My husband and I are traveling to Norway in June 2019. We're planning to stay 2-3 nights in Balestrand and are traveling without a vehicle at this point. My question is should we plan to trek over to Urnes to see the Stave Church? It seems like we'll need a car to get to the ferry over to Urnes or is there another way to get there? I think I'd feel really stupid not going, especially since my grandmother was born an Urnes(s) and her mom was likely born there, emigrating to the us in the late 1800's.
If you are staying 2-3 nights in Balestrand, I think you will wish you had a car even if you didn't want to go to Urnes. Balestrand is lovely, and there are some nice hiking trails in Balestrand, but little else to see or do there.
If you rent a car for one day, you could explore some gorgeous scenery in the area on the north side of Sognefjorden. After visiting the church in Urnes, backtrack as far as Sogndal and then head up over the north end of Fjærlandsfjorden, across to Skei, and then continue on Route 5 until you pick up Fv 13, which you can take back to Balestrand. It's a full day's excursion, but so much stunning scenery!
Check out http://leigebil.no/ for car rental info. I stayed two nights at the Balestrand Hotel (which was lovely), and they dropped the car off there the first night and did all the paperwork and took care of payment right in the hotel lobby, and I just left the car keys at the front desk after I was done and they picked it up. Driving was a snap in the area.
Wow, this sounds really great. I think you've confirmed my suspicion that a car may be necessary for part of our visit to the area. We normally like to travel via train wherever we go but I don't want to miss out on the beautiful scenery. Thanks again for the response and suggestions!
The closest well renowned stave churches to Balestrand are located in Kaupanger and Hopperstad in Vik. So, no real need to do the full journey to Urnes. For Hopperstad just ferry to Vangsnes plus taxi or bus 970 (drives not regularly).
If you get a rental car you can make a nice full day trip with two stave churches included:
Leg 1: Vangsnes - Hopperstad stave church - Oppheimsvatnet - Stalheimskleiva - Gudvangen (route)
Car ferry Gudvangen - Kaupanger through Naeroyfjord (info), not listed in Google Maps, reservation recommended
Leg 2: Kaupanger - Kaupanger stave church - Balestrand (route)
I can also support the recommendation to take a rental car for a day to explore Gaularfjellet which is one of the official scenic routes.
Thank you for there recommendations and route links. I'll take a look at them. I suspect we'll be renting a car and doing a day-trip when we're in Balestrand for sure!