Sandefjord: best things to see and do

upd 30 January 2024

Sandefjord is a small Norwegian town in Vestfold province. Its history begins with the Vikings, and not long ago it was a capital of a whaling industry. Now it’s a quiet beautiful place definitely worth exploring. Sandefjord is very close to Oslo and can be visited on a way from/to Torp airport.

History

The territory of Sandefjord has been inhabited for more than 3,000 years which ancient petroglyphs and rock carvings indicate. A thousand years ago the Vikings lived in this region. Here was found one of the greatest findings of the Viking Age, the 9th century Gokstad Viking ship – the best preserved ship of those times. The ship can now be seen in the Viking Museum in Oslo.

In the 19th century and before the World War II, Sandefjord became one of the largest resorts in the region, attracting both Norwegians and Germans, British and Americans. The baths, which were the most popular, were restored and now house a cultural center called Kurbadet.

The city is most famous for whaling. In the second half of the 19th century, Sandefjord became a world center for whaling, and Norway became the leader in the fishery. Ships left the city for the North Sea, the Arctic and Southern Oceans. The peak lasted until the 1960s, and the town is now no longer associated with the whaling industry. It is noteworthy that Norway has not yet accepted an international moratorium on whaling.

What to see

Sandefjord Kirke

Sandefjord Kirke is the main church of the city that was built in 1903. In front of it you can see a monument of the World War I soldiers and underwater mines that were used during the war.

Hvalfangstmonumentet

This monument is dedicated to whalers. The sculptures are on a boat on the tail of a whale. They hold a harpoon in their hands, raised above the whale.

Whaling museum

This is one of the few museums of whaling. Here you can learn about the long history of whaling and it came to an end. There are many exhibits: tools, equipment, ship models.

Kirkegata

One of the central streets of the city, where you can see residential wooden houses and buildings in the Art Nouveau style.

Badeparken

The largest park in the city near the sea and not far from the embankment. Great place to take a break and relax.

Sandar Church

The oldest church of Sandefjord built of wood in 1792.

Wiki / Commons

Architecture

Sandefjord is one of the few Norwegian cities where Art Nouveau buildings can be found. Although the style can be better described as National Romantic – a form of Art Nouveau common in Nordic countries. It is characterized by predominate usage of natural materials such as stone and wood. There are also a lot of well preserved old wooden buildings. An interesting example of a modern architecture is Town Hall (photo).

Southern Actor

Southern Actor is the last whaling ship, now a museum.

Wiki / Commons

Torget

Torget is the main square of the city, this is where cafes, eateries and shops are concentrated.

Midtasen Sculpture Park

Midtasen Sculpture Park is an unusual and beautiful place not far from the city center.

Where to stay

The city has very good hotels, you can book in advance on Tripadvisor. I would recommend Scandic Park, Torp Hotel and Hotel Kong Carl.

How to get here

Train

Probably the easiest way to get to Sandefjord from Oslo is by train. It takes 2 hours, you can buy tickets at Oslo S station or online: vy.no

Bus

It takes more time to take a bus, but they are more frequent: nettbuss.com

Car

You also can go by car on the E18 highway, the distance is about 120 kilometers.

It’s easy to rent a car in Oslo or in Torp airport, the price usually starts at 80-100$ a day. See various options on Economybookings.com.

Ferry

You can take a small ship and a large passenger ferry. The most popular are Color Line and Fjord Line. With their help you can cross to Strömstad, Sweden.

Plane

Sandefjord also has its own airport Torp (TRF).

To read next: A guide to Southern Norway, How to travel Norway on a budget.

Map

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