Lærdal is a village in Sogn og Fjordane. Lærdal village is situated at the end of the Lærdal valley.

Lærdal at Sognefjord


Traditional wooden architecture in Lærdal village

Lærdal is the entire valley stretching from the great Sognefjord to the mountains at Valdres (the Filefjell mountain pass). The village is known as Lærdalsøyri where -øyri ("ayre" in Scotland) refers to the sandbank created at the river mouth (the delta). The village is largely built on this sandbank at the intersection of fjord and valley. The Lærdal river is or used to be one of the prime salmon angling rivers in western Norway. Lærdal and the Filefjell mountain pass is one of the easiest and shortest overland connections between western Norway and the eastern interior, so this was the route for the first national mail service established in the 1600s and also the "King's road" between Oslo and Bergen in 1793 making it possible to drive (horse and carriage) between Norway's principal cities. The Bergen main road, as it was also known, was an engineering achievement and can still be seen in Lærdal valley and on the mountain pass. Because of its convenient location at the intersection of the great fjord and the interior, Lærdal village for centuries hosted the Lærdal fair, the most important trading place outside Bergen. Lærdal still hosts the E16, main road between east and west. The difficult section near Borgund displays several generations of road construction. The current E16 through fast tunnels is the 4th or 5th generation, and replaced a road carved into the rock along the river bend (now local road).

Previous main road at Borgund

In january 2014 a terrible fire broke in Lærdal village. There was no snow, very dry and a strong easterly wind down the valley. About 60 buildings were damaged, luckily only one of the protected buildings in the traditional wooden architecture was lost.

Lærdal is also home to Borgund stave church (not to be confused with Borgund church in Ålesund), the best preserved wooden church from the end of the Viking era. This church is the symbol of Norway's remaining 30 stave churches and the unique heritage of these fragile and complicated buildings.

The are several pretty waterfalls on display along the steep walls of the Lærdal valley, particularly visible in spring or after rain. Stødnafossen above the village is conspicuous. There are also some nice waterfalls through gorges in the main river at Borgund.

Lærdal, particularly a bit up the valley, is the the driest area in western Norway, with annual precipitation around 400 to 500 mm. Outer part of Sognefjorden has some five-six times more rainfall.

Get in

By car

Lærdal is on the E16 route. On this route you can reach Lærdal from east from Fagernes in Valdres and Oslo.


Borgund stave church


The old Vindhella road, part of King's road Oslo-Bergen


Go next

The Aurland-Lærdal mountain road, aka snow road (photo 15th June!)

Routes through Lærdal

Bergen Flåm  W  E  Valdres Oslo airport
Førde Sogndal  W  E  Lærdal village (end)
Borlaug/Lærdal (end) Hemsedal mt pass  N  S  Hemsedal Hallingdal

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, January 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.