There are some places in the world that you know will stay with you forever. Norway is, for me, one such place. When I was 11 years old I went on a skiing holiday with school. We flew from Newcastle to Bergen in Norway and then travelled by coach to Voss. Years afterwards I could still remember the spectacular scenery
When my husband had the opportunity to work in Norway for 12 weeks I was very happy. Unfortunately I was only able to go for 9 days due to work commitments but wow did I have an amazing time – so much so that I can say hand on heart that I could have stayed.
My husband was working in Laerdal a few hours drive from Bergen. I flew from Heathrow to Bergen and caught a coach to visit my husband. It took 4 hours from Bergen (I first caught a transfer into Bergen from the airport then waited 3 hours for the coach) and it was a spectacular drive.
Laerdal itself is situated at the end of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Sognefjorden. It is about 206 km from Bergen. I would recommend catching the coach to Laerdal if you don’ wish to hire a car. The coach goes via Voss and then through the famous Laerdal tunnel.
If you have not heard of Laerdal and had not thought of including it in your Norwegian itinerary read my post to find out why you must. I have 5 reasons why you will love visiting Laerdal in Norway.
1. Laerdal is in beautiful Norway
Norway is consistently placed in the top places to live in the world. I find it an amazing country – not just for the spectacular scenery (more of that later) but it is a country that seems to actually look after its people. It is expensive there is no denying it (I flew over with rather more food in my suitcase than clothes) but the state provides education, looks after its old, its sick, pays for funerals, provides excellent maternity rights, respects gay rights (same-sex marriage became legal in Norway in January 2009). While I am sure there will be Norwegians who will tell me its not utopia (or maybe they won’t) Norway comes consistently top as one of the happiest nations on earth.
2. It is at the end of the Laerdal tunnel
The Laerdal tunnel is 24.5 km long (the longest road tunnel in Europe) and connects Laerdal and Aurland. It really is something I can tell you to go through a tunnel that long – scary in some ways too. There are three large caves at 6 km intervals in the tunnel for drivers to have a break or to help alleviate feelings of claustrophobia.
The tunnel itself is lit with white lights but the caves have blue lights with yellow lights at the fringes. This is to give the impression of sunrise.
There are no emergency exits in this tunnel but there are safety precautions in place. I will admit that I did not particularly enjoy going through the tunnel – I did it 4 times – but if you want to get to Laerdal I think this is the only route that doesn’t involve a boat or an aircraft! (or a rather mountainous climb!)
Photo courtesy of Sue Locker
(This is the entrance to another tunnel but it gives you an idea!)
Photo courtesy of Sue Locker
3. Visit the Borgund Stave Church
In Laerdal there is the Borgund Stave Church which is the best preserved stave church in Norway.
Photographs courtesy of Sue Locker
4. Visit the Gamle Laerdalsoyri
The Gamle Laerdalsoyri village which has more than 150 wooden houses which date back to the 18th and 19th century. a few months after our stay we were devastated to hear that a fire had broken out in the village and a number of the houses were destroyed. I took a lot of pictures…it really is so photogenic. I will let the many photographs speak for themselves!
Sadly the year after we were in Laerdal a fire broke out in January 2014 and 30 buildings were destroyed. 90 people received hospital treatment but luckily no one died.
5. Visiting Laerdal in Norway ensures you also see the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord
I am sure the first thing that you will think of when I say “Norway” are the fjords! Laerdal is situated near two of the most beautiful of them all – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord.
This is their description from the UNESCO World Heritage Page for Norway:
“Situated in south-western Norway, north-east of Bergen, Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, set 120 km from one another, are part of the west Norwegian fjord landscape, which stretches from Stavanger in the south to Andalsnes, 500 km to the north-east. The two fjords, among the world’s longest and deepest, are considered as archetypical fjord landscapes and among the most scenically outstanding anywhere. Their exceptional natural beauty is derived from their narrow and steep-sided crystalline rock walls that rise up to 1,400 m from the Norwegian Sea and extend 500 m below sea level. The sheer walls of the fjords have numerous waterfalls while free-flowing rivers cross their deciduous and coniferous forests to glacial lakes, glaciers and rugged mountains. The landscape features a range of supporting natural phenomena, both terrestrial and marine, such as submarine moraines and marine mammals.” (quoted from Unesco)
So visit Laerdal and include a visit to the fjords too!
Pin for later – Visiting Laerdal in Norway
Tracy is your expert expat!
She has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)
Through down-to-earth stories, tips and advice (based on her own extensive knowledge and experience of life as an expat) she aims to support new and prospective expats to survive and thrive in Australia.
With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.