Akerøya island in Ytre Hvaler National Park

Ytre Hvaler National Park

Norway

Photo: Oslofjordens Friluftsråd

South-eastern Norway’s sunny coast is perfect for island hopping, hiking, and kayaking.

Discover Ytre Hvaler National Park

Hvaler is an island municipality located at the south-eastern end of the Oslofjord, directly south of Fredrikstad. The municipality consists of 833 islands, islets, and skerries at least 20 square meters in size. The largest town is Skjærhalden, situated in the southern part of Hvaler on the island of Kirkøy.

Ytre Hvaler National Park is primarily a marine park, stretching from the southern coast of the Hvaler islands out into the sea. The national park was created to preserve the relatively untouched coastal nature as well as the animal species that call the area home.

Another goal of establishing the national park was to maintain the varied underwater landscape, from the shallow and exposed areas at Heia, to the 460-meter deep seabed between Søsterøyene and Torbjørnskjær. The underwater landscape in this area has a diverse selection of plants and is also home to many different coral reefs. The 1,200-meter-long Tisler reef is particularly special.

Four former seabird reserves, Akerøya, Heia, Møren, and Søndre Søster, are now part of Ytre Hvaler National Park.

Ytre Hvaler National Park borders Færder National Park to the west and to the south lies the Swedish Kosterhavnet National Park, which was established at the same time.

Why choose Ytre Hvaler NP?

  • Easy access from Oslo – only 2 hours by car or bus
  • Idyllic coastal hiking routes
  • Lighthouses for rent
  • Island hopping on the local ferry
  • Hvaler has more sun than any other part of Norway
  • Very little snow in winter means almost year-round hiking
  • Norway’s premier destination for sea kayaking

For access to all our Ytre Hvaler National Park information and trail maps on the go, download the Outtt app. Save your favourite adventures and maps for offline use!

Island Hopping

Go island hopping and see all the great small places of the Hvaler Islands.

Go Island Hopping

Hike the Coastal Trails

Experience one – or all – of the three coastal routes on Hvaler.

Explore the Coastal Trails

How to get to Ytre Hvaler National Park

Ytre Hvaler National Park is found just two hours from Oslo. You can get there by car or public transport.

Oslo to Ytre Hvaler National Park by public transport
There are daily buses from Oslo Bus Terminal to Skjærhalden, departing every hour between 8:00 and 16:00. The travel time is approximately two hours and the price is about 280 NOK. View the bus departure times and the ticket prices at nettbuss.no.

You can also choose to take the train to Fredrikstad and hop on the bus from there. The train ride to Fredrikstad takes 1 hour and 10 minutes and leaves Oslo Central Station every hour. You can buy tickets and see departure times at nsb.no.

Oslo to Ytre Hvaler National Park by car
From downtown Oslo, take E6 (towards Stockholm) until you reach Råde. Here, exit E6 and follow Rv. 110 to Fredrikstad and then Rv. 108 further until you reach Skjærhalden. Without traffic, the trip should not take more than 1 hour and 50 minutes. There are tolls along the road and once you arrive in Skjærhalden, you will need to pay for parking. During the busy summer months it can be a bit difficult to find parking spots so be patient.

Kids enjoying summer at one of the beaches in Ytre Hvaler National Park. Photo: Oslofjorden Friluftsråd

The best time to visit Ytre Hvaler National Park

Winter
Wintertime in Hvaler is a paradise for kiters and wind surfers. The wind from the southwest provides the perfect conditions at Ørekroken, a horseshoe-shaped cove and surfing mecca in the heart of Hvaler. Remember to dress accordingly with cold temperatures and strong winter winds. February is the coldest month but all the winter months can drop into the minus degrees.

Snow and ice can be found around the islands during the wintertime in Hvaler, but it is rare that it stays on the paths. It can be very nice to walk around the national park after a recent snowfall as you can spot the footprints of all of the different animals that call Hvaler home.

Spring
By Easter, the temperature becomes quite comfortable and it is apparent that spring is arriving. The white petals of the Hvitveisen flower, and the intermittent blue from the Blåveisen flower, color the forest floor. The wide variety of birds return to their summer home and you will hear them singing throughout the islands.

Summer
In Hvaler, the summer arrives in the later half of May and lingers until the end of September. Throughout the summer months it can reach over 20 degrees centigrade and the ocean temperature will become quite pleasant. With the long daylight hours, soaking up the summertime in Hvaler is the best of all.

Fall
By October the number of people enjoying the coastline around Hvaler have started to dwindle. On sunny days the temperature can still reach a pleasant 15 degrees but you can see and feel the season changing before your eyes. The leaves on the trees turn infinite shades of yellow, red, and brown and are a beautiful sight to behold. The fall weather also brings some windy days, which is an experience in itself. Pikesten lighthouse and Rødshue are great places to experience the drama of the ocean when the fall storms roll in.

Harbor seals taking a rest at Storekollen. Photo: Haakon Braathu Haaverstad

Itineraries

To make it as easy as possible to start exploring, here are in-depth guides to some of the activities available in Ytre Hvaler National Park. If an important piece of information is missing, just get in touch.

Island Hopping

Ytre Hvaler National Park consists of many small islands. From Skjærhalden you can go island hopping with the local ferry and visit all the beautiful small islands on the eastern side of Hvaler.

Go Island Hopping

Hike the Coastal Trails

On the Hvaler islands you can choose to hike one or all of the three coastal routes. These hiking routes are the perfect place to start exploring these peaceful islands.

Explore the Coastal Trails

Photo: Rolf Sørensen

Hiking

Hvaler offers great Norwegian coastal hiking and provides a very different experience compared to more well-known hiking areas in Norway such as Lofoten and Jotunheimen. The Hvaler islands have a gentle landscape and are easy to hike. Each island is fairly small so wherever you go, you will never be far from the sea.

The options for hiking on Hvaler are numerous. Take a water taxi and get out to one one the smaller islands like Tisler or stay closer to the main road and hike along the coast.

The walking trails along the coast, or “Kyststien”, are found throughout the islands. They are protected as a recreational area and are part of Ytre Hvaler National Park. On these trails, which take you along the seaside and through the forests, you will discover a variety of coastal flora and fauna.

Read more: The Coastal Hiking Trails on the Hvaler Islands

Recommended hikes

Coastal Path on Vesterøy

Hiking 6 km · 3 – 5 hr

Coastal Path on Kirkøy

Hiking 6.3 km · 3 – 4 hr

Coastal Path on Asmaløy

Hiking 6.7 km · 3 – 6 hr

Pikesten Lighthouse

Hiking 3.6 km · 1 – 2 hr

Tisler

Hiking 3 km · 1 – 2 hr

Rødshue

Hiking 6.5 km · 1.5 – 2.5 hr

Kayaking

Hvaler is without question Norway’s premier place to enjoy sea kayaking. Hvaler has three bigger islands with small inlets and fjords that are well worth exploring. Additionally, there are many smaller islands offering plenty of unique kayaking experiences and reasons to keep coming back. You can start your trip from any point around Hvaler as each island has some great highlights, any of which could be your new favorite spot.

Multi-day adventures around Hvaler area also possible. You can camp along the coast provided that you follow the rules of Right to Roam in Norway. Or, you can do one-day adventures and just soak up all the beatiful nature around the Hvaler islands.

Photo: Shutterstock/Popartic

Recommended kayaking adventures

Herføl

Paddling 14 km · 4 – 5 hr

Storesand–Akerøya

Paddling 21.6 km · 5 – 6 hr

Kayaking Hvaler's Archipelago

Paddling 12.6 km · 4 – 5 hr

Accommodation

There are three main types of accommodation on the Hvaler islands. Without doubt the most interesting option is to stay in one of the lighthouses or small cabins. There are also hotels and camping sites available.

The lighthouses and local cabins are one of the unique experiences in Hvaler and are rented out by Oslofjorden Friluftsråd. These accommodations offer an insight into the history of the islands not to mention amazing views of the ocean. If you want to rent a lighthouse, make sure to book well in advance as they are very popular. See below for more details on some of the different options. You can aslo find some listings on Airbnb.

There are two hotels, both on the island of Kirkøy. Hvaler Gjestegiveri is located on the western end of the island, while Hvaler Resort can be found in Skjærhalden.

For campers there are two serviced campgrounds. Hvaler Camping is on Spjærøy and Storesand Teltplass is on Kirkøy.

Recommended accommodation

Lauer

Accommodation

Akerøya

Accommodation

Map

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