With the warm weather finally returning to Oslo after a very long and dark winter, it’s been nice to spend time exploring the further reaches of the city. Early summer is one of the best times to visit the forests and lakes on Oslo’s edges. The new growth on the trees bathes the hills in stunning shades of emerald green, and the incredibly sunny days we’ve been having the past few weeks helps to highlight the beautiful colors.
If you are not ready to hike out into the backwoods of Nordmarka just yet, there is still plenty of nature to see closer to home. One such place is the beautiful Østensjø lake (Østensjøvannet) on the east side of town. Situated in the middle of Østensjø bydel, the lake stretches roughly 1.7km from north to south. There are paths, benches, and open grass areas along the entire shoreline, and a pleasant walk around the whole lake can be done in around 90 minutes.
The blue water and green surroundings of Østensjøvannet
The lake is especially well-known for its abundant avian life and is an important stop-over point for migrating birds. Over 200 species of birds have been seen on or near the lake, and any time you spend there will likely see you followed by numerous geese and ducks, all hoping for a handout.
The bridge at the southern end of the lake is a popular hangout spot for birds
Quite a number of geese can be seen at the water’s edge. Don’t get too close, they can be really territorial!
The local waterfowl gladly pose for pictures (in exchange for snacks, of course)
The lake received its name from the Østensjø farm. Likely established over 1,500 years ago, Østensjø was originally called “Austansjor” in old Norse, which means literally “east of the water”, describing its location on the east shore of the lake. Throughout most of its history the farm was located in relative isolation from the rest of the city, but all that changed after World War II and the rapid growth of the outlying drabantbyens. Østensjøvannet was soon completely surrounded by newly-built homes, apartment complexes, shops, and roads, all of which severely effected the environmental quality of the lake. Faulty sewage pipes leaked waste into the water, and by the 1980s the lake was facing serious problems. In response the Østensjøvannet Nature Reserve was established in 1992, placing the lake and surrounding shoreline under strict environmental protection, and serious efforts were undertaken to improve the local ecology. This work has paid off, and today the lake is a beautiful place to spend a few hours. The friendly birds and pleasant playground make it very family friendly as well. The lake can be easily reached from downtown by taking the subway line 3 to Skøyenåsen or Oppsal stations near the north shore. A large car park provides parking at the south shore as well, if you want to drive.
The main path along the shore of Østensjøvannet, perfect for both running and pleasant strolls.