When in Oslo, do like the locals and go out on the Oslo fjord. I think one of my top recommendations for Oslo, no matter what time of the year, would be to go on a fjord cruise. Its a great feeling to get out on the water and to see the city from a whole other perspective!
The Oslo fjord got so much to offer, from stunning city views and clean water to wildlife, idyllic small islands, beautiful hills surrounding Oslo and so much more.
This winter I decided to head out on a 2 hours fjord cruise with the old sail ship Helena. Here’s an article on how to enjoy this cruise to its fullest. Also check out my YouTube-episode from this cruise.
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How to book the fjord cruise?
There are a couple of ways to book this cruise. If you are last minute you can just show up at the docks 15 minutes before the cruise departs, and buy the ticket over the counter. You’ll find the ship moored on pier #3 just in front of the Oslo City Hall.
The best way to do it, since the ship can fill up, is to book the cruise in advance. I got the tickets here (GetYourGuide), and all I had to do was to show the GetYourGuide app with the ticket on it before I climbed on board.
Note that in the wintertime this cruise does not have daily departures. It usually runs Sat-Mon, and sometimes Friday, and only 1-2 departures per day. However, in the summer season you can expect it to run every day and have up to three departures, so choose the one that best suits your schedule.
How to dress?
How to dress is for sure a big issue when planning this cruise. The weather can change a lot from one season to another, and you don’t want to ruin the cruise by being cold or wet.
We say in Norwegian “det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær”. This translates into “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”.
There is something to this, and with the right clothes on I think the cruise can be enjoyed all times of the year. To be on the safe side, make sure to check the weather forecast.
If you go during summer/spring/fall its a good idea with a windproof jacket, and ideally also something waterproof just in case.
Especially in the morning or afternoon it can get chilly, so also consider bringing a warm sweater or an insulated jacket.
Sunglasses is a must in the summertime to best be able to enjoy the views on sunny day.
Winter can be a great time out on the fjord, but only if you are properly dressed.
Checking the weather forecast in advance is always a good idea. But remember that weather at sea can be quite different than at land. Typically it can get a lot colder out on the water.
Therefor I suggest wearing wool long johns and a shirt. Also bring a warm sweater and a good winter jacket. Personally I either wear a wool coat, or I put on a thick down jacket.
Warm gloves, a hat and a scarf is also super important to stay warm.
What’s on board the ship?
Onboard you find plenty of outdoor comfortable seating divided by a lower and upper deck. There are cushions to sit on, and in the cold season there are also blankets that you can wrap around yourself.
There is a small indoor area with a few seats and a pretty well stocked bar where you can buy drinks and snacks. I enjoy heading in here on cold days to warm up a bit, and perhaps have some gløgg (mulled wine) and an aquavit (Norwegian traditional schnapps).
Maybe more importantly for some, this is also where you find the restrooms.
How to get to/from the airport in Oslo? Check out this article.
What to see on the cruise?
The Cruise covers much of the waterfront of Oslo, sailing by many iconic buildings and landmarks. But it also heads out to the islands, and you get to see many of the idyllic small summerhouses out there.
I also like that it crosses over to the peninsula of Nesodden to check out the small boat houses, and that on the way back it is possible to get off at Bygdøy to visit the museums.
All in all I think this cruise takes you by most of the highlights that are in near vicinity of Oslo. Here’s a description of each place we sailed by.
Generally the ship first sails by the Akershus fortress and heads into Bjørvika. Here you find the Opera House and the Munch Museum. There is also plenty of modern architecture, and you can notice the small public saunas floating on the fjord.
The ship sails in between several of the islands in the Oslo fjord. The first one will be Hovedøya, and then continue on past Gressholmen and Nakholmen. There are cute colorful summer cabins on the islands, which can make for some great photos!
Next the ship sets course south and sails to the peninsula of Nesodden. It continues down on the west side, sailing close to land, so that you can get a good look of the small boat houses built on stilts into the water.
From Nesodden it crosses the fjord north over to Fornebu, and sails close to some of the big fancy villas in this area.
After Fornebu heading back towards the city we pass by the iconic Dyna Fyr (lighthouse). Make sure to have your camera ready! Then the ship makes a stop at Bygdøy, and those who want can leave the ship to go visit the museums that are located here. It means you’ll have to make your way back to the city center on your own. You can do so by taking the bus #30, or if its summer time you can also take a smaller ferry back.
The museums available at Bygdøy are:
Last thing you’ll see is the fancy area of Tjuvholmen. An island sticking out packed with fancy architecture and the Astrup Fearnley Museum for Contemporary Art.
Back in downtown (Vika)
The cruise ends right where it started in front of the Oslo City Hall. From here its a short walk to the Akershus fortress, the National Museum, or perhaps go visit the City Hall.
Best time to go on the cruise?
To be honest I don’t think there is any such things as a best time. It depends a bit what you would like the experience to be. As mentioned above, if you have the right clothing you can go anytime of the year.
However, if you are looking for sipping a cold beer on deck then perhaps a warm summer evening would suit you best (Jun-Jul).
And if you want to experience how it is to be out on the water in snowy conditions then aim for the winter (Dec-Feb).
If you want crisp air, vivid colors in nature and intense sunsets then go during fall (Sept-Oct).
It all depends on your preference! I hope you enjoyed this article, and that you’ll get to experience this fjord adventure when you travel to Oslo.
Also check out the YouTube-episode I made from this cruise.
Thanks a lot, tusen takk for reading!