Gudbrandsdalen is a valley in Oppland. This grand, central valley runs for some 250 km from Lillehammer to the highlands and high central mountains. The valley hosted major events at the 1994 winter Olympics, alpine skiing venues at Kvitfjell and Hafjell are now popular winter sport resorts. The valley is home to a number of ancient wooden buildings (including stave churches) and other cultural heritage.


Other destinations

Notable adjacent valleys (tributaries) in Gudbrandsdalen district


Gudbrandsdalen stretches from Lillehammer at the northern shores of Lake Mjøsa to the higlands around Dombås and county border with Møre og Romsdal, about 250 km. At the watershed there is in fact a lake, Lesjaskogsvatnet at Lesjaskog, that is shared by Lågen river (flowing east) and Rauma river (flowing west to Åndalsnes). Gudbrandsdalen is home to the great Lågen river. The Gudbrandsdalen district also includes several connected valleys and their tributaries (notably Ottdalen with Otta river, as well as Gausa, Sjoa and Vinstra rivers), large parts of Oppland county falls within this area. These tributaries are among Norway's prettiest and wildest rivers. Many of these rivers, particularly from the west (the right) carry glacial melt water, as can be seen on the opaque color.

The valley is surrounded by major mountain ranges such as Jotunheimen, Reinheimen, Dovrefjell and Rondane. At Otta the main valley is joined by the major Otta valley that also holds the road to Stryn and Geiranger.

Ringebu Stave Church

Because of its central position in the interior of South Norway, Gudbrandsdalen hosts E6 (the main north-south road with branch to Åndalsnes and Ålesund) and the Oslo-Trondheim railway (with arm to Åndalsnes). About 70,000 people live in the area, the regional centre Lillehammer is home to about half the population.

Gudbrandsdalen district sits in the rain shadow and is one of the driest areas in Norway. The climate is continental: winters are cold and summers are mild. Bjorli, the most north-western village, receives heavy snowfall and is a popular winter resort.


During the invasion of Norway in April 1940, some of the heaviest fighting occurred in Gudbrandsdalen around village Kvam. British troops had landed at Åndalsnes to support the Norwegian Army. In addition to the sea battle at Narvik, this was the first engagement of Allied and German troops during the war (a few weeks later fighting began in France and Be-Ne-Lux). There is a war memorial at Kvam. The first US casualty in world war II was the US military attache killed during the bombing of Dombås station. There is a war memorial at Dombås. The King, cabinet and Bank of Norway's gold and cash holdings were evacuated through Gudbrandsdalen towards Åndalsnes and Molde amidst heavy fighting in a bold and legendary operation. The king and the cabinet were hiding in Gudbrandsdalen while waiting for safe passage to unoccupied harbors at Åndalsnes and Molde. This was one of the most dramatic and decisive events in the history of modern Norway.

Ironically, more than 300 years earlier Scottish mercenary troops landed at Åndalsnes and marched through Gudbrandsdalen to join the war in Sweden. Between Otta and Kvam the Scottish troops were slaughtered my local militia in a legendary ambush. This event is also included in the Kvam war memorial.


The language is Norwegian with some notable dialect differences, particularly in the northern valley. English is spoken everywhere.

Get in

By plane

By train

E6 along Lågen river

By car

See also E6 through Sweden and Norway

Get around

By rail

The Oslo-Lillehammer-Trondheim railway (Dovrebanen) runs along the valley until Dombås where the railway climbs onto the Dovrefjell plateau. The Dombås-Åndalsnes railway (Raumabanen) continues along the northernmost section of the valley (Lesja-Bjorli area). There is no railway in the Otta-Lom-Skjåk valley (Ottadalen).

By car

For more details see: Driving in Norway


Sør-Fron Church (Gudbrandsdal "cathedral") - a landmark in the valley





Other outdoor

Gudbrandsdalen cuts deep into Norway's wilderness and as the big valley is also home to major rivers, including rivers popular among rafters. Warning: Only skilled rafters should go down rivers on their own. There are numerous obstacles such as power stations, rapids, canyons and waterfalls.


Go next

Routes through Gudbrandsdalen

Maløy Stryn  W  E  Otta (END)
Oslo Gardermoen  S  N  Oppdal Trondheim
Dombås (END)  E  W  Åndalsnes Ålesund

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 09, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.