Fjord Norway: Flåm, Stegastein, the Fretheim Hotel and Ægir Brewpub

Stegastein viewpoint

Last week I spent four days exploring the mysterious wilderness of Norway’s western reaches, with Visit Norway and Fjord Norway. We were in the area around Bergen, the fjords, and Myrkdalen ski resort. I’ll be writing a few posts about the region, beginning here with Flåm, a small village two and a half hours east of Bergen.

Flåm

In February, Flåm had the sleepy air of a ghost town just coming out of hibernation. The village is small, with just 300 inhabitants; the wooden houses, in their bright shades of mustard, oxblood and snow-white, are engulfed by the towering, ice-tipped mountains behind the village and the deep, inky black fjord. Flooding is always a threat; occasionally, you can see the Northern Lights. It’s a stark reminder that, in Norway at least, nature is King.

Flåm

That’s not to say the inhabitants of Flåm haven’t gone to take advantage of their beautiful surroundings. The Flåm Railway carves its way through one of the most picturesque routes in the world. You can take a guided tour along the fjords with Flåm Guide Service (I’ll be posting separately about these trips). There’s a Railway Museum in Flåm, and a cultural park, with easy walking paths and a playground. And – if you can stomach a knuckle-whitening drive along the Aurlandsfjellet mountain road, with hairpin bends and sheer drops that would make even a mountain goat call for crampons – you’ll be treated to one of the most breathtaking views on this planet, from the Stegastein viewpoint.

Stegastein Viewpoint

Stegastein viewpoint

A daily bus service runs between Flåm and Stegastein. The viewpoint itself is 650 metres above sea level, with a wooden jetty that juts out over the precipice, before doubling back under itself in an elegant curve. This means that, when you peer down over the sloping perspex barrier at the end, all you can see are the mountains, and the Aurlandsfjord way down in the abyss. In winter, only the occasional boat can be seen on the fjord, punting along like a water-fly. In the summer months, the Aurlandsfjellet scenic mountain road is open between Læedalsøyri and Aurlandsvangen, and you can carry on to its highest point, at 1,306 metres.

Stegastein

You can see Stegastein in this video, which also shows out trip on Flåm’s Winter fjordsafari, as well as the Flåm Railway. I’ll be posting about both of those experiences soon:

A round trip from Flåm to Stegastein is NOK 290. Children aged 4-15 are half price.

Fretheim Hotel

Flåm

The Fretheim Hotel, as seen from the fjord

We stayed at the Fretheim Hotel, which legend has it is haunted. The Fretheim sleeps 240 guests and is part of Norway’s De Historiske group of hotels and restaurants. It dates back to the 1870s, when English Lords arrived in Flåm to hunt and fish, and demanded the local farm be converted into a hotel for their pleasure.

Fretheim Hotel

Fretheim Hotel

These days, the Fretheim is a cosy, elegant place. There was vintage wooden furniture, gas-lit fires and a restaurant in a glass-fronted section of the hotel, with panoramic views across the mountains and down to the fjord harbour. In the historic quarter of the hotel, rooms were reconstructed using fixtures from the 1950s – the hotel’s heyday – with no televisions to intrude upon the hotel’s genteel hush. We stayed in the modern quarter, where rooms do come equipped with Smart TVs. Wi-fi and tea/coffee makers are standard across the whole hotel. There are two family rooms, and six Junior suites that sleep four.

Fretheim Hotel

Fretheim Hotel

Fretheim Hotel

Fretheim Hotel

local goats’ cheese

For breakfast, I tried some of the local goat’s cheese, a sweet, granular delicacy that tasted more like fudge than what I think of as cheese. As well as eggs cooked to order, cereals, bread and jam, you could choose the more traditionally Nordic breakfast of herrings, pickled beetroot, caviar from a tube, and raw carrots. The hotel prides itself on using local produce, served in three-course meals in the Arven restaurant, or in the hotel lobby bar. As we only had one night in Flåm, we ate instead at the Ægir Brewpub, so we could sample more of what the village had to offer.

Prices vary at the Fretheim Hotel, depending on the season and choice of room. See their website for further details.

Ægir Brewpub

Ægir Brewpub

We were welcomed at the Ægir Brewpub by Kris, a tall broad-chested blonde man who looked as though he could easily be one of Ægir’s mortal step-brothers, but who turned out to be Polish. The Ægir is a Norse-themed establishment, built ten years ago as an homage to the Nordic god of the sea. Ægir also happened to be a brewer, and hosted parties attracting high-profile gods like Odin and Thor. Norway has few breweries at the moment, so the stuff that’s made at Ægir has people driving for hundreds of miles to collect it (we ran into a jovial crowd of burly men on our way in, who’d come in a coachload to pick up crates). It can even be found as far afield as Whole Foods stores in London, or Mother Kelly’s Bottle Shop in east London.

Ægir Brewpub

The restaurant’s wooden building was built like a traditional ‘Stave’ church, as an homage to Ægir. But the pragmatic Norwegians have put it to good use: the villagers decided to hold a mass there, after Flåm’s church was destroyed in the floods of 2015. Ægir has also hosted a Christening (although the priest did insist the brewing vats and bar area be hidden behind a sheet during the service).

Wood was everywhere in the restauant: glossy, honey-coloured wood for the tables and chairs; rougher, more tough-looking wood for the walls. The draft beer was pumped using deer antlers, and the scent of hops and roasting meat hung heavy in the air.

From the Norse-themed menu we were treated to a Viking plank: five dishes paired with five beers from the microbrewery. Crayfish and mussels were balanced by a light, orange-scented Witbier. Smoked reindeer was set against a malty amber ale. Even the chocolate ganache dessert was washed down by a dense, chocolatey Sumbel Porter.

Ægir Brewpub

There’s a children’s menu, with game meatballs from a local farm. Vegetarians, unlike in the Viking days, have their own ‘plank’, with the rather un-Norse quorn, falafel, and aioli dressing.

A Viking Plank, with five accompanying beers, is NOK 495. A range of other dishes is available. The Ægir also runs a bed and breakfast alongside the restaurant.

You can find out more about Flåm on the Visit Flåm website.

Here’s the full itinerary of my four-day press trip.

I have posted here about the Flåm Railway and the fjordsafari with Flåm Guide Service.

If you liked this post, you might be interested in:
Flåm Railway, Fjordsafari and Vatnahalsen Høyfjellshotell
What to expect from Bergen, Norway
Bergen: Troldhaugen, the Edvard Grieg Museum
A walk in Oslo’s Nordmarka Forest
Seven relaxing things to do in Oslo, Norway
Have you visited Flåm, or anywhere in the rest of Norway?

  • Flåm
    Flåm, Stegastein, the Fretheim Hotel and Ægir Brewpub

I was a guest of Visit Norway and Fjord Norway on this trip.

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79 Comments

  1. February 23, 2017 / 6:07 pm

    This really looks fabulous. I love that view from Stegastein – basically I love all the views. I adore mountains and lakes, so this is my kind of scenery. Plus that goat’s cheese looks amazing….

    • Nell
      Author
      February 24, 2017 / 1:41 pm

      Yes, and if you like forests too, you’d be in for a colossal treat. Norway’s a magnificent place.

  2. February 23, 2017 / 6:07 pm

    This really looks fabulous. I love that view from Stegastein – basically I love all the views. I adore mountains and lakes, so this is my kind of scenery. Plus that goat’s cheese looks amazing….

  3. February 24, 2017 / 9:17 am

    It looks amazing! I have seen photos of the Flam railway before and thought it looked spectacular, my kids are huge train fans and would absolutely love to travel along there on the train. I personally love the fjords, such a stunning place to visit. 🙂 x

    • Nell
      Author
      February 24, 2017 / 1:51 pm

      It would make a perfect place for a family trip, Jenny. And it really is your kind of place!

  4. February 24, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    I visted Flam (from Geilo) on a winter holiday back when my eldest was just a year. In fact she took her first steps in the hotel we stayed in! Lovely to see your photos but surprised at the lack of snow – it was a winter wonderland when we visited in the January!

    • Nell
      Author
      March 12, 2017 / 8:33 pm

      Yes, everyone was commenting about the unusual lack of snow. It was still very pretty though!

  5. February 25, 2017 / 10:32 pm

    Wow, this is just beautiful and I’ve been enjoying all your photos on social media too. Great to hear that there was a vegetarian option available, I worry about whether I’ll be able to eat much in some countries!
    Nat.x

    • Nell
      Author
      March 12, 2017 / 8:41 pm

      Yes, there was one – although I can’t vouch for its Viking authenticity! x

  6. February 27, 2017 / 10:07 am

    I have to admit I’ve never really fancied Norway till very recently. It’s just so beautiful, id love to just drive and drive and see it all. Love your photos!

    • Nell
      Author
      March 12, 2017 / 8:48 pm

      It’s a special place. You should go! x

  7. February 27, 2017 / 11:11 am

    I was looking at affordable airline tickets and noticed some to Norway too. I’m a bit hesitant to go there in the winter months though, but your trip looks great. Amazing scenery! #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 12, 2017 / 8:49 pm

      It can get very cold, but everyone told us winter was the best time to see the place….

  8. February 27, 2017 / 11:22 am

    Your photos look so wonderful, Norway is on my one day list #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 12, 2017 / 8:58 pm

      It’s a magical place, Fiona x

  9. February 27, 2017 / 11:32 am

    Looks like a lovely area of Norway, very relaxing! Pinned! 🙂 #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:21 pm

      It was blissful!

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:20 pm

      They’re very different to Oslo, but equally amazing.

  10. February 27, 2017 / 4:29 pm

    I’m smitten! I have loved our Nordic holidays over the last few years but this trip sounds superb. And the seating area in the brewpub – how cosy is that!
    #mondayescapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:19 pm

      If you love the frozen north, Trish, this would be perfect for you.

  11. February 27, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    What a fabulous post, really in depth and amazing photography! Norway looks a stunning destination to visit.

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:18 pm

      Thank you x

  12. February 28, 2017 / 3:30 am

    Nell, what a dream trip! Like places that offer great scenery, cozy atmosphere and delicious food! That goat cheese looks interesting and my husband would love to have pickled herring for breakfast. #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:17 pm

      The herring wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but I did like it x

  13. February 28, 2017 / 12:40 pm

    There was so much to be impressed by there but right this moment, as I clasp my mug of hot chocolate, it was that fire that did it! #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:16 pm

      Yes – it was the best weather for a roaring fire!

  14. February 28, 2017 / 1:56 pm

    What amazing scenery and really interesting places to visit, it looks like you had a lovely trip. Your pictures are fab! I must say, I could happily haul up in the Brewpub on a cold day
    #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:16 pm

      I know, me too!

  15. February 28, 2017 / 5:28 pm

    Everything about this looks beautiful, rustic and cozy. And the food looks amazing..pinning! #mondayescapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:16 pm

      It was perfect!

  16. February 28, 2017 / 8:36 pm

    Norway is on our list! It looks stunning. Love the views you get from the Fretheim Hotel. Could sit there all day #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:14 pm

      I know, me too!

  17. March 1, 2017 / 10:50 am

    Beautiful pictures you can see why Norway inspired the film Frozen. That brewhouse is awesome! Thanks for sharing with #fearlessfamtrav

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:12 pm

      Yes, I didn’t know about the Frozen connection before.

  18. March 1, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    Looks like a good time. I am slightly surprised as I assumed I would not want to go to Norway in the winter, but that looks like a wonderful experience.

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:11 pm

      Everyone said that winter was the best time to visit….

  19. March 1, 2017 / 8:01 pm

    Beautiful, just beautiful. This has really whetted my appetite for our trip to Norway later this year. That goats’ cheese looks bizarre but delicious. And although Norway has a reputation for being outrageously expensive, I think that the prices you mentioned aren’t too bad in relation to the unique experiences offered. Cheers! #FearlessFamTrav

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:09 pm

      I know – I definitely think Norway’s worth it.

  20. March 1, 2017 / 9:06 pm

    Norway is somewhere I would really like to go – this looks like an amazing trip. Stegastein view point just looks wow.

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:09 pm

      Ting you’d love it there. x

  21. March 2, 2017 / 12:32 pm

    Love this blog post! I’ve read a lot about the Flåm railway, but never much about Flåm itself. The Aegir Brewpub in particular sounds amazing!

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:09 pm

      There were so many hidden treasures!

  22. March 2, 2017 / 12:58 pm

    This looks like a breathtaking region of Norway. I’d love to visit. And the hotel looks beautiful! #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 10:08 pm

      Fretheim hotel really was special.

  23. March 2, 2017 / 2:53 pm

    Can’t wait to hear more about Norway! We’re taking our first trip to Scandinavia this summer, but already thinking about visiting again next year!

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:54 pm

      How exciting! I’ll look forward to hearing about it.

  24. March 2, 2017 / 5:32 pm

    It’s a shame that travelling within Norway is so expensive, otherwise I would have explored the South long ago! Hoping to move somewhere more south this year though and Flåm/Bergen are totally first on my Southern Norway bucket list!! 🙂

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:53 pm

      I was thinking of you when I was there! They’re great places. I bet it would be fun living there.

  25. March 2, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    What amazing landscapes Nell – I wouldn’t know which way to look first. Lovely video and the hotel looks very chilled out. I think my kid would have taken a few days to come around to the salty diet but I would have loved it! #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:52 pm

      Vatnahalsen was blissful. So relaxing!

  26. March 2, 2017 / 10:12 pm

    The views and the landscapes are breathtaking, and I love those labels for the food. It’s cool to see what they’re called in other languages. #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:51 pm

      I know – some words are similar to English, but most are very, very different.

  27. March 3, 2017 / 2:46 am

    Wow! With so many amazing places, yet to see I’ve never even considered the far north, but after seeing these lovely photos and the warm inviting look of your accommodations, maybe I’d better think again?! #farawayfiles

  28. March 3, 2017 / 11:50 am

    Ahhhh! We stayed at the Fretheim as well – shockingly had a family room with bunks that could accommodate our family of 5! Lovely place and grounds. Flåm was a little bit busier in late June when the summer tourist season was in swing. The little village gets overrun during the day and loses some of its charm as the tour buses cruise through and let people off for the fjord tours. Staying overnight and wandering the little outpost after the crowds was wonderful. I wish we’d known about the lookout – that looks amazing. Looking forward to the rest of your posts – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:46 pm

      Yes, Stegastein was breathtaking. Good excuse to go back! Wintertime, perhaps?

  29. March 3, 2017 / 11:52 am

    Actually the #FarawayFiles badge logo is from the fjords at Flåm!

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:45 pm

      Oh my goodness – I knew I recognised it from somewhere!

  30. March 3, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    This looks beautiful. Although I must admit I found Norway rather expensive when I was in Geilo! #fearlessfamtrav

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:41 pm

      It’s certainly not cheap. Worth it though, in my view.

  31. March 3, 2017 / 6:29 pm

    Lovely Post Nell. Norway looks amazing, you took some lovely photos. I am impressed with your Norwegian spellings too.

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:36 pm

      Ha ha thanks. It took me a while to look up the keyboard short cuts!

  32. March 3, 2017 / 10:44 pm

    Wow Nell – what absolutely beautiful photos. The view from Stegastein is just so peaceful, and the wooden houses- I just love. I can’t wait to see more pics -it looks a place I need to pin for later xx

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:34 pm

      Yes, and then to visit later, if you possibly can! x

  33. March 4, 2017 / 9:21 am

    Oh it looks absolutely stunning. I am very envious indeed. Norway is very high up on our bucket list and I’d love to take the kids. That cheese looks very odd and fudge like indeed. The views, oh the views! Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      Karen you’d love it here x

  34. March 4, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    I’ve been so looking forward to reading this, Nell. Norway is ridiculously high on my bucket list – I’ve been cross-country skiing there but I really want to explore the fjords. Flam looks so pretty and I’m swooning over the views. Can’t wait to read more. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:30 pm

      More is on its way! x

  35. March 4, 2017 / 7:25 pm

    Nell your hero shot is magnificent – incredible reflections! Love this post as we are considering a trip to the Nordics in June. Great information. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:28 pm

      And thank you for hosting!

  36. March 4, 2017 / 11:47 pm

    So cool! I’ve been wanting to go to Norway for a while now. I love the idea of staying in a haunted hotel, and visiting the brewery based on a Nordic god.
    #farawayfiles

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:24 pm

      Norway has so many fantastic quirks. It’s a special place.

  37. March 5, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    Oh that looks beautiful. Norway is top of my bucket list so this post has made me super excited! #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      You’ll love it when you get there….

  38. March 6, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    More incredible Scandinavian sights! So keen to go now #fearlessfamtrav

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:04 pm

      It’s astonishingly beautiful!

  39. March 8, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    OMG I want to go, your photos are breathtaking Nell, I loved following your adventures when you were there. And the Brew Pub looks so cool. Thanks so much for linking up #Mondayescapes

    • Nell
      Author
      March 22, 2017 / 9:03 pm

      It was fab, Sarah. I’m really missing the place!

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