Norway is, by any visitor’s account, an incredible country full of stunning scenery. Balestrand has been voted ‘Norway’s most beautiful village’ on many occasions, and it’s really not hard to see why. Balestrand is nestled at the foot of a mountain range called the Gaularfjellet mountains, and is the centre of the world’s deepest fjord, Sognefjorden.
Kvikne’s Hotel is the main place to stay, and one of the most famous buildings in the village. The hotel was really popular in the early 1900s following the multiple visits of Kaiser Wilhelm II prior to World War I. The hotel even still has the chair he used on his visits!
To get to the village, it’s a 4 hour drive from Bergen, which is the closest airport. You can combine it with a round loop road trip through multiple stunning locations, and I really think Balestrand is worth adding to the list of stops for a couple of nights – its hiking, views and fjords are epically beautiful.
If you find yourself with a couple of nights in this village, then here is my recommended itinerary.
Day 1 – A relaxing day exploring the town
A. Wander the town
Balestrand is a small place, but lovely to stroll around – walk around the harbour area for beautiful views out to the Fjords, check out the little aquarium, or pop in to the Norweigan travel museum as an introduction to your stay in this lovely part of Norway.
B. Visit St Olav’s Church
The church that was inspiration for Frozen! This church is the setting for Elsa’s coronation scene. This is an Anglican church, built in 1897 as an imitation of a stave church (medieval wooden churches). Nearby you can also visit a Statue of King Bele (a present from the aforementioned Kaiser Wilhelm II) and the charming Cider House is a nice lunch stop too.
C. Take to the water on a RIB boat ride
After lunch, take a Balestrand Fjord Adventures 2 hour RIB boat ride to explore the fjords. RIBs are guided power boats and they are quite the ride, especially over choppy waters. Definitely wear a life jacket and be prepared to be flung about…not for people with really bad backs or bad motion sickness! BUT the views are epic and worth the crazy ride.
After that, it’s time to relax and enjoy a nice dinner, before the exhausting hike tomorrow.
Day 2 – Hiking to Raudmelen
To hike to the major view point in Balestrand will take up most of the day, so don’t try and cram anything else in and end up too exhausted. There are a number of signs in Balestrand centre leading to the ‘nature trails’. One of the more popular ones is known as Kreklingen which consists of six trails. These trails are colored coded and easy to see along the routes. The orange trail is the easiest and only a kilometer in length. The longest and more challenging is the Raudmelen which is only five kilometers long (but feels much, much longer because of the gradient), and gives the most epic views.
This enables you to visit the view point where the three fjords meet below (Fjaerlandsfjord, Esefjord and Sognefjord) alongside Balestrand. Breathtaking.
Day 3 – Fjord Cruise to the Glacier Museum and ‘Book Town’
The fjords of Norway are truly spectacular, and this day tour with Balestrand Adventure helps you learn a little bit more about their history. This tour first of all takes you from Balestrand Harbour to Mundal (the book town). Mundal is also the point where the glaciers meet the fjord and a short bus ride will take you to the Norweigan Glacier Museum and Climate Centre.
Here you can learn more about how how ancient glaciers formed the fjords of Norway and how climate change is impacting the country. A really worthwhile trip to finish off your last day in Balestrand.
Thank you for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my guide to a stay in Balestrand. Stay safe and happy travelling everyone!