picnic benches outside, rewarding themselves with a cold treat and waiting for the bus to take them onward.
- From the end of the trail at Vassbygdi, buses run further down the valley to Aurland and Flåm, or back the other way towards Geiterygghytta.
- If you’re interested in a multi-day adventure, this trail forms the third and final day of the stunning 57 km journey from Finse to Vassbygdi.
- Aurlandsdalen Turisthytte in Østerbø sells meals and snacks, as well as providing accommodation.
- There is small store at the bus stop in Vassbygdi
- Water is available from streams along the trail
Where to stay
If you prefer an early start, or are walking up the valley, you can stay at Aurlandsdalen Turisthytte which offers rooms and camping.
By Aaron Beaton
Outtt developer and hiker.
Australian living in Norway.
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