The farms at Gudvangen located down by the fjord and up in the valley are normal Western Norwegian farms, that have utilized a wide range of local resources, from the fjord to the mountains. In addition, the farmers in Gudvangen have made their livings in alternative ways for many years. This is due to the location of the village in relation to the postal route between Bergen and Oslo. When this postal route started in the 1600s, good-quality roads were built that connected Gudvangen and Voss. Therefore, the need for trade and guest houses arose quickly. When the railway between Bergen and Voss opened in 1883, there was a noticeable increase in this traffic which led to travel and tourism becoming an important industry in Gudvangen.
Travel and tourism continues to be a major industry for the local community. Currently, large investments have been made to establish an experience-based Viking town that consists of reconstructions in the center of Gudvangen.
This area is constantly changing, where running water as well as rockslides, landslides and avalanches are the most important factors that shape the fjord landscape. The large alluvial fans, which are the remains of landslides from higher up in the valley, are a prominent element showing that the valley is constantly changing as a result of ongoing geological processes.
There are many waterfalls in Nærøydalen valley. The largest waterfalls are active throughout the whole year and are popular attractions. Located in the innermost part of Nærøydalen valley near Stalheim, Sivlefossen waterfall is the tallest free-falling waterfall in the area. To the east, down in Gudvangen, visitors can experience Kjelfossen waterfall. The water in this waterfall falls a total of 840 meters in various stages. It is said that the waterfall received its name after a milkmaid dropped her cheese pot down the waterfall. According to folklore, the milkmaid had left the pot in the river but did not notice when the water started to rise. The cheese pot floated down the river and was washed down the waterfall.
The farms of Ramøy, Gudvangen, Skjerpi, Hemri, Hylland and Solbjørgo all belong to the village. Since the 1800s, the village has been known for its cluster of buildings down by the quay, including accommodation, a coaching inn and trading businesses.