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A new self-drive journey through East Norway and West Sweden

1st August 2013 Print

Journey from Ostfold to Gothenburg and take in stylish cities, unspoilt beaches, thousands of rocky islands, quaint fishing villages and two marine national parks.

Experience one of Europe’s most scenic - yet relatively little known - coastal journeys from Ostfold, East Norway to Gothenburg in West Sweden. Stay in top-quality accommodation along the way, sample delicious locally-sourced cuisine and indulge in a range of activities including island hopping, sea kayaking, seafood safaris and crime fiction tours.

It is the first time the tourist boards in Norway and West Sweden have partnered to put together a new six-day itinerary for this relaxing and picturesque 150 mile trip, also offering their top tips of what to see and do along the way.

Fly into Oslo Rygge on day one to explore Ostfold, the sunniest place in Norway and boasting 100 beaches, charming villages, lakes and bright yellow fields. Check into Quality Hotel Fredrikstad, set in the heart of the city of Fredrikstad and oozing cool Scandinavian design features (B&B costs from £66 pp based on two sharing, visit Refuel at Fabel, serving the best coffee in town, home cooked pastries and top-notch meals.

A must-do activity includes a visit to the nearby Isegran peninsula (a free 10 minute ferry ride from Fredrikstad’s city centre). It has a fascinating history, with settlers first arriving there in the 13th century. It was the royal shipyard for the Danish-Norwegian fleet until 1685. Explore Fredrikstad museum and take a guided tour of the Old Town – often described as Northern Europe´s most beautifully-preserved fortress town. Tuck into an evening meal at Restaurant Slippen, offering a menu of seasonal, local ingredients.

Kick off day two by moving on to the Hvaler Islands (30 minutes’ drive south). This archipelago of 833 islands, islets and skerries is home to Norway’s first marine national park, The Outer Hvaler. It’s a wonderful setting for diving, canoeing, fishing and hiking. Leave your car at Skjærhalden, the gateway to the islands, with a variety of shops, restaurants and galleries. Spend the night at Garnberget Cabins in Utgårdskilen on Vesterøy Island, a great base overlooking the fjord and small fishing village (cabins for 1-3 people cost from £394 total per night, including breakfast. Visit There’s also a fantastic restaurant on site, serving fish fresh from the surrounding sea. If you have time, perhaps take a short 20-minute boat ride to the island of Søndre Sandøy which is a perfect place for cycling or relaxing at Café Oline, a cosy café and pub right by the water.

On day three, it’s time to adventure to a new country - Sweden - to see another fascinating marine national park, Kosterhavet. To reach this unique environment, head back to Skjærhalden to pick up your car and drive south for 80 minutes to Stromstad on Sweden’s west coast - the gateway to Kosterhavet. On your way, stop at the historic city of Halden, close to the Swedish border and home to Fredriksten Fortress, offering a fantastic view of the town and the fjord, and far vistas into what once was enemy territory - Sweden. Once you’ve reached Stromstad, park your car and take the ferry (just over 30 minutes) to Kosterhavet marine national park.

Centered around the car-free Koster Islands, this is a place of unspoilt beaches, rocky islands and an abundance of wildlife - home to around 12,000 species in and above the water, as well as the country’s largest seal colony. Stay at the Sydkoster Ekenäs on the South Koster Island, featuring a Taste of West Sweden-accredited restaurant - part of a network of gastronomic eateries that make the most of the local cuisine (half board costs from £265 pp based on two sharing, including dinner, a seafood safari and access to the hot tubs. Visit Set off on a two-hour guided cycling tour during your stay, a fantastic way to take in the natural beauty and fresh sea breeze (costs £24 pp).

Catch a ferry back to Stromstad on day four and head south to the dreamy fishing village of Fjällbacka (30 minutes’ drive), famous as the setting of Camilla Lackberg's crime novels and where the iconic actress Ingrid Bergman holidayed every year, calling it ‘her place on earth’. Visitors can enjoy Läckberg-themed tours and jaw-dropping views of the archipelago from Vetteberget Mountain. Tuck into lunch at the Taste of West Sweden-accredited restaurant and hotel, Stora Hotellet Bryggan.

Fjällbacka is gateway to Sweden’s most westerly islands - The Weather Islands (a 30-minute boat trip away). Visit this remote, warm and windy setting where it’s possible to genuinely switch off. Embark on kayaking adventures and exhilarating walks, tuck into fresh seafood and relax in an outdoor hot tub by the shore. Stay at Väderöarnas Värdhus guesthouse, featuring another Taste of West Sweden-accredited restaurant (one night’s half board costs from £196 pp based on two sharing, including dinner and boat transfers to and from Fjällbacka. Visit

On day five, return to the mainland to admire the fascinating Bronze Age rock carvings at Vitlycke museum and then head south to the vibrant city of Gothenburg (90 minutes’ drive south). Discover quaint canals, the cobbled streets of historical Haga and countless green open spaces, including Sweden’s biggest botanical gardens, boasting over 16,000 species. The city has a buzzing outdoor café culture - try ‘fika’ (a break for coffee and a sweet bun), plus intriguing food markets, impressive museums and multitude of enticing restaurants.

And if you’re still hungry for island life, there’s the city archipelago right on Gothenburg’s doorstep - easy to reach via a half-hour tram ride and a short passenger ferry trip. Stay at Gothenburg’s Clarion Hotel Post, a listed former Post Office from the 1920s which has been wonderfully restored into a slick hotel complete with rooftop pool and the top-class ‘Norda Grill & Bar’ restaurant, managed by the famous New York based chef Marcus Samuelsson (B&B costs from £65 pp based on two sharing, visit

Ryanair flights from London Stansted to Oslo Rygge cost from £29 pp and from Göteborg City Airport to London Stansted cost from £30 pp (based on travel in July, August and September). Visit

Car hire for the duration of the six days, picking up the car at Oslo Rygge and dropping off in Gothenburg City Airport, costs from £666. Visit

Alternatively, visitors can fly in and out of either Rygge or Gothenburg, picking up and dropping off the car at the same airport. Car hire for the duration of the six days costs from £271 for Oslo Rygge or from £200 for Gothenburg City Airport. Visit

For further information about Ostfold, visit For further information about Gothenburg and West Sweden, visit and