Sarpsborg is the 11th largest city in Norway. Downtown Sarpsborg is below 20 minutes from alpine skiing slopes and from the start of the 200 km-long archipelago from Sarpsborg to Gothenburg. In the city centre is a large park and the largest waterfall in Europe.
It has 57,000 inhabitants in the municipality (2019), and another 178,000 in seven neighbouring municipalities within half an hour's drive. Sarpsborg is the capital of Østfold county and the largest city alongside the E6 motorway between Oslo (1 hour north of Sarpsborg) and Gothenburg (2 hours south of Sarpsborg)
Sarpsborg was founded by St. Olaf in 1016, making the city one of the eight Norwegian cities of today with a Viking age origin, together with Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger, Skien, Tønsberg, Oslo and Hamar. St. Olaf founded the city at Sarpsfossen falls, because it was not possible to sail further up river Glomma. In fact Glomma is Norway's longest river, and only beaten by a few EU rivers in terms of flow rate: Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Po, Vistula, Loire and Elbe.
In 1567 the King of Denmark relocated Sarpsborg 14 km further down the river, closer to the river mouth in Skagerrak. That place is now a separate city called Fredrikstad. The river falls made perfect conditions for industry, so Sarpsborg regained its city status in 1839.
The riverside was the perfect place to locate industry, which made Sarpsborg grow together with Fredrikstad to form the 6th most populated urban area in Norway, with 111,000 inhabitants in a contiguous built-up area surrounding both sides of the Glomma.
Sarpsborg is still a very industrial city, with above 10 km of the riverside contiguously covered with industry. The industry was to a large content built up by British factory owners, and the British traditions is still visible via British townhouse architecture and a strong interest and achiements in football and golf. Another proof of the city being industrial, is that Labour Party have had the mayor since 1913, making it the only major city they never have lost an election in.
Sarpsborg is served by the Norwegian State Railway. The fastest trains make the journey in 1 hr 21 min from Oslo and 2 hr 29 min from Gothenburg. The trains from Oslo depart every hour from 06:01 to 00:01, and stops in Ski, Moss, Rygge, Råde and Fredrikstad on the way to Sarpsborg and Halden. Three daily trains connect Gothenburg, Trollhättan, Vänersborg and Ed in Dalsland with Sarpsborg. Departure time from Gothenburg is 06:55, 13:00 and 17:55. Around 550 passengers a day use the train station in Sarpsborg.
Sarpsborg is served by the Timekspressen. This bus line departs Oslo every hour from 07:05 to 20:05, plus 22:05 on weekdays and 23:15 on Saturdays. Travel time to Sarpsborg Bus Terminal is 1 hr 30 min from Oslo, 58 minutes from Ås and 37 minutes from Moss. While the Timekspressen goes to the city centre, the GoByBus [dead link] line from Oslo to Uddevalla and Gothenburg only stops at Quality Hotel Sarpsborg by the E6, 3 km north of the city centre. GoByBus operates 5 times a day. 4 of the daily schedules also stop in Strömstad and Tanum in Bohuslän. 3 of the daily schedules are prolonged to Helsingborg, Malmö and Copenhagen. The most popular bus line in Sarpsborg is Glommaringen with 8 departures to Fredrikstad every hour, and around 2,800 daily passengers. It is also daily bus connection between Sarpsborg and the smaller towns Askim and Mysen in northern Østfold.
Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport (CPH) is the only airport with a direct bus line to Sarpsborg. But with only 3 daily routes and almost 7 hours travel time, it is a poor alternative. More usual is to travel to Oslo's Gardermoen Airport, Torp Airport or Gothenburg's Landvetter Airport and take a train or bus to downtown, and find a bus or train to Sarpsborg there. Doing this the travel time from the airports to Sarpsborg usually will be between 2 and 3 hours.
Arriving from south use Exit 5 or Exit 6 on the European Route E6 motorway. Exit 5 passes Sarpsfossen, the largest waterfall in Europe on the way into the city centre. Exit 6 passes Amfi Borg, a large shopping mall with over 70 stores. Arriving from north use Exit 7, where the Quality Hotel Sarpsborg is situated. Above 20,000 vehicles a day use the E6 through Sarpsborg. By car the travel time from Sarpsborg is 15 minutes to Fredrikstad, 20 minutes to Moss and Halden and 30 minutes to Askim, Mysen and Strömstad. Sarpsborg is a popular transit station for tourists going further north in Norway, because it is half-way between Denmark and the most spectacular fjords and mountains of Norway, around 6 hours from both Copenhagen and Sognefjorden.
The town centre is small enough that it is easy to get around on foot. Between Sarpsborg and Fredrikstad buses are frequent. In other directions buses are infrequent, and getting around without driving your own car can be inconvenient.
When driving, try to avoid the bridges across the river during rush hour (07:30 - 08:30 and 15:30 - 17:00), as they are major bottlenecks and congested.
- 1 Sarpsfossen. The largest waterfalls in Europe. Both Rhine Falls and Dettifoss claim to be the largest and most powerful waterfall in Europe, but while those waterfalls have between 200 and 500 m³/s of average water flow, Sarpsfossen have 577 m³/s. Just above Sarpsfossen is a road bridge with a view point. There are also view points on the east side of the falls. Sarpsfossen is a 10-minute walk from the city centre and train station.
- 2 Kulåsparken. Idyllic city park with an amphitheatre, playground and bandstand
- 3 [formerly dead link] Hafslund manor. Sundays 12:00, 13:00 and 14:00 (June-August). Farm, park and conference centre. Home of the climate conferences CC8 and CC9, with several former head of states participating. The park is open to the public year-round, guided tours of the main building from 1762 available on Sundays from June-August.
- 4 Borregaard manor. Farm, park and conference center. Home of the peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders leading up to the Oslo Accords.
- 5 Storedal kultursenter. Summer only. Park and experience centre for the blind, centered around the sound sculpture "Ode to Light" by Arnold Haukeland and Arne Nordheim. 60 kr.
- 6 Borgarsyssel museum, Vollgaten 10, ☏ . Monday to Friday 08:00 to 15:30 (June 19th -). Østfold's county museum with 36 historical buildings, built around the ruins of the 12th century St Nicholas church. Adult 60 kr, child 20 kr.
- 7 Soli Brug Galleri, Aagaardveien 177, ☏ . 12:00-19:00. One of Østfold's most visited galleries, spread out in farm buildings beside a tributary of river Glomma. They also sell the Soli apple juice, produced by the inventor of the design language CSS, a neighbour to the gallery.
- 1 Høysand. Beach near Exit 4 from the E6, with several mini golf courses, kiosks, camping, a fishing pier and a Sunday flea market
- Golf courses 2 Borregaard. (9-hole) , 3 Skjeberg. (18-hole) and 4 Øya. (9-hole, pay-and-play)
- 5 Østfold Golfsenter. The largest indoor golf centre in Scandinavia
- 6 Superland. Activity centre at Quality Hotel & Resort Sarpsborg with an indoor water park, climbing, skating track and several other activities
- 7 Eventyrfabrikken. 12:00-20:00. Large indoor play centre for children 139 kr.
- 8 Kjerringåsen Alpinsenter. Skiing centre with 4 slopes and lighted cross-country courses
- 9 Inspiria science center. Inspiria science centre is provides an adventure in mathematics, science and technology, whereby visitors learn by experimenting themselves. In science, children and adults explore the phenomena of nature, the environment, health and technology through their own activities and in collaboration with others.
- 10 Tunevannet. Popular fresh water bathing spot near the town centre.
- 1 Storbyen, Roald Amundsensgate 36 (By the town square). M-F 09:00-20:00, Sa 09:00-18:00. Shopping centre in the town centre. Contains 75 shops and restaurants and the town's bus terminal.
- 2 Amfi Borg (Borg Storsenter) (By motorway exit 6), ☏ . M-F 10:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-18:00. Shopping centre with 70 shops 3 km outside town centre
- 3 Tunejordet (Between motorway exits 6 and 7). M-F 10:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-18:00. Retail area west of the town centre. You will find Sarpsborg's first shopping centre, Stopp (30 shops); two garden centres, electronics superstores Expert and Elkjøp, supermarkets and several car retailers.
Sarpsborg has 15 year-round open restaurants with service by the table, all listed here. No restaurants are among the 28 Norwegian restaurants outside Oslo to be listed in White Guide Nordic, but 3 restaurants have the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. Most of the proper restaurants are situated in or near the pedestrian street in downtown Sarpsborg. Another category of eating is chain restaurants where you order at the counter, including McDonald's, Subway, Egon, Dominos, and Burger King. The city also have a wide range of lunch cafes, pizza restaurants and take-away places, including Kafésøstrene, Paradis Pizza (famous for kebab), Tui Wok, Foyns, Pizzabakeren, Rich Bar (famous for mashed potatoes) and Høk Kro. A final category is the archipelago restaurants, of which some are only open during summer time. Listings updated in March 2018, unless stated.
Trip Advisor Certificate
- 1 Festiviteten, Sandesundsveien 2, ☏ . 11:30–20:00. Fine dining on the corner of the city park. Median main course: 325 kr.
- 2 Sarpen, St. Marie gate 101, ☏ . 09:00-23:00. Specialized in lunch and coffee, turns into a pre-party bar in weekends.
- 3 Libanon Palace, St. Marie gate 70, ☏ . 13:00-22:00. One of the newest restaurants, introducing the concept of middle east meze. Median main course: 200 kr.
- 4 Edo, St. Marie gate 74, ☏ . The high-class brasserie in the pedestrian street. Median main course: 239 kr.
- 5 Østfoldstuene, Bjørnstadveien 20, ☏ . Hotel restaurant at Quality Hotel by Exit 7 from the E6.
- 6 O'Learys, Roald Amundsens gate 36, ☏ . 11:00-23:00. 50 TV screens in this sports restaurant, only 2 minutes by bike from soccer stadium, and 4 minutes from the hockey arena. Median main course: 209 kr.
- 7 Henry's, Per Gyntveien 16 B, ☏ . 08:00-20:00. Typical suburb restaurant serving mostly Norwegian food. Median main course: 160 kr.
- 8 China Plaza, St. Marie gate 93, ☏ . 13:00-22:00. Long-running and popular Asian restaurant. Serves Chinese, Thai, Korean, and Nordic meals, sushi and takeaway. Has a large outdoor garden and playroom for children. Median main course: 188 kr.
- 9 Lykkens Mathus, St. Marie gate 49, ☏ . Chinese restaurant in Eastern Sarpsborg.
- 10 China House, Hafslunds gate 41, ☏ . M-F 13:00-21:00, Sa Su 13:00-22:00, Tu closed. Suburban Chinese restuaurant at Hafslund, east of the river
- 11 Fratelli, St. Marie gate 95, ☏ . Greek food in a restaurant with a good view to the pedestrian street.
- 12 Pizzanini, St. Marie gate 76, ☏ . 11:00-23:00. Urban style chain restaurant with a good view from some of the tables into the kitchen. Median main course: 209 kr.
- 13 Dickens, St. Marie gate 109, ☏ . Longest running restaurant in Sarpsborg, famous for large steaks, and in particular its horse beef steak, the "Stablemaster Steak"
- 14 Salt, Nancy Johannessens vei 5. Hillside restaurant with beach club sessions and a great view of the Hvaler archipelago.
- 15 Ramsalt, Høysandveien 211. By Sarpsborg Marina, just across the road from a ice cream bar with pink soft ice, officially opened by the mayor every spring.
- 16 Kaptein Kaos, Ullerøyveien 628. Situated midway between Norway's largest marina and the tip of South Karlsøy, the most remote island reached by bike.
- 17 Bukten, Delebekkbukta 12. The Asian alternative in the archipelago, situated at a large beach and camping site.
Sarpsborg have the best selection of pubs between Oslo and Gothenburg, and some of them have a impressive selection of beers. The nightlife scene is boosted with some clubs that are only open during weekends. Serving is allowed until 01:30 in Sarpsborg, and all places must be closed at 02:00. In the summer months the drinking places are allowed to serve for half an hour extra. In addition to the mentioned drinking places here, Dickens and O'Learys converts from restaurants to clubs during late hours. Norway's second largest brewery group is from Sarpsborg. Be sure to taste the Borg pilsner or bock during your stay.
- Sportspuben, Kirkegata 51.
- Bar 1016, St. Marie gate 105.
- Førtito, St Nikolas gate 16.
- Karma, Pellygata 68.
- Nittende, Bjørnstadveien 20.
- Nye Blå, Hafslunds gate 41.
- Edvarts Nye, Pellygata 78. The place you should go if you want to meet locals rather early in the day. Often live-music during weekends.
- Olavs, Orebekkveien 5. Suburban pub in Greåker, midway on the frequent bus line to Fredrikstad.
- Neptune, Jernbanegata 14. Basement pub with outdoor area and above ten beers on tap, neighbour to the cinema.
- Oppe & Nede, St. Marie gate 82. Tight two-storey night club. Only open in the weekends.
- 1 Quality Hotel & Resort Sarpsborg, Bjørnstadveien 20, 1713 Sarpsborg, ☏ . Located by motorway exit 7, about 2 km west of town centre
- 2 Scandic Hotel Sarpsborg (Hotell Saga), Sandesundsveien 1, 1706 Sarpsborg (Sarpsborg downtown), ☏ .
- 3 Sarpsborg Vandrerhjem Tuneheimen, Tuneveien 44 - 1710 Sarpsborg, ☏ .
- 4 Hotell 1016, Glengsgata 21, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Small hotel in town centre
- 5 Utne camping, Desiderias vei 41 (Between motorway exits 8 and 9), ☏ , email@example.com. Camping site with rooms and cabins for rent, 10 km west of town centre. Rooms from 600 kr.
Sarpsborg makes a good base for exploring the Oslofjord archipelago as well as the Swedish West Coast and Bohuslän region.
For day trips from Sarpsborg, the followings are popular:
- Tusenfryd — Norway's biggest amusement park, only 40 min from Sarpsborg by car.
- Halden — neighbouring city 20 min to the south, with a remarkable fortress above the city centre.
- Fredrikstad — Sarpsborg's twin city 15 min west, by the outlet of Glomma, with a fortified Old Town.
- Strömstad — Sweden's western-most city. Only 30 min away. Fishing village grown into shopping eldorado.
- Hvaler — archipelago with over 800 islands - of which the 4 largest are reached by car. 30-45 min away.
|Routes through Sarpsborg|
|Oslo ← Moss ←||NW SE||→ Halden → Gothenburg|