Leaving the shop at 12:00, the local guide will lead the group to the near-by ferry terminal, where the tour really gets going with a quick ferry ride to the main island of Oslo, Hovedøya. Inhabited nearly 1000 years ago by English monks looking to Christianize post-Viking Norway, this island has some of the city's most captivating history, which comes to life as we walk through the well-preserved ruins and visit the various chambers and towers of the abbey. A quick walk through a sheep pasture and a birch forest, and the tour continues to offer surprising history, with a visit to the 19th century ramparts and cannons protecting the city since the Napoleonic wars. Perched high on the sea cliffs, this is the perfect time to grab a photo of the city, hills and fjord in one shot!
Hop on another ferry, enjoy the breathtaking views, and soon the tour arrives on a island known for its charming summer village, full of brightly painted wooden homes with picture-perfect gardens. Flowers abound and the sea views amaze, especially from the summit of the island, a small nature preserve with a 360 degree panorama. A picnic lunch is well deserved -- either bring your own or stop to by provisions at the island's local food market. With a local guide, it is easy to find a quiet beach or cove perfect for a peaceful lunch.
A third ferry ride leads to the nature preserve of Gressholmen, an island which amazes with its variety of untouched landscapes: sandy beaches, sea cliffs, forest, pastures and rocky coastline. There is time for a quick swim, with waters generally between 18-24 degrees (66-78 Fahrenheit). Don't forget swim wear and a towel!
Finally, the last ferry ride winds through the islands and returns to downtown Oslo, with a majestic entrance to the harbor past the medieval and Renaissance fortress of Akershus Festning, perched high above the port. Exiting the ferry, the tour is over but the rest of Oslo awaits as the tour ends right in the heart of the city center.