Fredrikstad is most often visited on a day trip from Oslo. However, if you'd like to stay at one of the few hotels in Fredrikstad, you can enjoy a day or two exploring some intriguing nearby sights.
The most concentrated collection of archaeological monuments in Norway lies along Rte. 110 between Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg to the east. Norwegians have dubbed the highway Oldtidsveien, or "Old Times Way". Along this historic sunken road between the two towns, many ancient stoneworks and rock paintings have been found. Look for the signposts as you drive along.
The most idyllic way to tour the Oldtidsveien is by bike if the weather is fair. (If it's not, you really shouldn't even make this trip.) Bike rentals are possible at the Fredrikstad tourist office.
If you take Rte. 110, you will approach all the clearly marked attractions below. Along the trail you'll come first to Solberg, a hamlet with a trio of panels featuring nearly 100 carved figures, thought to be 3,000 years old. In the village of Gunnarstorp, you can see several standing stones, including a few dating from the Iron Age as well as a Bronze Age burial ground. Other ancient attractions are found at the village of Begby, which has some depictions of ancient people, including boats and wild animals. Rock paintings at Hornes depict nearly two dozen ancient boats with oarsmen.
The hamlet of Hunn contains the largest archaeological site in Norway, with 4,000-year-old remains of Stone-Age civilization, Viking grave mounds and stone circles, and even signs of ancient cultivation methods. At a nearby hill, you can look at the ruins of the Ravneberget fortification, with walls dating from the 4th century A.D.
Along this road you can also visit some more modern attractions. Midway between Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg, you can visit the Roald Amundsen Centre at Framveien 9 (tel. 69-34-83-26), the 1872 birthplace of Amundsen, who, in 1911, was the first explorer to reach the South Pole. A monument is dedicated to him, and the house is filled with memorabilia of his exploits. You'll approach Hvidsten 7km (4 1/2 miles) east of Fredrikstad along Rte. 110. The center is open from April to September, Monday to Thursday from 10am to 8pm. Admission is NOK50 ($10/£5) for adults, NOK30 ($6/£3) for children.
If you end your exploration in Sarpsborg, at a point 14km (8 1/2 miles) east of Fredrikstad, you can visit the Borgarsyssel Museum, Gamlebygata 8 (tel. 69-11-56-50), which is open from June to August, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday noon to 4pm. This museum of the province of Østfold is an open-air exhibit filled with 30 period structures moved here from various parts of southern Norway. Many cultural artifacts are exhibited, and you can also walk through an herbal garden. Kids should also enjoy the petting zoo. On-site are the ruins of King Øystein's St. Nikolaus Church, built in 1115 but torched by the advancing Swedish army in 1567. There is no admission charge; however, a guided tour costs NOK50 ($10/£5), and you must call ahead.
En route back to Fredrikstad, you can stop off at the Storedal Cultural Centre, at Storedal (tel. 69-16-92-67), 8km (5 miles) east of Fredrikstad. This was the birthplace of King Magnus in 1117. He became king of Norway at the age of 13. But 5 years later he was blinded and since then called King Magnus the Blind. The center is dedicated to blind people as well as those suffering from other disabilities. On-site is a beautiful botanical garden; it costs NOK30 ($6/£3) to enter. Two artists, Arne Nordheim and Arnold Haukeland, designed Ode to the Light, a "sound sculpture" that translates the fluctuations of natural light into music. The center is signposted from Rte. 110. It's open June to August daily 10am to 5pm, charging no admission.
Insegran: Famous in Norse Sagas
If you like to read Norse sagas, visit the ruins of the 13th-century fortress Insegran on an island directly west of Gamlebyen. This once-mighty fortress stood as a fortification against the advancing Swedish armies of the mid-1600s. Various installations are exhibited here in the summer. Insegran is only 400m (1,312 ft.) west of the Old Town, but there is no ferry link. You have to drive south on Rte. 108 until you see the signposted turnoff.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.