Horten – a capital of great holiday experiences
In the middle of Vestfold, you’ll find Horten with its pleasant gardens, shopping, military past, museums, and last but not least, swimming areas. No matter where you have a cabin in Vestfold, the town is within easy driving distance and it’s not far from Østfold and the Bastøy ferry either. Horten is also a small boat’s town and the guest port has been on the top 10 of Norway’s best guest ports many times. You’ll find a jetty for bathing, restaurants, playgrounds, and the Horten Tourist Office here. Horten Harbor
Her finner vi badebrygge, spisesteder, lekeplass og Horten turistkontor. Horten Harbor puts out overnight-buoys in the Horten archipelago, in cooperation with Oslofjord Recreation.
Horten is a green town. Horten’s characteristics are small houses in lush, green gardens and large magnificent deciduous trees in the city's many green spaces. Part of what makes Horten so beautiful are the tall canopies bursting with mistletoe. The plant that otherwise is so rare in northern latitudes is found in Horten in large quantities. If you’d like to experience large trees and mistletoe, Lystlunden Park, Horten forest, and the marine station Karljohansvern are places you should definitely visit.
A Little History
Horten was an early ferry hub. There has been a ferry connection between Horten and Moss since 1582, but in 1815, Horten was designated to become Norway's new fleet station, which replaced Fredriksvern in Stavern. Plans for a new Norwegian Navy were large and the fleet port of Stavern was too small. At the time, Horten had a population of about 100 people at four farms and the old ferry landing. Karljohansvern was established in Horten Navy Headquarters by royal decree in 1818, a few years after the signing of the union with Sweden. They needed better defense for Oslofjord. Horten naval base was controversial from the start, and over the years, the naval base endured many setbacks. Work on the fleet station began in 1820, but it wasn’t ready until 1850. The many challenges of a destitute Norway, as well as the conflict between the monarchy and parliament, led to the naval base in Horten never to become what it was going to be. There were plans to build a large fortress at Hortenstangen, but these were shelved prior to 1850.
The houses that were built for the workers and soldiers in connection with yard eventually became the basis for Horten city. Horten grew rapidly and developed into a town of over 5,000 inhabitants as Karljohansvern stood ready. In 1963, the Navy headquarters moved to Bergen, but Karljohansvern had lots of military activity and still was the base for the Eastern Norway Naval District. It was the defense’s need for modern technology that led to the research that cared for a number of technology companies and has made Horten a marine electronic center in Norway.
Today, the old naval base at idyllic Karljohansvern is under conservation protection by the culture center. Over time, the defense limited its military operations here. Several buildings, including the shipyard, have been sold for civilian use. In addition, you’ll find the Marine Museum here, which incidentally is the world's oldest naval museum in operation. Preus museum, which is the national museum for photography, is also worth a visit with its treasure trove of photographs, equipment and photography literature in a historical building. In addition, Karljohansvern offers everything from small specialty stores to large chain stores. Cafés and eateries with and without galleries are tempting with food from all over the world. There is no through traffic on the island. There are beaches, Horten forest and the picturesque Horten Channel that separates Karljohansvern from Horten city. Along the canal, you can walk in peace and quiet, only occasionally interrupted by an occasional silent “snekke,” or picnic boat, that uses this shortcut between the inner harbor and Oslofjord.
If you want to find an overview of Horten municipality, you should visit viewpoint "Festningen", or “the fortress,” which is an old military facility from the previous century. Here you can see the entire municipality surrounded by Oslofjord.
Explore the Submarine «Utstein»
The Mrine Museum in Horten is the oldest of its kind. The Marine Museum is located at the old naval headquarters and now has large collections related to the navy’s history through war and peace. Many items are unique globally. The collection includes vessels and equipment related to the Norwegian Navy, Allied and German equipment, ship models, paintings, and pictures just to name a few. The 45 meter long submarine "Utstein" occupies the land outside the Navy Museum in Horten, and is open to the public. "Utstein" operated at sea from 1964 until 1998.
Alfred Berg – Good old-fashioned colonial in Horten
On your visit to Horten, you should take a trip to the store of Alfred Berg on Storgata. The traditional, nostalgic store is 115 years old, and gives you the feeling of having traveled far back in time. Everything from the building, style, and products on old shelves is original from back in the day. The store was originally one of the few stores that only included the best ingredients, such as imported Swiss cheeses and healthy juices, and could rightly call itself "prettier colonial". Alfred Berg is up to this day a great colonial focusing on service and quality goods.
Exciting Car Museum
In traditional Horten Brewery's old beer halls is the Horten Car Museum. Here you can see a large collection of vehicles from 1900 until 1970. The collection includes everything from rare cars to old used cars. The museum went through a renovation period in winter, but opened recently with an upgrade of the exhibition and premises. A model railway of 24 m² is an extra special touch to your experience.
Slightly north of Horten is the historic island called Løvøya. The peninsula is the western of the three islands originally named Western, Central and East Løvøy. Being merely 0.7 km², Løvøya is a relatively small island. The bedrock of the island consists of lava from volcanoes that were active in the Permian period about 250 million years ago. Previously, it was possible to take boats across the strait between Løvøya and Drasundodden, hence the name Drasundet, or “the Dra sound.” This was practiced until the 1950s. Today, the sound is filled up and a road goes over Drasundet.
Løvøya has a nice marina for visitors at the bay Løvøypollen on the east side of Falkensten Bay. The place offers various facilities there including electricity, toilet, washing machine, garbage collection and camping. East of the island is a 200 meter long beach. It's nice to take a dive in the outdoors at Løvøysund. Remember to bring your fishing pole. The area around the strait and the bridge between Løvøya and Mellomøya are considered to be the most popular fishing spots in the region. There is a nice three kilometer long marked trail on the island and there are several sights worth checking out. There was a settlement here in the Viking Age.
The Løvøy Chapel
Løvøya is perhaps best known for its stone chapel that adorns the landscape when was built in the 1200s from local stone. The chapel is the smallest of Horten Municipality's three medieval churches, and is considered to be the most distinctive of them. The church was in ruins for many years after the Reformation in 1536, and became protected in 1882. Long restoration work started in 1928, and in 1950, the chapel could be reopened to religious use.
St. Olav’s Wells on Løvøya
According to legend, St. Olav was in contact with higher powers. It was discovered that water sources around the country were associated with Olav the Holy. It was said that the water in the well could cure disease. Adjacent to the chapel on Løvøya we find the holy well of St. Olav. The well was one of the main places in Østlandet of Catholic times. The belief in the healing waters was long lived and it is said that a sailor as late as 1820 went from Stavern to Løvøya and returned with two bottles of spring water to a sick marine captain. Today, the well is bricked up and restored.
If you are good at climbing, you can search for caves on the north side of the island, the Veggfjell by Jesus Bay. There are a lot of legends and stories about Røverhulen, or Robber Cave. A legend tells of robbers who abducted a service girl in the neighborhood by the cave. One day when she was sent out to buy food, she was threatened with death if she were to reveal them. The girl did not dare reveal the robbers but was clever enough to cut a hole in a bag of noodles that she brought with her, so she was found. Røver trail runs 200 m along the vertical rock wall. There is also another cave which bears the “røver” name. This cave is difficult to get to, but a long mysterious cave.
Horten and the surroundings are a paradise for cyclists. On all sides of the city, there is magnificent scenery that ranges from the general surface tension between Åsgårdstrand and Horten to forests and rolling hills and rural landscape on the other edges of the city.
Lovely lazy days on Løvøya
Shopping in the cozy town center.
Next time you go shopping in Vestfold, give Horten a try! The city has a cozy trade center with pedestrian streets, squares, and a large variety of a very diverse range of shops. The three shopping centers along Horten’s new beautiful pedestrian street offer a total of 70-80 stores. You will find everything you need - and you will find that the Horten has a very dynamic and exciting commercial center to offer! The newest mall, Scales Farm, offers the city's "best" parking facility. Easy access - great spots - and very reasonable prices! Free after 4 p.m. and direct access into the Spar supermarket means easy and comfortable access to groceries.
Two of the country's leading museums within its genre are located inside the Karjohansvern. The Marine Museum shows Norway naval history and photo art, and you’ll find photographic history at the Preus Museum.
Løvøy Chapel. The island was flocked by people of the Catholic world. It was no more than reasonable that a church was built on site. Exactly when this happened is not known, but it must have been in the 1200s. To the right in the picture, you can see St. Olav's well.
Horten city seen from the southeast.