The hilly, forested areas around Oslo are so integral to the city they even have their own special name: marka. Much loved by the inhabitants of the Norwegian capital, these areas are well maintained and full of hiking and biking trails, although retain a lot of the wildness that makes them so unique. While you’ll only be a couple of hours walk from civilisation, you might come across animals like lynx and moose. Most trails, however, are simple to traverse and incredibly safe, and you’re more likely to be bathed in birdsong and the smell of fresh flowers than spot anything dangerous. There’s also public transport that drops you off to prime walking spots, so you don’t even need to rent a car to enjoy them.
If you’re a big walker and looking for the best hikes near Oslo, then read on…
Hiking in Oslo: What You Need to Know
There are literally hundreds of walks available in the marka. The largest section is directly north of the city and named Nordmarka, which is probably the best place to head if you feel like being spontaneous. Here, over summer, you’ll find countless blue-marked tracks for hiking that will take you through forests and past vast, cooling lakes so you can have a refreshing swim. If you’re keen to explore, spring and summer are the best times to visit in general, although Autumn has its own colourful charms. If you are coming later in the year, be mindful of weather, as the trails can become more slippery and dangerous.
While some mountains in Norway are huge, the hilly peaks around Oslo top out at just over 700m, so it isn’t exactly the Alps. That means most trails are fine to do as long as you are reasonably fit. It also means plenty of stunning views across the forest and occasionally over the city.
The Norwegian government, like many nations with excellent wilds, provide cabins along their routes too. These are open to anybody to use, whether just to cook and eat a nice meal at or to sleep in, if you’re planning a multi-day hike. Camping spots aren’t as easy to find but it’s more than possible if you’re keen – you just need to plan ahead.
The forests are serene and secluded, too: you’ll usually struggle to find too many other people at most points of your hike. Please bear this in mind when packing for the trek, as some walks can be quite strenuous; that means taking plenty of food and water, as well as bug spray and, if it’s sunny, protection for your head (there are many stretches where tree canopy doesn’t provide shade).
Moreover, most of the woodland area is protected, so it pays to be mindful of that – these gorgeous forests deserve to be seen by future generations too.
Using the Metro to Your Advantage
Oslo is blessed with excellent metro (T-Bane) links to the marka. Most lines have some woodland area towards the end of the route, making it an ideal way to explore the nature that surrounds Oslo as well as the city. We’d recommend purchasing an Oslo Pass to get around.
There are three different types of pass: 24-hours (NOK 335/GBP 28), 48-hours (NOK 490/GBP 40), and 72-hours (NOK 620/GBP 51). These also give you access to the entire transport network, including buses, so are very useful outside of the hiking context.
The Best Oslo Hikes
Getting on the #1 will take you to Frognerseteren and Ullevalseter lodges, from which you can access several walks of varying lengths. One of the best is hiking routes involves heading to Sognsvannet via Ullevaseter, passing Sognsvann lake on the way. The walk is just under 10km long – it’s around a three-hour hike and takes in some wonderful scenery, plus you have the chance to jump into the refreshing lake if you’re getting a bit sweaty under the sun. Another good hike in the Nordmarka region is the walk from Frognerseteren to Skjennungstua. There are a few different options available, as well as a chance to traverse sparkling and colourful fields when you go down this route.
Some of the best hikes near Oslo can be found in Ostmarka. If you take the #2 line out to Ellingsrudasen station, you get to the north–western corner of this vast tract of forest, and there are numerous idyllic trails to the south. Most of the walks here are centred around Noklevann lake, a stunning body of water that shines enticingly in the sun. Wildflowers dot the routes in summer too, adding a sweet scent to an already unforgettable walk.
Another good location that’s just a metro ride away is Kolsastoppen. There are numerous hiking routes to get to the top of Kolsas ridge, for which the area is named, but they generally all take ninety minutes one-way. Although less tree-heavy than most of the other walking areas we’ve recommended thanks to the volcanic rock that covers the land here, you’re able to scramble and climb in this area. In fact, if you are keen on climbing, there are hundreds of different marked routes in this location. You can get to Kolsastoppen by getting on #3 to Kolsas. If you want more variety on your walk, instead of turning back around, you can continue to Osteras and jump on the #2 back to town.
Our final favourite hiking spot is in Lillomarka, a leafy woodland home to Steinbruvannet lake and Slattumsroa nature reserve. The walks here all tend to go past these two delightful spots. The major convenience of hiking in this area is that there are several stops on the #5 that you can get off and still have an excellent walk. It just depends on how much distance you want to cover. We recommend the route from Vestli up to the Lilloseter Sportstue ski lodge and café, but you can cut that journey time if you get off at Grorud instead.