Hovedøya island – close to the city, yet secluded

The spirits of summer time always bless us with some sun and heat, even in Norway. The term summer heat is relative when it comes to numbers, but not when it comes to experiencing it, or so my sunburns tell me. So try not to get too bold and use the sunscreen, no matter where you go, beause hey, you can get burnt at 22 degrees!

To the tourists and newcomers, speaking even from my experiences, ‘’a trip to the Oslo island(s)’’ sounds like something that takes a while and we get unsure whether or not we are ready to invest this ‘’while’’ to our tightly planned schedule. But in reality, it is incredibly easily accessible – all we need to do is to hop on a ferry from Aker Brygge station. The first island on the way is called Hovedøya. The ferry that takes off every 30 minutes and the total ride takes you cca 7 minutes – plus, in case you have Oslo public transport ticket, it is included in it!

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The whole island is comfortably small and has amazing scenery for the surface where from one part to another is never more than 800 meters. The forests, the beaches, the meadows, the nature and the history, all in a walking distance.

Hovedøya has a particularly rich biodiversity with many common and endangered species of plants, mosses, lichens and mushrooms. A diverse plant life also creates a rich insect life. Several species that need warm summers and mild winters have their northern boundary in the inner Oslofjord. The soil is particularly fertile there which enables the species richness. The whole island is a protected area and is the habitat of species that cannot be found in any other part of Norway.

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If you take the main path to one of the largest beaches, you will come across the monastery ruins. In the period between 1130 and 1150 a stone church was built there and dedicated to St.Edmund. When the Cistercian monks came here in 1147, they took it over and devoted it to Holy Mary and rearranged the church into a monastery. In 1532, at the reformation era, it was robbed and burned. Later, stone was taken from the monastery for the construction of anchorage fortress, and in the 19th century there was not much left of the original object. In 1849 the restoration of the monastery began and parts of the monastery walls were rebuilt as well.

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But, most of all, Hovedøya is an amazing place to relax and in case the weather is in your favour. You will also find it easy to find romantic private beaches as well as the ones with more tourists and action.  Do not miss a nice walk around the island, sunbathing a bit and don’t be shy to take a swim – it is really refreshing (once you get in 🙂 )!

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Want a closer look? A short walkthrough through the island looks like this.

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