Flåm, at the head of Aurlandsfjorden, sits in a truly spectacular setting. As a stop on the popular 'Norway in a Nutshell' tour, this tiny village receives over 500,000 visitors every year. It's a charming place, but this piece of heaven can turn hellish if too many of those visitors end up here at the same time. The seasonal tourist office is within the train station.
The village of Lærdalsøyri, usually called Lærdal, is where the lovely green dale of the same name – whose fertile lower reaches produce the juiciest of cherries – meets the fjord. A quiet place nowadays, it was once a busy port, where produce from the surrounding area was loaded on Bergen-bound boats.
Peaceful Aurland is much less hectic than its neighbour, Flåm, a mere 10km south along the fjord. These days it's renowned as one end of Lærdalstunnel (24.5km), the world's longest road tunnel. This essential link in the E16 highway that connects Oslo and Bergen, before its completion traffic had to ferry-hop between Lærdal and Gudvangen.
Undredal, tucked midway between Flåm and Gudvangen, is a truly lovely little village, its pleasures enhanced – and its traditional quality sustained – because you need to make that bit of extra effort to get there. However, it has recently been added as a brief stop to some boat tours and its former tranquillity is at risk. Undredal's local claim to fame is its cheeses.
Skjolden is at the northern limit of Lustrafjord. In Fjordstova, its main building, you'll find most that matters tucked under one roof: the tourist office, a cafe, a swimming pool, climbing wall and even a shooting gallery. The bit of industrial-looking junk on display outside is a turbine from the Norsk hydropower station.
Nærøyfjord, its 17km length a Unesco World Heritage Site, lies west of Flåm. Beside the deep blue fjord, only 250m across at its narrowest point, are towering 1200m-high cliffs, isolated farms, and waterfalls plummeting from the heights. It can easily be visited as a day excursion from Flåm.