Are you traveling to Oslo and looking for some activities outdoors? Oslo is a very walkable city with plenty to offer for anyone who likes to be in nature or enjoy a more urban environment. Here are six things to do in the city. Equip yourself with a public transport pass and you can enjoy all of these activities for free!
Here’s a list of six of my favorite free activities to do outdoors in Oslo. Find more about each of them below.
Walk along the Aker River
Swim in the Oslo Fjord
Visit the Vigeland Sculpture Garden
Visit the Ekeberg Sculpture Park
Walk the Oslo Harbor Promenade
Hike in the Oslo Forrest
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Walk along the Aker River
Oslo has several city rivers, but the main river and the most popular among the locals is the Aker river (Akerselva). It stretches for about 10 kilometers (6,2 miles) from the lake Maridalsvannet and down to the Oslo fjord. There is a path following most of the river, and it takes you through forest, parks, residential areas and goes by many restaurants, cafés and different neighborhoods along its way. The walk ends where the river runs by the Munch Museum. It’s a really nice way to experience different parts of Oslo and see how the city transforms from the forest to the fjord.
Depending on how long you want to walk, here are three suggestions:
The entire Aker river (10km/6.2 miles, 2h30min)
Take tram #11 or #12 to the tram stop Kjelsås. Walk up to lake Maridalsvannet, under the railway tracks and start the hike where the lake runs into the river.
Half the Aker river (5.6km/3.4 miles, 1h20min)
Take the subway line #4 or #5 to Nydalen. Start your hike from there.
A quarter of the Aker river (2.5km/1.5 miles, 45min)
Take bus #34 or #54 and get off at the stop Telthusbakken. Walk through the green park and down to the river where you’ll start the hike.
Note: At the last stretch of this hike the river goes through a tunnel. Therefor walk through the Grønland neighborhood and across the Acrobaten bridge. Head towards the Munch museum and you’ll find the last stretch of the river running into the Oslo fjord.
Check out the YouTube-video where I kayak down the Aker River in Oslo
Swim in the Oslo Fjord
To swim in the fjord is easy and refreshing, all you have to do is to jump in! But where to swim from? Here are some nice places in Oslo for taking a dip in the fjord. All of them are good options, and I’d choose one that is close to where you stay, or if you want to swim in a non-urban setting head to one of the beaches outside of the city center.
Click on the names below to find them on Google Maps.
Sørenga Sjøbad – Enjoy a small beach and jump straight off the docks at the end of Sørenga. Lap swimming available.
Operastranda – The Opera beach is just next to the Oslo Opera House.
Tjuvholmen – Walk along the Aker Brygge waterfront and past the Astrup Fearnley Museum and you’ll find this swimming area at the very tip of the neighborhood.
Beaches outside the city center
Hukodden – Take bus #30 to the Bygdøy peninsula and get off at Huk. A popular public beach on the outskirts of the city.
Hovedøya – Take harbor ferry #B1 or #B2 from Aker Brygge to the Hovedøya Island. Best places to swim are on the south-west side of the Island.
The temperatures in the fjord varies a lot throughout the year. From freezing in the winter to more comfortable temperatures in the summer. It rarely gets warmer than 20 celsius (70 fahrenheit) though, but for the locals this is a real treat! The water quality is generally very good all over the fjord, but after heavy rainfalls its generally smart to wait a day or two before one jumps in.
You might also like: Explore Oslo with a Fjord Cruise
Visit The Vigeland Sculpture Garden
You don’t want to miss this place!
The biggest attraction in Oslo, and perhaps in the whole of Norway is the Vigeland Sculpture Garden. It goes under many names though, and the locals might refer to it as Vigelandsparken, Frognerparken or Vigelandsanlegget.
In the park you’ll find over 200 sculptures and 700 figures made/modeled by one artist only; Gustav Vigeland. Most of them portray humans in various life situations, and the park is seen a great tribute to humanity. It’s a wonderful place to spend a morning or an afternoon, and all though I’ve been to this park probably more than a hundred times I always keep coming back. In addition to checking out the sculptures this is also a great place for a picnic and to enjoy some Norwegian park life.
To get there take tram #12 from downtown and get off at “Vigelandsparken”.
Check out my YouTube-video from the Vigeland Park.
Visit The Ekeberg Sculpture Park
The lesser known Ekebergparken (Ekeberg Sculpture Park) opened in 2011 and focuses on contemporary art. I can best describe it as a great mix of nature, art and history. It’s easy accessible with a 10 minute tram ride on #13 or #19 from downtown. Get off at “Ekebergparken”.
Tip: You could also ride the tram to the next stop “Sportsplassen”. From there cross the tracks and walk into the forest. Head left along the pilgrimage trail, and it’ll take you into the park. This is an easier walking option since you walk down while looking at the sculptures.
In the Ekeberg park, which is like walking through a forest, you can find art from many internationally known artists, but also lesser known Norwegian artists. Som big names are Auguste Rodin, Salvador Dalí, Marina Abramovic, Fernando Botero and Jaume Plensa. This part of Oslo is also where some of the earliest settlements are found. And you can find well marked explanations of old graves and rock art.
Since there is a lot of green and many places to sit down, this is a great place for a picnic. Or you can head for lunch or supper at the Ekeberg Restaurant, which offers wonderful views over Oslo. To get an idea pay attention to the opening scenes in the movie The Worst Person in the World.
You might also like: The Best Time to Visit Oslo and When to Avoid it!
Walk the Oslo Harbor Promenade
Up for an urban hiking adventure? This promenade stretches almost 10 kilometers (6,2 miles) from the west to the east of the Oslo waterfront. It’s a fairly new route, covering an area that not many years ago was largely inaccessible or unattractive to the public due to shipyards, containers and heavy traffic. Today it’s an urban adventure, with plenty of world-class architecture, parks, beaches, art works and residential areas. The route ties together different parts of the city, and the best thing is that these areas are all accessible to the public.
The harbor promenade can be walked, biked, or sailed. And you can of course pick and choose the parts that interest you the most. It is well marked with orange color found on the docks, benches, signs and so on. To get to the starting point on the west side (you can also start on the east side), take bus #30 Bygdøy and get off at the Karenslyst Allé.
For an introduction of this walk check out my YouTube video about walking the Oslo Harbor Promenade.
Hike in the Oslo Forrest
Two thirds of Oslo is forest, so good hiking possibilities are just a metro ride away. We call it for “marka”, and you’ll find a lush forest with plenty of lakes and well marked hiking paths. Thanks to the allemannsretten (the right to roam), you can walk wherever you want in any forest in Norway. You can also pick berries and mushrooms, and you can be sure to find a lot of blueberries and lingonberries between July and September. Usually the hiking trails are walkable from April to October depending on the snow conditions.
Here are three hiking suggestions:
Maridalsvannet – This is Oslo’s drinking source, and walking around the lake offers some great hiking into the forest of Oslo. To get there take tram #11 or #12 to Kjelsås, and walk north along the road to find the lake. You can make a full circle around the lake 13 km (8 miles), or walk half way to Hammeren 7 km (4,3 miles) and take the bus back from there. There are some small hills along the route, but in general it’s quite flat and considered and easy walk.
Frognerseteren to Holmenkollen – This route is named “Holmenkollen rundtur” (rountrip) by the locals, and is a great hike if you want to have a little taste of the Oslo forest. To start the hike take the metro to the station “Frognerseteren”. Walk down a hill from the station to the parking lot, and look for the Holmenkollen rundtur signs. You’ll be walking on gravel, asphalt and forest paths so make sure to bring good shoes. The walk takes you by the Holmenkollen Ski Jump.
Sognsvann to Ullevålseter – This route is about a 10 km (6,2 miles) long roundtrip and offers different types of forest terrain with some hills here and there. Midways you come to Ullevålseter (a cafeteria) where the reward is a cup of coffee and a Norwegian waffle. To start this hike take the metro to Sognsvann (this is a lake). Walk down to the lake and follow signs pointing to Ullevålseter along the left side (west side) of the lake.
God tur! Have a nice hike! And as we say in Norway “ut på tur, aldri sur” (out on a hike, never grumpy).
Check out my YouTube-videos on Foraging in Norway & Everything you need to know to hike and camp in Norway.
Local guide in Oslo
I hope you enjoyed these suggestions for free activities to do in Oslo. Feel free to share with friends, family or anyone who is heading to Oslo. If you are looking for a guide here I work as a licensed guide in Oslo, and offer guided tours in most of the city. Read more about my local guide tours in Oslo here. I hope to see you when you come visit!
Your friend in Norway,
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