Balestrand to Urnes Stave Church makes a fine day trip

This beautiful church is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and located not far from Kviknes Hotel.

Urnes Stave Church is an exquisite old wooden church. It is situated well up Sognefjord on a promontory with a lovely view over Lustrafjord. The church is the only one of its kind on the UNESCO Heritage List and easily holds its own when compared to other sites worldwide on the List.

The church is only a couple hours from Balestrand and a trip by car offers a beautiful view of Sognefjord.

From the Viking Age

Urnes Stave Church has its own very characteristic style in its north portals and gables. The style is known as the Urnes style, an artistic style and system of themes that were used both in the Viking Age and early Christian Medieval period. The style is characterized by exquisite interlace carvings of stylized animals and foliage.

The marvelous woodcarvings and extensive interior decoration make the church unique. The church as it now is was built around 1130, but the north portal carvings date from an older church. This makes it one of the oldest stave churches in Norway.

The stave churches constitute one of the most elaborate and technologically advanced types of wooden construction that existed in North-Western Europe during the Middle Ages.
— From UNESCOs web page

Stop in Solvorn

The church belongs to the Urnes farm which lies on the south side of Lustrafjord in Sogn og Fjordane. From Balestrand, take the ferry over to Hella and drive towards Sogndal. From Sogndal, take the road towards Gaupne and turn right towards Solvorn just before you pass Hafslo.

If you have to wait for the ferry at Solvorn, be grateful. It will give you time to wander among the old small houses along the beach and visit Galleri Walaker which is beautifully situated with a tinge of romanticism. The Gallery is part of Walaker Hotel, one of our good colleagues among De Historiske Hotel & Spisesteder.

The ferry trip over the fjord takes only minutes. Once on the other side, you can see the church. There is a cafeteria at Urnes farm just beside the church, where, when in season, freshly picked fruit and berries can be had from the lush gardens around Urnes.

Visiting Urnes Stave Church is seasonal from May to September between 10:30 and 17:45. The café at Urnes farm is open from June to August between 11:00 and 17:30.

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