The Oslo region is the central area of East Norway including the capital Oslo and the Akershus district surrounding it. It's a contiguous metropolitan area with more than 25% of Norway's population and the visitor can regard it as one city. The Oslo region is Norway's economic centre of gravity and transport hub. Oslo Airport sits at Gardermoen on the flatlands near Jessheim. In addition to Oslo Airport, Norway's major roads (E6, E18, E16) as well as all railway lines to/from Oslo pass through.
- City of Oslo
- Former Akershus county
- Southern towns and suburbs
- Western Suburbs
- Further afield
Oslo and Akershus make up one contiguous metropolitan area and the visitor can regard it as one city. Large parts of Akershus are effectively suburbs for Oslo and also home to important industrial and business districts. While this is a single urban area it is relatively spaciously laid out, Greater London for instance has 10 times higher population density than the urban area. Only the eastern and northern agricultural districts of Akershus are clearly not part of the metropolis. If forests and agricultural areas are included the population density of Oslo region is similar to the Netherlands. Oslo airport sits at Gardermoen on the flatlands near Jessheim. Oslo and the former county combined are home to more than 25% of Norway's population. Oslo and Akershus has traditionally been governed as one district for instance with a joint governor.
Romerike area in the north is relatively flat or gentle hills. Norway's largest rivers (Vorma and Glomma) flows through the eastern parts of the region and there are major lakes and countless smaller lakes. The northern end of the area touches the south end of Mjøsa, Norway's biggest lake. There is also some rugged, low altitude terrain in Bærum and Asker and in Østmarka (east Oslo forrest).
The urban area is concentrated around the northern (inner) part of Oslofjord in a horseshoe shape along a driving distance of some 50 kilometers. Within this horseshoe most people live with a view of the fjord or within minutes of the shore. In addition there is a north-eastern axis from central Oslo through the eastern valley and a low elevation to Lillestrøm at the other side of the waterdivide. Drøbak sits at the strategic narrow entrance to inner Oslofjord. The Oscarsborg fortress was installed to control this narrow strait. Inside the strait the Oslofjord is a sheltered small ocean with countless islands and peninsulas.
Oslo, Bærum and Asker are separated from the surrounding areas by hills and forests, and there are several smaller rivers flowing to Oslofjord. There are countless lakes in these uplands. These undeveloped hills and forests are collectively known as Marka and are protected by law. Marka covers about one third of the Oslo region. The largest part of Marka stretches for some 40-50 km north from the city to Lunner in Oppland. There are additional wide forests covering large parts of the region, about 60 % of the area is covered by forest. There officially some 3000 lakes covering 7 % of the region.
Norway's first railway line, Hovedbanen (literally "The main line"), was built between Oslo and Eidsvoll via Lillestrøm in 1854. This stretch is still Norway's main transport corridor and main roads E6 and E16 runs across the plains north of Oslo. When Oslo airport was constructed on the Romerike plains in the 1990s, the main line was shifted to include the airport.
Oslo is connected to Denmark and Germany by car ferry. Color Line runs services to Kiel (Germany) daily. DFDS runs daily services to Copenhagen (Denmark), and Stena Line provides service to Frederikshavn (Denmark).
You may also want to consider Color Lines high-speed boats from Larvik (2 hours south of Oslo on E18, or easily reachable by hourly Vy train) or Kristiansand (4½ hours south of Oslo on E18, or reachable on five daily trains or near-hourly buses) to Hirtshals (Denmark). They both take some 3½ hours to reach Denmark.
The train station in Kristiansand is close to the ferry quay, while in Larvik the quay has been moved to a location which is a bit of a trek from the station.
The cruise ports in Oslo are on four different Sentrum piers, from west to east: Filipstad (330 m (LOA), 8.5 m draft), west of Aker Bryyge; Søndre Akershuskai (345 m (LOA), 10.3 m draft), the main pier by Akershus Fortress; Vippetangkaia (249 m (LOA), 7.3 m draft), south of Akershus Fortress; Revierkaia (294 m (LOA), 8.3 m draft), south of the Opera House. Annually, about 200,000 cruise passengers visit Oslo from these cruise piers.
- 1 Oslo Airport (Gardermoen). Oslo Airport, Gardermoen is located in Akershus. It is a major international airport with flights from the USA and major European cities, as well as Asia. Direct trains to Oslo, Eidsvoll, Lillestrøm, Sandvika and Asker, and with a change to Ski. Airport coaches to Oslo and Ski.
- Sandefjord Torp Airport near Sandefjord (1 hour south of Asker) has flights to some major and minor cities around Norway and Europe, including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, Warsaw, and some tourist destinations in southern Europe. There is a free transfer bus to a nearby railway station.
Oslo Central Station (Oslo Sentralstasjon/Oslo S, T-bane, tram, bus: Jernbanetorget) is at the eastern end of the downtown Oslo. Oslo S is the center of rail travel in Norway as all lines (including the airport express train) terminate at Oslo S. Trains between other western, southern and eastern towns in Oslo region runs through Oslo S. The major express buses go to the bus station next door to the train station.
Trains from Bergen and Stavanger (via Kristiansand) pass through Asker and Bærum (Sandvika) towards Oslo S. Trains from Trondheim (including Åndalsnes) and Røros pass through Eidsvoll and Lillestrøm towards Oslo S. Trains from Stockholm pass through Kongsvinger and Lillestrøm. Trains from Østfold and Gothenburg pass through Ski.
Local trains from Oslo, or regional trains from surrounding areas, or from Gothenburg in Sweden. See nsb.no
For more details see: Driving in Norway
International highways E6 (from Malmö and Gothenburg), E18 (from Saint Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm) and E16 (Bergen-Oslo airport-Gävle) meet inside Oslo or just outside. E6 and E18 intersects twice: downtown Oslo and at Tusenfryd amusement park near Ski.
The E6 is the main north-south road of Norway, and continues north to Trondheim, Alta and Kirkenes, with branches to most Norwegian cities. The E134 runs to Haugesund and the E18 lead south-west to Drammen, Grenland (Skien/Porsgrunn/Langesund) and Kristiansand. Other notable roads into Oslo include Rv4 from Gjøvik, Rv2 from Charlottenberg (Sweden) and Kongsvinger and Rv7, an alternative road to Bergen passing Gol and Geilo..
The E16 runs west to Bergen and east to Kongsvinger ending up in Gävle, Sweden. While the E16 runs just north of Oslo through Hønefoss and Oslo airport, there is, confusingly, also a branch of E16 between Hønefoss and Sandvika where E16 is connected to E18.
Rental cars and taxis are often available, but are rather expensive in Norway in general. The public transportation system is relatively good. All railway lines run through the area and serves long distance as well as local trains. Oslo itself has a fine public transport network of frequent metro, tram and bus departures. Some metro and tram lines cross the city line to Bærum. Buse lines cover the whole urban area as one integrated system. There are buses going between the major cities and stopping at bus stops marked with a sign (blue with a white bus on it, rectangular) and/or an open air booth with the place name written above with white lettering. Public transport is reasonably inexpensive though costs can build up if you buy tickets every time you get on, day/week/month/season passes can be purchased at the major stops. At the central bus station in any town, cashiers will speak English. For local buses, see http://ruter.no. Public transport focused on Oslo has an integrated ticket system.
- 2 Boat to Nesodden (Nesoddbåten). The town of Nesodden is served by frequent boat from Oslo (20 minutes across Oslofjord).
- 3 Oslofjord boats. Boat to islands in the Oslofjord, Fornebu, Bygdøy (museum), Vollen and Slemmestad (Asker), Oscarsborg fortress and Drøbak operate in summer season. Some islands near central Oslo have all year boat service. Departure/arrivals at Aker Brygge downtown Oslo.
- 1 Oslo. Oslo is surrounded by Akershus but is not part of it, so travel in Akershus often involves Oslo.
- 2 Eidsvoll 1814 (Eidsvollsbygningen), Carsten Ankers veg 19, 2074 Eidsvoll Verk, ☏ . The building where the 1814 constitution was signed, and a democracy museum.
- 3 Lake Mjøsa (Mjøsa). Norway's largest lake and one of the deepest in Europe. Norway's first railway was the Oslo-Eidsvoll-line, simply called the "main line" (1854), station at Vorma river in Eidsvoll from where boats could sail to Lillehammer.
- 4 Svanfoss locks & dam (Svanfoss sluser). Allows boats to sail the Vorma river. The dam controls the outflow from Mjøsa lake.
- 5 Tusenfryd Amusement park, Fryds vei 25 (Vinterbro, Ås), ☏ . is the largest amusement park in Norway. Carousels, roller coasters, ghost castle, etc.
- 6 Oscarsborg Fortress (Ferry from Drøbak to the island of Kaholmen/Oscarsborg). (Ferry timetable). History and beautiful scenery, with a museum and a hotel. Historic site: German warship Blücher that was sunk just outside Drøbak on April 9, 1940 during the invasion of Norway.
- 1 Kolsåstoppen summit. Climb "Kolsåstoppen", a hill and summit in Bærum. Nice view over the Oslo Fjord from the top. free.
- There's also an even better hill in Asker with an even more excellent view.
- 2 Aurskog-Hølandsbanen railway (Urskog–Hølandsbanen, Tertitten). The Aurskog-Høland-Railway was a narrow gauge, steam powered railway between Sørumsand (at Glomma river) and Skulerud at Halden Canal. Locally the train was known as "Tertitten". Operations began in 1896, the service was discontinued in 1960 and was later converted to a museum. The train takes passengers som kilometers on the old tracks.
Norway has high water quality and tap water is completely safe. If you still want bottled water, most stores carry several brands of non-artificially treated water.
Most areas in Akershus are more or less crime free, and you should not be afraid to walk around alone day or night, though you should always take precationary measures and follow your common sense when in a new country. Signs and maps are usually in Norwegian, but do not be afraid to ask for directions; the vast majority of Norwegians speak enough English to help out a lost tourist.