This article is about the municipality in Sogn, Norway. For the village in Balestrand municipality, see Balestrand (village).
Balestrand kommune

Coat of arms

Sogn og Fjordane within

Balestrand within Sogn og Fjordane
Coordinates: 61°10′39″N 06°24′14″E / 61.17750°N 6.40389°E / 61.17750; 6.40389Coordinates: 61°10′39″N 06°24′14″E / 61.17750°N 6.40389°E / 61.17750; 6.40389
Country Norway
County Sogn og Fjordane
District Sogn
Administrative centre Balestrand
  Mayor (2011) Harald Offerdal (Ap)
  Total 429.85 km2 (165.97 sq mi)
  Land 411.22 km2 (158.77 sq mi)
  Water 18.63 km2 (7.19 sq mi)
Area rank 231 in Norway
Population (2013)
  Total 1,337
  Rank 375 in Norway
  Density 3.3/km2 (9/sq mi)
  Change (10 years) -11.2 %
Demonym(s) Balestrending[1]
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code NO-1418
Official language form Nynorsk
Data from Statistics Norway

Balestrand is a municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. It is located on the northern shore of the Sognefjorden in the traditional district of Sogn. The administrative center is the village of Balestrand. Other villages in the municipality include Ese, Kvamme, Låne, Sæle, Tjugum, and Vetlefjorden.

The municipality is situated at the confluence of the Fjærlandsfjorden/Esefjorden and the main Sognefjorden. The major industries in the municipality are tourism and farming. Balestrand became popular early due to the interest of artists, such as Hans Gude, Alfred Heaton Cooper, Hans Dahl, and Johannes Flintoe. Their paintings of the scenery around Balestrand inspired visitors, and Balestrand maintains its connection with art. Other industries include made-to-order kitchen interiors, local apple juice, and Nesseplast which produces industrial plastic. The Norwegian County Road 13 runs through the municipality.

General information

Map of the present municipality
View of Balestrand village (left), the Esefjorden (center), and the Fjærlandsfjorden (right)

Balestrand was established as a municipality in 1850 when the three sub-parishes (sokn) of Vangsnes, Tjugum, and Mundal in the northwestern part of the large Leikanger municipality were separated to form the new municipality of Balestrand. The initial population of the municipality was 2,122. In 1861, the Mundal sub-parish was renamed Fjærland.

On 1 January 1964 the municipalities of Vik, Leikanger, and Balestrand changed their boundaries in a land trade. The sub-parish of Vangsnes (population: 189) was transferred from Balestrand to Vik, Balestrand gained the sub-parish of Kvamsøy (population: 389) from Vik, and Leikanger gained the Hella-Eitorn area (population: 31) from Balestrand. Balestrand had a population of 1,606 after the changes were completed.

The Fjærland area of Balestrand had always been isolated from the rest of the municipality, and only accessible by boat. In 1995, the Frudal Tunnel was completed connecting Fjærland to neighboring Sogndal municipality (not to the rest of Balestrand). This caused discussions about Fjærland's municipal future. On 1 January 2000, the entire sub-parish of Fjærland in northern Balestrand was transferred to Sogndal municipality.[2][3]


The compounded name Balestrand was created in 1832 by the Norwegian writer Henrik Wergeland. The first element is the name of the old farm Bale (Old Norse: Bali) and the last element is (Old Norse: strönd) or "strand" which means "beach". The name of the farm is identical with the word bali which means "hillside along a beach".[4][5]


The coat-of-arms is from modern times. The arms were granted on 23 October 1989. It shows the silver-colored hilt of a Viking sword on a blue background.[6]

See also: coat-of-arms of Hægebostad


Kvamsøy Church on Kvamsøy island

The Church of Norway has one parish (sokn) within the municipality of Balestrand. It is part of the Indre Sogn deanery in the Diocese of Bjørgvin.

Churches in Balestrand
Parish (Sokn)Church NameLocation of the ChurchYear Built
BalestrandKvamsøy ChurchKvamsøy1290
Sæle ChurchSæle1903
Tjugum ChurchTjugum1863

There is also one Anglican church in Balestrand:


A view to Vetlefjorddalen and Bårddalen from a lookout spot at the top of the serpentine County Road 13
Painting: Munken gård i Esefjorden by Adelsteen Normann

All municipalities in Norway, including Balestrand, are responsible for primary education (through 10th grade), outpatient health services, senior citizen services, unemployment and other social services, zoning, economic development, and municipal roads. The municipality is governed by a municipal council of elected representatives, which in turn elect a mayor.

Municipal council

The municipal council (Kommunestyre) of Balestrand is made up of 17 representatives that are elected to every four years. For 2011–2015, the party breakdown is as follows:[7]

Balestrand Kommunestyre 2011–2015
Party NameName in NorwegianNumber of
 Labour PartyArbeiderpartiet4
 Conservative PartyHøgre5
 Christian Democratic PartyKristelig Folkeparti2
 Centre PartySenterpartiet3
 Socialist Left PartySosialistisk Venstreparti1
 Liberal PartyVenstre2
Total number of members:17


The mayor (ordførar) of a municipality in Norway is a representative of the majority party of the municipal council who is elected to lead the council. Harald Offerdal of the Labour Party was elected mayor of Balestrand for the 2011–2015 term.


Balestrand lies between the high snow-covered Gaularfjellet mountains in the center of the beautiful, lush Sognefjorden. Three fjord arms stretch inland, winding through the mountains and dotted with charming hamlets: Lånefjorden, Esefjorden, and Vetlefjorden. The Fjærlandsfjorden runs along the eastern border of the municipality. The Jostefonn glacier sits at the very northernmost part of the municipality.

Balestrand is bordered to the west by the municipalities of Høyanger and Gaular, to the north by Førde, and to the east by Sogndal and Leikanger. Across the Sognefjorden to the south is the municipality of Vik.


Kviknes hotel in Balestrand
St. Olaf's Anglican Church

Kvikne's Hotel

Built in the 19th century, the Kvikne's Hotel is one of the most famous buildings in Balestrand. The Kvikne family, who own the place, took it over in 1877. Since then the establishment has undergone constant development which continues to this day. There are many new buildings and remodeling and expansion projects have been carried out.

Today, the hotel is a highly modern facility resounding with tradition and culture. With 200 rooms, it is also one of Norway’s largest fine hotels catering to tourists. An impressive collection of art and historical pieces is a central feature of the hotel's interior, and one of the elements of its distinct personality.

Kviknes Hotel was made popular for European visitors in the early part of the 20th century by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who often visited there during his summer vacations prior to World War I. The hotel still possesses the chair he used in their restaurant. The Kaiser is accompanied on the list by a number of emperors, kings, presidents, Prime ministers, film stars, and artists from many countries.[8]

St. Olaf's Church

St. Olaf's Church, also known as the English Church, is an Anglican church built in the style of a Stave church. The church was completed in 1897 as a memorial to Margaret Green. Margaret, an English lady, came to the fjords as a tourist to hike the mountains. She met, fell in love with and married Knut Kvikne who was an avid mountain man. Being a very pious woman, she wished for an Anglican church in Balestrand. She started the church with her husband, but died before its completion. Sunday services are held during the summer months, being conducted by rotating vicars from England.[8][9]

St. Olaf's Church is notable as the inspiration for the chapel in Elsa's coronation scene in the 2013 Disney film Frozen.[10]

Other attractions


  1. "Navn på steder og personer: Innbyggjarnamn" (in Norwegian). Språkrådet. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  2. 1 2 Natvik, Oddvar (9 February 2005). "Some historical data on the 26 Kommunes". Archived from the original on 13 June 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  3. Jukvam, Dag (1999). "Historisk oversikt over endringer i kommune- og fylkesinndelingen" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Statistics Norway.
  4. Rygh, Oluf (1919). Norske gaardnavne: Nordre Bergenhus amt (in Norwegian) (12 ed.). Kristiania, Norge: W. C. Fabritius & sønners bogtrikkeri. p. 137.
  5. "Om Balestrand" (in Norwegian). Balestrand kommune. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  6. "Civic heraldry of Norway - Norske Kommunevåpen". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  7. "Members of the local councils, by party/electoral lists and municipality" (in Norwegian). Statistics Norway. 2011. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  8. 1 2 3 "Balestrand Kommune". Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  9. "Things to do in Balestrand". Balestrand Hotel. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  10. Solomon, Charles (2013). The Art of Frozen. Chronicle Books. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-45211-716-4.

External links

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Balestrand.
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