Oslofjord is a 62-mile long fiord in Norway’s city of Oslo. The scenic fiord is home to several inner islands, each unique in history and characteristics. The fiord is also popular for outdoor recreational activities such as kayaking and canoeing, sailing, fishing and diving. Many of the islands may be accessed by ferry from Oslo.
Over ten small islands at the innermost part of the fiord offer a variety of historic and cultural sites, as well as recreational opportunities. The island of Hovedoya is home to the ruins of a medieval monastery, built in the year 1147. The monastery, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built by English Cistercian monks. In the 1500’s it was looted and burned down. The ruins were excavated in the mid 1800’s. Hovedoya is the island closest to Oslo, and also offers swimming beaches, hiking in a nature reserve, and the remains of a Norwegian army site that includes two gunpowder storage buildings from 1808.
Lindoya island is home to over 300 private summer cottages built in the 1920’s; picturesque in their uniform yellow, orange and red paint colors. The island offers some of the area’s best swimming beaches, and includes a swimming stadium built in 1949 that is still in use. An old stone meridian from 1850 was established on the island by the Norwegian astronomer and geophysicist Christopher Hansteen, and still stands today.
The two small islands of Ormoya and Malmoya are connected to the mainland by a bridge, and accessible from Oslo by bus. The bridge to Ormoya is a famous wrought iron bridge built in 1922, while another bridge connects the larger Malmoya to Olmoya. The islands are popular for their 1860’s and 1870’s Swiss-style homes, and the Swiss-style Ormoy church, which was built in 1892.
The three connected islands of Gressholmen, Heggholmen and Rambergøya can be reached by ferry from Oslo and offer swimming and hiking in the nature reserve. One of Oslo’s oldest lighthouses is stationed on Heggholmen, which was once a small industrial community. The first main airport to serve Oslo, via seaplane, operated on Gressholmen from 1927 through 1939.
Nakholmen island is a small island mainly occupied by private summer cottages, although the south side of the island offers a nature reserve. A ferry ride to Nakholmen takes only 15 minutes from Oslo. Bleikoya is also primarily host to private summer cottages. A nature reserve on the island’s north side is home to several seabirds, including the European Herring Gull and Common Elder. It is a protected nesting site for the Black-headed Gull.
Steilene is a collection of small islands with swimming beaches, a lighthouse and guest harbor. Ingierstrand Beach is located in the fiord, but on the mainland. The popular swimming beach offers a diving tower, facilities for showers, restrooms and a restaurant. The diving tower and facilities were designed in 1931 by Norwegian architects Eyvind Moestue and Ole Lind Schistad in the Funkis, or functionalism style, a Scandinavian design style popular in the early 20th century.
Langøyene island is one of the only inner islands on which tent camping is allowed. The island offers a swimming beach, a nudist beach, small shop, beach volleyball court and hiking. Originally two islands, they are now connected by way of a large recreational field.
History: Although not a true fiord in the geological sense, the name Oslofjord refers to the inner waterway south of Oslo that eventually leads out to the Baltic Sea. Offering Norway’s warmest summer temperatures, the islands within the fiord have long been popular for summer recreation.
Norway’s three most well-preserved Viking ships were found alongside the Oslofjord, a reminder that this site is among the earliest populated locations in Norway, with settlements dating back to the Stone Age and Bronze Age. Today, over 40% of Norway’s citizens live in the greater Oslofjord area, a population of close to 2.2 million.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Island hopping via ferry is popular with an island pass, which takes guests to five of the larger islands. The Båtservice sightseeing boat also offers a hop on, hop off service between several of the islands. Additional modes of transport and recreation include yacht charters, kayak and canoe rentals, or bicycling from the city center to the islands and beaches connected to the mainland. Fishing in Oslofjord is accessible without permit, and can be done by chartering a boat or renting a sea kayak. Summer concerts, beach volleyball tournaments and other events take place on Langøyene island.