The Hvaler archipelago is made up of more than 800 islands and skerries scattered across the North Sea. The islands mark the southern entrance to spectacular Oslofjord and are dotted with ancient fortresses and medieval churches. Browse boutiques and dine al fresco in the lively harbour town of Skjærhalden, or board a local ferry and escape to some of the more remote islands and villages.
Things to do
Perched on the island of Kirkøy, Skjærhalden is the largest town in the Hvaler archipelago. Cafes and bistros line the bustling quayside district, where you can dine on sun-drenched patios and watch colourful fishing boats cruise by. Stroll south to visit Hvaler Church, one of the oldest and most enchanting medieval stone churches in Norway.
Island-hopping cruises depart from Skjærhalden marina and are a great way to enjoy the Hvaler archipelago. Admire the beautiful coastal scenery and watch for seals and porpoises splashing in the bay. Many of the islands are privately-owned and house postcard-perfect chalets and log cabins.
Kayak tours of Ytre Hvaler National Park take you past rugged seascapes and historic lighthouses. The park protects thriving coral reef ecosystems and is an important habitat for seals and seabirds.
On the southern tip of Vesterøy is the charming fishing village of Utgårdskilen. The village is set around a tiny harbour dotted with rust-coloured fishing shacks. In summer, boaters flock to the island of Akerøy to picnic on the grassy foreshore and sunbathe on the sheltered beaches. The island is dominated by a 17th-century fort, where you can climb atop its ramparts for spectacular views over the archipelago.
Roads and underwater tunnels connect the main islands of Vesterøy, Spjærøy, Asmaløy and Kirkøy. Local buses run between Skjærhalden and Fredrikstad in around 30 minutes, while ferries connect Vesterøy, Spjærøy, Asmaløy and Kirkøy with smaller islands in the archipelago. Oslo Airport is a 2.5-hour drive away.
Hvaler travel FAQs
What are the best hotels in Hvaler?
Hankø Hotell & Spa (7.1/10 from 295 reviews) and Magasinet (7.7/10 from 150 reviews) are both highly rated options in Hvaler.