Here are Oslo’s hidden wild-swimming gems
Yes, we love to swim in Oslo in the summer! And we love it most of all when we have a secluded sunbathing spot all to ourselves. Luckily there are several places where this is a distinct possibility.
– This is pretty much a hidden gem, says Annette Glenne from Nordstrand, dipping her feet into the water.
Along with her friend Mette Kristoffersen, she is enjoying one of the first days of summer on the beach at Solvikbukta. They have the pebbly beach almost to themselves. That’s not so surprising, as Solvikbukta is one of Oslo’s most well-hidden beaches. At the far end of Malmøya, it’s accessible only along a narrow, winding lane.
– My mother introduced me to this beach, and since then I’ve been an enthusiastic user. The fact that it’s a bit inaccessible is simply a good thing, because that makes it more peaceful, says Annette firmly.
Solvikbukta is the only beach and campsite in Oslo that’s accessible for disabled users, with wheelchair ramps and disabled-only parking. There are also showers, toilets and benches. Sheep roam freely on the neighbouring island, Malmøykalven, and the sounds of their bells and bleating give one the feeling of being far away from the city.
Just north-east of the campsite is another beach, Skinnerbukta. This is just as secluded, although it is larger than Solvibukta.
Checking water quality at Oslo’s beaches
Both Annette and Mette prefer to swim in saltwater, enjoying the smell and sound of the sea. But this is not their only requirement for a good beach:
And if it were to get busy here, there are even more lakes further into the forest.Inger-Elise Lehmann
– It’s also important that there aren’t too many people, that it’s clean, and that there are facilities, such as toilets and a café. And then there’s the water quality – that’s something I always check before I set off for the beach, adds Annette.
She is not alone in this. Every summer, many people visit the Agency for Urban Development’s website each day for up-to-date information about water quality and temperature. The service will continue this year.
A wild-swimming gem at Grorud
Far away from the lapping waves of the fjord, in the forest at Lillomarka, two other women have found their swimming paradise. Inger-Elise Lehmann and Marthe Ludvigsen have settled down on a swimming pontoon at Lake Steinbruvann.
– This place has everything. Here we can feed the ducks, fish with a net, and go for a hike around the lake. Or just lie back and relax! says Inger-Elise.
Although Inger-Elise has been here many times before, this is the first visit for her Halden-based friend Marthe. Marthe is unimpressed by the water temperature –it’s warmer in Halden, apparently. Apart from that, she finds little to criticize about this idyllic spot.
– The first thing I asked was whether this is fresh water. That’s so convenient for me as a dog-owner. That means I don’t need to think about bringing drinking water, she says, giving her French bulldog Esther a hug.
Inger-Elise has tipped off several acquaintances about this swimming lake, which is very close to Grorud. She lives at Furuset and feels that she is fortunate to have Lake Steinbruvann nearby.
– Badedammen [a smaller lake] is nearer the parking area, but it gets busy very quickly. So although the water here is slightly colder, we prefer Lake Steinbruvann. And if it were to get busy here, there are even more lakes further into the forest, advises Inger-Elise.
– It’s fun we can grow our own food, despite not having our own garden
Here are some off-the-beaten-track swimming places that are well worth trying in the summer
- Lake Steinbruvann – Lillomarka
A freshwater lake a short distance from Grorud. Swimming used to be strictly forbidden at this former reservoir, but today swimming and fishing are permitted. With several swimming pontoons and small coves, there’s a good chance you’ll find a spot to yourself.
Follow the hiking trail past Badedammen to reach Lake Steinbruvann. If you want to get even further away from it all, continue into the forest, following signs to Skytta, until you reach Lake Romstjern.
Subway line 5 to Grorud, buses 31,66,68 or 79 to Grorud T.
Car parking available at Badedammen.
Keeping track of water quality
The City of Oslo tracks the temperature and water quality at selected beaches and swimming places in Oslo. Daily updates are published online in June, July and August.
Click here for swimming places and water temperatures.
- Lake Stensrudtjern – Klemetsrud
A freshwater lake next to Enebakkveien at Klemetsrud. Fine sandy beaches and large areas of grass. Toilets. The water may look slightly yellowy-brown, but this is its natural colour, caused by the surrounding forest and a lack of circulation in the lake.
Bus to Enebakk / Lillestrøm.
Car parking available on Stensrudtjernveien.
- Lake Kapteinsputten – Lillomarka
A small lake close to the sports lodge and ski jump at Linderudkollen. Many people will have skied past this lake in winter or jogged around it in summer. But it’s also a good place for a swim, water temperature permitting. There’s a swimming pontoon in the lake, which has a silt bottom.
Bus 56 to Solemskogen.
Car parking available on Linderudkollen, but cycling is also a good option. Follow signs to Solemskogen.
- Skinnerbukta Beach – Malmøya
This beach on the west side of Malmøya is in a large, sheltered bay. This makes it a warm and pleasant location, even on windy days. The beach isn’t maintained and consists of large pebbles and shells. Take care in the water, as it gets deep quickly.
Bus 85 to Malmøya, then walk approx. 1 km from the bus stop.
Parking is difficult on Malmøya. Cycling recommended.
- Solvikbukta Beach – Malmøya
Solvikbukta is a coarse sand and pebble beach with some grassy areas and rocky outcrops. It enjoys an idyllic and secluded location within Malmøya’s nature reserve. There is an accessible swimming area and campsite, with most parking spaces reserved for disabled users. Good facilities, with showers, toilets and a café.
Bus 85 to Malmøya, then walk approx. 1 km from the bus stop.
You can drive to Malmøya, but note that parking is difficult. Cycling recommended.
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- Lake Isdammen – Årvoll
This freshwater lake got its name before the era of the refrigerator, when it was an important source of ice for city dwellers. The City of Oslo purchased the lake in 2008, and today it is a child-friendly place to swim and relax.
Bus 31 to Stig, then walk north along Årvollveien.
- Hydrostranda Beach – Vækerø
Close to the Hydro headquarters at Vækerø to the west of Oslo, and close to the E18 highway and the rail and bus connections at Lysaker, this beach is often relatively underpopulated, despite being easy to get to.
Bus 31, 32, 140 or 130 to Vækerø
- Lake Grinidammen – Eiksmarka
Lake Grinidammen is the result of the dam built across the Lysaker River at the old mill at Grini Mølle. There are a couple of pleasant swimming places surrounded by protected forest.
Subway line 2 to Ekraveien
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This story was originally published in Norwegian in May, 2018