Gunnarsholmen Fortress is a type of public park on a small island just outside Kragerø’s main city center. The fortress used to be vital for protecting the city a few hundred years ago, but now serves as an interesting tourist attraction with an incredible (and free) infinity pool, beach and greenery.
If you’re visiting Kragerø with children you will definitely want to stop by Gunnarsholmen to spend a few hours in the pool, or just relax in the incredible park facilities. The entire island is completely free of charge, so you are free to use the infinity pool, the white sand beach or take a tour of the defunct cannons on the island.
The island itself is located roughly 5 minutes on foot from Kragerø’s city center, and has a permanent bridge over to it. It’s a public area, so there’s no official entrance, and it’s open all day long.
Gunnarsholmen Infinity Pool
The biggest attraction on Gunnarsholmen Fortress is the infinity pool. This is a saltwater pool that pumps in ocean water from just below the pool, allowing you to go for a swim in the ocean without any jellyfish or other sea creatures.
It’s a great place to bring the children, and the pool is roughly 1.4 meters deep at the deepest side. It’s usually far more crowded than on the photos below, and the only reason why I got empty pictures of it is due to a cold breeze and a bit of luck.
The temperature in the pool tend to be a few degrees higher than in the ocean below since the sun will warm it up.
There’s a shallow end as well, which is suitable for smaller children that aren’t comfortable with swimming just yet. The entire area you can see on the photo below behind the blue bars are shallow and suitable for smaller children, but there’s a pretty steep drop just behind the blue bars between the two rocks.
There is no fee to enter the infinity swimming pool at Gunnarsholmen, and you can go for a swim any time. Please keep in mind that there are no safety staff there, so you are responsible for watching over your own children when using the swimming pool.
The infinity pool is accessible for wheelchair users.
Should you visit Gunnarsholmen in Kragerø?
You should definitely visit Gunnarsholmen if you are nearby, especially if you’re already coming to visit Kragerø. It’s an awesome place to spend a few hours, and the kids are going to love it.
Anyone who’s interested in Norway’s history should also take a stop by Gunnarsholmen to learn more and get a close look at the incredible cannons that are stationed at the fortress.
Gunnarsholmen itself might not be the biggest attraction in all of Norway, but I really recommend spending a day at Kragerø. It’s a small coastal city with an amazing summer vibe, so it’s the perfect place to spend a summer day in Norway.
The pool has quickly become a fan favorite of my children, and they really love the fact that they can swim in the pool, but the beach is only a minute away if they want to play in the sand.
Things to do at Gunnarsholmen
While the infinity pool and white sand beach at Gunnarsholmen are the two big attractions (especially for families with children), the island is also well worth a visit for people who aren’t looking to go swimming.
The island offers a great view of towards Kragerø city, as well as out towards the ocean and coastal islands. It’s a great place to stop by if you’re looking to snap a few photos of the idyllic town!
The cannons and the fortress themselves are also worth checking out, and the same cannons that were used to protect the city are still in place (although they have been sealed). There are multiple posters that will teach you all about how important the island was to the city’s defense back in the 1800s, and it’s a very interesting place to stop by if you are in to Norway’s history.
A cool tidbit is that the cannons are still fired during the May 17 celebration, but they obviously only use gunpowder, and not real cannon balls. They still provide a huge boom though!
Other than that, there’s a small kiosk on the island. This kiosk sell beverages, food, ice cream and things you might need for swimming (sunscreen, play things for the children etc.) at premium prices. I recommend stopping by for an ice cream, but don’t go shopping there; you will find most things for much cheaper at the grocery stores in Kragerø.
It is possible to use the public toilets on the island, but you can also rent the shower rooms there if you want to take a quick shower after swimming in the ocean water. The shower rooms can be rented from the kiosk. The toilets are free of charge.
If you’re arriving by boat, there’s a guest harbor on the connecting bridge, and there’s usually a few free spots to anchor the boat by.
The history of Gunnarsholmen Fortress
Gunnarsholmen Fortress began as a fortress used to protect the city around year 1700, and was in use for roughly 200 years.
The fortress and its cannons served as a way to scare off pirates and warships who wanted to raid Kragerø. The cannons were mostly used as a scare tactic, and were only actually used a few times.
The most famous use of the cannons was in 1808 when the English frigate “Tartar” attempted to lay siege to the city, and the firing from the cannons towards the small vessels sent to scout successfully managed to prevent the ship from attacking Krageø.
How to get to Gunnarsholmen in Kragerø
Gunnarsholmen is very easily reachable from Kragerø city center, and the best way to get there is to walk. Just follow the map below, or just walk along the ocean line to get to the island. The entire hike is entirely flat and super easy.
It’s also possible to get to Gunnarsholmen by car, and there are a few parking spots right next to the bridge to enter the area. However, driving in Kragerø is a bit challenging due to many one-way only streets, so I would rather recommend parking just outside the city center, then walk to Gunnarsholmen to make life a bit easier on yourself.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.