At Karljohansvern Fortress you will find several pleasant recreational areas, not to forget the National Museum of Photography and the Naval Museum. There are beaches, woods, and the idyllic Horten canal which separates Karljohansvern from the mainland.
Local History Centre
The Local History Centre comprises a town museum with special focus on the recent past, historical archives for the area containing documents and photographic collections, plus the Breda café.
The centre has around 9000 square feet at its disposal and is situated in idyllic surroundings on Karljohansvern Fortress, down by the canal.
The town museum has exhibitions related to most daily activities of the local community, such as the doctor, dentist, workshops, school, grocer, etc. The centre includes a reading room for the old archives that contain photographs, drawings, maps, newspapers, documents and books. The actual building dates back to 1919 and used to be an isolation hospital.
Saturday and Sunday: 12:00 – 16:00. Free admission.
Preus Museum - National Museum of Photography
The museum collections cover the aspects of photography as art, culture and technology, and has an international exhibitions programme.
Preus museum has a specialist library of an international standard, and is currently establishing a national centre for the preservation of photographs that will be able to offer state-of-the-art expertise on how to handle and preserve photographic material.
The building, which was formerly a storehouse for the Norwegian navy, was built in the 1860s and redesigned by the architect Sverre Fehn in 2001 to meet the needs of the museum.
Tuesday – Sunday: 12:00 – 17:00.
Open all days in July.
The Naval Museum
The Naval Museum was established in 1853, and is held to be the oldest naval museum in the world.
May to September: 12:00 -16:00 (all days)
October – April: 12:00 – 16:00 (Sundays only)
Closed on public holidays.
The museum is housed in one of the old storehouses at Karljohansvern Fortress, and has extensive collections connected to the Navy's history in war and peace. Many of the objects are very old, and unique in the world.
The collection comprises vessels and equipment from the Royal Norwegian Navy, equipment used by the allies and the Germans during World War II, ship models, paintings, pictures and much else besides.
Just outside the museum there is a genuine submarine which is open to visitors.
Guided tours outside opening hours may be booked throughout the year. You can also book dinner parties in the submarine. Contact the museum on phone no.: (+47) 33 03 33 97.
May – September: 12:00 – 16:00 (all days)
October – April: 12:00 – 16:00 Sundays
Closed on public holidays
Museum Card for Vestfold
You can buy a family card for the museums in the county of Vestfold. This means that the whole family – two adults plus children – may visit seven museums for only NOK 100.
You can purchase the card at one of the participating museums, and use it to visit the other six sites free of charge.
The museums included in this arrangement are: Haugar Vestfold Museum of Fine Arts, Vestfold County Museum, Holmestrand Aluminium Museum, Midgard History Centre, Preus Museum, the Whaling Museum in Sandeford and Larvik Museum.
The family card is for sale in all the museums.
How to get there
Take off from the E 18 main road and follow the signs for Horten. From Horten town, follow the signs for Karljohansvern. When you have crossed the bridge over the canal, you have arrived at Karljohansvern.
Food and accommodation
Karljohansvern can also offer food and drink to its visitors, as well as accommodation. The enticing surroundings provide a pleasant setting for meetings, courses, conferences and other events.
Cosy coffee-shop near the Local History Centre. As an addition to the Museum itself and its archives, the Local History Centre also runs Café Breda. Named after the renowned local guide Alf Breda, the café represents a pleasant meeting place, with a good selection of coffees, rolls, sandwiches and more.
The adjoining meeting room can be booked for smallish meetings (up to 20 people), while there is room for 35 people in the evenings.
Saturday and Sunday: 11:00 – 16:00
For bookings, please call (+47) 33070030.
Sjømilitære Samfund (Naval Society)
This hotel enjoys a fantastic location on Karljohansvern, in a lovely natural setting. It is considered Horten's most special hotel with its unique combination of style, elegance, tradition and modern amenities.
Sjømilitære Samfund is the perfect location for all festive arrangements. The hotel is pleased to welcome you, whether you are looking for a small party with business connections, a grand gala, wedding, or other private parties.
The hotel has several elegant conference rooms that can take from 2 to 180 people. All conference rooms are equipped with the latest audio-visual equipment. There are eight pleasant rooms, elegantly furnished. Wi-Fi connections available in all the rooms.
Gamle Horten Gård
Gamle Horten Gård (Horten Old Farm) is idyllically situated on Karljohansvern, with the sea and walking paths just outside the door.
The Gamle Horten Gård Farm is often called "the cradle of Horten", and has lent the town its name. The beautiful, listed buildings were constructed in the period between 1780 and 1860, and Gamle Horten Gård Farm could look back on a long and proud history as a farm, an inn and a posting station, before it was acquired by the Naval Ministry in 1819. Many of the buildings have been sold off as private housing over the past few years, and at present, Gamle Horten Gård consists of the stables, the equerry's residence, the officer's mess and the officer’s billeting area.
More things to do and see
The Horten Woods – the coastal path
Karljohansvern is a popular recreational area and much used for hiking and walking – by the local residents as well as the townspeople. The area is also much used for excursions by kindergartens and schools.
Karljohansvern and the Horten Woods make up part of the coastal walkway between the towns of Åsgårdstrand and Horten. The area is much used by the locals for walks and recreation, and its more than 50 acres is covered in a natural forest that has a mixture of deciduous trees and large pines. Many of the trees are very old, a 1000 year-old oak, and several trees are protected because of the mistletoe they are host to.
Please beware that much of this is a protected landscape area, due to its value as a cultural and natural heritage.
There is also a cultural heritage path being developed for Karljohansvern which will go around the whole island and also include the historical roads between the old buildings and the museum park.
Swimming and sunbathing at Vollen
Karljohansvern offers excellent conditions for swimming and sunbathing. Relax in the sun on the large grassy banks, or enjoy a ball game with friends. The sandy beach is safe and pleasant for children and popular with all age groups.
The water is clean, and a bathing raft is at the disposal of the swimmers. The beach kiosk is open through the summer season. There are also public toilets at the Tivoli beach, by the pump house.
There are also open areas on the northern side where bathing is permitted, but these do not offer all the facilities of the public beaches.
The church at Karljohansvern is a much loved landmark in town, with is high tower and neo-gothic building style. The Garrison Church was built in 1855.
is an art gallery, exhibiting works by national and international artists.
Opening times: Sundays at 12:00 – 16:00 during exhibition periods.
On opening days for new exhibitions, the gallery opens at 14:00.
The gallery is an ArtAid gallery, affiliated to a humanitarian aid fund for micro finance projects in the third world. The gallery owner is Helle Brunvoll.
The dockyards area is open to the public day and night.