Norway’s cosmopolitan capital lies at the head of Oslofjord, a narrow body of water 68 miles (107 kilometers) in length that leads out to the strait of Skagerrak and eventually to the Baltic and North Seas. The fjord’s islets are its main attraction, home to sandy beaches, cycling and hiking routes, and historic lighthouses.
Oslofjord—scattered with islets, isolated coves, and little pockets of beach—is a leisure destination for the inhabitants of Norway’s capital. Fjord cruises are a good way to take in the scenery and learn about the area’s history and geography, while island-hopping ferries allow you to visit the islands and see highlights such as the Cistercian monastery on the island of Hovedøya, the beaches of Huk bay, and a nature reserve for wading birds on Bleikøya. Fjord cruises are also featured on some full-day Oslo tours, during which you can visit city highlights such as Akershus Fortress, the Oslo Opera House, and Vigeland Park.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Oslofjord is a must-see for first-time visitors to the capital.
- Dress in layers. Temperatures on the water can be cold, even in summer.
- The best place to swim in the fjord is off Museum Island (Bygdøy), a peninsula on the western side of the city.
How to Get There
To reach Oslofjord, take ferry 92, 93, or 94 from Vippetangen in Oslo’s city center. The fjord’s islets are accessible by private boat, ferry, or guided tour, and it takes roughly 20 minutes to get to most islands from Vippetangen on the Oslo waterfront.
When to Get There
The narrow sounds of Oslofjord are best explored in summer, when weather is typically warm and the sun sets for only a few hours each night. This is the most popular time to visit, and the bays can be packed (by Scandinavian standards) with boats and swimmers. As such, it’s a good idea to book tours and accommodations ahead of time.
Viking History in Oslo
Vikings once called the area around Oslofjord home, and some ancient settlements surrounding the waterway date back to the Stone Age and Bronze Age. The world’s best-preserved Viking ship was unearthed from the fjord’s waters and currently resides in the city’s Viking Ship Museum.