Crisscrossed by hiking trails and cross-country ski routes, the forested hills and lakes that comprise the Nordmarka occupy a tract of land that extends deep inland from central Oslo, but is still within the city limits for some 30km. A network of byroads, as well as two T-bane lines (#1 and #3), provides dozens of access points to this wilderness, which is extremely popular with the capital’s outdoor-minded citizens. Den Norske Turistforening (DNT), the Norwegian hiking organization, maintains a handful of staffed and unstaffed huts here – and its Oslo branch has detailed maps and sells DNT membership.
Five stops on from Holmenkollen, a thirty-minute ride north of the city centre, Frognerseteren is the terminus of T-bane #1. From the station, it’s just a couple of hundred metres to Frognerseteren’s large and good-looking wooden lodge , where the views from the terrace out over Oslo and the Oslofjord are much more enjoyable than the food. From the T-bane terminus, there’s also a choice of signposted trails across the surrounding countryside. Forest footpaths link Frognerseteren with Sognsvannet to the east, an arduous and not especially rewarding trek over the hills of about 5km. Locals mostly shun this route in summer, but it’s really popular in winter with parents teaching their children to cross-country ski. A better alternative, at least in summer, is the longer but more interesting hike to Sognsvannet via Ullevålseter, where the lodge has a very good café serving excellent home-made apple cake. The whole route is about 9km long, and takes about three hours to complete.
Holmenkollen is one of Norway’s busiest ski resorts, its popularity bolstered by its international ski jump, a gargantuan affair that dwarfs its surroundings. A mountain of metal steps leads up to the top of the ski jump from where the view down is, for most people, horrifyingly steep. It seems impossible that the tiny bowl at the bottom could pull the skier up in time – or that anyone could possibly want to jump off in the first place. When competition skiers aren’t hurling themselves off it, the ski jump can be visited as part of the Skimuseet (Ski Museum), whose various exhibits explore the history of skiing at some length, and there’s a Ski Simulator here as well.
The T-bane trip to the Sognsvann terminus is not as pleasant a journey as the T-bane trip to Frognerseteren (see above) – the landscape is flatter and you never really leave the city behind – but Sognsvann is but a brief walk from Sognsvannet, an attractive lake flanked by forested hills and encircled by an easy four-kilometre hiking trail. The lake is iced over until the end of March or early April, but thereafter it’s a perfect spot for a picnic or a swim, though Norwegian assurances about the warmth of the water should be treated with caution (or mirth). Forest footpaths link Sognsvannet with Frognerseteren.