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The first Renaissance city in Norway, Fredrikstad, was founded by King Frederick II in the 16th century. A bastion fort houses the Old Town at the opening of the longest river in Norway, Glomma.
Fredrikstad was Danish-Norwegian bulwark over the Swedes towards the east, which is the main reason behind such massive fortifications.
You can take a path to get around the moat, explore the endearing small Old Town, and storm the forts outlying seconds away at Kongsten and Isegran.
You may be left spellbound when visiting the sunniest landmark of Norway, the south of Oslo Fjord, and the natural splendor. You may be amazed at the dreamy coves formed with granite, the islets at Hvaler, the thong of skerries, and the royally immaculate property of Hanko Island.
Here are some of the best things to do in Fredrikstad.
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Experiences and top things to do in Fredrikstad
Hiking in Hankø Island is one of the best things to do in Fredrikstad. The island was once used as the hunting land for the Lord of Elingard Manor.
Curative sulfurous mud was found in the 1870s on the island and later became baths, spa, and public recreation spot owned by the royal family of Norway. Later on, fallow deer were introduced, and trees were planted.
The holiday home was also built for King Olav V in 1930. You can take ferry from Hankøsundet to get there at the northernmost point of the island. Then stop at the crossing and embrace the Seilerkroa inn, which was painted red on the water and was finished in 1883.
Established in 1877, you can also hike to Hankø Fjordhotell & Spa, which was once swarmed by the elites in Norway.
Gamlebyen (Old Town)
Another best thing to do in Fredrikstad is wandering around Gamlebyen. This fortified Old Town is very adorable and scenic on the left bank of the Glomma River in Fredrikstad. This oldest settlement dates back to 1567.
Fredrikstad was the first city in Norway founded after the Middle Ages when Frederick II signed the charter. Willem Coucheron was the quartermaster and Dutch engineer in the 17th century who made this star-shaped design.
He was also responsible for the construction of earthwork ramparts and zigzag moat, which was so impressive that this city was never attacked. On the trellis of lanes made of cobblestones, around 350 people live in the fortifications.
You can find cultural Baroque piles and rickety wooden houses of the locals here. It also has some beautiful restaurants and cafes to take a break and potter around the bustling flea market on Saturdays on the main square.
At the southwestern-most of Ostfold County houses the beautiful archipelago of granite skerries, Hvaler Islands, which vary from few meters to several kilometers.
Hvaler is named from “Hval” (plural), a Norwegian word that resembles whale as a pod of cetaceans of the water. These remote islands are joined to the mainland through 108 Road. Therefore, you can come home and go out before lunch.
There is no lack of activities in Hvaler Islands as you could imagine. You can hop on a ferry, hike in birch, find some lost coves, play at Hvaler Golf Course, do kayaking, and explore medieval churches.
Kongsten Fort was founded in 1685 at the southeast of Old Town. It is a freestanding fort designed to strengthen the vulnerable eastern approach to Fredrikstad and is linked through a hidden path to Old Town. You will embrace the fact why the fort was built here by standing on its walls. It does not have any museum.
However, you can still come and explore the architecture of this tourist attraction in Fredrikstad. It houses the gateway, ramparts, powder magazine, bastions, commander’s house, and casemate, which survived well over time.
The fort was featured on Norwegian postage stamps on its 300th anniversary, and these spaces are now rented out for accommodation and events.
Bathing in the nature reserve of Mærrapanna Naturreservat is a treat in summer. This peninsula is located just 15 minutes from the city by car.
It exudes memorable scenery on the ground with monumental granite boulders where you can get the scenic orange hue of sunlight. There are tufts of pine, heather, and serene grassy lands across the boulders.
The peninsula has sheltered bathing places and has never been over 100m wide where kids can paddle in, and there are also fishing spots, picnic benches, barbecue pits, playground, and bathing ladders for swimmers.
Though catching up on a football match in Norway is not the thing you want to do in life, but you should still consider Fredrikstad FK, a local team if you are getting here in summer.
Football is played from March to November in Norway. So, you are most likely to catch a game if you are getting around Fredrikstad landmarks in summers.
Playing at Fredrikstad Stadion, Fredrikstad FK is full of culture and history.
Østre Fredrikstad Church
The first church in the Old Town, Ostre Fredrikstad Church, was built in 1560 entirely of wood but burnt down after a long time. Each of the nearby five churches was burned down the same way on this site. When the last wooden church was lost in 1764, the city finally decided to use brick and stone to build a church, which has survived since 1779.
You can also find small traces in the stonework of its predecessor in this proud church, which has the capacity of over 450 worshippers.
You may also get a chance to view the unmatched interiors with a gallery of Ionic columns, gold-painted capitals, and wooden pews.
Foten is located just 10km southwest of town and one of the most beautiful beaches in Fredrikstad. Every year, it receives the Blue Flag for world-class amenities and turquoise blue waters.
The new kids’ playground and a beach volleyball court were built in summer 2012. It is a bit sandy beach, which blends well with curved, large granite rocks, which you can lounge on during summers.
There is a wooden pier as well as bathing ladders to dip in the gentle sea. It also has a diving board with several levels on the rocks around deeper water.
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