Explore Oslo’s treasure islands
BBQ, sea, nature reserve, swimming, paddling, outdoor adventure, camping, places to eat and things to see. With a regular ticket from Ruter (Oslo public transport system) or an Oslo Pass, you can take a Ruter boat from the city out into nature. Hop on and off between Aker Brygge and Hovedøya, Lindøya, Nakholmen, Bleikøya, Gressholmen and Langøyene.
Swim at a cultural heritage site on Hovedøya
Hovedøya, just 600m from the city center, was settled by English monks in the 12th Century. The island has plenty of history and cultural heritage sites to explore along with beautiful nature and good swimming.
“When summer arrives, the outdoor café tables are packed and you have to queue for an ice cream or cold drink. The island is a refreshing alternative to the big city. It’s a place where you can find peace and quiet and walk among the ruins and imagine what life was like here centuries ago,” says Gabriele Neset, who opened Klosterkroa, a restaurant in a former officers’ mess close to the monastery ruins, in 2014.
The island is famous for its sheltered climate that enables many rare flowers to grow here, which is why the island is also a nature reserve and protected area. There are plenty of wonderful areas for outdoor activities, including two big beaches that have been popular swimming destinations for Oslo residents for many years as there used to be a municipal swimming pool here.
“One thing I do recommend is to take the boat back to Oslo in the evening after dark when you can see all the city lights against the skyline,” says Neset.
Places to eat and drink and cultural heritage sites are all close to the ferry jetty. History guide Leif Gjerland calls Hovedøya a military folk museum, as the island has cannon dating from the 19th Century, an explosives magazine dating from when the island was a Norwegian military base and a gun carriage building that today houses studios, art exhibitions and a monastery library.
If you want to eat and drink, head to Klosterkroa. For a maritime experience, head to Revierhavnen, an old timber building that has been a restaurant since 1905. Please note that opening times vary depending on the time of year.
Hovedøya, 0150 Oslo, Norge
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öppettiderna varierar beroende på säsong.
Explore nature on Bleikøya
No more than a stone's throw from Hovedøya is Bleikøya, one of the most popular cabin islands in the fjord. The northern part is a nature reserve and on Bleikøykalven (a promontory in the north east) you can find rare flora. In addition, birds such as black-headed gulls, herring gulls and common eider nest here, along with the largest population of barnacle geese in Oslo Fjord.
The island is also home to the only permanent residents of the Oslo islands, the Gulbrandsen family, who became famous in 2004 thanks to Norwegian TV. The same family has lived on this farm since 1721. It's no longer a working farm but you can see the old farmhouse.
The island store, Bleikøya handel, is open in summer to buy provisions.
Holiday paradise Gressholmen Kro
A bit further out in the fjord are the island trio of Gressholmen-Rambergøya-Heggholmen with the remains of a unique industrial community, Norway’s first “main airport” and one of the oldest lighthouses in Oslo Fjord.
In 1883, Christiania Shooting Club built a meeting room in addition to the club house, that would become known as Gressholmen Kro (bar and restaurant). The current set up dates from the 1930s and is one of the oldest eateries in the fjord. It includes a café, restaurant and outdoor tables. Weddings, private parties and other events such as yoga and concerts are held here.
Gressholmen, 0150 Oslo, Norge
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Camping on Langøyene
This was a former landfill site until the municipality opened a new bathing place here in 1952. Tourists now come here for the bathing beaches, kiosk, nudist beach, beach volleyball, soccer and excellent walking trails. Today we meet several adult education students who are spending their last day of term here. Most have come to Norway from countries such as Syria and other parts of the Middle East.
“It's wonderful here. The nature is so very different,” they say.
This is also the only island in the inner fjord where you are allowed to camp. You can pitch a tent on Nordre Langøy provided you follow the house rules. If you want a bit more of a comfortable night, DNT Oslo and Omegn offer accommodation in the old janitor’s building. DNT also rents kayaks so you can make the very most of your stay here.
“A perfect summer day. BBQ, kicking a ball around and a swim,” says Petter Nordby who’s from Skullerud in Oslo. He and his friends try to make the most of everything the city has to offer.
The cozy peninsula Bygdøy
Even if this is “only” a peninsula to the west of the city center and you can take the number 30 bus here all year, taking the boat is decidedly the finest way to get there. It only takes 15 minutes.
Bygdøy consists of residential areas but is also an attractive destination with both beach, walking trails and beach volleyball at Huk and Paradisbukta.
Tourists associate Bygdøy with several of the city’s most popular museums and historic attractions, such as the Viking Ship Museum, Fram Museum, Norwegian Folk Museum, Kon-Tiki, Norwegian Maritime Museum, Oscarshall, Holocaust Center and the Royal Estate.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat, we recommend Lille Herbern, a little pearl. Herbern consists of two small islands, Store and Lille, that are completely different. Store Herbern is a nature reserve. Lille Herbern houses an à la carte restaurant dating from 1929, plus Oslo’s smallest ferry, the M/S Lille Herbern. With plenty of outdoor tables and delicious seafood and summer dishes, Lille Herbern is a popular place to meet.
Lille Herbern, Herbernveien, Oslo, Norge
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Published: July 12, 2019