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Oslofjord Guide

The Oslo Fjord (Oslofjorden in Norwegian) is a picturesque inlet stretching along the southeastern coast of Norway.

It extends from the Skagerrak Sea into the heart of Oslo. It is not a traditional fjord formed by glacial activity, but rather a complex network of interconnected bays, islands, and inlets.

The Oslofjord might not be as dramatic as its western counterparts, but what it lacks in steep mountainsides, it makes up for with charm, plus cultural and historical sights.

This guide covers the fjord from the north (except for Oslo, which you can find here) and all the way down to the city of Fredrikstad on the east side and Tønsberg to the west side.

When to Visit

Along the Oslofjord each season brings its own unique charm. When to visit depends on your preferences for weather, outdoor activities, and the type of experience you're seeking.

Here's a breakdown of each season:

Blog: See my packing list for Norway.

Summer (June to August): Summer is a popular time to visit the Oslo Fjord. The weather is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). This season offers the best conditions for outdoor activities such as boat tours, kayaking, and waterfront strolls. Longer daylight hours provide ample time to explore the fjord and its surrounding areas.

Late Spring (May) and Early Fall (September): Late spring and early fall offer pleasant weather with fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season. Temperatures during these months range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F). It's an ideal time for outdoor activities, and you can enjoy the beauty of the Oslo Fjord in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Winter (December to February): Winter in the Oslo Fjord region can be cold, with temperatures ranging from -5°C to 5°C (23°F to 41°F). While outdoor water activities may be limited, winter adds a magical touch to the fjord's landscapes. Some attractions, such as coastal villages and cultural sites, can still be explored, and the fjord can be a serene and tranquil destination.

Getting Into

The Oslofjord is about 62 miles long and is probably the most well-connected fjord in Norway, with its main hub being Oslo at the north end.

Train: Train lines run on both sides of the fjord and connect at the Oslo Central Station. Not all towns along the fjord have a train station, but usually there will be a bus connecting a nearby town to the fjord. Larger cities along the fjord with direct train connections include Moss, Tønsberg, and Fredrikstad.

Bus: The bus is often your best option for getting to a station close to the fjord and especially for getting into the smaller towns and villages like Filtvet, Son, Drøbak, and Horten. Use the ENTUR website to plan your trip.

Ferry: In the summertime a high-speed ferry departs Oslo and stops at several towns along the fjord. For a tourist this is a great way to see the fjord and at the same time gain easy access to a few idyllic towns such as Drøbak, Son, Oscarsborg Fortress, and Filtvet.

Flight: Best flight connection is to Oslo Airport OSL and ride into Oslo from there and connect with a bus, train or ferry to your final Oslo fjord destination. There is also an airport in Rygge close to Moss.

Car: With excellent road connections you should definitely look into exploring the Oslo fjord with a rental car. Highways go along both sides of the fjord and smaller roads take you into charming towns. There is also a car ferry connection between Horten and Moss, and an Oslofjord tunnel going between Hurum and Frogn.

Lots of boats in the harbor with the sun setting in the sky

Places to Stay

Places to stay along the Oslofjord are plentiful and I’ve listed some recommended hotels sorted on my favorite towns and areas to visit. That said, you could even consider just making Oslo your base and do day trips along the fjord. But if you’d like to stay somewhere else south of Oslo, consider these spots:

Drøbak

In Drøbak you find the Reenskaug Hotel located downtown. It's an unpretentious hotel with laid-back rooms, some with views of the fjord. They offer a good breakfast and you can enjoy a tasty lunch and dinner in their restaurant. The hotel has their own parking.

Hvitsten

Just south of Drøbak is Hvitsten, a beautiful and unique place with a nice collection of the typical small coastal white houses. A great place to stay is the historical Ramme Fjord Hotel. An exclusive spot with a green garden, their own restaurant, and a short stroll from the fjord.

Fredrikstad

Fredrikstad is the largest town on the east side of the fjord and has much to offer including a quaint gamleby (old town). One of my favorite hotels is actually located in the old town, check out Gamlebyen Hotel which is a classical hotel with antique furniture and a relaxed vibe.

For a couple of standard hotels downtown in Fredrikstad, I’d recommend Quality Hotel or ApartHotel Wex.

Son

Son is a thirty minute drive south of Drøbak and is a charming sea-side village with an old town. If you head to Son, I’d recommend spending a night or two at the Son Spa Hotel which has one of the best SPA’s in Norway. Some of the rooms have nice fjord views and the hotel has a great cocktail bar.

Åsgårdstrand

Åsgårdstrand is a small charming town on the west side of the fjord. With small charming streets and houses, it is no wonder artists such as Edvard Munch were inspired by this spot. Hotels are not plentiful here, but the Grand Hotel Åsgårdstrand is an excellent spot and is sure to meet all your needs. It has beautiful fjord views and a nice restaurant to enjoy local food.

Tønsberg

Tønsberg is the largest city on the west side and has plenty of good options for sleeping such as the Thon Hotel Tønsberg Brygge right on the waterfront, or the Quality Hotel with a roof terrace and an outdoor swimming pool.

Note that prices for hotels highly fluctuate throughout the year, and if you book early you can sometimes find good deals! The high season in Norway goes from June to August.

Places to Eat

All along the Oslo fjord are excellent restaurants and cafés which are sure to please your taste buds and provide both casual and upscale dining experiences.

Here are a few restaurants you should consider checking out.

  • Det Gamle Bageri (Drøbak) - Charming bakery located in the oldest building in town. Baked goods and basic dishes including salads and sandwiches.
  • Kumlegaarden Restaurant (Drøbak) - A traditional place located in an old house. Their signature dish is Kumle/Raspeball.
  • Sjøboden Restaurant (Son) - Is a casual place right on the waterfront in an old warehouse.
  • Zaafran Restaurant (Son) - Excellent Pakistani and North Indian food.
  • Køl Restaurant (Fredrikstad) - Good for both seafood and meat dishes. Creative and tasty food!
  • Restaurant Slippen (Fredrikstad) - Great seafood restaurant.
  • Bakfickan Bakery (Fredrikstad) - Perhaps my favorite bakery in Fredrikstad. Try their “vaniljebolle” (vanilla bun)
  • Restaurant Grand Hotel (Åsgårdsstrand) - Offers a panoramic view of the fjord and a fine dining experience.
  • Tollboden Restaurant (Tønsberg) - An informal restaurant with good food right on the edge of the water. They have an inviting outdoor seating.
  • NACH (Tønsberg) - Great burgers!
  • Grangården Mat & Vinhus (Tønsberg) - Offers tapas and good looking (+ tasty) smørrebrød, open faced sandwiches.

Things to Do

You can spend several days exploring the east and west side of the Oslo fjord. With its many towns, cities, proximity to nature, and historical sights, it can make for a really memorable visit.

East Side

Drøbak is just a 1 hour bus ride from Oslo and is a charming spot with many of the typical white painted wooden buildings that you find in southern parts of Norway. A short ferry ride from Drøbak takes you to the Oscarsborg Fortress where you can learn about Norwegian WW2 history and the importance of this fortress in the early days of the war.

South of Drøbak is Hvitsten, often compared to Positano in Italy where you can find a couple of nice beaches and the nearby Ramme Gård, which is a farm where you can walk in the footsteps of the painter Edvard Munch.

Even further south is the idyllic little town of Son. I’d make a stop for lunch to take in the harbor front and the charming coastal houses, and then spend a night or two at the Son Spa hotel mentioned above.

Fredrikstad is the fifth largest town in Norway and has plenty to offer. Stroll the charming star shaped old town from 1567. Explore the Kongsten Fortress. See great art at the Østfold Art Museum. Peek into the Fredrikstad Domkirke/Cathedral and stroll along the waterfront on strandpromenaden.

West Side

Filtvet is reachable with a ferry from Oslo (1 hour 45 min) and is a small coastal gem with a nice beach and great views of the fjord both to the south and the north. There are not many places to stay here, but it makes for a nice stop if you are on a road trip.

Åsgårdstrand is a coastal gem with small art galleries, cafés, a charming harbor front, and is a popular place for Norwegians to visit, especially in the summertime. The famous painter Edvard Munch spent many summers in Åsgårdstrand, and you can visit his house. On a hot summer day head to the beach
or enjoy a meal with a view at the Grand Hotel Restaurant.

Tønsberg is the tenth largest city in Norway and can offer some interesting sights. Visit the iconic Castle Rock tower presenting stunning views of the city. See art at the Haugar Art Museum. Head to the small but charming Maritime museum to learn about Tønsberg’s connection to the sea. See the Tønsberg Domkirke/Cathedral and stroll along the busy Tønsberg Wharf, also a historical landmark.

Other Activities

East side

West side

  • Visit the island of Tjøme where you’ll get close access to nature and the surrounding fjord. Head to Verdens Ende (end of the world) and enjoy a meal at the restaurant there.
  • Head to the Midgard Viking Centre in Borre (close to Horten) to see the replica of a Viking Gildehall (feast hall), and Viking burial mounds.
  • Be a real Viking and join as crew on the Saga Oseberg Ship.

Also, see my guide for Oslo here.

Oslo ferry

How to Get Around

Public transportation

The Oslofjord area is a fairly densely populated part of Norway and is well connected with plenty of buses, trains and ferries, and they run frequently. To rent a car will save you time, but is not necessary to get around in this region.

The website ENTUR is helpful for tour planning in the area.

Oslo ferry

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