Norway’s Balestrand is a must to include on any tour of the Sognefjord region. Here's everything you need to know.
Fjord villages are not exactly rare in western Norway. Almost all offer fantastic views, but some take things up a notch. Balestrand is one of those.
After ten years in Norway, I finally made it to one of my bucket list destinations this summer. Balestrand is a wonderful place to stay for a night or two as part of a longer tour of the Sognefjord.
Here’s what you need to know about Balestrand, Norway.
Watch a walking tour of the village
First things first, if you prefer to watch rather than read, you’re in luck! I recorded a video walking tour of the compact central area, with ambient sound. You can watch below, or see the higher quality version on YouTube.
The walk starts at the fantastic St. Olaf’s Church and continues on to Kviknes Hotel and the waterfront before ending at the harbour.
Where is Balestrand?
Balestrand is located on the northern shore of the Sognefjord, Norway’s longest, deepest fjord. It is part of Sogndal municipality in Vestland county.
Just to the north of the village is the 25km long Fjærdlandsfjord. This ends in another lovely fjord village, Fjærland.
To reach Balestrand, most people will take the car ferry to Dragsvik, which is just 10 minutes away from Balestrand along a narrow road that hugs the fjord. You can take the ferry from Vangsnes, which links with Voss and the E16, or from Hella, which links with Sogndal and route 5.
Read more: The Best Fjords in Norway
Things to do in Balestrand
St. Olaf's Church. This stunning Anglican Church was built in the style of the traditional Norwegian stave churches. But although the stave churches date from the early Middle Ages, this homage was built much more recently, in 1897.
The interior seats less than 100 people. The church is open to visit and is free to enter, although donations are appreciated.
St. Olaf's Church is under the spiritual administration of the Bishop of Gibraltar, in charge of all Anglican churches on the European mainland.
It was built in memory of Margaret Sophie Green Kvikne, a vicar's daughter from England who came to Norway as a mountaineer and married a Balestrand man.
Ciderhuset. Norway's fjord region is known for its food production. A great example of this is Ciderhuset, a short walk from the centre of the village.
During the summer season, Ciderhuset hosts cider tasting and facility tours and a restaurant that must be pre-booked. It's very popular! There's also a store to buy bottles of the Dalholm apple and berry beverages made on the premises.
If you're staying for an evening in Balestrand, a walk down to Ciderhuset is a great option to see the village and buy some cider (or apple juice) to enjoy later in the evening. When I visited, the shop closed at 6pm but the restaurant was open later.
Sognefjord Aquarium. At the harbour, the Sognefjord Aquarium is well worth a visit as it includes the use of a canoe! Aside from this benefit, the traditional aquarium includes exhibits from local schoolchildren, carved wooden pictures and a model of the local fjord.
Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism. Built into the bedrock of Balestrand, this small museum chronicles the origins and history of mountain and fjord tourism in Norway. One of the exhibitions profiles the 18 national scenic routes.
Nature walk. The nature trail Kreklingen is a family-friendly walk featuring information boards and views across the village and fjord. Pick up a map from the tourist office and choose between two routes of between two and four hours.
Where to stay in Balestrand
For decades, the family-owned Kviknes Hotel has been Balestrand's number one accommodation option, and with good reason. The historic waterfront hotel is a stunning sight, although most of the rooms are located in a more modern block behind.
The hotel has a private waterfront area with plenty of space to relax and enjoy the uninterrupted views of the Sognefjord.
A cheaper alternative is the Midtnes Hotel. Located immediately next to the church, Midtnes offers basic rooms and a breakfast buffet for a much more reasonable price.
Balestrand is also home to several guest houses. For a full overview of accommodation options, check out our partners Booking.com.