The Aurland Valley is wild with breathtaking nature, often compared to Grand Canyon in the US.
Aurlandsdalen, as it is called in Norwegian, is located in the county of Sogn og Fjordane in West-Norway. The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) has marked a trail from Finse (1,222 meters above sea level) to Vassbygdi (50 meters above sea level). This is a four days trekking, and you can stay in the association’s cabins along the trail. If you prefer, you may choose to hike only parts of the valley.
In former times, Aurland Valley was one of the most important connections between west and east Norway.
Walk from Østerbø to Østerbø Mountain Lodge (820 meters above sea level). The path is in the lower part of the valley, mostly going downwards, and is easy to walk. Some minor parts, however, are exposed, and extra caution needed.
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.
Continue to Nesbø Farm, situated at the beautiful Nesbø Lake. The farms was abandoned 100 years ago, but is now restored by the owner. People has lived here from 1664. Most of the farms in Aurland Valley were left between 1875 and 1907.
From here you have two choices, but we recommend you to walk the Bjørnestigen (Bear’s ladder) trail. This is a steep part, rising to more than 1,000 meters above sea level. You will enjoy a fantastic view. Wires are installed at the most difficult parts.
The other choice is along the Aurland River. The two paths meet again further down in the valley at Vetlahelvete (“Little Hell”), a giant pothole, the biggest in the valley. Underground veins hold the water in the pothole at a constant height and temperature.
Enjoy the fantastic landscape on your way to Sinjarheim Mountain Farm. You’ll pass a wild waterfall before on your way. 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. Therefore, 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 now been restored.
From Sinjargeim the path goes steep down towards the Almen Farm, the last farm in Aurland Valley. The Almastova (the building) is well protected under a big rock.
The end point of the Aurland Valley is Vassbygdi. From here you can trek to Gudvangen, the innermost part of the Nærøyfjord. You may stay at the Styvi Farm. If you like kayaking, you should take a brief tour out the fjord to Skalmeneset.
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.
– 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 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 the 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.
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
Train from Bergen to Flåm
Bus from Flåm to Østerbø
Bus from Vassbygdi to Flåm
Express Boat from Bergen to Flåm.
Lodging in the Aurlandsdalen Valley
The Water Trekking Route in Norway, source: Visit Norway