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Revision as of 23:12, 11 August 2014
Oslofjord is a fjord in Scandinavia, leading to Oslo, the capital of Norway. Oslofjord is 120 km long, and over 40 percent of the 5 million Norwegian population live less than a 45 minute drive from the fjord. Packed with idyllic archipelagos, beaches and middle-sized cities, the Oslofjord is The Greece of Scandinavia and perfect for night clubbing and island hopping in the summer months.
- Inner Oslofjord - the northern half of the fjord is very steep-sided with few attractions except Oslo and Drammen
- West Oslofjord - the west side of the fjord is the start of a 300 km archipelago ending in Kristiansand, the capital of the south
- East Oslofjord - several border-crossing ferries in a joint archipelago with Sweden, perfect for a Scandinavian nutshell vacation with island hopping
- Northern Bohuslän - politically not a part of the Oslofjord, but Swedish Strömstad and its archipelago is tightly integrated in the Oslofjord
The following 11 out of Norway's 22 largest cities surrounds the Oslofjord:
- Oslo - capital with museums, a beautiful setting, lively nightlife and cultural scene
- Drammen - renovated city with two halves separated by the river, united by pedestrian bridges and walking paths
- Tønsberg - the oldest town in Norway, with an attractive seaside and lots of Viking history to digest
- Sandefjord - formed by shipping and whaling, still a dynamic business town and destination of the ferries to Sweden
- Larvik - super fast ferries to Denmark in this city hosting a high-end spa and Europe's northern-most beech forest
- Skien - river city with canal cruises to the mountains and one of Norway's largest sports facilities
- Porsgrunn - industrial town known for porcelain, shipping and nearby ferries to Denmark in suburban Langesund
- Moss - compact city centre with fast trains to Oslo, ferries to Horten and canoing to the freshwater lake Vansjø
- Sarpsborg - home of the largest waterfalls in Europe, beaches, skiing slopes and several amusement parks
- Fredrikstad - enjoyable city with an walled old town and lots of streetlife by the opposite riverfront in summer
- Halden - small harbour city with a remarkable fortress above the city centre, and Sweden on the other side of the fjord
Although Oslofjord have hundreds of inhabited islands, these are the most accessible for tourists:
- Oslo Islands - a group of six small islands served from Vippetangen ferry terminal, just as the Oslo-Denmark ferries
- Kaholmene - two islands in the middle of the Oslofjord, most famous for Oscarsborg Fortress on the southern island
- Nøtterøy - huge island with a waterpark, situated on the other side of the fjord channel in downtown Tønsberg
- Tjøme - smaller island south of Nøtterøy with the spectacular souhtern-tip named Verdens Ende (World's End)
- Veierland - at 4,4 km² the largest island without cars in the Oslofjord, and still near Sandefjord Airport
- Sandøya - a small island in the Grenland archipelago that still has its own school and ferry to Brevik every hour
- Bolærne - daily cruises from Tønsberg each summer to this wild-natured group of three former military islands
- Hankø - a island with Royal traditions that also contains various tennis courses and a resort hotel
- Kirkeøy - the largest of the 800 islands forming the Hvaler archipelago, connected by ferry to Strömstad
- Nord-Långö - more known by the name Alaska because of the sculpture park built up by a female gold digger
- Nordkoster - branded as a pedestrian island, with excellent beaches, 3 restaurants and a nature camping site
- Sydkoster - the largest island in the Koster national park, with a hotel and several places you can hire bikes
- Drøbak - picturesque, small seaside town with very good bus connections to Oslo
- Holmsbu - village with several spa hotels, at the large Hurum peninsula in the middle of Oslofjord
- Larkollen - coastal village near Moss Airport Rygge, with the largest camping site along the fjord
- Engelsviken - between Moss and Fredrikstad is this village famous for a fishing soup restaurant
- Høysand - large beach by Exit 4 from the E6, with several mini golf courses, kiosks, camping and a sunday flea market
- Sponvika - below the Svinesund bridges connecting Norway and Sweden is this idyllic little spot with only white houses
- Strömstad - Sweden's western-most city is only minutes from Norway, a fishing village grown into shopping eldorado
- Åsgårdstrand - artistic village with several art galleries and the house where Edvard Munch painted a lot of his masterpieces
- Melsomvik - home of Oslofjord Convention Center, that accomodates over 8 000 delegates and has over 700 cottages
- Brevik - odd village outside Porsgrunn that claims to be a city of it's own, with an Olympic park and strong Thai connections
- Langesund - reckoned as the end of the Oslofjord, the start of the Southern Coast and with lots of summer concerts
Oslofjord is served by three airports: Gardermoen, Torp and Rygge. For inter-continental departures it would work OK to travel by land transportation from Stockholm and Copenhagen as well.
How-to-get from the plane to the fjord:
- From Stockholm you reach the Oslofjord easiest in the summer by high-speed trains, making the trip across Sweden to Strömstad in only 5 hours. From there you have ferry connections to both Sandefjord in the Western Oslofjord, Fredrikstad in the Eastern Oslofjord, as well as the archipelagos of Koster and Hvaler with their underwater national parks.
- From Copenhagen there is a direct bus service from Copenhagen Airport to Sarpsborg a few times every day, called Nettbuss Express and using 7 hours.
- Arriving by plane to Norway, it would be wise to use Torp or Rygge, served by Ryanair flights to over 20 European countries and situated only kilometres from the shoreline. If you land at the larger Gardermoen airport, change to the Inter City-train bound for Skien or the express bus to Fredrikstad.
Arriving by boat you get a good view of the Oslofjord if you take the daily cruise ship from Kiel in Germany (20 hours) or Danish Copenhagen (17 hours) and Fredrerikshavn (9 hours). There are also faster connections from Hirtshals in Denmark to Langesund and Larvik in the outer part of Oslofjord.
To see the Oslofjord by boat, use one of the 15 following year-round-services (minus winter periods with ice in the fjord):
- Oslo Island Ferries - three lines departing from Vippetangen, the same ferry terminal as the Oslo-Denmark ferry
- Nesodden Boat - cross the inner Oslofjord by using the frequent boats from Aker Brygge Quay to suburban municipality Nesoddtangen
- Slemmestad Ferry - follow the shoreline of the inner Oslofjord with this high-speed ferry to Vollen and Slemmestad
- Hurum Ferry - 3-minute shuttle saving up to 15 km of driving when going from Southern Norway to Hurum peninsula
- Veierland Ferry - connecting several ports at the car-less island of Veierland with mainland in directions Tønsberg and Sandefjord
- Sandøya Ferry - from harbour town Brevik to populated island Sandøya and other cottage islands in the Grenland archipelago
- Sandefjord Tax Free Cruise - several cruise lines run services from Sandefjord to Strömstad with cheep buffet dinner and liquour
- Old Town Ferry - a free river crossing ferry connection between Fredrikstad's Old Town and New Town
- Borge Ferry - a free river crossing ferry connecting Fredrikstad's suburb Lisleby with white-housed village Sellebakk
- Fredrikstad Ferry - a river metro connecting four ports of call in the outlet of river Glomma, Norway's longest
- Hvaler Boat - connects the two Sandøy islands and Herføl to Skjærhalden, the largest fishing village in the Hvaler archipelago
- Bastø Ferry - almost every quarter this 30-minute ferry connects downtown Moss to downtown Horten
- Koster Ferry - a total of five small ports in the Koster archipelago is connected to Strömstad by express ferries
- MS Sagasund - a veteran ship from 1964 connecting Fredrikstad and Strömstad crusing the Hvaler archipelago
- Hvaler Fjord Cruise - a convenient way to make the short cut from Sweden to Hvaler using this 50-minute ferry
Oslofjord-in-a-nutshell: A quick trip full of impressions take you around the fjord using bus, train and ferries - it is actually possible to do the whole trip in a day, but more recommended is to use two or three days to complete such a round trip. Anyway: Start off by taking the Timekspressen line 6 from Oslo Bus Terminal at 8.00am. If it is a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday leave the bus in Fredrikstad and find the Sagasund ferry, which departs for Strömstad at 11.00am. If it is a Friday you might as well stay at the bus all the way to end destination Skjærhalden. Here you have an hour before the Hvaler Fjord Cruise departs at noon. At 1.00pm both the Sagasund ferry and the Hvaler Fjord Cruise arrives in Swedish town of Strömstad. Then take a look at this fishing village turned into shopping eldorado because of the much lower prices than in Norway. On weekdays it is a 2.25pm ferry to Koster, you should really consider this to see the spectacular islands with 300 inhabitants but no cars. The last ferry back to mainland Sweden usually departs between 6 and 7 pm off-season. If you want to make the full nutshell trip in one day, stay in Strömstad or take the ferry between 4 and 5 pm back to Strömstad. Ferries for Sandefjord departs at 4.30pm, 5.30pm and 8.00pm. If you go for the last ferry and want to make it back to Oslo for the night, make sure to have a taxi ready to take you the 1,5 km-ride from the ferry terminal to Sandefjord station, as it will be only around 10 minutes from you arrive Sandefjord before the final Oslo train departs at 10.38 pm (weekdays only). If you make it, you have completed the marvellous Oslofjord-in-a-nutshell-trip in a day. If it is a Saturday, or you are not in a rush, stress down and use three or four days to complete the round trip, to make sure you have time enough to see all the attractions along the trip. Both Fredrikstad, Strömstad, Koster and Sandefjord have a variety of accomodation opportunities.
The Oslofjord could be considered as one of the best places in the world to enjoy a top class meal. Regular food is considered over-priced compared to the rest of Europe. That means the price difference up to top-class restaurants is smaller. To top that 3 out of only 14 world chef champions in the Bocuse d'Or competition have their restaurants in Oslofjord:
- Statholdergaarden, Rådhusgaten 11 (on the corner of Kirkegaten), 0151 Oslo, ☎ 22 41 88 00 ([email protected], fax: 22 41 22 24), . M-Sa 6PM-12AM. Arguably one of Oslo's finest seatings. Set in a beautiful 1800-century mansion, the combination of very friendly staff and extraordinary dishes makes it well worth its Michelin star. Leaded by 1993 world chef champion Bent Stiansen. Expensive.
- ORO bar & grill, Tordenskiolds gate 6A, 0160 Oslo, ☎ 23 01 02 40 ([email protected]). Leaded by Terje Ness, world chef champion in 1999. Currently listed in the Bib Gourmand guide due to its fine dining experience at an affordable price. ORO have many regular diners and the atmosphere is informal and both relaxed and dynamic. Also a hot spot for after dinner drinks.
- Brygga 11, Brygga 11, ☎ 955 59 191, . 1200-2230. Seafood restaurant, serving local delicacies by the waterfront in outer Oslofjord's food capital Sandefjord. Leaded by Norway's latest world chef champion, Geir Skeie, who was crowned in 2009. Seasonal restaurant open for the summer from April 26th to August 30th.
Other Oslo restaurants with Michelin Guide stars and Bib Gourmand listings:
- Maaemo, Schweigaards gate 15B, . Nordic cuisine restaurant serving organic, local food. Jumped straight to two stars Michelin Guide Rouge at the earliest opportunity after opening, as the first Nordic restaurant to do so. Book as early as possible. Situated very close to Oslo central station.
- Bagatelle, Bygdøy Allé 3, 0257 Oslo, ☎ 22 44 40 40 ([email protected]), . Behind a discrete façade in the chic neighbourhood of Frogner, near the Royal Palace and the lively harbour lies this luxurious place serving modern Nordic cuisine with an emphasis on Norwegian products such as herring, cod, halibut and king crab. In the same building is also the Bib Gourmand alternative Brasserie Lille B. Expensive.
- Ylajali, St. Olavs plass 2, 0165 Oslo, ☎ 22 20 64 86 ([email protected]), . Closed Sundays and Mondays. Ylajali received its Michelin star in 2014. Named after a character in a Knut Hamsun novel, Ylajali has no menu for the guests to choose from. Instead, the restaurant tries to focus on the meal as a complete and comprehensive experience, dividing it up as if a book into a prolog, four chapters, and an epilog. The six-course meal based on seasonal produce and other top-notch ingredients is priced at NOK 1295, with an additional NOK 1095 for the optional wine menu especially designed to fit the meal.
- Fauna, Solligata 2, 0254 Oslo, ☎ 416 74 543 ([email protected]), . Restaurant Fauna received its Michelin star less than a year after opening in the summer of 2013, and is a less formal place than other restaurants in its class. Dress in jeans and a t-shirt, and you won't be turned away here. The prices are relaxed too. A five-course set menu will set you back NOK 750. The matching wine/drinks menu is NOK 695, with optional add-ons to both food and drinks menu priced at NOK 150. To ensure complete freedom for the chefs in developing the food and the menu, no particular style or direction has been chosen for Fauna's cuisine.
- Restaurant Eik, Kr. Augusts gate. The least upmarket of the central gourmet offerings, Eik consintently get rave reviews and doles out a fine five-course gourmet menu for around NOK 400 from its location near tram stop Tullinløkka. A less expensive fine dining alternative, mentioned in the Michelin Bib Gourmand List.
Please note that many of the finest Oslo restaurants are closed during July, as most customers have evacuated Oslo for cottages and summer houses further south in the Oslofjord. Many of them in the island of Tjøme, which hosts the only Norwegian restaurant mentioned in Les Grandes Tables du Monde:
- Engø Gård, Gamle Engø vei 25, 3145 Tjøme, ☎ 33 39 00 48 ([email protected]). A stay at Engø Gård is an unparalleled experience. In the middle of the forest at the island of Tjøme is a hotel and a restaurant set amid historical buildings. The restaurant serves fixed menus with 3 to 7 courses, with a new menu every month. Focuses on local food from Vestfold county. The nearest train station is Tønsberg.
Below is a list of TripAdvisor-leading restaurants in each of the counties surrounding the Oslofjord, excluding restaurants in municipalities without a shoreline to the fjord:
- Hos Thea, Gabelsgate 11, Oslo, . A small place near tram station Skillebekk. Outstanding food, top service and a small seasonal menu.
- Værtshuset Bærums Verk, Vertshusveien 10, 1353 Bærums Verk, ☎ 67 80 02 00 ([email protected]), . Norway's oldest restaurant, built in 1640. In the idyllic village Bærums Verk, situated between Oslo and Drammen. Værtshuset is a classic and timeless place, a real guest house with a unique atmosphere. The food is mainly Norwegian gourmet, made on-site from the best seasonal ingredients. Værtshuset has several chambre séparées for private parties, that can accommodate up to 50 persons.
- Soi Saam, Griffenfelds gate 3, 3045 Drammen, ☎ 451 61 455 (+47 451 61 455), . Authentic Thai food cooked by trained Thai chefs, served by skilled staff. Situated near Drammen station, on the south side of river Drammen.
- Pandas, Møllegaten 3, Tønsberg, ☎ 33 33 12 00, . In a strait near Tønsberg's massive harbour pedestrian street is one of the best sushi places in the whole Oslofjord. A wide selection of sushi, maki, fotumaki, nigiri and sashimi. Served with home-made soya sauce. Also offering soups and spring rolls.
- Pohlmanns Matbar, Storgata 136, 3915 Porsgrunn, ☎ 35555620 ([email protected]), . Just a few blocks away from Porsgrunn train station is the place ranked at TripAdvisor as the best restaurant in the industrialized Grenland region. Offers over 50 beers, and a ever-changing dinner of the day.
- Curtisen, Fredriksten Fortress, Halden, ☎ 959 98 184 ([email protected]), . Located on the grounds of Fredriksten Fortress, Curtisen offers fine dining in atmospheric surroundings. In the inner parts of the fortress is the small restaurant (46 seats) with a fantastic kitchen on historic ground. Book in advance.
- Heat, Ångbåtskajen 6, 45230 Strömstad, ☎ +4652660065 ([email protected]), . Situated at the harbour where boats to Fredrikstad, Hvaler and Koster depart, Heat is the highest-rated year-round restaurant in Strömstad. Claim to serve the best of the Japanese and Thai kitchen, with a twist. The perfect get-away if you are tired of Norwegian dining and wine prices.
Oslofjord is a good base for exploring other parts of Scandinavia:
- Swedish West Coast — Strömstad does not only mark the Eastern end of Oslofjord, it is also the start of the Swedish West Coast, a coast so long as a three-hour motorway drive down to the southern end in Halmstad. In the middle of the coast is the vibrant global city Gothenburg. While the coast between Strömstad and Gothenburg is easiest explored by car and famous for skerries, islands and small fishing villages like Fjällbacka and Smögen, is the southern part of the coast dominated by long beaches, straight coast lines and medium-sized cities like Varberg and Falkenberg. Halmstad is not only the southern end of the West coast, but also the start of Laholm Bay, a 40 km-long beach marking the border between West Sweden and the Copenhagen-Malmö region.
- South Norway — Even though the Oslofjord is reckoned to end by Langesund, the archipelago coast continous with skerries and small islands for another 250 km, throughout the Agder counties that makes up the South Norway region. The coastline is famous for it's beautiful white-painted wood towns, and contains both larger cities like Kristiansand and Grimstad as well as smaller summer cities like Kragerø and Risør. Train is rarely used in this region, be ready to travel by bus or car.
- The Norwegian Inland — From Oslo it is also an alternative to head for the forest, valleys and mountains of the inland. Ranging from west to east the five largest valleys of the Eastern Norway is Telemark (biggest inland city in this direction is Notodden, while the biggest skiing destination is Rjukan), Hallingdal (Hønefoss and Hemsedal), Valdres (Gjøvik and Beitostølen), Gudbrandsdalen (Lillehammer and Hafjell) and Østerdalen (Hamar and Trysil). Be aware of a lack of motorways in this direction, meaning speed will be around 70 km/h instead of 110 km/h southwards from Oslo and throughout the Oslofjord.
- Svealand — Oslo is actually not more than 70 km from the start of the Swedish Svealand region, a common name for the parts of Sweden that actually consists of three distinct regions. The nearest to Oslo is Värmland, a forested region totally dominated by the university city of Karlstad, situated by the extremely huge Lake Vänern. Then follows Dalarna, a sparsely populated region with skiing traditions. The Eastern part of Svealand is called Mälardalen, a umbrella name for the counties at the two-hour-drive from Örebro in the west to Stockholm in the east. Above 80 percent of the 3,8-million Svealand population live in Mälardalen, even if it makes up way below half of the area in Svealand.