Climbing up the hills surrounding Balestrand is pretty hard work, but once you get up there, the views are fantastic! Unfortunately, there are just pathetic small signs at the bottom of the path that lead up to the hills and there is absolutely zero info at the village's tourist office and they have no maps or guides to help you get there. Head towards the hills and ask the locals for more advice.
I went to a different path than the people on the web blog that I came across online, but my friend's boyfriend who does orienteering (and is therefore extermely fit) went to this one Drasvik as well, and the views are pretty impressive!
Following the route on the Balestrand Map (available free at the tourist info), take the descriptive walking tour of town, the "Culture Track". This self-guided two-mile information trail takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, along a lightly-traveled paved road punctuated with benches (some with great fjord views), perfect for a break or picnic. Most sights are signposted with English.
The tour which begins a short distance from the Kivkne's hotel. You'll stroll along the "old road," once the main road from the harbor, along the shore, passing numerous villas from the late 1800s. These were built in the popular Swiss style of the period by locals attempting to introduce a dose of Romanticism into Norwegian architecture. Look for the dragons' heads, copied from Viking-age stave churches, decorating the gables. In addition to the villas, the route's twenty points include two burial mounds from the Viking Age, a statue of King Bele (mentioned in the Viking Sagas), a gift to Norway from Kaiser Wilhelm II, several views of houses and bluegreen fjord as well as sights easily overlooked by tourists, such as the spruce tree, not native to the region, or perhaps the fruit-packing plant (Balestrand is known for its delicious berries often sold by local children at the wharf.) Also check out the wooden shelters for the postboxes and some even give the elevation (m.o.h. - meters above the sea level).
For a guided walk, contact Bjørg Bjøberg, a local watercolorist and historian, at the gallery Det Gylne Hus (The Golden House) located at the harbour. Open daily 10:00–22:00, less Sept-May, tel. 91 56 28 42).
The church was built in 1897 by the wife of Knut Kvikne (the famous Kvikne's Hotel family). This devout Englishwoman wanted a church in Balestrand where English services were held. And indeed they still are. During the summer, British clergy hold services here, as the church is part of the Diocese of Gibraltar. It was modeled after the stave churches and was the subject of Alfred Heaton Cooper (1863-1929), an English painter, who adopted Balestrand as his home when he married a local woman.
The church has a very distinctive colouring. It is brown with mustard-colored trim and dragon heads below the belfry. It sits on a hill next door to the Midtnes Pensionat, one of the small, homey alternatives to the larger, more upscale Kvikne's. The church's gleaming wooden interior is a celebration of Norwegian simplicity and craftsmanship. It forms a quiet spot where visitors can gaze through the arched windows in the direction of mountains or sea and savor the atmosphere of this historic fjord village.
Admission free, open daily.
Balestrand has been an extremely relaxing experience. Just laze and soak the scenery. There are a whole lot of walking and hiking trails (for the serious outdoor types). All these trails are well marked in English sign posts and enroute the views are enchanting. Biking, Boating, Fishing etc are other options.
There are some very good hiking opportunities around Balestrand. Hiking trails are color-coded based on difficulty, with red being the most difficult. We took a yellow-colored trail (the second hardest) and felt we got good exercise. The fjord views were excellent -- unfortunately, most of our pictures did not come out very well. Take a look at some better pictures on the Balestrand Hotel's website (see the link below).
Take a walk through the centre of Balestrand. You will find funeral mounds, statues, beautiful villas with towers and spires, St. Olavs Church and much more.
The greatest attraction of the Sognefjord is its immense variety of landforms. A must if to take a ferry tour of the region to truly appreciate it. Ferrys are first class.
If you walk around this small beautiful village, you will stumble across this magnificent stave church considered a contribution to the worlds cultural heritage
Not just a beauty. It's Balestrand's greatest hotel, with magnificent views, cozy accomodations, affordable prices, and the most exquisit collection of antique furniture. A must!