Laerdal Tunnel in Norway 🇳🇴
The Laerdal Tunnel is with a length of 15 miles (24.5 kilometers) the longest road tunnel in the world and is located in Norway. Read all about the tunnel and which sights there are near the Laerdal Tunnel.
About the Laerdal Tunnel
The Laerdal Tunnel (Leardalstunnelen in Norwegian) is the longest road tunnel in Norway and also the longest in the world. The tunnel is 15 miles (24.5 kilometers) long and was officially opened at the end of 2000.
The tunnel connects Laerdal and Aurland and is part of route E16. Aurland is located in the Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the Sognefjord. The Sognefjord is the largest fjord in Norway. In short: plenty of tourist hotspots in the area, more about that later.
With a length of 15 miles (24.5 kilometers), a journey through the tunnel takes about 20 minutes. To give road users an impression of how far they still have to drive, there is a sign every kilometer that indicates how far it is until the end of the tunnel.
Rock walls and caves
Norway is known for the large amount of tunnels. There are over 900 in the country. The Norwegian tunnels are known for their beautiful rock walls. Where in most countries you look at concrete walls, in Norway you see the rock walls in most tunnels.
In the Laerdal Tunnel, the rock walls come into their own, because special lighting has been installed. In the tunnel are three wide caves, which are specially lit. These caves are designed to keep drivers alert, as well as to allow them to stop and turn if necessary. There are also 15 points where traffic can turn.
Construction of the Laerdal Tunnel
With the rocks it is not surprising that a large amount of explosives was used during the construction. Construction of the tunnel was started in 1995. It was opened 5 years later by King Harald V. The construction of the Laerdal Tunnel cost 930 million Norwegian kroner.
Toll and crowds in the tunnel
Norway has many toll tunnels and toll roads, the Laerdal tunnel, on the other hand, is toll-free. You can use the tunnel at no extra cost.
As the longest road tunnel in the world and part of the E16 route between Oslo and Bergen, you would expect it to be busy in the Laerdal Tunnel. Yet it is not that busy. On average, 1000 vehicles per day drive through the tunnel. During the busiest hour, only 400 vehicles passed through the Laerdal Tunnel.
Highlights near the Laerdal Tunnel
Norway is a country with a lot of special and beautiful nature, sights and unique buildings. It is therefore important to read up online before your holiday, so that you do not drive past unique sights during your holiday. Also in the area of the Laerdal Tunnel are several highlights that you should not miss.
Scenic route Aurlandsfjellet
The longest tunnel in the world is already beautiful to see, but don’t forget the scenic route that lies on top of the tunnel. The Laerdal Tunnel has been constructed so that traffic can travel faster from Laerdal to Aurland and vice versa. Previously, traffic was always dependent on the Aurlandsfjellet, the route along the fjord and over the mountains. The road trip Aurlandsfjellet is one of the 18 National Scenic Routes, or the most beautiful routes in the country. Viewpoint Stegastein is also part of the route.
One side of the Laerdal Tunnel is located in the Aurlandsfjord. So this fjord can easily be admired. The Aurlandsfjord is about 29 kilometers long and a tributary of the Sognefjord. Do you want a beautiful view over the fjord? Then visit the famous viewpoint Stegastein. This is part of the Aurlandsfjellet, but you don’t have to drive the entire route. From the village of Aurlandsvangen it is about a 7.5 kilometer drive to the lookout point. This part of the route is open all year round.
The village of Flåm is also located in the fjord. The E16 motorway runs past the village, so it is not to be missed. The Flåmsbana also departs from Flåm, one of the steepest train routes in the world. Also, many cruise ships dock in the village every year.
Norwegian nature has more than 1000 fjords, impossible to see them all. If you’re in the Laerdal Tunnel area, the Sognefjord is definitely worth a visit. The fjord is the longest in Norway with a length of 204 kilometers. It is also one of the longest fjords in the world. Only the Kangertittivaq in Greenland and the Greely Fiord in Canada are longer.
At the Sognefjord is also the road trip Sognefjellet, which is also 1 of the 18 National Scenic Routes. So you can easily combine multiple routes with each other, so that you see even more of Norway!
Laerdalsoyri and Bogund Stave Church
Not only the nature in the area is special, also the age-old buildings. Laerdalsoyri is a small town in the municipality of Laerdal, located at the foot of the Aurlandsfjellet and Laerdal Tunnel. It is a town with regular facilities such as a hospital, gas station and supermarket, but that is of course not what makes it so special. The old core of Laerdalsoyri consists of old wooden houses, built between 1700 and 1800. The old core attracts many tourists every year. Some of the old houses were lost in 2014 during a large fire in the picture.
About 20 kilometers from the Laerdal Tunnel is Bogund Stave Church. This ancient church is well preserved and one of the most distinctive stave churches in the country. It has, among other things, bear heads made of wood carvings. The church was built around 1180 and is one of the oldest wooden structures in Norway. Near the Stave Church is a visitor center, where exhibitions on the history of the stave churches can be seen.