Kirkøy - Hvaler – island by island - The Hvaler Islands - Fredrikstad and Hvaler - Visit Østfold

Kirkøy

As we emerge from the four kilometre long tunnel under the Løperen Sound we are well into Kirkøy. It is just a couple more kilometres to Skjærhalden, Hvaler’s administrative centre. This stretch of road is a good starting point for getting to know Kirkøy’s attractions.

It is a large island and we can explore the lovely countryside by going north on Vestreveien or south on Svanekilveien. Cycling these roads is highly recommended, bring a bike or hire one in Skjærhalden. Hvaler’s roads are known for their flowering verges, a diversity best appreciated from a bicycle seat. On Vestreveien we soon come to the Kofoed Brewery, known for its Hvaler Beer, sold in two-litre bottles every Friday.

On the other side of the road is Arekilen Nature Reserve, surrounded by an impressive black alder wood. At the mouth of Arekilen we can see the Archimedean screw that used to be tasked with emptying the water from Arekilen lake. Hvaler Gjestgiveri guesthouse, which has a programme of summer entertainment, is a little further up the road. We come to the fishing village of Bølingshavn, then the old ferry quay at Korshavn. In Korshavn it is worth visiting Frøkengård, a well-preserved 18th century farm which has guided tours all summer. At the start of Svanekilveien is Hvaler’s medieval church, one of the oldest in Norway and well worth a visit. Moving on to Edholm, we can visit Romberg Handel, a typical village shop that has hardly changed since 1937.

 

The Coastal Path

Kyststien (The Coastal Path) is a network of paths along the coast of southern Norway, marked by distinctive blue plaques. From Skjærhalden we can follow them to Storesand, Ørekroken, past the sculpture park Stenkunst Hvaler, out to Rødshue, then on to Grønne Bakke near Ravneklova. If you would like to camp on Kirkøy, you can put up a tent on Storesand Beach. It is a basic standard, but there is a beach café and you are close to the town centre. Cars are parked some way off, so only a tent will do.

Skjærhalden

If we drop into Hvaler Rådhus (Town Hall) we can visit the Art Street, a cobblestoned corridor with a gallery showing local artists. Further in, there is an information desk where you can pick up brochures or get some assistance from the helpful staff. Skjærhalden is a lively and busy centre on a summer’s day, the harbour is full of pleasure boats and too many people drive down to the centre. We park at the Rådhus and walk the last few hundred metres. The Hvaler ferries depart from Skjærhalden harbour, serving the eastern isles. You can also take the Vesleø ferry to Strømstad in Sweden. Skjærhalden has a supermarket, restaurants, a wine and spirits shop, and many other diverse shops. And there is the Kornmagasinet with its Tourist Office, toilets, library and not least the National Park Centre on the top floor. The whole family will enjoy the presentations here, including an impressive film about the national park – you can ask them to show it. Skjærhalden has its own harbour beach, Kroksand, which has been greatly improved in recent years. A nice beach with clear water, disabled access, and toilets and showers.

 

To the east of Kroksand, the Kjærlighetsstien (Lovers’ Walk) starts by the broad wooden steps up to Gilbergodden. It is a lovely round trip via Skårsnes and Hellekilen. From Hellekilen the path continues inland through Mørkedalen. By the ancient house ruins just north of Gilbergodden an alternative shorter path goes off to the left. On the top of the hill, with Skjærhalden below us, we can sit on the bench and enjoy a romantic moment.

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