Oslo Nature Walks: Island hopping
Discover the majestic Oslo fjord and its various islands like a local, hopping on and off ferries to hike the forests, sea cliffs, charming villages and historic sites of three islands. With a local guide, explore the fascinating ruins of a nearly 1000 year old abbey, picnic on a hidden beach and walk the flower-covered paths of a summer village full of brightly painted, traditional wooden cabins. The backdrop for this tour is the stunning water views of Oslo and its surrounding hills, with picture opportunities around every unexpected corner. Don't forget a swim suit and towel as there is time for a swim in the surprisingly warm waters of the Oslo fjord! Time for a picnic lunch is included and participants can either bring their own or purchase along the way. Good walking shoes or trail shoes are recommended as the hiking is done on dirt paths, gravel and stones.
Leaving the shop at 12:00, the local guide will lead the group to the near-by ferry terminal, where the tour really gets going with a quick ferry ride to the main island of Oslo, Hovedøya. Inhabited nearly 1000 years ago by English monks looking to Christianize post-Viking Norway, this island has some of the city's most captivating history, which comes to life as we walk through the well-preserved ruins and visit the various chambers and towers of the abbey. A quick walk through a sheep pasture and a birch forest, and the tour continues to offer surprising history, with a visit to the 19th century ramparts and cannons protecting the city since the Napoleonic wars. Perched high on the sea cliffs, this is the perfect time to grab a photo of the city, hills and fjord in one shot!
Hop on another ferry, enjoy the breathtaking views, and soon the tour arrives on a island known for its charming summer village, full of brightly painted wooden homes with picture-perfect gardens. Flowers abound and the sea views amaze, especially from the summit of the island, a small nature preserve with a 360 degree panorama. A picnic lunch is well deserved -- either bring your own or stop to by provisions at the island's local food market. With a local guide, it is easy to find a quiet beach or cove perfect for a peaceful lunch.
A third ferry ride leads to the nature preserve of Gressholmen, an island which amazes with its variety of untouched landscapes: sandy beaches, sea cliffs, forest, pastures and rocky coastline. There is time for a quick swim, with waters generally between 18-24 degrees (66-78 Fahrenheit). Don't forget swim wear and a towel!
Finally, the last ferry ride winds through the islands and returns to downtown Oslo, with a majestic entrance to the harbor past the medieval and Renaissance fortress of Akershus Festning, perched high above the port. Exiting the ferry, the tour is over but the rest of Oslo awaits as the tour ends right in the heart of the city center.