Vestfold claims to have the sunniest summers inNorway; and a sunny evening in and around theskerries is indeed a magical experience: smooth, sun-kissed seaside rocks bathe in the golden glow of theevening light, while the silky-smooth sea and summerbreeze caress your skin.

It may be the smallest county (albeit one of the mostdensely populated), but Vestfold offers a little bit ofeverything: along the coast, the dramatic contrast ofbare rock faces and serene stretches of beach; inland,the timeless beauty of rivers, lakes and deep forest.

On the fjord there is a guest harbour in virtually everytown, each a miniature boating paradise in the shelterof the skerries. Vestfold is also an Eldorado for golfers,with 18-hole courses at Stokke, Horten and Larvik, andsmaller courses at Tjøme and Hof.

A national cycle path winds through the beautiful coastal landscape from Horten to Helgeroa, joining the “Experience Path” (Opplevelsesveien) in Lågendalen. Equally inviting is a tranquil journey along the beautiful Numedal Route, where the scent of seaweed mingles with the fragrance of fertile meadows, and some ofthe best salmon fishing in Norway is to be had in the Numedalslågen river. Either route is perfect for a family holiday.

The county also boasts a rich selection of historical treasures from primeval to Viking times, offering visitors an insight into the very heart of Norwegian culture. One of Norway’s three Hanseatic cities in the late Middle Ages, Tønsberg boasted the country’s largest fortress,one of the king’s royal residences, and a Franciscan cloister. On the impressive Slottsfjellet (Castle Hill), is Norway’s largest medieval castle, complete with ringwalls, watch towers, and a great hall. Tønsberg is Vestfold’s county town and commercial hub; it is also Norway’s oldest town, celebrating its 1140th birthdayin 2011.

A commercial and shipping centre since the Vikingage, Tønsberg shares with nearby Sandefjord acolourful and prosperous whaling past. The town ishome to Vestfold County Museum, with sections onarchaeology, seafaring, whaling and local culture, including the world’s largest blue whale skeleton, 27metres long.

Sandefjord is known for its beautiful coastline andprofusion of small, flowery islands, soft sandy beachesand sheltered coves; there are no fewer than 16islands within the city limits. Tiny bays and inlets are ideal overnight havens for boating enthusiasts, who often find themselves tempted to linger, if only for the beaches teeming with life during the long summer days.

Larvik, birth place of the celebrated anthropologist and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, is an attractive port which also offers a fine maritime museum. The town of Horten is also noted for its museums, while the charming resort of Holmestrand is often said to have the prettiest waterfront in the county

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