Highlights of Østfold, Norway – visitosloregion.com


The county of Østfold lies right where the strait of Skagerak turns into the Oslo fjord, and is often referred to as "the gateway to Norway”. Stay for a while, and enjoy island hopping in the archipelago, intriguing historic landmarks and a voyage on Norway's oldest canal.

Ice cream at the pier in Halden
Ice cream at the pier in Halden
Photo: Visit Oslo Region/Didrick Stenersen

Home to a world-class archipelago

Østfold's famous archipelago of Hvaler is made up of 833 islands and skerries, and includes a national marine park.

ikesten lighthouse at Asmaløy, Hvaler
Pikesten lighthouse at Asmaløy, Hvaler
Photo: Walter Schøffthaler


Visitors can explore parts of the archipelago by island hopping. Frequent ferry departures take you between four of the islands, each with its own gems to explore.

Distances between the islands are short, but with an abundance of scenic paths, sandy beaches, happy people and charming eateries, chances are you’ll end up wanting to stay for a few days.

A county that brings history to life

The old town of Fredrikstad was founded by King Frederik II in 1567, and is one of the best preserved fortified towns in Northern Europe. Cobblestone streets and houses built centuries ago send your imagination on a journey to ages past, and guides and museums tell tales about times of both occupation and prosperity.

The old town is still very much alive, and you can visit galleries, specialty shops, cafés and taverns here all year round.

Watching over Østfold's town of Halden, you'll find the venerable Fredriksten fortress. Fredriksten was built after Norway lost the Bohuslän district and Bohus fortress to Sweden in 1658, and has since remained Norway’s largest and most significant border fortress.

The fortress grounds are perfect for a stroll or a picnic in historic surroundings. Fredriksten is also a popular spot for festivals and other cultural events. 

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Where scenic waterways run through the woods

The Halden canal runs about 50 miles through the forests of Akershus and Inner Østfold. Completed between 1852 and 1860, it is the oldest of its kind in Norway.

Boats of all sizes still navigate the canal, assisted by several sets of water locks. If you'd like explore it under your own steam - go ahead and rent a canoe.

Water activities on Glomma river
Water activities on Glomma river
Photo: Visit Oslo Region/Didrick Stenersen

Glomma, Norway's longest river, is also a source of great experiences in Østfold's forest areas.

Explore the Halden canal

A seafood lover's paradise

Right at the pier in Fredrikstad lies Slippen Restaurant, where chef and manager Ingeborg Nygaard offers tasty food made from local ingredients.

With the Oslo fjord as her next-door neighbour, there is, of course, no shortage of fresh seafood. Ingeborg also serves other kinds of great Østfold specialties, like apple juice, in her restaurant. 

Among Ingeborg's Fredrikstad favourites we find Litteraturhuset Fredrikstad, a modern riverside cultural centre that includes a restaurant with a book cafe – the perfect place to take a break from everyday life.

Litteraturhuset Fredrikstad
Litteraturhuset Fredrikstad
Photo: Walter Schøffthaler

Urban highlights in Østfold

Although Fredrikstad's historic Old Town may be the city’s main attraction, the modern city centre also offers great selection of stores, nice coffee shops, and a number of good eateries located along the river.

The pier in Fredrikstad
The pier in Fredrikstad
Photo: Walter Schøffthaler

Fredrikstad's twin city Sarpsborg is one of Norway’s oldest cities, and was founded by Norwegian King Olav Haraldsson (later St. Olav, Norway’s patron saint) in 1016.

Today. Sarpsborg offers a plethora of activities, both indoors and outside in scenic surroundings. The city also boosts a rich cultural scene.

A bit further north lies Moss, known, among other things, for its artistic flair and as one of the places around the Oslo fjord where artist Edvard Munch lived for a while.

Make sure to visit the pastoral island Jæløya and the wonderful gallery Punkt Ø - Galleri F15:
One of the oldest, most traditional institutions for contemporary art in Norway.