Balestrand Travel Guide

Plan your trip to Balestrand, Norway with this comprehensive guide. Learn about the must-visit places, activities, food scene, accommodations, local culture and customs, and more.

Introduction to Balestrand

Balestrand is a small village in Sognefjorden, located in Sogn og Fjordane in Western Norway. It’s tucked between towering mountains and the crystal-clear waters of the fjord, making it a breathtaking place to visit. Balestrand is known for its rich history, natural beauty, and outdoor recreational opportunities. The village is also home to some of the most beautiful wooden architecture in Norway.

With this comprehensive guide, you will discover the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and what to eat in Balestrand. You’ll also learn about the local culture and customs, safety and health, transportation options, and more.

List of Places to Visit in Balestrand

Balestrand has a variety of attractions perfect for history buffs, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Kviknes Hotel – Built-in 1877, the hotel is a great example of Swiss chalet architecture and a museum of local history. You can take a guided tour of the hotel and learn about its colorful past.

  • Sogn Folk Museum – Located in Fjærland, a short drive from Balestrand, this open-air museum is home to over 30 historical buildings, including a stave church, farmhouses, and workshops dating back to the 17th century.

  • Urnes Stave Church – A UNESCO World Heritage site, located in Luster, the Urnes Stave Church dates back to the 12th century and is the oldest wooden church in the world.

Natural Attractions of Balestrand: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Fjærlandsfjorden – Take a scenic boat tour or paddle your way around the picturesque inlet located at the end of the Fjærlandsfjorden.

  • Molden Mountain – A popular hiking destination in Balestrand, the Molden Mountain hike offers stunning views of the fjord, picturesque waterfalls, and surrounding mountains.

  • Dragsvik Beach – A beautiful sandy beach situated in Gudvangen and known for its impressive views of the fjord.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Balestrand

Balestrand has many great hiking and biking trails for those seeking an adventure. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Molden Mountain Trail – This trail is a great challenge for both novice and experienced hikers. At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the fjord and surrounding mountains.

  • Stølsheimen Panorama Trail – This relatively easy trail offers mesmerizing views of the valley and mountains.

  • Raudmelen – This trail is a bit extreme and recommended for experienced hikers only. It offers a challenging climb to the summit of Raudmelen, the highest peak in the Balestrand region. However, the panoramic views from the top are worth it.

Best Things to Do in Balestrand: Activities and Tours

Balestrand offers a variety of activities and tours for visitors of all ages. Here are some of the best ones:

  • Fjord Safari – Take a tour boat or a speedboat and explore the fjord’s serene and stunning surroundings.

  • Kayaking – Paddle your way through the fjord and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

  • Glacier Tour – Hike or helicopter to the nearest glaciers and experience awe-inspiring natural beauty.

Week-Long Itinerary for Balestrand

Day 1 – Arrival in Balestrand, Explore the village’s museums and historical places

Day 2 – Hike to Molden Mountain

Day 3 – Visit Fjærland and its famous Open Air Museum and Norway’s Glacier Museum

Day 4 – Take a kayak tour of the fjord

Day 5 – Enjoy a fjord cruise

Day 6 – Visit the nearby stave church in Urnes or take a tour of the region’s beautiful flora and fauna

Day 7 – Departure from Balestrand

Food and Drink Scene of Balestrand

Balestrand has a rich culinary heritage inspired by the surrounding nature. Here are some must-try dishes and local beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Lutefisk – This traditional Norwegian dish is made from dried cod that has been soaked in lye and then boiled or baked.

  • Fårikål – This is Norway’s national dish and is made with lamb, cabbage, and pepper.

  • Rakfisk – A fermented fish dish that’s traditional to the region.

Local Beverages

  • Aquavit – A traditional distilled spirit, usually made from potatoes or grains. It’s often flavored with herbs and spices and served as a digestif.

  • Kvæfjordkake – The local cake of the region, also known as “the world’s best cake” is made from layers of meringue, almond macaroons, and whipped cream.

Where to Stay in Balestrand: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Kviknes Hotel – A historic hotel with over 200 rooms and suites, located right on the fjord.

  • Balestrand Hotel – A cozy family-run hotel located in Balestrand with stunning views of the fjord.

  • Midtnes Hotel – A modern hotel located in the mountain, offering amazing views of the surrounding region.

What to Buy in Balestrand: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Handcrafted Wooden Souvenirs – Balestrand is known for its handcrafted wooden items and souvenirs, which are perfect gifts for friends and family back home.

  • Local Arts and Crafts – There are many local artists and craftsmen in Balestrand, and their unique products make for a perfect souvenir.

Local Culture and Customs of Balestrand

Balestrand, in keeping with its Norwegian heritage, values cultural and environmental preservation. A once-thriving agricultural community steeped in local tradition, Balestrand showcases its roots of local color and customs in a variety of celebrations throughout the year.

Best Time to Visit Balestrand

The best time to visit Balestrand is from May to September when the weather is fair and mild. However, if you want to experience Balestrand’s winter beauty with snow-covered peaks and dazzling nights, you should visit between October and April.

Do’s and Don’ts of Balestrand


  • Respect the local culture and customs.

  • Plan ahead, especially for outdoor activities, and bring appropriate clothing and equipment.

  • Treat the environment and local wildlife with respect and adherence to Leave No Trace Principles.


  • Litter or leave waste in public places.

  • Disturb local wildlife.

  • Ignore local laws or customs.

Safety and Health

Safety in Balestrand

Balestrand is considered a safe destination for tourists.

Health in Balestrand

No specific vaccinations are required to visit Balestrand, and the tap water is safe to drink.

Getting to Balestrand: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Balestrand

The nearest airport is Sogndal Airport, which is about a 45-minute drive from Balestrand. Alternatively, Bergen Airport is about a 3-hour drive from Balestrand.

Bus Stations Near Balestrand

There are daily bus services from Bergen, Oslo, and other major cities to Voss and from Voss to Balestrand.

Other Options

You can also take the express boat from Bergen to Balestrand or drive to Balestrand via E16 or RV5.

How to Get Around in Balestrand

Balestrand is a small village, and the best way to get around is by walking or biking. Alternatively, you can hire a car, but make sure to follow local traffic regulations.

Where to Go Next from Balestrand: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Flåm – One of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations, Flåm is located about an hour’s drive from Balestrand.

  • Bergen – A picturesque city located on the west coast of Norway, about a 3-hour drive from Balestrand.


Balestrand is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful destinations in Norway and offers an unforgettable experience for tourists. With this comprehensive guide, we hope you have all the information and tips to plan your trip and make the most of your time in Balestrand. Pack your bags, explore the natural beauty of the region, and immerse yourself in Norwegian culture and tradition.