advertisement

From spring to fall, the Oslofjord is a center of swimming, sailing, windsurfing, and angling. Daily excursions are arranged by motor launch at the harbor. Suburban forest areas await hikers, bicyclists, and anglers in the summer. In the winter, the area is ideal for cross-country skiing (on marked trails that are illuminated at night), downhill or slalom skiing, tobogganing, skating, and more. Safaris by Land Rover are arranged year-round.

Baths

The most central municipal bath is Vestkantbadet, Sommerrogate 1 (tel. 22-56-05-66), which offers a Finnish sauna and Roman baths. This municipal bath is near the American embassy, just a kilometer (1/2 mile) north from Oslo's center. It's primarily a winter destination and is closed in July. Admission is NOK100 ($20/£10). The baths are open May to mid-August Monday to Friday 1 to 6:30pm, and are reserved Thursday for women only. From mid-August to April, the baths are open Monday and Wednesday 1:30 to 6:30pm, Tuesday and Thursday to Friday 1:30 to 7:30pm, and Saturday 10am to 2:30pm. Prices for massages start at NOK370 ($74/£37) for 30 minutes. If you book a massage (tel. 22-44-07-26), you can use the baths free.

Frognerbadet, Middelthunsgate 28 (tel. 23-27-54-50), in Frogner Park, is an open-air pool near the Vigeland sculptures. The entrance fee is NOK80 ($16/£8) for adults and NOK50 ($10/£5) for children. It's open mid-May to mid-August Monday to Friday 7am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm. Take tram no. 2 from the Nationaltheatret.

Beaches

You most likely didn't come to Oslo to go to the beach. Even if you did, you'll find that you often have to swim from a rocky shore. Sun-loving Oslovians, desperate to absorb whatever sun they get on a summer day, often take to whatever remotely resembles a beach. Their few short weeks of summer last until around mid-August, when snow flurries start appearing in the Oslo sky.

Our favorite beach, and the most easily accessible from the center of Oslo, is Huk, on Bygdøy peninsula. To reach Huk, take bus no. 30 A -- marked BYGDØY -- to its final stop. Should you arrive by boat on Bygdøy, follow the signs along Juk Aveny to the beach. Our recommendation is to go over for the day; view the Viking Ship museum, the Folk Museum, and other attractions in the morning; then head for the beach -- preferably with the makings of a picnic -- for the early afternoon. In case there are any prudes in your party, be duly warned: Half of the beach is reserved for nudists. The nude beach is on the northwestern side. That same warning should go for all beaches in Norway; along with other Scandinavians, Oslovians like to strip down for the beach.

Once you get here, don't expect a traditional Hawaiian beach. The beach is mostly grass lawns and some smooth rocks that you can lie on to sun yourself like a lizard. If the beach at Huk is overcrowded, as it's likely to be on a summer day, take a 10-minute walk through the forest a bit north of where the bus stops. This leads to the more secluded beach at Paradisbukta.

These beaches are our favorites mainly because of their proximity to the center, not because they are great sandy strips. But our secret reason to go there is to people-watch. After a day at the beach, you'll soon agree with a common assessment: The people of Norway are among the handsomest and healthiest-looking in the world.

Our second-favorite beach is at Hovedøya, on the southwestern shore of the rocky island of Hovedøya. To get here, board boats 92 or 93 leaving from the pier at Oslo called Vippetangen. From late May to mid-August, these boats depart daily from around 6am to midnight.

This is the closest island to the mainland, and it's wildly popular in summer, as ideal for a picnic as it is for walks. The island is riddled with walking paths, most of which lead to the ruins of a 12th-century Cistercian monastery. Our main reason for liking this beach is its fun-loving atmosphere. It's a wonderful break from too much museum-hopping, and it'll give you a good chance to meet with the English-speaking Oslovians (whose initially icy reserve can melt quickly).

You can also reach a number of beaches on the east side of the fjord by taking bus no. 75 B from Jernbanetorget in East Oslo. Buses leave about every hour on weekends. It's a 12-minute ride to Ulvøya, the closest beach to the fjord and one of the best and safest for children. Nudists prefer a section here called Standskogen.

Fishing

Good fishing is to be found in the Oslofjord and in the lakes that envelop Oslo. An especially popular "fishing hole" is the vast area of Marka. You can rent canoes from Tomm Murstad at Tryvannsvn 2 at Holmenkollen (tel. 22-13-95-00) to use for fishing. For information on the nearest place to buy a fishing license, or for more information, contact Oslomarkas Fiskeadministrasjon at Sørkeldalen 914, Holmenkollen (tel. 40-00-67-68).

Gyms

Male and female weight lifters call Harald's Gym, Hausmannsgate 6 (tel. 22-20-34-96), the most professional gym in Oslo. Many champion bodybuilders have trained here, and its facilities are the most comprehensive in Norway. Nonmembers pay NOK110 ($22/£11) for a day pass. It's open Monday to Friday from 10am to 9pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm.

Jogging

Marka, the forest that surrounds Oslo, has hundreds of trails. The easiest and most accessible are at Frogner Park. A great adventure is to take the Sognasvann train to the end of the line, where you can jog along the fast-flowing Sognasvann stream for an hour or so. Norske Turistforening, Storgata 3 (tel. 22-82-28-00), sells maps outlining hiking trails around the capital, and the staff can give you advice about routes.

Skating

Oslo is home to numerous skating rinks. One of the best is the Narvisen Skating Rink, Skikersuppa, Karl Johan (tel. 22-33-30-33), open daily 11am to 9pm, charging adults NOK55 ($11/£5.50) for skate rentals, children NOK30 ($6/£3). The rink is closed from April to November.

Skiing

A 15-minute tram or bus ride from central Oslo to Holmenkollen will take you to Oslo's winter wonderland, Marka, a 2,579km (1,599-mile) ski-track network. Many ski schools and instructors are available in the winter. You can even take a sleigh ride. Other activities include dogsled rides, snowshoe trekking, and Marka forest safaris. There are 14 slalom slopes to choose from, along with ski jumps in all shapes and sizes, including the famous one at Holmenkollen. For information and updates on ski conditions, you can call Skiforeningen, Kongeveien 5 (tel. 22-92-32-00). The tourist office can give you details about the venues for many of these activities.

Tennis

The municipal courts at Frogner Park are usually fully booked for the season by the locals, but ask at the kiosk about cancellations. Njårdhallen, Sørkedalsceien 106 (tel. 23-22-22-50), offers indoor tennis Monday to Thursday from 7am to 10pm, Friday to Sunday 7am to 8pm. Book your court well in advance. During nice weather, you might prefer outdoor tennis at Njårds Tennis, Jenns Messveien 1 (tel. 23-22-22-50), a cluster of courts that are generally open whenever weather and daylight permit.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.