Possessing one’s own time
Come for a day, a weekend or a week. Hvaler offers you something new every day!
A short trip of less than 2 hours from Oslo you can experience the world of Hvaler. A world which is best described as breathtaking and magical.
For a long time Hvaler has been regarded as one of Norway's most exciting holiday and recreational areas. The sea, the beauty of the coastal landscape, the many rustic villages and the record many hours of sunshine attract holidaymakers to this amazing archipelago.
Hvaler must be experienced, you must have been there to understand…
Let history come to life through a hike on Spjærøy island in the historic environment by Nordgården at the Skjelsbu sound. Enjoy the sight of beautiful nature and the coastal culture. At Kystmuseet (The Coastal Museum) located here with a large orchard and old buildings, you can delve further into history. In the evening twilight in the end of July you can watch a show performed in the wonderful and athmospheric outdoor amphitheatre here.
Make your next stop on Spjærøy's neighboring island to the south, Asmaløy. On Asmaløy you can ride your bike or drive your car to Brattestø where there is a great marina with red boathouses. A child-friendly beach is adjacent to the port and tempts you into a dip. Continue past the beach and follow the path in the coastal heather while having a fantastic view of the Akerøya Fortress. As you move south in the open heathland, nature changes between pebble beaches and huge areas of rocks. Now you are actually in an area whith Norway's greatest number of species like birds, plants and insects. Several of the plant species are only recorded here, and almost half of all butterfly species in Norway are found on the Asmaløy coastline. The coastline is part of the Outer Hvaler National Park and also a nice place to look for the first migratory birds at springtime. The wind is seldom absent - take a trip out here on an autumn day and be inspired by powerful winds and sea spray.
The journey continues by car or bus through the underwater tunnel that takes you to Skjærhalden on Hvaler's largest island, Kirkøy. Visit the National Park Centre in Skjærhalden, which tells you that the more than 1,200 meters long coral reef at Tisler in Hvaler, supposedly is the world's largest known inshore coral reef.
The Outer Hvaler National Park Centre is also an exciting place to bring the kids. Together you can become acquainted with nature and the amazing creatures living in the park. Life is teeming both above and in the water. See amazing photos and movies from the national park, and let the kids feel shells, stones, barnacles and much else found on the shore. In the children's corner they can read books, draw, cut, puzzle and paste.
The children's part of the National Park Centre also has a an outdoor department on the pier in Skjærhalden; Lilleputtsenteret (The Liliput Centre). You can find it at the town square and marina in Skjærhalden. Her you can fish for crabs and watch the fish in the acquarium. Here is also King Neptune's throne and a special pat acquarium.
With renewed knowledge, it's time for a walk around Skjærhalden harbor where boats of all types and sizes lay side by side in the popular marina with vibrant life among the sea sheds of both sailors and landlubbers. Ice cream is enjoyed to the fullest, and the cliché about enjoying a bag of fresh shrimp and appropriate beverage is a reality here. End a perfect day with a special treat in one of Skjærhalden's several good restaurants. The purpose of the day described here is to give you the essence of Hvaler if you can come here for one day only.
Start your weekend with a fresh swim from Norway's finest "city beach", Kroksand. This lovely sandy beach was opened last summer. Here, among the scent of sunscreen and the sound of flip-flop shoes, plus running shower water and kids yelling from the waterfront, you can easily feel the place reminiscent of a bustling beach at more southern latitudes. After having showered sand and sea water off your body, you simply just have to walk a few feet before you can explore all the little shops and market stalls in Skjærhalden's vibrant harbor. In the popular boutiques you may find many treasures you might not have expected out here by the ocean.
Enjoy Hvaler's freshest lunch at the Sjøkroken fish store, slightly hidden at the southern end of the Skjærhalden waterfront.
The best way to explore Kirkøy is by bike. Miles and miles of country roads criss-crossing the scenic island makes it hard to choose which way to go. Why not bike at random? Whether you "set the course" in advance or not, you are guaranteed a nice trip in a landscape alternating between deep forests and farmland with fields and livestock. "Hvalerhagen" at Stavsengkilen in Kirkøy's north-eastern area should be a mandatory stop on your exploration of the island. It is hard to describe this garden in a few words, but we will try anyway; a married couple moved from Oslo and established "Hvalerhagen" on a farm located in a very remote area in Hvaler, surrounded by a stunning coastline and only a hundred meters from the shore. Since the opening in 2010, this enterprising couple has developed their garden with a farm shop, beer garden, sale of gifts and interior products, and they grow their own vegetables. "Hvalerhagen" is the perfect place to relax after a day on the bike.
If the weather is nice you should go for an evening stroll to the protected and historic sea sheds on Vesterøy island's western coast. As you come out of the woods you enter into an immediate idyll with Kuvauen and the ocean in front of you. The evening sun warms the red-colored sea sheds, everything is calm and peaceful with only a few clunking sounds as the ocean gently touches the boats and pier posts. To top up the experience, head up to the rocks both south and west of Kuvauen and admire one of the Oslo fjord's most beautiful sunsets, while you catch a glimpse of the Færder Lighthouse in the distance.
On the second day you can choose between various activities like a game of golf and kayaking in Norway's perhaps most beautiful archipelago. The variation of the Hvaler archipelago is outstanding. If you like waves you kan kayak in places where the southwesterly wind takes you all the way to the UK. If you prefer calm water there are many shielded opportunities at the north and east side of the islands. By the beaches Ørekroken and Storesand on Kirkøy are Norway's probably best conditions for all kinds of board-surfing (please see the contact info for golf, kayaking and surfing on www.visithvaler.com).
After the first day have been filled with activities, it is time for filling the rest of the day with food for the soul. There are many artists in Hvaler. "Kunstveien" (The Art Road) is a common term for a collaborating group of artists exhibiting and selling their arts and crafts. Kunstveien runs near Hauge on Vesterøy with just a short walk between each of the establishments. There are several galleries and exhibitions on the other islands, too. Although many of the municipality's galleries are available troughout the year, the great gallery season starts at Pentecost with a number of sales exhibitions and opportunities for insight into the artists' work. A trip to the sculpture park at Røsshue is also recommended. Here six international artists have created works of art in stone on the former stonemason site here.
During one week in Hvaler you have time to enjoy the best of the islands. In one week, you'll take in everything and live the life in the archipelago to its fullest. You'll be dozing on sunwarmed rocks and jumping into the ocean lots of times.
You can pick and choose among the sights or excursions at sea, island jumping to all islands by ferry is of course a must which perhaps should be on top of your list if you have a week available.
You can walk in the country's largest black alder swamp forest and experiencethe unique fauna in Arekilen Nature Reserve. You can bike the woodland trails on Søndre Sandøy, Norway's most forested island.
In the course of a week you will also have the time to go to the saga island Herføl with the rare 100 meters long burial mound "Langrøset". The burial chamber can be clearly seen after you have balanced your way there across the rocks. "Langrøset" is the longest of its kind. Both "Herfølsåta" and "Langrøset" tell about the region's fascinating Bronze Age history and are quite impressive with their age of well over 3,000 years.
Your week in Hvaler ends with a romantic trip with your loved one on the "Love Path" that runs from Skjærhalden via Skårnes and on to Hellekilen. The Love Path winds through some more idyllic sites and several historic traces of fishing and hunting settlements. After completing the trip, you can enjoy the bustling waterfront in Skjærhalden and treat yourself to a delicious dinner at one of the town's friendly establishments.
We have made some suggestions above, but you don't have to do any activities to have a nice stay in Hvaler. To just stay here may be enough without having to perform or carry out an activity. Nature has prepared the conditions for just lazing on a rock while listening to the waves washing the islets. It's perfectly possible to just wander about and look at the boats and people in the harbor the entire week if that is your preference!