Oslo Fjord – its pirates life for me!
Don’t get me wrong, Oslo city has a lot to offer the ordinary tourist; however, before you set your travel-itinerary in stone, ask yourself, “Am I a dry-footed landlubber, or a free-spirited pirate goat?”. This blog post includes a brief history of the fjord, an explanation of the geography and climate, and also tips on how to go about exploring this wonderful place.
A short history – for those who like to dwell in the pastAccording to history, the oldest settlements surrounding Oslo Fjord, date back to the Stone Age and Bronze Age. It was at these very settlements that 3 of the best preserved Viking ships were unearthed. In those times, the area was known by the current name of the region – Viken (the bay). Some say that the word “Viking” draws it origins from this very area. Interesting or what?! Between 1624-1925 the fjord was called «Kristianfjorden (or Christianfjorden)” , since this was the name of Norways capital in this period. The Old Norse name of the fjord was “Fold” One other interesting snippet of history comes from World War 2. The Germans were sneaking up the Oslo Fjord in an attempt to launch a night attack on Oslo. Luckily Colonel Eriksen (commander at the Oscarsborg fortress) spotted the heavy cruiser and ordered it to be sunk. This action delayed the Germans, allowing for the government, King and treasury, to be evacuated from Oslo. Norway could now participate as an ally in the war, rather than a conquered nation.
Geography, Wildlife and ClimateThe inner part of Oslo Fjord is well forested and characterized by hilly slopes rolling down into the Fjord. There are many islands within Oslo Fjord, each with their own names and individual histories. Oslo Fjord is the warmest fjord in Norway – yes, that means pack your speedos and floaties! The water temperature usually reaches around 18 degrees centigrade, but last summer we had record temps of 22 and above. Because of the fjords relatively high temperatures, an abundance of flora and fauna have managed to flourish. There are many different sea birds (watch out for aerial bombardment), and if you’re lucky you may see a seal, or a dolphin!
The 5 IslandsThese 3 connected island are great for vitamin D extraction, or in other words: sunbathing. Grab some beer, preferably not “Aas øl”, which is a Norwegian beer that actually tastes how its name is pronounced (ass).
- Høvedøya is the closest island to the city centre; there are many nice beaches which are perfect for sunbathing and swimming. You will find some large grassy fields in the middle of the island; these are great for playing ball-games. Fires are not allowed, but there are designated BBQ areas – please use those! There are also protected nature reserves; you don’t have to be adventurous all the time (stick to the beaten path). Be sure to check out the ruins of the Cistercian monastery and also the cannon batteries from 1808 – I find that religion and guns go well together.
- These 3 connected islands are great for vitamin D extraction, or in other words: sunbathing. Grab some beer, preferably not “Aas øl”, which is a Norwegian beer that actually tastes how its name is pronounced (ass). Heggholmen is home to one of Oslo Fjords oldest lighthouses. It also used to be a small industrial community, where they produced oil. I once camped here when I had to come ashore, on a dark and windy night – there was an amazing sunset! Ramberøya and the Northern parts of Gressholmen are nature reserves, so pretty please, do not go and disturb the wildlife. Many of the birds in Oslo Fjord are personal friends of mine; I will find out if you messed with my hombres. It’s pretty cool watching the hatching season early in May, and to see the chicks develop into young adults throughout the summer. Last fun fact: Gressholmen was the location of Norway’s first airport established in 1927.
- Langøyene: This island seriously rocks my socks off; seriously though, you don´t even need to wear shoes here. This «island» used to be two islands, until the authorities decided to use the water in-between them, as a rubbish dump. Crazy as this may sound if you’re a tree-hugging-hippy-lover like myself, the island is now a very habitable and lovely abode. You can spot the original islands by the rise in elevation on either side of the island. Langøyene is a perfect place for chilling on the beach, barbequing, playing volleyball or taking a hike.
How to get around
- Oslo Fjord is a fantastic place to kayak. The weather is usually mild and the ocean calm – ideal for beginners! I guide kayaking trips from the Oslo Opera House, from here we paddle around Høvedøya. For more information please contact me. If you just have general questions about the area; I am more than happy to answer your questions over a good ol chin-wag!
- Catching the ferry from Aker Brygge. You will know that you are in the right area if you can see an imposing red-brick building; it looks like Norway´s version of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You should also be able to see an old jumble of buildings, jutting out on a small peninsula – this is the old navy fortress. Last but not least, if you are beside the ocean, you are probably pretty close: The ocean is characterised by its greeny-blue colour, and there should be sea gulls in the vicinity. Buy a ticket either online, or at a ticket machine (located beside the ferry pick-up-point). Since all these islands are within «zone 1», you can buy a day-pass for 90 NOK , and use this to explore all the islands.