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Typical polished cliffs coastline at Hvaler

Østfold is a county in the southeastern corner of East Norway. It borders Akershus to the north and west and Sweden (Dalsland and Värmland) to the east. The name means east of the Oslofjord.

Cities[edit]

Map of Østfold

Østfold has six cities, here listed from biggest to smallest:

  • 1 Fredrikstad - enjoyable city with an walled old town and lots of streetlife by the opposite riverfront in summer
  • 2 Sarpsborg - home of the largest waterfalls in Europe, beaches, skiing slopes and several amusement parks
  • 3 Moss – compact city centre with fast trains to Oslo, ferries to Horten and canoeing to the freshwater lake Vansjø
  • 4 Halden - small harbour city with a remarkable fortress above the city centre, and Sweden on the other side of the fjord
  • 5 Askim - industrial town with three hydroelectric power stations, glass wool factory and indoor water park
  • 6 Mysen - small city with river trail, trotting course, fortress, micro brewery pub and a cozy Italian restaurant
Østfold county within Norway

Other destinations[edit]

Østfold has several small villages, here listed following the border to Sweden and then up the Oslofjord:

  • 1 Marker - municipality including border village Ørje with a downtown beach, popular bakery and a channel lock cafe
  • 2 Aremark - forest district with canoeing, fishing, elks and the scenic border lake Stora Lee
  • 3 Sponvika Sponvika on Wikipedia - below the Svinesund bridges connecting Norway and Sweden is this idyllic little spot with only white houses
  • 4 Høysand Høysand on Wikipedia - large beach by Exit 4 from the E6, with several mini golf courses, kiosks, camping and a sunday flea market
  • 5 Kirkeøy Kirkeøy on Wikipedia - the largest of the 800 islands forming the Hvaler archipelago, connected by ferry to Strömstad in Sweden
  • 6 Hankø Hankø on Wikipedia - a island with Royal traditions that also contains various tennis courses and a resort hotel
  • 7 Engelsviken Engalsvik on Wikipedia - between Moss and Fredrikstad is this village famous for a fishing soup restaurant
  • 8 Larkollen Larkollen on Wikipedia - coastal village near Moss Airport Rygge, with the largest camping site along the fjord

Understand[edit]

Østfold is a largely a gentle rolling lowland; nowhere in this county is above 300 m (980 ft) in altitude. Highway E6 runs on a natural earth wall that contains a range of lakes dividing the inner and outer part of the county. The northern-most inner part of the county is oriented in direction Oslo and with a very car-oriented culture, while the typical inhabitant of the outer part is more into boats and visits Sweden at least as often as Oslo. The inner part of the county also have a higher-altitude forest that separates the Halden Canal from the rest of the county. This forest is above 200 m (660 ft) in altitude and thus have a very different kind of forest and lack of cropland, while the rest of the county is situated on former seabed that quite recently dried up as the land raised when the ice shelf disappeared. Near the coast this process continues and have created a enormous archipelago with thousands of islands and skerries. River Glomma runs through the county from north to south passing by Askim, Sarpsborg and Fredrikstad with all its water from the mountains, while Moss and Halden have their own smaller rivers connecting to the forests of the Oslo region.

The county of Østfold was merged into a bigger county in 2020, but separatist movements emerged. The parts of the county which is nearest to Oslo, Moss and inner Østfold with all its train commuters, did not want to reinstall Østfold, while the southern parts of the county was more eager to create the county once more. As of 2022 no decision about the future county borders have been made, but Østfold is still a separate area for public transportation pricing as well as election district to the parliament. The parts of the county that want to reinstall it is also the same parts of the county that speak a certain dialect quite different from the Oslo dialect, considering the short distance of only 1 hour drive from the capital.

Typical landscape of interior Østfold

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Oslo Airport, located 100 km north of Østfold. A major international airport with flights from the USA and major European cities. Use trains to get to Oslo and then to Østfold, or direct buses serving Moss and Fredrikstad in around 2 hours travel time.
  • Copenhagen Airport: Some daily direct buses connect Østfold to Copenhagen, with flights to more inter-continental destinations than Oslo. The travel time is between 6 and 7 hours.

By train[edit]

By bus[edit]

  • Some buses from Gothenburg in Sweden stop at E6 near Sarpsborg and Moss. Operators Swebus or Nettbuss.
  • There are hourly local buses from Strömstad in Sweden to Halden (popular among Norwegians doing shopping). Tickets by credit card onboard or prebought.

Get around[edit]

By train[edit]

  • NSB's trains stop every hour at Moss, Rygge, Råde, Fredrikstad, Sarpsborg and Halden and is the fastest way to travel between the cities in outer Østfold. Another line connects the cities of Mysen and Askim to smaller Østfold villages Skotbu, Tomter, Knapstad, Spydeberg and Slitu every hour. Some daily trains to Eidsberg, Heia and Rakkestad. The travel time from Fredrikstad by train to the other cities is 15 minutes to Sarpsborg, around 30 minutes to Moss and Halden and around 2 hours to Mysen and Askim (change trains at Ski). Train tickets start at 44 NOK and could cost up to 200 NOK per hour inside the train.

By bus[edit]

  • Østfold Kollektivtrafikk is the company responsible for planning and for ticket sales for local buses in Østfold. Their website is in Norwegian only, but all routes are integrated with Google Maps. Except for routes from Fredrikstad to Sarpsborg and Sarpsborg to Mysen and Askim, train is a quicker alternativ than bus for inter-city travel. Internal bus routes in the cities typically go once or twice an hour. Pricing is very cheap compared to trains. Purchased via the app it costs only 30 NOK to travel anywhere in the county by bus.

See[edit]

Ytre Hvaler is the national park of Østfold, with coral reefs and water with much more salinity than most of Scandinavia.
  • Fortresses Fredriksten (fjord view above Halden), Gamlebyen (moated old town of Fredrikstad) and Høytorp (in Mysen)
  • Galleries Soli Brug in Sarpsborg, F15 in Moss and Aisato in Skjærhalden
  • Almost car-free islands Isegran, Hankø, Sandøyene, Herføl and Lauer connected by frequent ferries
  • Halden Canal: Four sets of locks allows boats to travel parallel to the Swedish border for 75 km
  • Østfold's county museum Borgarsyssel with 36 historical buildings, built around the ruins of the 12th century St Nicholas church.

Do[edit]

  • Golf courses Moss & Rygge (by the fjord) and urban Gamle Fredrikstad is both recognized among Norway's best, classical Borregaard is Norway's second course, and the county also have Fredriksten by the fortress, pay-and-play course Øya on an island in river Glomma and six forest courses
  • Water parks Østfoldbadet (both indoor and outdoor in Askim) and Superland (activity centre at Quality Hotel & Resort Sarpsborg with climbing and minigolf in addition to the indoor water park and spa)
  • Skiing centres Kjerringåsen (4 slopes, lighted cross-country courses and mountain biking during summer) and Middagsåsen (3 slopes)
  • Inspiria: Science centre that provides an adventure in mathematics, science and technology, whereby visitors learn by experimenting and explore phenomena of nature, environment, health and technology
  • Dive in mystical Klaretjern in Aremark, crystal clear water down to depths of 45 meter, due to high, but not dangerous levels of aluminium
  • Surf at Sarpsfossen which have a river surfing wave that occurs every spring, due to the fact that the water flow through the falls make it the largest water fall in Europe

Eat[edit]

Mackerell is very popular to fish from the fjords and eat on open-top sandwiches in tomato sauce
As home of the Mills factory, most of the consumed margarine, mayonnaise and caviar in Norway is made in Østfold.
The 52-seat fixed menu restaurant Curtisen inside Fredriksten fortress, is widely considered as the best restaurant between Oslo and Gothenburg.
Skjærhalden is the capital of the archipelago between the four cities of Fredrikstad, Sarpsborg, Halden and Strömstad and have direct buses to Oslo every hour.

Local specialities[edit]

Østfold are famous in Norway for some of its dishes:

  • Makrell-i-tomat, breakfast favourite consisting of mackerell in tomato sauce placed on open-top sandwich, invented in Fredrikstad
  • Leverpostei, liver paté in a small, yellow box is another industrial success of Fredrikstad, popular with cereal bread
  • Fiskesuppe, fish soup served in Engelsviken, Fredrikstad
  • Stallmesterbiff, horse main course from Dickens, Sarpsborg
  • Potetstappe, home made mashed potatoes, signature course at Rich Bar, Sarpsborg (also famous for biffsnadder, beef in small pieces)
  • Rosa softis, pink soft ice now served in Isi Bar, Sarpsborg, invented at a now defunct yearly festival in Mysen
  • Pølse i vaffel, hot dog in waffle, local speciality invented in Moss, popular football food
  • Purke, a local speciality in the bakeries of Halden, Sweden-inspired bread rolls with sugar and a sunken middle
  • Ørjebolle, another Swedish-inspired pastry with cinnamon, filled with vanilla cream and almond glaze

In a national poll the people of Østfold voted for "flesk & duppe" as its favourite course, bacon with yellow turnip mash in a white sauce. The northern part of the county voted heavily on this, while the southern part shared its votes on deep water shrimp and fish soup with fresh ingredients from the Skagerrak. Østfold's interior is also a source of food. Elk are all over the woods, while two of the longest rivers boasts salmon. The floor of the woods is often filled with lingonberry, which is used in troll cream, a red dessert with sugar and egg whites. When King Harald visited the interior of the county in 2013 he was served a local menu consisting of beaver paste with spruce tip jelly, elk with quail egg, venison with chanterelle, pike cakes and zander with crayfish. When the Norwegian and Danish queens visited the coast of the county in 1999 they vere served zander filet with chanterelle and mussels, goose breast with root vegetables and turnips glazed in heather honey and for dessert blueberry mousse with apple snow on a bed of nuts.

City Restaurants[edit]

Listed below is restaurants which combine a Top 3 TripAdvisor ranking in the city, a 4.5+ rating in Google, at least 100 reviews in those places and 1 000 Facebook page likes:

  • Art Sushi Solsia, Torget 1, Sarpsborg, +47 454 81 119, . 14-21. Eat inside a glass pavilion in the middle of Østfold's biggest square.
  • Pollys, Storgata 20, Halden, +47 954 16 312, . 11-16. Cozy tea room with a British legacy open during day time close to the cinema and bus terminal of Halden.

Pollys is the lunch alternative, La Moss cater the village feeling while Slippen is cosmopolitan, Sarpen and Art more budget friendly and Curtisen and Munch straight out luxurious.

Fredrikstad has the most varied food scene of the Østfold cities, which become clear when lowering the bar of mentioning to Top 30 county ranking in TripAdvisor. Combined with above-mentioned criterion the following five restaurants then deserve a mention:

  • China Plaza, St Marie gate 93, Sarpsborg, +47 69 15 04 22. 14-21. Very smiling and friendly family restaurant with play room for the kids, run by the Ye family through three decades.
  • St Raw, Storgata 8, Fredrikstad, +47 474 79 417, . 16-21. Traditional sushi mixed with other tastes of Asia. Do have meat alternatives, occasionally even wagyu.

Marina[edit]

Something extraordinary about the restaurant market in Østfold is all the marina and pier restaurants in the archipelago outside the cities. Especially popular among boat owners, but also accessible by public transportation. Some places are seasonal, others year-round open due to proximity to small villages. These are the Top 10 TripAdvisor ranked marina restaurants in Østfold:

Drink[edit]

Listed in this category is places with live DJ in the weekends or at least 10 beers on tap or a specialization in either cocktails or wine.

Night clubs[edit]

Cocktails[edit]

Beer[edit]

Wine[edit]

Go next[edit]

Cross the border into Sweden for cheap meat, liquor or cigarettes. Østfold is midway from Germany to the fjords of Western Norway. The bordering regions of Østfold is:

  • Värmland: Home of Ørje's twin village Töcksfors, liquor store city Årjäng and Karlstad, the biggest city situated by Vänern, the largest lake i the European Union
  • Dalsland: A very rural landscape of Sweden, with tiny land strips between a endless row of canoe-friendly lakes connected to the Atlantic sea via 37 locks and an aqueduct.
  • Bohuslän: The region between Østfold and Gothenburg provide very salt water and a pearl row of more than 20 fishing villages with restaurants and a handful of mid-sized cities
  • Vestfold: Østfold's twin region on the other side of the fjord have the same long chain of mid-sized cities, as well as ferries from Larvik to North Jutland.
  • Oslo region: Parts of Østfold is below 30 minutes from the capital, and even closer to Tusenfryd amusement park and pittoresque suburban city Drøbak

Surrounding the strait of Skagerrak together with Østfold is also:

  • Gothenburg: A 1 million city (metropolitan area) only 100 minutes by car from the border of Østfold. Home of Volvo, Liseberg, Gothia Cup and Scandinavia's largest port.
  • North Jutland: Aalborg is the largest city of this outpost region of Denmark, but ferries from Norway connect in Frederikshavn and Hirtshals further north.
  • Telemark: The closest mountain region of Østfold. Only 3 hours away from Østfold is majestic Gaustatoppen with a interior train to the top of the mountain.
  • Agder: The very south of Norway is home to several popular zoos and festivals, and in the interior of the county a heritage railway runs.


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