Akerselva River – a wonderful urban kayaking adventure in Central Oslo

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How we started an urban paddling tour in Oslo City Centre

Seven years or so ago, when I was just starting Mad Goats in Oslo, I came across the Akerselva River. Akerselva is, of course, a famous river – known for its lovely riverside walking paths with many famous landmarks that runs all the way from the scenic lake of Maridalsvann from which the Akerselva flows. However, since I was come from a whitewater kayaking background, I can’t help but look at a river from the “can it be paddled” perspective! So I embarked on my first Akerselva urban kayak adventure, which was soon followed by guiding 1000s of other people down this amazing river.

but First, I needed to scout the whole river

From the top at Maridalsvan all the way down to where the Akerselva ends at Oslo Fjord. This meant kayaking through Nydalen, Grünerløkka, Grønland and Bjørvika. Passing landmarks such as Mathallen, the new Munch Museum and finally coming out at Sukkerbiten.

Was it even possible to paddle through the Grønland tunnel?

At the time, the river itself was only really used by a small group of whitewater kayakers from the OSI Elvepadling klubb and the Oslo Elvesport klubb but no one was running organised tours, so the only information I had was anecdotes from other independent kayakers who claimed it was possible. The best tip I got was to stick to the left tunnel as that was clear of debris. To cut a long story short, I chose to believe them. I was a little nervous paddling into that dark mouth of a tunnel by myself on a stormy grey day, but I made it and out into the fjord at Bjørvika!

The rest, as they say, is history. Akerselva presented a unique opportunity so that is exactly what we did. Fast forward to the present day and this is still our most popular paddle tour in Oslo!

Paddling the upper section of Akerselva from Maridalsvannet Lake down to Vulkan (grade 4 & 5!)


It is possible to kayak all the way from the top of Akerselva and down to Oslo Fjord in Bjørvika but you need to be an experienced whitewater kayaker. Be aware that there are tunnels that you need to walk around (portage), waterfalls that are not possible to run, artificial weirs and dams that you need to avoid. My favourite water level (flow) is between 15-20m3. You can check the water level on an app called RiverApp. The section is mainly class 3-4, but there are definitely some class 5 rapids if you decide to brave them! Watch out for trees,  artificial obstacles, and be alert! It is not the best whitewater in Norway, but the novelty of paddling through central Oslo is pretty cool. 

Check out this Youtube video of Tomas Hansson, Mad Goats founder kayaking the upper part of Akerselva 

Guided River Tour on Akerselva (for beginners)


For everyone else who is not a grade 4 or 5 whitewater paddler, we suggest joining one of our guided river tours that run almost daily from Easter to the end of September. We provide you with all the necessary equipment and kit, you are accompanied by a trained guide for safety and we will even transport all your belongings to the bottom of the river so you don’t risk getting them wet! We start at Nedre Foss park, just opposite Vulkan and end at Bjørvika so it’s a great way to do some sightseeing from a different perspective.

Check out this Youtube video of our famous Akerselva River Kayak Tour in action 

Major landmarks along the Akerselva River

Well, that was a hell of a lot of fun! 

I have been living in Oslo my whole life and I just got to see my city from a completely new and awesome perspective! 

Wow, I just realised that am totally capable of going kayaking!

These goats are definitely not boring! 

Testimonials from tour participants

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