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View towards Nesbø farm in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com

Walking the Aurlandsdalen Valley

The Aurlandsdalen Valley, with its wild and breathtaking nature, is known as Norway's Grand Canyon. I walked the most scenic part of the valley.

Text: Øyvind Heen

The Aurlandsdalen Valley is located in Fjord Norway, in the county of Sogn og Fjordane. It is part of the marked hiking trail network to the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), and is a classic among the walks in Norway. You can walk the whole trail from Finse (1,222 meters above sea level) to Vassbygdi (50 meters above sea level) in four days, and stay in the huts along the trail. Or you can choose to walk only parts of the valley.

In the old days, the Aurlandsdalen Valley was one of the most important connections between east and west.

Walking from Østerbø

I arrived Østerbø Fjellstove (820 meters above sea level), the starting point of the lowest part of the Aurlandsdalen Valley, at 1 pm. The path in the lower part of the valley is easy to walk, and is mostly downwards. But some minor parts of the path are exposed, and extra caution is needed there.

As late as in 1850, there were a total of ten farms and crofts in the valley. Today, these farms are abandoned, but many are restored and in good conditions. The two farms at Østerbø became tourist cabins in the early 1900's.

I arrived the Nesbø Farm situated at a beautiful place near the Nesbøvatnet Lake. This farm was left around 100 years ago, but is restored by the owner. People lived here from the year 1664. Most of the farms in the Aurlandsdalen Valley were left between 1875 and 1907.

Bjørnestigen (the bears ladder)

Soon the path was split in two. I chose to walk over Bjørnestigen, which is a steep rise to more than 1,000 meters above sea level. I was recommended to walk Bjørnestigen due to the fantastic view over the valley, but the path was quite steep in parts. Luckily it was dry and nice, and wires were installed at the most difficult parts.

The other path runs along the Aurlandselvi River until the two paths meet again further down the valley, just before Vetlahelvete ("Small Hell"). Vetlahelvete is a giant pothole, the biggest in the valley. Underground veins hold the water in the pothole at a constant height and temperature.

Sinjarheim Mountain Farm

The path continued through a fantastic landscape, and a wild waterfall was passed before arriving the Sinjarheim Farm. Sinjarheim was the last farm to be left in the Aurlandsdalen Valley. It was left in 1922, and was used as a mountain farm until 1964.

Sinjarheim is situated at the edge of a cliff. Down in the valley below the cliff, there is a raging river. Thus, in the old days, it was common to secure the children with rope. The farm exists of seven buildings including a drying house for corn, and has through the recent years been restored.

Almen Farm

From Sinjarheim, the path is steep down towards the Almen Farm, the last farm in the Aurlandsdalen Valley. The house at Almen, the Almastova, is well protected under a big rock.

I arrived Vassbygdi, the end point of the Aurlandsdalen Valley, five hours after the departure from Østerbø. My next goal for the day was Gudvangen at the innermost part of the Nærøyfjord. Late evening I paddled out the fjord to Skalmeneset outside the Styvi Farm, where I slept in the open air until the next day.

 

About the Aurlandsdalen Valley

The Aurlandsdalen Valley is one of the most popular hiking trails in Norway. It is located in Sogn, close to Aurland and Flåm at the inner part of the Aurlandsfjord, a 29-kilometer long branch of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord. It is normal to use between six and seven hours to walk the lowest part of the valley, but I recommend to spend the whole day so you can see more of this beautiful piece of Norway.

Facts

  • The Aurlandsdalen Valley, from Geiteryggen to Vassbygdi, is approximately 40 kilometers long. The most common places to start the walk are at Finse, Geiteryggen, Stemmerdalen or Østerbø.
  • The lowest and most picturesque part of the valley, from Østerbø to Vassbygdi, is approximately 20 kilometers long.
  • The Aurlandsdalen Valley lies between 50 and 1,660 meters above sea level. The lowest part of the Aurlandsdalen Valley from Østerbø to Vassbygdi lies between 820 meters above sea level (Østerbø) and 50 meters above sea level (Vassbygdi).
  • As late as 1850, there were a total of ten farms in the Aurlandsdalen Valley: Almen, Sinjarheim, Teigen, Berekvam, Skori, Nesbø, Vikaneset, Aurviki and two farms at Østerbø. These farms are now left, but many of them are restored. The students from Sogn Agricultural School in Aurland use Sinjarheim Mountain Farm as a teaching aid.
  • The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) has two cabins in the upper part of the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Finsehytta and Geiteryggshytta.
  • Østerbø Fjellstove and Østerbø Turisthytte are two private cabins located at Østerbø in the lower part of the Aurlandsdalen Valley.

Guided walk or walk by your own

There are well-marked trails, and most people walk from one of the mountain huts located along the trail. The wildest and most picturesque part of the valley is the lowest part, between Østerbø and Vassbygdi. You normally walk this part of the valley in six to seven hours. The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) offers led group hikes and tours in the Aurlandsdalen Valley.

Nice to know

The weather in the Norwegian mountains can change rapidly, and snow during the summer is not unusual. Remember to bring clothing and equipment designed for all types of weather. Solid hiking shoes are highly recommended. The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) is providing a summer hiking gear list.

Combine the walk with biking and a fjord cruise

You can combine this walk with other adventures in the nearby area. Bike along Rallarvegen (the Navvies' Road) from Finse to Flåm. Or join a Fjord Cruise or a Rib Boat on the Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord. Read more about what to do in the Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord in our Fjord Guide.

Getting to the Aurlandsdalen Valley

The Aurlandsdalen Valley in the Sognefjord area is centrally located in the heart of Fjord Norway, between Oslo and Bergen, and is easily reached by public transport. You can travel to the Aurlandsdalen Valley with a combination of plane, train, bus and boat or by car. From Oslo and Bergen, you can travel by train to Flåm. From Bergen, you can also travel by express boat to Flåm. From Oslo and Bergen, there are daily flights to Sogndal Airport. From Sogndal Airport, there are bus departures to Sogndal. From Sogndal you can travel by bus or express boat to Aurland and Flåm.

From Aurland and Flåm, there is only a short distance with bus to the different starting points of the walk in the Aurlandsdalen Valley. This bus route starts at the end of May and ends at the end of September, check Fjord1 for more information.

You can also contact Østerbø Fjellstove. They can pick you up with their own bus and give you transport to Vassbygdi, Østerbø or Stemmerdalen when the bus route is closed.  

Read more about getting to the Sognefjord and around

Where to stay

The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) has two cabins in the upper part of the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Finsehytta and Geiteryggshytta. There are also two private mountain cabins at Østerbø in the lowest part of the valley, Østerbø Fjellstove and Østerbø Turisthytte. Members of the Norwegian TrekkingAssociation (DNT) get discounts on both the DNT-huts and the private cabins in the valley.

Read more about where to stay in the Sognefjord area.

When to travel

The best time for hiking in the Aurlandsdalen Valley is from late May to late September. In May and June, there is usually snow left in the upper part of the valley. Due to the snow, you should avoid walking this part of the valley, between Finse and Østerbø, in May and June. The lower part of the valley, from Østerbø to Vassbygdi, is possible to walk from late May to the beginning of October. The mountain lodges at Østerbø are open from late May to the beginning of October.

Who can join

The walks in the Aurlandsdalen Valley varies from easy to difficult, and you must be in normal good shape. In parts, the path goes through exposed terrain. Take this in consideration if children are joining the walk. It is not recommended to bring children less than eight years on this walk.

Prices

Train and bus
You can travel from Oslo or Bergen to Flåm by train. From Flåm, there is a short distance with bus to Østerbø, the starting point of the walk. There are also bus connections from Vassbygdi (the end point of the walk) back to Aurland and Flåm.

Train from Oslo to Flåm
Children - from NOK 424 (approximately 53 Euro).
Adults – from NOK 858 (approximately 107 Euro).
If you order at least one day in advance, you may get a "minipris" ticket from NOK 539 (approximately 67 Euro).
More information at the Norwegian State Railway (NSB).

Train from Bergen to Flåm
Children - from NOK 242 (approximately 30 Euro).
Adults – from NOK 493 (approximately 62 Euro).
If you order at least one day in advance, you may get a "minipris" ticket from NOK 439 (approximately 55 Euro).
More information at the Norwegian State Railway (NSB).

Bus from Flåm to Østerbø
Children - from NOK 42 (approximately 5 Euro).
Adults – from NOK 84 (approximately 10.5 Euro).
25% discount if two or more. This bus route starts at the end of May and ends at the end of September.
More information at Fjord1.

Bus from Vassbygdi to Flåm
Children - from NOK 24 (approximately 3 Euro).
Adults – from NOK 47 (approximately 6 Euro).
25% discount if two or more. This bus route starts at the end of May and ends at the end of September.
More information at Fjord1.

Express Boat from Bergen to Flåm
You can travel with express boat from Bergen to Flåm.
Prices – Express Boat from Bergen to Flåm:
Adults – from NOK 665 (approximately 83 Euro).
50% discount for children and students. This Express Boat route starts 1 May and ends 30 September.
More information at Fjord1.

Lodging in the Aurlandsdalen Valley
Østerbø Fjellstove
Adults (DNT Members) in staffed lodges: The price varies from NOK 180 to 310 (approximately 23 to 39 Euro). Half price for children between 4 and 12 years. Children under the age of 4 years are free of charge.

Østerbø Turisthytte
Youth (DNT members) in staffed lodges, included breakfast: The price varies from NOK 310 to 385 (approximately 39 to 48 Euro). Half price for children between 4 and 12 years. Children under the age of 4 years are free of charge.

More information

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Last updated:  2013-07-09
The paths in the Aurlandsdalen Valley in Norway are well marked - Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
The paths in the Aurlandsdalen Valley in Norway are well marked
View towards Bjørnestigen in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway - Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
View towards Bjørnestigen in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway
The path in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway - Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
The path in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway
Sinjarheim Farm in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway - Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Sinjarheim Farm in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway
The main house at the Sinjarheim farm in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway - Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
The main house at the Sinjarheim farm in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway
Waterfall in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway - Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com
Waterfall in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway

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View towards nesbø farm in the Aurlandsdalen Valley, Norway - Photo: Øyvind Heen/fjords.com

Walking the Aurlandsdalen Valley

The Aurlandsdalen Valley, with its wild and breathtaking nature, is known as Norway's Grand Canyon. I walked the most scenic part of the valley.

Walking the Aurlandsdalen Valley

Source: Visitnorway

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