BALESTRAND BY THE SOGNEFJORD

In the middle of the Sognefjord, where the fjord is at its widest and the mountains starts to rise, you’ll find Balestrand, an idyllic village down by the fjord.

The Historical Kviknes Hotel at Balestrand is beautifully located beside the Sognefjord. The Kvikne family have been the hosts here since 1877.

Visit Sognefjord

Visit Sognefjord is the official destination company for the Sognefjord area.

Balestrand by the Sognefjord

FJORDS NORWAY - View from Balestrand towards Esefjorden
View from the aquarium in Balestrand towards Esefjorden.

Balestrand is one of the first places the foreign tourists visited when they discovered Norway in the mid-19th century.

Due to the beautiful nature, the wild mountains and the location down by the fjord, Balestrand became a favorite place to visit among artists and the Norwegian and foreign society from the end of the 19th century until the beginning of World War I.

Germany´s Emperor Wilhelm II visited Balestrand several times, and it was an impressive sight when he entered the Sognefjord with his warships to spend his holidays there.

Well-known Norwegian painters such as Hans Dahl, Eilert Adelsteen Normann and Anders Askevold lived for long periods at Balestrand, and many of their most famous paintings have motifs from the Sognefjord and Balestrand area.

The magnificent villas from the 18th and 19th century which were built in Dragon Style and Swiss Chalet Style, among them Villa Strandheim, Villa Lorne and Villa Normann, the St. Olaf´s Church and Kviknes Hotel, are reasons enough to visit Balestrand. St. Olaf’s Church was the inspiration for the chapel where Elsa was crowned in Disney´s film Frozen I.

Balestrand is still one of the most popular tourist destinations in the fjords. The village is situated in the middle of all the things that is worth seeing and doing in the Sognefjord area. Activities like Fjord Angling, Kayaking, Fjord Safari with Rib Boat, hiking and skiing in the mountains, snow shoe hiking and great road trips can be done from Balestrand.

The Historical Kviknes Hotel at Balestrand

FJORDS NORWAY - Kviknes Hotel at Balestrand by the Sognefjord.
Kviknes Hotel at Balestrand by the Sognefjord.

Kviknes Hotel at Balestrand is beautifully located down by the Sognefjord. The Kvikne family have been the hosts here since 1877.

This is the hotel where Germany’s Emperor Wilhelm II spent his holiday at the start of the World War I. The chair he sat in when he was informed the war had started is still in the hotel.

Kviknes Hotel is now a modern hotel with old-world charm and atmosphere – with 190 guest rooms.  The hotel is graced with an extensive collection of artworks and antiques, which give it its special style.

Ciderhuset Restaurant and Cider Tasting

Ciderhuset at Balestrand is both a restaurant and  an experience. Ciderhuset is located only a short walk from the center of Balestrand.

You can have a meal in the restaurant, join tasting of the cider made from local produce from Balholm, shop in the farm shop and learn about cider and fruit all year round.

Balejazz Jazz Festival

Every year in May, Balejazz Jazz Festival is arranged in Balestrand. Imagine a fjord flat as a mirror, green valleys, snowy mountains and jazzy tones in a garden down by the Sognefjord.

Fjord Cruise from Balestrand to Fjærland and back to Balestrand

This is a Fjord Cruise between Balestrand and Fjærland. You get to experience a part of the Sognefjord, the Fjærlandsfjord and the picturesque fjord village of Fjærland.

You get to spend two hours in Fjærland before the trip takes you on the same boat back to Balestrand.

SEASON – Summer. See the Glaciertour website for more information about the season and the tour. Glaciertour is also arranging other trips on the Sognefjord.

FJORDS NORWAY - Fjærland by the Fjærlandsfjord, part of the Sognefjord area.
Fjærland by the inner part of the Fjærlandsfjord.

The Gaularfjellet Mountain Road

FJORDS NORWAY - Utsikten viewpoint at Gaularfjellet National Tourist Route.
Utsikten viewpoint at Gaularfjellet National Tourist Route.

The road over Gaularfjellet takes the traveller into the waterfalls from the mighty Sognefjord, which is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord.

The 130 kilometer long drive is exciting and varied, and is closed during winter.

The viewpoint at Utsikten at the top of Gaularfjellet is one of many great viewpoints along this road.

Gaularfjellet Mountain Road runs between Balestrand by the Sognefjord and Moskog and Sande in Sunnfjord and is part of Norway´s National Tourist Routes.

Fjord Angling on the Sognefjord

Balestrand Fjord Angling offers a large range of adventures on the Sognefjord and in the mountains above Balestrand. Join a local fisherman for a day, experience fishing and sightseeing on the fjord, join a guided snow shoe hike with fjord view or rent an E-bike.

Guided Hike to Mt Raudmelen above Balestrand

FJORDS NORWAY - The Sognefjord seen from Orrabenken in Balestrand
The Sognefjord seen from Orrabenken above Balestrand.

Balestrand is a great starting point for hiking in the surrounding mountains, most of the hikes have fantastic fjord view to the Sognefjord.

Orrabenken viewpoint and Mt Raudmelen are popular goals for hikers, in the summer you can join a guided hike to Mt Raudmelen. Orrabenken viewpoint is by the same trail as the hike to Mt Raudmelen.

You can start many of the hikes from the center of Balestrand, and most of the hikes are well marked.

Guided Kayak Trips from Balestrand

Kayak Balestrand offers guided kayak-adventures and kayak-courses on the fjord around Balestrand. The guided tours take you to the Sognefjord and Esefjord.

FJORDS NORWAY - A guided kayak trip on the Sognefjord outside Balestrand is a great experience. Balestrand with Kviknes Hotel and the Esefjord mountains in the background.
A guided kayak trip on the Sognefjord is a great experience. This is Balestrand with Kviknes Hotel and the Esefjord mountains

Fjordsafari on the Sognefjord to Finnabotn in a RIB Boat

Finnabotn by the Sognefjord.
Finnabotn by the Sognefjord.

Balestrand Fjord Adventures offers fjord sightseeing in a RIB-boat. A tour to Finnabotn on the other side of the Sognefjord is an adventure you´ll never forget.

The boat trips to Finnabotn start and end in Balestrand. On the tours you will see the mighty Sognefjord and the beautiful nature that surrounds the fjord. The highlight is the Finnafjord, one of the Sognefjord’s most spectacular side fjords.

Here we guarantee that you will get a kink in your neck. The Finnafjord is narrow, the mountains are precipitous and the countless waterfalls plunge down the steep mountain sides.

Balestrand Fjord Adventures also offers private RIB-tours.

The Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism

The Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism offers exhibitions with an insight into the Norwegian tourism history in the fjords of Norway.

There´s also a café where you can buy coffee, local produce lunch alternatives and sandwiches. The café is also “serving” a great view towards the Sognefjord.

FJORDS NORWAY - Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism in Balestrand
Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism in Balestrand

Sognefjord Aquarium

Sognefjord Aquarium offers indoor exhibitions, 24 different aquariums showing the life in the Sognefjord, cinema and Gallery Munken with wooden carvings illustrating the history of Balestrand.

FJORDS NORWAY - The Sognefjord Aquarium in Balestrand
The Sognefjord Aquarium in Balestrand

Fjærland and the Fjærlandsfjord – From Fjord to Glacier

FJORDS NORGE - Fjærland and the inner part of the Fjærlandsfjord.
Fjærland and the inner part of the Fjærlandsfjord.

Fjærland is a picturesque fjord village surrounded by fjord, mountains and glaciers. Early summer is a great time to visit Fjærland and the Sognefjord. There are still snow in the mountains, the valleys are green, and the apple trees are blossoming.

The Norwegian Booktown, Norwegian Glacier Museum, Guided Kayak Trip on the Fjærlandsfjord, Guided Hike to the Glaciers and the Historic Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel are some of the things you can experience in beautiful Fjærland.

Fjærland Guiding also offers you to experience the Floating Sauna “Dampen” which is situated on the Fjærlandsfjord just outside the center of Fjærland.

From the ferry quay in Mundal it is a short drive by car or bus up to the Supphellebreen and Bøyabreen Glaciers.

Vik in Sogn, Hopperstad Stave Church and Fridtjof den Frøkne

FJORDS NORWAY - Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik in Sogn.
Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik in Sogn.

Vik in Sogn is best known for Hopperstad Stave Church and as the Old Chees’ home village.

The TINE Dairy which is based in the center of Vik, has its own Cheese Bar with a main focus on Old Cheese. The facility in Vik produces more than 65 tonnes of Old Cheese annually. In addition, they produce Mylsa which is a traditional cheese and they also receive large quantities of local raspberries that are turned into juice.

Vik is also the gateway to Stølsheimen Protected Landscape area. The protected landscape area represents a beautiful Western mountain- and fjord landscape and covers a total of 373 km². Vikafjellet is the most common approach to Stølsheimen, the Vikafjellsvegen between Vik and Vinje goes over Vikafjellet.

Germany´s Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany visited Balestrand several times, and it was an impressive sight when he entered the Sognefjord with his warships to spend his holidays there. Emperor Wilhelm II was a great enthusiast of Norway and especially the fjords in Western Norway. He vacationed in Balestrand over a period of more than 20 years, and he travelled there with his imperial ship Hohenzollern, which was followed by several other ships from the German navy.

The statue of Fridtjof den Frøkne that is placed at Vangsnes, 11 kilometers from Vik in Sogn, was a gift from the Emperor to the Norwegian people. The statue is 12 meters high, it is placed on a plinth which is 10 meters high. The enormous statue was unveiled on 31 July 1913.

FJORDS NORWAY - The statue of Fridtjof den Frøkne at Vangsnes by the Sognefjord. Balestrand on the other side of the fjord.
The statue of Fridtjof den Frøkne at Vangsnes by the Sognefjord. Balestrand on the other side of the fjord.

Sognefjord – What to See and Do

FJORDS NORWAY - The Sognefjord seen from Orrabenken in Balestrand
Sognefjord

The Sognefjord, the king of the fjords, is the longest fjord adventure in Norway. The Sognefjord is 204 kilometres long and 1308 metres deep at its deepest.

Join a guided glacier walk on the Nigardsbreen glacier. Take a short hike to Mt Molden in Luster and you will get a fantastic view down towards the Lustrafjord. See the beautiful stave churches around the Sognefjord. Urnes Stave Church is one of them, it is located at Ornes by the Lustrafjord and is part of our common world heritage.

Join a fjord safari or a fjord cruise on the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. Experience the view from Stegastein viewpoint above the Aurlandsfjord. Flåm Railway has been named one of the ten most beautiful railways in the world. This is the train journey from mountain to fjord, and many people take the train ride both ways.

In the middle of the Sognefjord, where the fjord is at its widest and the mountains starts to rise, you’ll find Balestrand, an idyllic village down by the fjord. The fjord village of Fjærland is located deep in the Fjærlandsfjord. It is so beautiful there that it is almost unreal. Fjærland is also called The Norwegian Book Town because of all the book sales in the tiny village.

Borgund Stave Church was built around year 1181 AD. and is the most visited stave church in Norway. Close by is the old Vindhellavegen Road that runs between Borgund and Husum in the Lærdalen valley in Lærdal. The old Vindhellavegen Road is part of the old King´s Road between east and west in Norway.

The Fjærlandsfjord, Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord, the Årdalsfjord and the Lustrafjord are all branches of the Sognefjord. These side fjords are perhaps even more famous than the Sognefjord itself, which is located in the middle of Western Norway. The Sognefjord is so long that it almost divides Norway in two.

References

Allkunne – Levande Leksikon

Hotels and Accommodation in Balestrand

Hotel Kviknes – Hotel in Balestrand
Hotel Midtnes – Hotel by St. Olafs-church in Balestrand
Balholm Apartments – in the center of Balestrand
Flesje Gard – outside Balestrand
Balestrand Seaside B& B Hotel – Balestrand

Balestrand – Useful Links

Hotel Midtnes – Balestrand Web Cam of St. Olaf´s Church and the Sognefjord
Visit Balestrand – Tourist Information Balestrand
Hotel Kviknes – Travel to Balestrand
Balestrand Adventure – Book an adventure from Balestrand

 

HOTELS - LINKS - FAQ

Here you will find an overview of recommended HOTELS in addition to SPA & BATH HOTELS and OTHER ACCOMMODATION PLACES in Western Norway. The combination of beautiful nature, activities that you can do in all four seasons and a stay at a great accommodation is unique. A stay in one of these places will do you good, both for body and mind.

There are ten restaurants that have awarded Michelin stars and Michelin awards in Western Norway. Eight of the Michelin restaurants are in Stavanger and two in Bergen. Here you will find FJORDS MICHELIN, where you will also find a list of recommended hotels in Western Norway, recommended by Michelin.

USEFUL LINKS is a list of websites with great information on Norway and the Fjords. FAQ is an overview of articles that answer the most common questions you have when planning to visit the fjords in Western Norway.

Balestrand – Map Overview