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 Hotel Kviknes at Balestrand is beautifully located beside the Sognefjord. The Kvikne family have been the hosts here since 1877.
Featured Image: Balestrand with illustration; planned new bridge across Esefjorden.
Photo: fjords.com. Illustration bridge: Vestland Fylkeskommune
Balestrand by the Sognefjord
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 Hotel Kviknes, 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.
Hotel Kviknes 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 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 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.
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.
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 new 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.
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.
Kayak Balestrand offers kayak-rental, guided kayak-adventures and kayak-courses on the fjord around Balestrand. The guided tours take you to the Sognefjord and Esefjord. Pictures from our kayak trip to Balestrand below.
Kayaking the Fjærlandsfjord from Fjærland to Balestrand
That morning we decided to kayak out the Fjærlandsfjord to Balestrand which is another beautiful village in Sogn. We had a great (and long) day in our kayaks, surrounded by beautiful nature. Porpoises played around our kayaks, and eagles observed everything from above.
Late evening we arrived Balestrand and went ashore at Hotel Kviknes, one of many Historic Hotels in Norway, and one of the most beautiful. That evening we had a well deserved beer at one of the hotels balconies.
Balestrand Fjord Adventure 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. Balestrand Fjord Adventure also offers private RIB-tours.
Balestrand is a great starting point for hiking and skiing in the surrounding mountains. Mt Keipen, Mt Raudmelen and the Fossestien Trail are popular goals for hikers. You can start many of the hikes from Hotel Kviknes in the center of Balestrand, and most of the hikes are well marked.
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.
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.
The Fjærlandsfjord between Balestrand and Fjærland is a branch of the Sognefjord. The fjord leads you to the outskirts of the Jostedalsbreen Glacier. At the head of the fjord you find interesting attractions such as the Norwegian Glacier Museum and the picturesque town Fjærland (the Norwegian book town). From the ferry quay in Mundal it is a short drive by car or bus up to the Supphellebreen and Bøyabreen Glaciers.
This is what we call Fjord View! There is only one thing to say, Skomakarnipa gives you stomach ache. We had been talking about this hike for many years. Finally the day was there. As they say in the Sognefjord area; –The mountains are calling on me and I must go…
The Sognefjord, the king of the fjords, is the longest fjord adventure in Norway. The fjord is 204 kilometers long and 1308 meters deep. Hike on the Nigardsbreen Glacier, see the Stave Churches, join a Fjord Safari, a Fjord Cruise or experience the Sognefjord in a kayak. The Sognefjord is located located in the northern part of the county of Vestland, in the middle of Western Norway.
Accommodation in Balestrand
Hotel Midtnes – Balestrand Web Cam of St. Olaf´s Church and the Sognefjord
Visit Sognefjord – Official Tourist Information about Balestrand
Visit Balestrand – Tourist Information Balestrand
Hotel Kviknes – Travel to Balestrand
Balestrand Adventure – Book an adventure from Balestrand