Situated in Eastern Norway, Tønsberg was founded by the Vikings in the 9th century and is the oldest city in Norway. From music festivals to beautiful piers, museums to nightclubs, the city is one part Viking-era relic and one part modern city full of unique attractions. Whether you’re a history buff or a foodie, there is always something to check out in the city.
1. Visit the Town Square
If you stay in a hotel in downtown Tønsberg, visiting the town square will be just a short walk from your room. Situated in the city’s center, the square features a wide variety of shops and activities nearly every day. It’s the perfect stop for a mid-afternoon snack, some souvenir shopping, and a look at the locals.
2. Step Back in Time at Tønsberg Fortress
If you are a history buff and want to learn about some of the oldest parts of Norway and of Tønsberg itself, you’ll want to see the Tønsberg Fortress. The historical site features the ruins of the spot where King Harald I united Norway. Built in the 13th century, the castle’s now crumbling steps are still climbable if you’re brave enough. The reward at the end will be an excellent view of the old town of Tønsberg.
3. Get Some Fresh Air Around the Brygga
When you need some fresh air, be sure to take a stroll along the Brygga, a word that literally means “pier.” Along one side, you’ll see calming, beautiful views of the sea. Along the other side, restored Quayside buildings provide a historical backdrop for many of the city’s vibrant restaurants and nightclubs. Grab dinner, a drink, and more at one of the many outdoor patios. Afterward, you can check out a gorgeous display of Maserati’s racing boats. This is a must-see for any boating enthusiast.
4. Eat a Meal at Roar i Bua
All the walking around town will leave you hungry, so be sure to stop at Roar i Bua for a traditional meal of fish and chips. Located right at Brygga, the restaurant features a wide variety of seafood for you to choose from, all of which are some of the most delicious items you’ll find in town. Choose from traditional salmon sandwiches or treat yourself to something more elegant by ordering sushi or king crab. To truly experience the restaurant, reserve a picnic table and eat while you watch the sunset over the sea. An especially romantic option, this will be the perfect date night if you are on a romantic trip.
5. Spend Some Quiet Time at Tønsberg Cathedral
The hustle and bustle of the people in Tønsberg can be intoxicating, but sometimes you need a bit of quiet so you can center yourself and feel more peaceful. The Tønsberg Cathedral is the perfect place to do that. The Lutheran-style church near the center of the city was originally a parish church. The Gothic architectural design of the cathedral was only added in 1948 and includes four evangelists and a breathtaking painting of Jesus at Gethsemane. Even if you aren’t religious, this architectural dream is an impressive stop that will make you want to examine every inch of the cathedral.
6. Head To the Vestfold County Museum
Vestfold County Museum is just a few minutes from the train station and is an excellent way to explore the history of Tønsberg and the surrounding area. Excavation displays are plentiful, but many visitors are most enthralled by the Oseberg Viking Ship. Other attractions in the museum include the skeleton of a blue whale, Viking Hall, and the Vestfold Farmyard. The museum is open 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and provides plenty to see, so plan to spend most of the day visiting.
With so much to see and do in Tønsberg, the hardest part will be deciding where to start. Creating an itinerary before your visit can help you to prioritize and ensure you see everything you want to.