Needless to say, Oslo has an immense choice of cafés, restaurants, and shops. I’ll talk about some of favourites in a future post. Here are a few of the “must-sees” in Oslo.
The Holmenkollen Ski Jump and its museum
The first thing we wanted to visit in Oslo was the Holmenkollen Ski Jump! You can see it from a great distance as you sail up the fjord to Oslo. The last time I saw the ski jump was in 1983, and it’s been through 2 remodels since then.
The Holmenkollen ski jump – what an amazing architectural masterpiece!
The shiny new Holmenkollen ski jump is an amazing architectural feat! Its cantilevered style gives you the impression that it could tip over at any moment. It is truly a fantastic example of modern architecture.
An elevator whisks you up to the top of the jump — it’s the same one the competitors use. Once you’re at the top you can visit the actual jumping start point. It’s incredible that someone could actually launch themselves down this steep slope — it’s much steeper and longer than it looks on television!
The ski jump itself is far steeper than it looks on television!
An observation platform at the very top of the structure provides gorgeous views of the Oslo Fjord, the city itself, and the surrounding countryside and mountains.
The beautiful countryside behind the ski jump.
You can see quite far down the Oslo Fjord from the top of the Holmenkollen ski jump
After you’ve had enough of the view from the top, you can visit the museum on the lower levels. It’s a tribute to 4’000 years of skiing in all its forms. Don’t forget the Scandinavians used skis just to get around back in the day.
The Holmenkollen museum of skiing. They used skis to get around on Svalbard, where the polar bears live in Norway.
Admission is 130 NOK.
Getting there: take the Nr. 1 metro (T-bane) and get off at the Holmenkollen station. Go the Ruter Public Transportation site or app for information on how to get there from exactly where you are in Oslo.
The museum island: Bygdøy
Bygdøy is home to several museums so you can easily spend a couple of days there! The easiest way to get there (unless you’re at the marina there) is to take the ferry. It’s located at Pier 3, close to the city hall and leaves every 20-30 minutes. If you’re visiting during the colder months (November to April), you can take bus number 30. Download the RuterBillet app to buy public transport tickets on your phone.
Small viking-style boats moored in the Bygdøy harbour next to the ferry boat pontoon.
One of the viking ships that was dug up and restored for the museum
This is a must-see if you’re visiting Oslo for the first time. During our visit, three ancient viking ships were on display.
Displays of other viking artefacts including a wagon, tools and swords, as well as household items show how the vikings lived. The craftsmanship is just breathtaking! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
The dragon heads on the viking ships are amazing works of art. The wood carvings are intricate and complex.
This dragon head is a bit older, so the wood had partially rotted away.
Admission is 100 NoK (discounts for children, students and seniors) and it’s open every day.
The Fram museum is one of the most beautifully arranged, decorated and laid-out that we’ve ever seen.
An example of one the types of animals brought back by the one of the polar expeditions.
This impressive museum is dedicated to the exploration of the Polar areas. The Fram was a wooden polar research vessel used by both Fridtjof Nansen to the north pole area and Roald Amundsen for his expedition to Antarctica. It is entirely preserved and you can go aboard and have a look at all of the living and working quarters on the boat.
A model of the first Fram expedition – getting stuck in the ice.
Another model of one of the Fram polar expeditions-this time in the south pole. They reached the south pole in December of 1911.
The vessel Gjøa is exhibited here as well. This is the first ship to have navigated the Northwest Passage. This expedition established the location at the time of the north magnetic pole and then proved that the magnetic pole moves over time.
The Polar vessel Gjøa.
A cinema with translation headsets provides a crash course in Polar exploration, and numerous exhibits show the results of the research and life onboard the vessels. If you have children, there are quite a few fun and educational exhibits aimed at teaching children about the polar environment.
You can see that even the little cubs have very sharp teeth!
Post cards from the crew. Notice the incredible calligraphy from back in the day.
Admission is 100 NOK, with discounts for children, students and seniors. It’s open every day.
Visiting the Fram museum made us truly appreciate the modern conveniences (heating, refrigeration, for example) and equipment (gore-tex, for example) we have on today’s cruising boats!
City Visit: Oslo, part one – the Aker Brygge area and its marina
The Oslo Boat show was winding down when we arrived in the Oslo area, which meant that the Aker Brygge marina was still closed to the public. We decided to stay in one of the lovely anchorages not far from the city. The Ostøya-Grimsøya-Kjeholmen group of islands is only about 6 nautical miles from Aker Brygge in Oslo and outside of the “high” season in the middle of summer, it’s not crowded at all. Several houses dot these islands so lying at anchor is the best solution so as not to disturb the inhabitants.
Anchored in beautiful weather at Ostøya
The Aker Brygge marina had announced on their website that it would open to the public on the Tuesday after the boat show, so we left the anchorage for Oslo city.
Surprise! The workers who were taking down the tents and temporary pontoons were not yet finished with their task. We were given the choice of lying on the outside of the pontoons or finding another marina. The wind was brisk and coming straight into the marina making the waves in the entire harbour quite choppy. We clearly did not want to moor on the outside of the marina. The ferries and cruise lines that enter and exit Oslo also create a lot of waves. We opted to go to Dronninghavna.
A view of the Dronninghavna boat club, with the Holmenkollen ski jump in the background
Unfortunately, Dronninghavna did not a berth for our boat and we were given a waiting pontoon. We weren’t pleased with the situation. We were told that all of the marinas in Oslo were full because all of the visiting boats and even the permanent renters of berths at Akerbrygge were relegated to the other Oslo marinas. There was nothing to do but accept the situation. At least they let us use the waiting pontoon free of charge (there’s no water, electricity or access to toilets, etc.)
Dronninghavna boat club on the island of Bygdøy, just outside of Oslo city centre
The Dronninghavna is otherwise a good choice for those of you who want to visit the most famous of all of the Oslo museums: the Viking Ship Museum, the Kontiki Museum, the Fram museum and the Norwegian Folk Museum. They are all on the same island as the marina, Bygdøy.
Finally, on the Wednesday after the boat show, we were permitted to up at the Aker Brygge marina. This is the marina closest to the city centre of Oslo. Aker Brygge is a modern waterfront neighbourhood that successfully blends restaurants, cafés, boutiques, offices and living space. For anyone who loves modern architecture, this place is just amazing!
Aker Brygge Marina
The marina at night
Marina Review: The Aker Brygge marina
The marina is relatively new and you’ll find everything you need, including toilets and showers, a laundry room, wifi, and a small café. The toilets, showers and laundry room were all spotless and in brand new condition. We absolutely loved staying here!
It’s relatively expensive, but you get a pristine marina and walking distance to downtown Oslo for the price.
The only downside is that it can get quite noisy if the weather is nice and there are lots of people out.
Marina Prices: 14 NOK per foot. This includes WiFi, use of toilets, showers, washers and dryers, electricity and water.
Freja moored at the Aker Brygge Marina. The harbour office and facilities are to the right in the photo
The view towards Tjuvholmen from the boat
The Akerbrygge/Tjuvholmen borough of Oslo
The Aker Brygge/Tjuvholmen area was built from land that served as a shipyard and small mechanical factories until 1982. It was then developed, step by step, into the amazing architectural wonderland that it is today.
Aker Brygge on a sunny morning
A few of the buildings were not removed, but renovated and reborn as shops, offices, restaurants and apartments.
A late evening view of the Aker Brygge Marina
Walking Senna through the Aker Brygge/Tjuvholmen area at night
Another part of our dog-walking route
More of the amazing architecture at Aker Brygge
Some of the more well-known architects represented here include Niels Torp (who also designed the beautiful SAS building outside Stockholm), Space Group and Renzo Piano, who designed the Astrup Fearnley Museum on Tjuvholmen. Renzo Piano is also the architect responsible for the Shard in London, the Paul Klee Centre in Bern, Switzerland and the New York Times building in New York. If you are passionate about architecture as an art form, you will love this area.
Tjuvholmen by day…
And Tjuvholmen by night
The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art on Tjuvholmen island
The Aker Brygge is the part of this new area with the most restaurants, shops, bars and cafés. We had dinners or lunches here and found what we think are Europe’s best croissants for breakfast (it’s the incredible Norwegian butter)! You’ll find lots of different shops and boutiques, but for essentials, there is the Coop grocery store. You can get your internet access card for your router at Telia.
Another part of dog-walking route (and tour of amazing architecture)
One of the many sidewalk restaurants at Aker Brygge/Tjuvholmen. This one has a view of the marina and the Oslo Fjord
Here’s another of the many cozy sidewalk restaurants in the Aker Brygge area
Lovely sculpture and water art in front of yet another sidewalk restaurant
Another view of the incredible modern architecture in Aker Brygge
In my next post, I’ll go over our favourite places to visit in and around Oslo.
Great Discoveries: Norwegian anchorages part one: the eastern Oslofjord area
It seems that most people who sail to Norway skip over the entire Oslofjord region. If they’re coming from Sweden they’ll sail directly to Farsund or Eggersund. If they’re coming from Scotland, they’ll sail straight to Stavanger or Bergen. It’s really a shame, because the Oslofjord region is breathtakingly gorgeous!
We use three different guides to Norwegian anchorages and marinas.
2. Norske Los (free to download as pdf files)
3. Norwegian Cruising Guide by John and Phyllis Harries (morganscloud.com)
We recommend them all, but the Havneguiden is the one with the most photos, taken from the air so you can really see what the anchorage looks like. If you download the inexpensive Eniro charts (charts for Norway and Sweden) for your iPad or smartphone, you see lots of anchorages marked. In addition, the paper charts for Norway often have anchorages marked out.
If you’re coming up from Sweden, a good stop may be Fredrikstad. It has a marina in the middle of town and a lovely historic old town, Gamlebyn, to visit. We arrived from the east, first going up the fjord, then river Østerelva that leads to the city of Sarpsborg There’s quite a current here, so consider yourself warned. You can also approach from the west side, in which case you’ll avoid having to wait for bridge openings.
Vintage boats in Fredrikstad
When you enter from the east to enter the city, you’ll see an old mill in full working order — that’s how strong the current is.
The mill at Fredrikstad
You’ll have to request and wait for a bridge opening to get to the marina if you come from the east side. They don’t open the bridge at request, but if you call, they know someone wants to pass and they will open the bridge at the set times. If you don’t let them know, the bridge doesn’t open at all (because they think no-one needs an opening). You can wait for the bridge opening along the quayside just before the bridge.
View towards the centre of Frekrikstad
The town itself is quite small but has a good choice of restaurants, cafés and bars along the quayside. We had dinner at a tapas restaurant there – excellent dishes and good prices (for Norway, that is).
The prices of berths at quayside range from 250 NOK to 600 NOK (15 meters and up). They have showers, toilets and laundry facilities.
We planned Fredrikstad as our first stop because we thought we’d have to check in our boat and our dog. We well called the Norwegian customs , we found out that you just need to carry your dog’s passport (with the stamps for all of the necessary vaccinations and the special worm treatment for Norway) in your pocket or purse — just in case anyone wants to check. The customs explained to us that since our boat is registered in a Schengen county and we are from a Schengen country, we didn’t need to clear in.
Filling up the diesel tanks. Diesel is a bit cheaper in Norway than Sweden.
If you leave Fredrikstad from the eastern side, you may want to fill your diesel tanks at the Nøkledypet marina. Glommen Bunkerservice is open between 8.00 and 20.00 during the summer season (until end of Sept.)
It seems that you don’t pay the road tax on diesel at marine fuel stations. You do pay the VAT though.
Another idea for a first stop in Norway is the charming anchorage of Korterødkilen on north side of the island of Kjeøya.. It’s kind of a Norwegian summer neighbourhood, though there’s not much activity outside the vacation period and the weekends. It is protective of winds from any direction. You just need to be careful of your anchor scope as there are several boats lying on buoys.
The lovely anchorage on Kjeøya called Korterøkilen
The anchor bottom consists of sticky mud/clay — good holding.
Summer houses in Korterøkilen
Our anchorage at Kjeøya. The GPS coordinates: 59°5’48N, 11°13’8E
Our first anchorage on the way up to Oslo was Hankø’s west side. Hankø also has a big marina on it’s east side. We chose the anchorage because we didn’t want to waste time going around the island.
Dramatic evening skies at Hankøhavna
In hindsight, we should have done so because the Hankø anchorage is not really suitable for a large boat like Freja. The problem here is that many boats are lying on buoys, and there are additional buoys for the Norwegian cruising club to use. The anchorage is so crowded with buoys, it’s difficult to put out enough chain to have a proper scope for strong winds.
We had strong winds at the anchorage of Hankøhavna
If your boat is 9 tons or less, you can use these buoys if they aren’t taken by a cruising club member. Since our boat displaces far more than 9 tons, (about 27 tons fully bunkered) hooking onto one of these buoys wasn’t possible. We prefer to use our big anchor in any case, as we know once it’s bedded in, we aren’t going anywhere.
Our 55kg Spade held throughout a night of 30-38 knot winds, even on short scope (about 4:1) but I didn’t get a lot of sleep. I was constantly waking up to check my iPad (which acts as a remote for our Furuno TZ plotter) to check the wind speed and to see if we were dragging.
Our anchorage at Hankøhavna. GPS coordinates: 59°11’53N, 10°46’7E
We found the seaside town of Son utterly cozy and charming. Hyggelig as they would say in Danish. We arrived on a Saturday, so the village was full of activity and all of the littles shops, restaurants and cafés were open all weekend (except for the Vinmonopolet which is always closed on Sunday.)
View of Son Marina
Speaking of the Vinmonopolet — this is the Norwegian version of the state-run shops that sell alcoholic drinks. You see the same system in Sweden (System Bolaget) and in Finland (Alko). Norway has the most expensive wine of the three countries, so you may want to stock up before arriving. In Norway, Finland and Sweden, you can buy light beer (lower alcohol content) in grocery stores, but normal beer is also sold only at the state-run shops. You may think that because it’s a monopoly system that the prices are higher than in “normal” shops, but that isn’t always the case. We saw, for example, a 75 cl of 2014 Tignanello for sale at 600 SEK (61 Euros or 68 USD) in Sweden. The same bottle in Switzerland would cost twice that.
Out for a walk in the seaside town of Son
The beautiful cobblestone streets of Son
Getting back to Son Marina, we spent 2 and a half sunny days there. We sampled one of the restaurants, “Solsiden”, had coffee in one of the pleasant cafés, “Torvgården”, both very good. Jacques even had a haircut at the marina salon.
A view of the boardwalk at Son marina
Having some early morning cappuccino in a café at the marina.
Be warned though, that outside of the normal summer holiday period (from around the 25 of June to around the 10th of August, the restaurants and cafés are only open on the weekends.
The fire brigade museum in Son
A view of the town square in Son
We will definitely come back to this lovely marina town!
This dachshund was out for a ride on mom’s kayak.
Information on Son Marina:
This marina is open all year ‘round, with lower prices between around mid-September to mid-May.
Prices: 250 NOK to 500 NOK depending on the size of the boat. We paid 500 NOK for Freja (55 feet). A warning about prices — if you reserve a place with Dockspot, the price is 100 NOK higher than the official price. We reserved our first night with Dockspot. It was 600 NOK instead of the official prices of 500 NOK.
Marina telephone: +47 649 587 38
Marina email: email@example.com
This cutie was waiting for his owners to get back to the boat.
This anchorage is extremely well- protected from winds and seas from all directions. It’s located on the north side of the island of Seiløy (Sail Island!). Getting to anchorage is a bit tricky, no matter if you’re coming in from the night or south, so pay attention — there are underwater rocks on both sides of the channels.
The anchorage of Fredagshølet
The nature is that of a typical outer archipelago island — mostly smooth, rounded granite and small bushes and trees. It’s easy to find a warm rock for sunbathing if that’s your thing. The anchoring holding is excellent — we brought up lots of sticky mud on or anchor.
Smooth granite islands around Fredagshølet
If you prefer marinas, there is a small marina close to Fredagshølet called Bukta Gjesthaven.
A view of the small marina near Fredagshølet called Bukta Gjesthavn
Our anchorage at Fredagshølet. GPS coordinates: 59°7’21N, 10°51’21E