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THE LOCALS’ GUIDE TO FREDRIKSTAD

Top insider tips

Southeast of Oslo, you'll find the charming city of Fredrikstad, situated in beautiful surroundings by the Oslofjord. The best-preserved fortress town in Northern Europe offers a rich blend of culture, history, and enjoyment.

Here’s how to spend a long weekend in true Fredrikstad style: Cultural Friday, Saturday with the locals, and an Urban Sunday stroll.

Saturday in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai
Saturday in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai

Cultural Friday

"Fredrikstad is a big city, yet it feels small and cosy. It has a perfect location by the end of Glomma, Norway’s longest river," says Helga Aakre.

Aakre has played a key part in Fredrikstad's cultural scene for more than 25 years, through a variety of jobs and roles.

Culture friday in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai
Culture Friday Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai

Cultural Friday

"Fredrikstad is a big city, yet it feels small and cosy. It has a perfect location by the end of Glomma, Norway’s longest river," says Helga Aakre.

Culture friday in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai
Culture Friday Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai

Aakre has played a key part in Fredrikstad's cultural scene for more than 25 years, through a variety of jobs and roles.

Photo:
Helga Aakre from Fredrikstad .
Photo: Privat

Aakre's top Fredrikstad culture tips:

The city ferry: A free ferry runs from the fish market in the city centre to the old fortress town. Enjoy the view of the surrounding piers and maritime life. Don’t miss the mighty head sculptures by Jaume Plensa along the Phønix quayside and Håpets Katedral, a cathedral at the fortified island of Isegran.

The Fortress Town: Stroll along the ramparts, and follow the old streets to the square. Pay a visit to Bastion 5 arts and crafts center, where you can see potters, painters, goldsmiths, and glassblowers at work. Indulge with a piece of cake in the garden at Kulturhuset, where you can hear a live concert if you're in luck.

Art in Cicignon: Take the ferry back to the part of the city called Cicignon and to Østfold art center. The art centre has a small café offering delicious food and wonderful views of the Glomma river. Walk past the churchyard to No13 Contemporary, an exciting contemporary arts and crafts gallery.

Culture calendar: The city offers many different cultural events. Båthuset Scene hosts revue theatre full of music and laughter, while Blå Grotte and St. Croix are culture houses that offer concerts, theatre, dance, and puppet shows. In the old town, Gamlebyen Kulturhus hosts concerts and events, both inside the venue and outside in the charming garden.

Engage: The debates at the house of literature are always engaging. End your evening at the rooftop bar Savoy Terrasse, which has a great atmosphere, amazing views and delicious drinks.

Nygaardsplassen square: Enjoy a night out at Nygaardsplassen square – a place I’ve totally fallen in love with! There are many bars and restaurants, and the square is surrounded by buildings with wonderful architecture. It’s not uncommon to see DJ's or concerts in the square. It has an Italian-like vibe, with vintage shops and flea markets. Take a seat at Hoi Polloi, an amazing wine and Sake bar with a cool interior design.

Discover more: Explore the Hunnfeltet, an ancient graveyard six kilometers east of the city. The graveyard contains stone circles that date back to the Bronze age. The site has a mysterious and historical atmosphere. Take a walk through the fairytale-like woods to Ravneberget Bygdeborg, a hillfort with magnificent views of Fredrikstad, Torsnes and the sea. It’s magical!

Eat well: The restaurant Nomade by the harbor has a variety of small, delicious dishes, and a beautiful location with a great atmosphere. St. Raw can also be recommended, with its tasty fresh sushi and robata-grilled meat and seafood. Slippen restaurant is renowned for its good kitchen. You can also buy seafood and baked goods at Nygaardsplassen square. A true delight!

Saturday with the locals

"I love the friendly people and atmosphere in Fredrikstad! That’s the main reason why my partner and I moved here from Oslo," says local resident Vegard Dahlin Skau Hansen.

Saturday in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai
Saturday in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai

Vegard is a freelance film and TV composer who enjoys good food, running, and all the small joys of life. After eight years, Vegard is still enamored with Fredrikstad.

Saturday in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai
Saturday in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai

Vegard is a freelance film and TV composer who enjoys good food, running, and all the small joys of life. After eight years, Vegard is still enamored with Fredrikstad.

Vegard Dahlin Skau Hansen from Fredrikstad .
Photo: Private
Vegard Dahlin Skau Hansen from Fredrikstad .
Photo: Private

Vegard’s tips for a Saturday with the locals in Fredrikstad

Cool people: The people and the atmosphere in the fortress town, known as the "old town", is very unique. Everyone says hello, and people chat with one another, even with strangers. The surroundings are beautiful and everything you need is only a short walk away.

A perfect start to my Saturday: … is to go for a run along the Glommastien, a path along the Glomma River, to the picturesque old town where I love to relax in the calm atmosphere. It's truly unique to stroll along the ramparts. I love sitting on a bench and simply taking in the view of the Glomma, Norway's longest river, and the cobblestone streets. Did you know that hens strut around freely in the old town?

Saturday market: On Saturdays, we usually go to the market at the old town square. I don’t necessarily buy anything, but I like to browse. I might find an old 78-vinyl record, or a guitar that needs a new home, or maybe an old school poster that I can use to decorate my home.

Go shopping: There are plenty of small niche stores in the old town. If you like retro clothes, it’s worth paying a visit to Emm K. Sister Soul.

Lunch break: My favorite café is Mormors Café. On sunny days I usually order food to go and enjoy it on a bench by the ramparts.

Beer heaven: Gulating, in the old town, has a unique selection of beer, including a lot of varieties of Nøisom, which is brewed locally in Fredrikstad.  

Oasis: On the city side of Fredrikstad, Café Cicignon is one of my favorites. I can also recommend the veggie burger at St. Croix. Bakfickan and Holwech Fiskeri are also great places to eat. If we’re out celebrating something, we head to Mother India, whose Tæps bar is also an incredibly cool place!

Meet the locals: I really like to hang out at Café Magenta. The garden at the old town culture house is also a wonderful place to spend a summer evening.

Cozy shelter: Stay in the suite at Gamlebyen Hotell, the Old Town Hotel! It's a unique apartment with its own amazing, private backyard!

Local expression: “Det årnær sæ” is a local saying that means “It’ll work out”. It's become an especially important phrase during this past year.

Sunday city stroll

"Enjoy your morning coffee on one of the wonderful beaches close to the city. Listen to the sound of the waves crashing as you stroll along the seaside to the city and explore artworks and sculptures. Afterwards, you can continue on to the forest," says Tora Klevås.

Tora Klevås is the head of Fredrikstad Municipality's culture department and lives in Hvaler, south of Fredrikstad. She loves nature and has an active lifestyle. She loves spending her free time in the skerries, where you’re likely to spot her on a sailboat or kayak, or lounging in a hammock.

Activities in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai
Activities in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai

Sunday city stroll

"Enjoy your morning coffee on one of the wonderful beaches close to the city. Listen to the sound of the waves crashing as you stroll along the seaside to the city and explore artworks and sculptures. Afterwards, you can continue on to the forest," says Tora Klevås.

Activities in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai
Activities in Fredrikstad .
Photo: House of Ikigai

Tora Klevås is the head of Fredrikstad Municipality's culture department and lives in Hvaler, south of Fredrikstad. She loves nature and has an active lifestyle. She loves spending her free time in the skerries, where you’re likely to spot her on a sailboat or kayak, or lounging in a hammock.

Photo:
Tora Klevås from Fredrikstad .
Photo: Private

Klevås’s tips for urban Sunday strolls

Activities: Fredrikstad has become a city rich in both cultural events and outdoor activities for the whole family, all year round, since it's close to nature and the sea. Check out the boat building community at Isegran and the Håpets katedral cathedral. Visit the parks or the outdoor pool in Kongsten, have a picnic at the Vollane ramparts, and check out the skatepark in the city centre. Feel free to use the city bikes to get around.

City tour: A free ride on the city ferry is a must. It takes you to the most important parts of the city, including the old fortress town, Isegran, the city centre, and the library. Take your family to an art safari or visit Bjørneløypa, a path in the forest beside Fredrikstad.

Cozy café: The café at St. Croix is a lovely, family friendly place. At the weekends, drop-in workshops and concerts are often held in this beautiful building.

Winter activities: In winter, you can go ice skating by the "gangbrua" bridge or in Stjernehallen, an indoor ice hockey arena. Try the skatepark or enjoy concerts!

More things to do: There is a wonderful Christmas market held in the old town in December.

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