Why the World’s Longest Road Tunnel Lærdalstunnelen Closes Nightly for Multiple Years

Lærdalstunnelen is a 24.5 kilometer long road tunnel in the heart of the Norwegian fjord region, known for being the very longest tunnel that you can actually drive your car through.

The tunnel first opened in year 2000, but is already looking at huge renovations between 2025 and 2030.

During the first phase of the renovations, the entire Lærdalstunnelen will be closed between 16.00 and 06.00. No cars (even emergency services) can pass the tunnel at all due to usage of explosives.

This means that anyone wanting to get between Aurland and Lærdal need to use alternative routes, which all take significantly longer than using the tunnel.

The entrance to Lærdalstunnelen. Photo by W. Bulach / CC BY-SA 4.0.
The entrance to Lærdalstunnelen. Photo by W. Bulach / CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Lærdaltunnelen will close at night time beginning in 2025

The exact date when Lærdalstunnelen will begin to be kept closed at night is currently not known, but it will be sometime in 2025.

After this point, the tunnel will be entirely closed between 16.00 in the evening, and 06.00 in the morning.

There will be physical construction, including use of explosives, so no cars will be able to pass at all during the night. This includes emergency service vehicles like ambulances or fire trucks.

Lærdaltunnelen will be closed during the night for at least a few years, but no exact time frame is given. After this, presumably in 2027 or 2028, the plan is to make the tunnel open for convoy driving during the night, allowing traffic to pass at least 2 to 4 times each night.

The convoy driving to pass it is certainly not optimal, but at least it allows for people to actually get between the two towns in winter.

The entire maintenance could take up to 5 years, and is expected to have heavy impact on local businesses that transport various goods between the Eastern and Western part of Norway.

Why Lærdaltunnelen is closed at night

The main reason why Lærdalstunnelen is closed at night is because of construction maintenance. The tunnel needs renovation, and it will be upgraded to get additional pockets where you can turn your car in cases of emergencies, as well as evacuation chambers and upgraded technical rooms.

The maintenance is not strictly necessary, but it is necessary to fit EU’s criteria for tunnel safety.

The tunnel is mostly used for heavy vehicles in the night time, and the decision to keep the tunnel closed at night was regarded as the best option for people commuting as well as tourism.

The other two options that were turned down were:

  1. Lærdalstunnelen could be completely closed for about 1 year.
  2. Lærdalstunnelen could be closed during summer, but stay open when the mountain pass is driveable.

As you can expect, there has been a lot of debate over which option is the best one, but the government decided upon the option to keep is closed at night for up to 5 years.

The inside of Lærdalstunnelen. Photo by Svein-Magne Tunli / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Alternative routes to get between Aurland and Lærdal when Lærdaltunnelen is closed

There are various alternative routes to get between Aurland and Lærdal, and which option is the best really depends on where you are going, when you are going, and what type of vehicle you’re using.

Let’s take a look at the best alternative routes for when Lærdalstunnelen is closed.

Option 1) Fylkesvei 5627 between Nyheim and Lærdal

Fylkesvei 5627 is basically a mountain road that goes over the mountain that Lærdalstunnelen goes under, which makes it the best option if you are just going between the same two places.

The road is very popular with tourists, because it is filled to the brim with amazing scenic shots, including the famous Stegastein view point.

Stegastein view point
Stegastein view point provides a great view down to Sognefjorden. Photo published with permission.

The downside is that this road is technically difficult to drive, is completely closed in the winter, and is entirely unsuitable for big vehicles.

But it’s a great alternatives for tourists in regular cars, and I personally really love this road!

Option 2) Fylkesvei 50 between Aurland and Hol

Driving on Fylkesvei 50 between Aurland and Hol is the best option if you need to get between Aurland and Lærdal during the winter, or if driving a bigger vehicle that cannot drive the Fylkesvei 5627 road.

This road is in better condition, but it’s still a somewhat difficult mountain road, so drive carefully. It’s pretty nice and scenic, and I’m sure that most tourists will enjoy the drive over the mountain if there’s still daylight when you pass.

After getting to Hol (from Aurland), follow Rv7 to Gol, then Fylkesvei 52 to Lærdal.

The big downside is that it takes several more hours than driving Lærdalstunnelen, so it’s a huge time waste.

Lærdal. Photo by Frode Inge Helland / CC BY-2.5.

Option 3) Other roads between Bergen and Oslo

If you need to get between Eastern and Western Norway in the middle of the night when Lærdalstunnelen is closed, a third option to save time is to just use another mountain pass entirely.

One of the best options is to drive the Hardangervidda route (E134) instead. This is a bit further south than E16 (where Lærdalstunnelen is), but it’s not that much longer.

The downside is that you won’t get to neither Lærdal or Aurdal, but rather pass towns like Odda instead. That said, the Hardangervidda route is a very scenic drive that is known to have lot of amazing tourist attractions like Vørignsfossen.

Vøringsfossen. Photo published with permission.

Frequently asked questions about Lærdaltunnelen’s closed for maintenance period

When is Lærdalstunnelen closing for maintenance?

The exact date which Lærdalstunnelen closes at night for maintenance is not decided, but it will be sometime in 2025.

When is Lærdalstunnelen open?

Lærdalstunnelen will stay open for traffic between 06.00 and 16.00.

When will the maintenance in Lærdalstunnelen be finished?

The maintenance in Lærdalstunnelen is planned to keep going until 2030.

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