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Valdres is a romantic and wild highland region in western Oppland County, Norway. This region reaches the edge of the wild Jotunheimen and also includes more gentle and wide tundra-like highlands, while down below there are lovely lakes, great valleys and little villages all along. Valdres is also known for its food traditions as well as the picturesque church dotting the landscape.


Valdres landscape

The municipalities which make up Valdres are Etnedal, Nord-Aurdal, Sør-Aurdal, Øystre Slidre, Vestre Slidre, and Vang. Geographically speaking, Valdres lies between Gudbrandsdalen to the north and east, Ringerike south east, Hallingdal to the south west and finally Sogn westwards. The local food traditions together with hundreds of mountain farms still run by the locals make the valley complex quite interesting for the tourist off the beaten track. Also, don't be surprised if you run into hotel owners from the Netherlands or Belgium. Quite a few non Norwegian families have settled in this area far away from the more orderly chaos in Central European cities.


In the south east, lower Valdres stretches from Dokka and Ådal to Bagn. Through the Begnadalen valley the Begna river runs with lots of fishing possibilities for pike and trout. Eastwards, Etnedalen valley runs all the way up to the mountains and meets the Aurdal valley which stretches up from Bagn. Further on, from the region centre Fagernes, the valley divides into Øystre (eastern) Slidre and Vestre (western) Slidre. From Øystre Slidre the next plateau level is Jotunheimen and Vestre Slidre ends abruptly in the Filefjell mountains.

Other destinations

  • Fagernes, the regional centre of Valdres. This small town has several bus connections to and from Lillehammer, Oslo, Beitostølen/Jotunheimen and Sogn.
  • Jotunheimen, Norway's largest mountain area. In Jotunheimen, you can find a large national park and the area is great for hiking. The mountain Besseggen is famous from the story of Peer Gynt, written by Henrik Ibsen.

Local traditions

It is virtually impossible for people travelling through the area not to notice the local food traditions. A plate of rakfisk, salted and fermented fresh water fish like trout or char, is served uncooked together with fruits from the farm - potatoes, onion, lefse and sour cream. The locals tend to eat this delicacy from November through January, peaking at Christmas time - but the local stores sell rakfisk from September on.

Stave churches

Lomen stave church

In this region, you can easily find several stave churches. Most of them were built in the Middle Age period spanning from 1150 to 1350. In Valdres there are 6 stave churches left today - Øye, Høre, Hegge, Lomen, Reinli and Hedalen. One of the Norwegian stave churches, Urnes, is represented on the World Heritage List from UNESCO.


As for every major region in Norway, some of the dialect words may pose a barrier for tourists not used to other dialects than the one spoken in Oslo. Several words have completely other meanings here than in other parts of Norway, and there are other words which you cannot find anywhere else. There is also a dictionary available if you already know some Norwegian. In the '90s, the Valdres dialect scored as "the most beautiful dialect in Norway" in a national radio programme.

Examples of local words

  • Squirrel - Norwegian: ekorn, Valdres: ikødn
  • All right (as in an all right person) - Norwegian: grei, Valdres: snodig (which in Norwegian normally means strange/funny)
  • Lonely - Norwegian: ensom , Valdres: aule

Get in

Road 55 across the barren Valdresflya plateau

By car

  • From the north:
    • Road 55 Valdresflya
  • From the west (Bergen and Sognefjord)
    • Road E16

By plane

  • Fagernes Airport (Leirin - operated by DOT) (10 minutes from Fagernes). The local airport with daily connections to Oslo (30 minutes)

By bus

Get around

By bus

By boat

By snowmobile




Valdres hosts several festivals:


  • Valdres Gjestegard (the old prison), Aurdal (between Aurdal and Leira), +47 61 36 23 61. Beef restaurant: Friday and Saturday nights. This building is a former prison - the cellars still with the prison cells intact. In the beef restaurant you can enjoy a good steak with wine or beer, the tables actually set in the prison cells themselves. Candle lights are lit - and privacy is enforced with the 1 meter thick stone walls.
  • Fagerlund Hotell, Fagernes, +47 61 36 18 58. Local foods, great beef and a chance of dining outside if weather and temperature allows.


Stay safe

Generally, the rural areas of Norway are among the safest places in the world. Except from an occasional pub fight, police are not often exposed to major crime. Expect the police and local autohorities to be very helpful to tourists as long as you don't drink and drive.

Go next

This region travel guide to Valdres is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!