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The earliest recorded mention of Glesvær dates from 1664. At this time, a merchant from Bergen named Henrich Wessel had a trade monopoly at Glesvær. As a land-owner, he was regarded as a lord in the town, and everyone traded their fish through him. He set the prices and bought wholesale, but most of the money he paid for the fish was soon spent in the local shop and tavern, both of which he also owned. For several hundred years Glesvær remained the largest fishing village on Sotra. The main buildings on the dock, which Wessel built in 1688, are used for guided tours, dining, and for other events such as Periphery Festival events.
Glesvær Rorbu (Fisherman's cabins) is also located at Glesvær.