Horten

Things to do in Horten

From Munch to Viking heritage and everything in between: The charming port town of Horten offers fun experiences for both young and old.

Roughly midway between Holmestrand in the north and Tønsberg in the south, and with Oslofjord as the nearest neighbour, you will find the coastal idyll of Horten. With its rich naval history, and traces of both Vikings and artists, there’s plenty to explore when you’re visiting. 

And with what is referred to as Norway’s cosiest festival, fireworks concert and festivals for both chamber music and punk – as well as both photo and food festivals – it is no wonder that Horten is also called the festival city and Vestfold’s cultural capital. 

Hotel Horten is located right down by the quay in the town centre, and offers beautiful rooms, its own restaurant, bar and several meeting rooms. The hotel also has its own lounge with views of the Oslofjord. 

Here are some things to do when you check into Horten:

Activities

Discover the coast on foot

If there’s one thing that should definitely be on your to-do list in Horten, it’s to embark on the beautiful coastal path. It stretches around 17 kilometres from Falkensten by Løvøya in the north to Åsgårdstrand in the south, and at the same time includes the historical hiking trails out on Karljohansvern. There are many fine highlights along the way, and the coastal path is the perfect way to discover Horten’s many sights. From Hotel Horten it is only a five-minute walk to the starting point at Horten Havn, which is approximately in the middle of the stretch. See map and info about the highlights along the route here

Tips! Horten also offers lovely cycle paths – see Visit Vestfold for routes and more info. 

Farm fun for the whole family

At Buggeparken family park the experiences are lined up: Here you can say hello to Gråtass the tractor and the barn elf, play chicken bingo, jump in the hay, walk on stilts or challenge yourself on the obstacle course. You can also get close to the many animals that live here, ranging from alpacas and rabbits to chickens, pigs and sheep. An outdoor theatre, cinema and tractor rides are also organised, and the area offers barbecues for free use and a kiosk with a range of goodies. In other words, a fun farm experience for both young and old alike.

For fishing enthusiasts

Horten also offers good opportunities to get fish on the hook. Just ten minutes’ drive from the centre of Horten lies the beautiful Borrevannet lake, known as one of Norway’s best pike lakes. The record is actually a whopping 18 kg (!), and there are also good chances of catching a perch. If it is mackerel you want to catch, you will find good opportunities at Steinbrygga below Borre church and at Veggfjellet outside Løvøya.

Tips! Borrevannet also offer excellent hiking opportunities around the lake, swimming areas and excellent conditions for canoeing and outings in rowing boats. The lake is a nature reserve thanks to its diverse flora and fauna, both in and around the water. 

Horten for water babies

Don't forget to pack your swimwear, because Horten has lots of lovely beaches, several of them within walking distance of the hotel. One of the most popular is the sandy Rørestrand beach, about two kilometres from Hotel Horten, which, in addition to its excellent swimming opportunities, offers a large grassy area with volleyball court, a beach bar and barbecue areas. There is a parking nearby, or otherwise the coastal path in Horten passes by there. Several nice swimming spots include Borrestranda, Vollane, Møringa, Varnestang, Jesusbukta and Reverompa. You can see a map with an overview of the swimming areas here. If you don't like salt water, Borrevannet also offers fine swimming options. 

Sightseeing at sea

Kayaking is a great way to discover Horten’s archipelago, and there are several beautiful routes to choose from. A nice hike graded as easy, and around 6–8 kilometres long, is called Indre Havn, Horten Historisk Tursti 10. Along the way, you paddle through the Canal, past Keisemarken’s bathhouse and the Reverompa swimming area. You can rent a kayak from Borre Kayak rental. If, on the other hand, you’re a beginner and want to be completely confident in the kayak first, you can sign up for a kayak course at RS Noatun. The Kayak group of DNT Horten also arranges various tours and courses, and rents out kayaks and equipment.

Learn to brew craft beer

At Buggegården Brewery, which is part of Buggegården Family Park, you can both taste local beer and learn how to brew your own. Local favourites such as Gråtass IPA and Bondens Blonde Ale are made here, brewed with malt from grain from the farm’s own soil. During the course, you will learn the secret behind good beer and how you can start home brewing yourself. If you're tempted to take home some local drops from the farmer, Buggegården Bryggeri also has its own beer outlet, which is open every day. The brewery also makes the farm’s own kombucha and iced tea. 

At the beach bar at Rørestrand you can relax with an ice-cold drink.
Buggegården offers activities for both young and old.

Culture events and festivals

The Verven Festival

Who wouldn't want to go to a festival with the slogan "Norway’s cosiest festival"? The Verven Festival, named after the Horten Verft, was first held in 2013, and has since been one of the town’s most popular music events. Artists like Veronica Maggio and Postgirobygget have performed here during the festival.

Horten Chamber Music Festival

Love chamber music? Then head over here in June for the annual Horten Chamber Music Festival. The festival brings together world-class musicians both domestic and from abroad, and aims to build interest in and delight both young and old with classical music. The festival is held at Gamlehorten Gjestegård, which is located out at Karljohansvern. 

The fireworks concert

Get ready for a great music experience that ends with a colourful bang! Vestfold’s longest-running outdoor concert will be held in 2022 for the 29th time, and promises both an atmospheric and spectacular experience. The fireworks concert is held at Vollen at Karljohansvern, in collaboration between the Royal Navy Band and Horten Municipality – and of course the concert ends with a fantastic fireworks.

Kanalrock

Kanalrock is not only referred to as Norway’s coolest punk and metal festival, but it is also Horten’s longest-running festival. Both national and international bands come here to create the vibe for both young and old. The rock festival is held on the Bueskytterbanen, about ten minutes’ walk from the hotel, and is on for two days. On Saturday morning, the "Knøttepønk" is held for the little ones, as well as a football tournament. 

Horten Food and Beer Festival

Taste, smell, experience, see and smile – part of the Horten Food and Beer Festival’s caption can make any food enthusiast curious. The tasty festival, which has had 15–20,000 visitors in recent years, takes place in the cultural quarter and Artillery workshop at Karljohansvern. There’s lots of fun for the whole family, with food and drink stands, live music, cooking classes, lectures and various activities for both young and old.

Museums, attractions and sights

Find your inner Viking

Did you know that Horten and Vestfold have a rich Viking history? You can learn more about this at the Midgard Viking Centre, which opened in 2000. The centre houses a number of exhibitions, as well as a playground where both young and old can challenge each other in typical activities from the Viking Age such as archery, axe throwing and block games. It is located at Borrehaugene, which is one of Norway’s most important cultural monuments and Northern Europe’s largest collection of monumental burial mounds. According to Snorre Sturlason, kings are buried here in the burial ground, which was active between AD 600 and 900. You can join a guided tour of the park to hear more about its history and secrets, or join the Midgard Viking Festival, which takes place in July every other year.

The artist town of Åsgårdstrand

About ten minutes' drive from the centre of Horten, or 1 hour and 45 minutes on foot along the coastal path, you will find idyllic Åsgårdstrand. Known for its quaint, white-painted alleys filled with small galleries, second-hand shops and cosy cafes, the small coastal town is very popular with both tourists and boaters in the summer. A number of artists have made the trip here too with Edvard Munch at the forefront, which has given Åsgårdstrand the name of the "artist town". And you too! Don't forget to taste the local speciality krubbelurer – a kind of round small fluffy pancakes – which can be found at Frantzens Konditori and Munchs Kafé.  

At home with Munch

In Åsgårdstrand you can visit the artist’s home of perhaps Norway’s most famous artist. Munch's house, originally an old fisherman’s cabin from the late 18th century, was bought by Edvard Munch in 1898, and he then spent almost every summer here for more than 20 years. Åsgårdstrand also meant a lot to his artwork, and the painting "Pikene på broen" (The girls on the bridge) was created here. Today, Munch’s house is a museum, and looks just like it was when Munch lived there. The museum also arranges guided walks in Munch’s footsteps in Åsgårdstrand between June and August.

Karljohansvern

The disused shipyard and the town's former naval base is now a vibrant cultural arena for the enjoyment of both young and old alike. Karljohansvern is often referred to as the "Culture Shipyard" due to the many museums and cultural events that are held out here. You will also part of the coastal path here, and a there is a nice roundtrip that goes from the Preus Museum and south along the canal to the marina of Fyllinga, or head to the Fortningsløypa to learn more about the Norwegian Armed Forces’ traces on the island. Karljohansvern also offers a number of excellent swimming options, including one of Horten’s most popular swimming spots, Vollane.

The history of photography

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobby photographer, there’s plenty of exciting things to explore at the Preus Museum. At the National Museum of Photography, you can see the exhibition "A photo history" which shows the development of photography from camera obscura to today’s mobile cameras. The museum, which is located in the former warehouse for the Norwegian Navy out on Karljohansvern, is also filled with photographs, technical equipment and photographic literature from throughout history. 

The Norwegian Naval Museum

Karljohansvern is also home to one of the world’s oldest Naval museums. It has been based here since 1864, and its task is to document, preserve and disseminate Norwegian naval history. The exhibition is more than 2,000 square metres and covers the heyday of the Danish-Norwegian navy and naval hero Tordenskiold, the build-up of our own navy and the development before, during and after the two World Wars. See more than 150 models of vessels, enter a submarine and MTB and finish the visit with a coffee in the museum’s new cafeteria, which opened in May 2022.

Local History Centre

Fancy a trip back to the 1940s and 1950s? Then head to the Town Museum at the Local History Centre at Karljohansvern. Among other things, Here you’ll find a 1950s apartment, the old school dentist’s office, an old forge, sheriff's office and a schoolroom – all of which evoke memories for those who lived at this time and are exciting for those who want to learn more about the childhood of parents and grandparents. There is also a separate cafe and ship simulator at the centre, where you can take control of the patrol boat and manoeuvre around the sea.

The Preus Museum is located at Karljohansvern.
Karljohansvern offers both indoor and outdoor experiences.
The Navy Museum and Preus Museum are located at Karljohansvern.

Food and drinks

Restaurant Baltzer

At Restaurant Baltzer you can enjoy a good meal in historic surroundings, guests have been served here for over 200 years. The restaurant is named after Baltzer Rustad, who ran an inn at the beginning of the 19th century. The same man also operated ferries between Horten and Moss at the time, and Horten is still an important hub for those who want to travel between the west and eastern sides of Oslofjord. The menu includes pan-fried scallops, duck confit and fish soup. Restaurant Baltzer is located on the ground floor of Hotel Horten, in a great location by Horten guest harbour. 

Restaurant Njord

If you take the coastal path from Horten towards Borre and Åsgårdstrand, a great option for lunch appears on the way. At RS Noatun on Langgrunn, Restaurant Njord serves a daily lunch buffet based on local ingredients. In the cafe, you can also choose from burgers, pizzas, Danish sandwiches and salads, as well as a large selection of drinks. Four times a year, you can also book a full-length culinary evening here in the restaurant, with a menu that reflects the four seasons matched with accompanying drinks. These dinners are very popular, so it is important to book in advance.

Fishland

Sun, seafood and sea views – at Fishland everything is ready for an excellent dining experience. There’s something for everyone on the menu, from the "crowded shrimps" to grilled turbot, fish soup, steambuns and pink-roasted duck breast, to name but a few. The restaurant is only a five-minute walk from the Horten Hotel, and with a great location in the harbour, it is no wonder that the restaurant is called "a gem in the Oslo Fjord". 

Himalaya Tandori

Fancy a quick trip to India while you're in Horten? Head to Himalaya Tandori, which is located by the harbour just two minutes’ walk from the hotel. The dishes on the menu are based on north-west Indian cuisine, and you’ll also find classics such as 'butter chicken', 'lamb tikka' and 'samosas'. And for dessert, why not try some Indian rice pudding? 

Traktern Coffee Shop

If you’re getting thirsty for coffee, head to the Traktern Coffee Shop, which is said to be both one of Horten’s oldest coffee shops and also serves the city’s best coffee. In addition to a large selection of both hot and cold drinks, lunches are also served as a selection of different toasts, rolls, salads and croissants. Traktern Coffee Shop is located on Storgata, about a five-minute walk from Hotel Horten. 

Horten Microbrewery

If you're thirsty for beer, Horten Microbrewery is the place to go. The small brewery, located in the middle of Storgata, opened its doors in 2015, and always has up to eight different types of home-brewed beer on tap in the restaurant. In addition to quality beer from both their own production and other craft breweries, burgers and snacks such as mozzarella sticks and onion rings are served if you get hungry. The brewery also has its own wine cellar, and organises both beer tastings and beer brewing courses.

Group activities

Tufte Gård

Whether you are a large group, or are organising a wedding, party, kick-offs or teambuilding, Tufte Gård is a great option. Here you can celebrate in a barn, lavvo or granary. Here you can enjoy fun activities like axe throwing and sawing competition. The farm also has all licenses and can deliver locally produced food prepared by a local chef, as well as local beer from its own brewery. In other words: A real all-nigther! Tufte Gård is about a 10 minute drive from Hotel Horten. 

Invite to a Viking party

… Or a proper feast as the Vikings would call it themselves. At the Midgard Viking Centre, you can travel back in time and join a large-scale feast in the reconstructed Gildehallen. The Vikings’ halls were a kind of banquet hall for the elite, such as powerful chieftains and kings, and at Borre, at least three such halls have been found on which the Gildehallen is based. A Viking will welcome you and tell you about the building and the story behind it, before historical food is served based on what the Vikings ate themselves. And of course, the feast has its own skald who entertains, and maybe there's music to dance to. Activities and programmes can be tailored to suit individual requirements, and the hall can accommodate 100 people. 

Sightseeing at sea

Kayaking is a great way to discover Horten’s archipelago, and there are several beautiful routes to choose from. A nice hike graded as easy, and around 6–8 kilometres long, is called Indre Havn, Horten Historisk Tursti 10. Along the way, you paddle through the Canal, past Keisemarken’s bathhouse and the Reverompa swimming area. You can rent a kayak from Borre Kayak rental. If, on the other hand, you’re a beginner and want to be confident in the kayak first, you can sign up for a kayak course at RS Noatun. The Kayak group of DNT Horten also arranges various tours and courses, and rents out kayaks and equipment.

Learn to brew craft beer

At Buggegården Brewery, which is part of Buggegården Family Park, you can both taste local beer and learn how to brew your own. Local favourites such as Gråtass IPA and Bondens Blonde Ale are made here, brewed with malt from grain from the farm’s own soil. During the course, you will learn the secret behind good beer and how you can start home brewing yourself. If you're tempted to take home some local drops from the farmer, Buggegården Bryggeri also has its own beer outlet, which is open every day. The brewery also makes the farm’s own kombucha and iced tea.

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