Slottsfjellet, a huge hill fortress near the train station, is touted as "the Acropolis of Norway." In its heyday, these 13th-century ruins blossomed as the largest medieval fortifications in Norway, attracting the victorious Swedes across the border who came to destroy it in 1503. It has only some meager ruins today, and most people visit for the view from the 1888 lookout tower, Slottsfjelltårnet (tel. 33-31-18-72), rising 17m (56 ft.) tall. It's open May 15 to June 25 Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm, June 26 to August 20 daily from 11am to 6pm, August 21 to September 15 Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm, and September 16 to September 29 Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3pm. Admission is NOK40 ($8/£4) for adults, NOK20 ($4/£2) for children.
Nordbyen is the old, scenic part of town, with well-preserved houses. Haugar Cemetery, at Møllebakken, in the center of town, contains the Viking graves of King Harald's sons, Olav and Sigrød.
Sem Church, Hageveien 32 (tel. 33-36-93-99), the oldest church in Vestfold, was built of stone in the Romanesque style around 1100. It's open Thursday and Friday 10am to noon, but inquire at the vestry if it's not open during these hours. Admission is free.
Another attraction is Fjerdingen, a street of charming restored houses near the mountain farmstead. Tønsberg was also a Hanseatic town during the Middle Ages, and some houses have been redone in typical Hanseatic style -- wooden buildings constructed along the wharfs as warehouses to receive goods from fellow Hanseatic League members.
Going to the End of the World
In just a half-hour drive, you can leave Tønsberg and travel to what locals call Verdens Ende, or "World's End." It lies at the southernmost tip of Tjøme, the southernmost island among the low-lying islands and skerries, or rocky islets, jutting out into the Oslofjord, where it empties into the sea. This is a particularly dramatic spot. Usually the wind is blowing rather strong, stirring up the blue-black waters. Old fishing jetties can be seen in the distance. You'll also view an array of rocky islets and big rocks worn smooth by the turbulent waves. This is romantic Viking country and the setting for many summer homes. No one comes here for the excitement: It's just a scenic hideaway. If you don't have a car, take bus no. 101 from Tønsberg; the ride takes 45 minutes and costs NOK65 ($13/£6.50) one-way. Once here, you'll see a "17th-century" lighthouse. Actually, the original is gone and this is a copy from 1932.
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