The municipality is mountainous, and stretches along both sides of the fjordVeafjorden with adjacent valleys. It includes part of the island Osterøy. In the north it includes the valleys Eksingedalen and Bergsdalen, with its borders extending into the mountains, bordering Sogn og Fjordane county in the north. The main centers of population are Dale (pop. 1158), Vaksdal (982) and Stanghelle (781). Dale and Vaksdal are industrial villages that arose around factories utilising the hydro-electric power resources provided by the mountainous terrain and rainy climate. The railway line between Norway's two largest cities Oslo and Bergen, and the main road between the same two cities, European route E16, run through Vaksdal. Lakes in the region include Askjelldalsvatnet.
Vaksdal was created as a new municipality on January 1, 1964 after the merger of parts of Bruvik, Evanger, and Modalen. During the German invasion of Norway during World War II, from 19 April to 24 April, there was heavy fighting within the borders of the present municipality, with German forces advancing along the railway line from Bergen towards Voss. The heaviest fighting was for the village of Vaksdal itself, from 19 to 23 April. Further fighting took place at Stanghelle and Dalseid on 23 and 24 April. Three Norwegian soldiers and one civilian, and a larger, but unknown, number of German soldiers fell in Vaksdal.