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102km (63 miles) S of Oslo

Tønsberg is Norway's oldest town. And just how old is it? No one is certain. But documentation -- including the Saga of Harald Hårfagre, by Snorre Sturluson -- puts the date around 871, when King Harald Fairhair united parts of the country and the Viking town became a royal coronation site.

The renowned Viking ships Gokstad and Oseberg, on display in Oslo's Bygdøy peninsula, were discovered at a site near Tønsberg on the western bank of the Oslofjord. King Olav of Vestfold and King Sigrød of Trøndelag, both killed in battle, have their tombs at Haugar.

In the Middle Ages, Tønsberg became a major Hanseatic trading post for eastern Norway, with links to Rostock along the Baltic. In the 1600s, it was known as a major port in eastern Norway, worthy of Bergen in the west. By the mid-1800s, Tønsberg was a port for whalers in the Arctic and Antarctic Seas, rivaling Sandefjord . It was also the headquarters of Svend Foyn, known as the "father of Norwegian sealing and whaling."

However, don't be completely misled by the town. Tønsberg is also quite up-to-date with the 21st century and not mired in antiquity. Modern Tønsberg is a 104-square-kilometer (41-sq.-mile) town with some 32,000 residents. It consists of a historic area filled with old clapboard-sided houses and a commercial center with a marketplace. Foodies around the world seek out the Jarlsberg cheese that is made here.

In 3 hours, you can see it all.