Drøbak Boat Harbor
Drøbak is a lovely place to experience a hot summer day. Photo: Åsmund Lindal

Introduction to Drøbak

Drøbak square today, photographed on the national day 17 May.

- «the city where the sun never sets»

We present our small town with a smile, because Drøbak is also known for its fabulous sunsets! Here you can sit by the blue Oslofjord in the boat or in a nice nightclub where you enjoy a better meal and lift a glass towards the sun as it goes down behind wooded hills to the west. White sails in the south wind and the scent of salty sea help to create the special Drøbak atmosphere on a beautiful summer evening. And maybe a wooden snail comes in tough with tonight's catch of fresh mackerel…

Sunset in the inner Oslofjord seen from Drøbak.

Winter also offers experiences in Drøbak: The fjord with frost smoke and drifting ice framed by a snow-covered landscape, cargo and passenger ships gliding past with lit lanterns - and glare from lighthouses and the floodlit Oscarsborg Fortress in the winter darkness. For now you are also in Santa's hometown, his spirit hovers over the city, the forest and the fjord… we treat ourselves to a little nostalgia, humor and adventure!

Winter atmosphere in Drøbak and a lot of drifting ice in the Oslo Fjord
Winter atmosphere in Drøbak and a lot of drifting ice in the Oslo Fjord

A short Drøbak story

Drøbak grew out of sailing ships in the 1700th and 1800th centuries. Here the ships loaded large blocks of ice and timber for export, and took home food and handicrafts and industrial products. In 1814, Drøbak became a customs post, and on 20 August 1842, Drøbak was granted city status as the first of the settlements in Akershus county. The place then had close to 1000 inhabitants.

Bathing pleasure in Drøbak in the early 1900th century. The artist Kristian Krogh was one of the "Drøbak painters", here working on a maritime motif - his son Per is an assistant.

The name Drøbak comes from the location: It is steep up from the fjord to the land within, and probably Drøbak is an abbreviation of "Drøye bakker".

The small cluster of wooden houses grew year by year, and to this day we can enjoy original, preserved wooden buildings from the 1700th century. The inner city of Drøbak is today a protection zone with strict architectural regulations to take care of the unique buildings. Fishermen, sailors, craftsmen and traders built their houses based on the opportunities and economic conditions of the time. And the small wooden buildings that once housed the poor along Fiskerstranda are today sought-after treasures. Drøbak is in many ways Norwegian history in a nutshell - today's prosperity must be experienced against a background of past poverty and hardship.

In 1962, the urban municipality of Drøbak was merged with the neighboring and agricultural municipality of Frogn. Drøbak is today the center in Frogn Municipality, with approx. 15 inhabitants. Today we find a wide range of nightclubs, shops, public institutions and small businesses in Drøbak. Many of them live in the classic wooden buildings that we are so proud of.

A small selection of historical motifs from the rich image archive in Verneforeningen Gamle Drøbak.

Old Drøbak conservation association stands today as a strong advocate for preserving and maintaining the city's old houses and environment. On the association's website, you can take a historical tour of Drøbak with photos showing the city before and now. You can choose between Norwegian, English, German and Italian text.

The bathing and artist city

The country's capital grew rapidly in the 1800th century, and many sought out the big city on a beach holiday in the summer. Fully loaded steamboats docked in Drøbak with wealthy guests from Christiania (which later became "Oslo" in 1925). Hotels, guest houses and shops experienced a heyday in the summers. Drøbak's contact with the sea again became a source of development, now with beaches and outdoor life as an asset. Drøbak became a seaside resort with a spa in Varmbadet in Badeparken close to the center. Drøbak is still a popular seaside resort with beaches, boulders and diving facilities - all with free admission.

Many well-known Norwegian painters and authors have had Drøbak as their place of inspiration and residence. Here came the Nobel Prize winner Knut Hamsun and the poet Herman Wildenvey, as well as painters such as Kristian Krohg, the brothers Bergslien, Hans Fredrik Gude and Edvard Diriks - who were Edvard Munch's cousins. In our own time, perhaps the artist Ferdinand Finne is the most famous. His saying "The road is created while you walk" can be used for a trip around Drøbak!

The fortress town

Oscarsborg provides experience, knowledge and living history to today's young people. A guest harbor provides accommodation and welcomes boaters during the summer season. Photo: Kjetil Sørby.

Drøbak's history is inextricably linked to Oscarsborg Fortress. Where the Oslo Fjord is at its narrowest, a fortress was built as early as 1643–45. Towards the end of the 1800th century, a large-scale expansion of the fortress took place, and at the dissolution of the Union with Sweden in 1905, Oscarsborg was perhaps Norway's strongest military resource. That large parts of the fortress were built by Swedish masons is therefore a fun reflection.

But the fortress gained the most importance in 1940. When Hitler-Germany attacked Norway without a declaration of war on April 9, 1940, an improvised and poorly trained garrison managed to sink the German cruiser "Blücher" with cannon shots and torpedoes. The invaders got to taste their own product, because the cannons "Aaron" and "Joshua" were made in Germany. They were fired on the orders of Colonel Birger Eriksen, who after the war was honored for his efforts.

Oscarsborg is today located as an illuminated monument in Drøbaksundet. Also on the land side is the old fortress, here a cannon guard in 1909.

The Germans had gathered key people and the most important resources on board the Blücher. When the cruiser went down and took nearly 900 men into the depths, the invasion was delayed. The Norwegian royal family, the government, the Storting and Norges Bank's gold reserves were evacuated from Oslo, and this laid the foundation for later Norwegian war efforts from London. Blücher is still located as a war grave at the bottom of the Oslo Fjord, at Askholmene northeast of Oscarsborg. It was a ticking environmental bomb until it was emptied of bunker oil in 1994-95. The anchors of Blücher have been raised, and one is today a memorial in Badeparken in Drøbak, close to the statue of Colonel Birger Eriksen.

"Blücher" is hit by Oscarsborg's cannons on April 9, 1940. Painting by Reidar Finsrud.

Oscarsborg Fortress currently has no military functions, but has a military commander and split flag. The fortress has a solid defense museum, and is an exciting experience with guided tours. Restaurants, hotels and guest harbors help to make the fortress something in itself. The courtyard is used in the summer for large-scale cultural events, with professional opera productions as a specialty. From Drøbak there is a regular ferry to Oscarsborg.

Drøbak Aquarium - Oslofjorden's marine biological center

The aquarium was built on a voluntary basis by Drøbak Båtforening and contains a number of species of fish, shellfish and sea animals found in Drøbaksundet. The goal was to recreate the environment and life in the fjord, and the aquarium is today the most visited sight in the whole of Akershus county. Many schools arrange class trips here, this is a lively communication of nature and the environment for both children and adults. Today, the Aquarium is run in collaboration with the Marine Biological Research Station in Drøbak, which is part of the University of Oslo.

The aquarium in Drøbak shows life in the fjord outside. A touch pool makes the visit extra exciting for the little ones.

Nightlife, experience, shopping, accommodation and service

There are an incredible number of nightclubs and fun shops in Drøbak, and most of them are within walking distance of the city center. Choose between a quick pizza or kebab, a traditional Norwegian meal or a gourmet serving. Maybe just a sparkling beer or a glass of wine? The possibilities are many.

  • Overnight in Drøbak? If you want to stay overnight in Drøbak, contact the traditional Reenskaug Hotel (link). You can also spend the night in adventurous surroundings at Oscarsborg Hotel & Resort.
  •  Galleries: Drøbak is known for its many galleries with visual art and applied art, and Julehuset celebrates Christmas all year round! The newspaper cartoonists' house offers social satire by our best cartoonists. There is a lot to smile about here!
  •  Lutefish Museum! Next door to the Tourist Information and the Aquarium, you will find Norway's and the world's only Lutefisk Museum. Information, photos and humorous exhibition of Norway's most special traditional food from the sea, and its regular drink: Akevitten (Norwegian potato spirit)!
  •  Boat Engine Museum: Drøbak Båtforening has created a collection of boat engines and other maritime rarities in the Museum in Kroketønna.
  • Drøbak Church: Should you need a quiet, reflective moment, you can visit the venerable old Drøbak Church, built of wood in 1776. The church is open to the public some weekdays in the summer, and is located at the entrance to the Bathing Park.
  • Harbor blues, concerts and revues: Every summer in July, Havneblues is arranged in Drøbak. Several of the city's nightclubs host concerts with famous artists and local bands. In Drøbak, a revue is also played! You will find these events in the Activity Calendar and reviews on our website.
  •  Drøbak Cinema has received an audience boost after a new, digital film screening has come into place. Hooray for the experiences of darkness!
  •  Shopping & Service: Clothes, children's articles, pharmacy, groceries, meat shop, bakery, vegetables, flowers, garden center, liquor store, shoe stores and shoemaker, glasses, medicines, photo shop, photo framing, newsagent, car service - you will find this quickly in Drøbak center. Library and post office as well.
  • In the square is the bustling life with many kinds of stalls, especially in antiques and collectibles. Make a bargain!
  • At Drøbak City 1,5 km from the city center you will find a large shopping center with supermarkets and a number of specialty shops.
  • Golf: Close to Drøbak City you can play golf. Drøbak Golf Club offers "golf fun on the pleasant course".
A rich offer of nightlife and shops awaits you in Drøbak. Swedish

Fresh shrimp straight from the boat!

The marina in Drøbak with its leisure and fishing boats is an oasis for everyone who wants to enjoy life and unwind. Here you can buy fresh shrimp and fish straight from the boat - an offer Drøbak is alone as a small town in the Inner Oslo Fjord. In the harbor there is life and activity all year round, especially in the summer. From the piers and the entire beach zone you can also try your luck at fishing. Drøbaksundet is one of the Oslo Fjord's best fishing spots. Fishing in the sea is free in Norway, but you must bring your own fishing rod.

The tourist information

At Sjøtorget in the southern part of the marina you will find the Tourist Information. Here you get city maps and other information material, and answers to your questions. Wherever you come from in Norway, Europe or the rest of the world, we are sure that you have a lot to look forward to with us.

It is easy to get here - Drøbak is only 40 minutes by bus from Oslo city center. In the summer there is also a boat to Drøbak from Aker pier in Oslo.

Enjoy life - welcome to Drøbak!

Santa Claus in Drøbak receives over 20 letters from all over the world every year.