The Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Oslo

northern lights Oslo

Few places in the world offer better viewing of the Northern Lights than Norway. Oslo is a starting point for millions of travelers who visit the country every year to enjoy these colorful lights up close. Most people choose to head to the north to look for the Aurora Borealis phenomenon. But many do not want to stray far from Norway’s capital, so they look for the best options to admire the Northern Lights in Oslo.

Can you see the Northern Lights in Oslo city center?

If the purpose of your visit to Oslo is to see the Northern Lights, you will probably be disappointed. The Αurora Borealis appears 2-3 times a year in Norway’s capital city center, so you have to be very lucky to see it.

There are two main reasons why you can’t see the Northern Lights in Oslo city center:

  1. It’s too far south: The Northern Lights are a phenomenon that occurs most often north of the arctic circle. It has to do with the earth’s magnetic field, so the further north you go, the better your chances of seeing them.
  2. Light pollution: The Northern Lights are rarely visible from major cities such as Oslo. The reason is that the artificial light produced by cities causes the natural light to fade.
View of the Northern Lights in Oslo
Although seeing the Northern Lights in Oslo city center is rare, you might still get a glimpse in the winter

The 5 best places to see the Northern Lights in Oslo

There are many more chances to see the Northern Lights in the areas surrounding Oslo. If you don’t want to stray far from the city, these are the 5 best places to see the Northern Lights near Oslo:

Nordmarka

Nordmarka is a forested region, which is the northernmost part of Oslo. It is a favorite destination for fans of outdoor activities since it contains marked tracks for hiking, biking, and more than 400 km of ski trails.

Nordmarka offers the best chance to see the Northern Lights within Oslo. The reason is that the altitude in Nordmarka reaches up to 700 meters, favoring the best viewing of the Aurora Borealis. Also, the reflected lights of the town are not visible from this point.

How to get there

You can easily reach Nordmarka from the city center by metro. The closest stations are Frognerseteren and Sognsvann. From there, it is just a few minutes walk to Nordmarka.

Landscape in Nordmarka, Oslo
Nordmarka, Oslo

Sognsvann

Sognsvann is a small beautiful lake, also located on the north side of Oslo. It takes less than an hour to walk around the lake and is one of the best places in Oslo for landscape photography.

The Northern Lights are visible from the lake every year. Not only that, but when they appear, you will see them reflected in the crystal clear waters of the lake, creating a unique viewing experience. Being away from the city lights, Sognsvann offers the ideal conditions to observe the Aurora Borealis near Oslo.

How to get there

Access to Sognsvann lake from the center of Oslo is easy, and there are many ways to do it. The easiest way is by metro, getting off at the Songsvann station. You can also reach it by taxi or car in less than 12 minutes.

View of Sognsvann lake, Oslo
Sognsvann Lake, Oslo

Hills near Grorud

Grorud is the smallest borough of Oslo and lies within Grorud Valley. It is located in the northeastern part of the city, and it is close to the forests of Lillomarka and Østmarka. It is a green area, which includes some small hills that you can easily climb if the weather is good.

The hills near Grorud are among the best places to see the Northern Lights near Oslo. There is no light pollution, and the altitude helps quite a bit to see them. However, you should be quite careful if you attempt to climb the hills in winter. The snow makes access very difficult, and combined with the darkness, hiking in the hills near Grorud is risky.

How to get there

The fastest way to get to Grorud from Oslo Central Station is the train, and the cheapest is the subway. In any case, the route does not last more than 25 minutes. From Grorud, you will need to walk for at least 30 minutes to get to the hills.

View from Grorud, Oslo
Grorud Valley, Oslo

Ekeberg

Ekeberg is a neighborhood of Oslo known for its summer Norway cup soccer tournament. It is also the favorite place of many famous Norwegian artists. Henrik Wergeland, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson have written appraisals of the area. Also, Edvard Munch painted his famous painting “The Scream” in Ekeberg.

Ekeberg Sculpture Park is the ideal spot in Ekeberg to see the Northern Lights. It combines incredible nature, awesome views, and wonderful sculptures by Scandinavian artists scattered throughout the park. However, because the city lights are visible from Ekeberg, it’s not the best place to see the Northern Lights in Oslo.

How to get there

The easiest way to get to Ekeberg from central Oslo is by tram. The distance is about 10 minutes. You can also walk there in less than 30 minutes.

View from Ekeber, Oslo
Ekeberg, Oslo

Grefsen Graveyard

Grefsen is a neighborhood in Oslo named after an old farm. It is a quiet area with four schools, an old church, and a cemetery. The church of Grefsen is also listed in the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage.

Away from the city lights, at its highest point Grefsen offers clear skies and a good view of the Northern Lights should they appear. This is where the old church and cemetery are located, for a different Aurora Borealis viewing experience.

How to get there

You can go to Grefsen by train, tram, bus, and subway. From Grefsen station it is easy to walk to the church and the cemetery.

grefsen cemetery, Oslo
Grefsen Graveyard and Chapel, Oslo

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Oslo?

Like everywhere else in Norway and Scandinavia, the best time to see the Northern Lights in Oslo is in the winter. Between November and March, when there are not many clouds in the sky, you will have the opportunity to observe this cosmic phenomenon mainly on the northern side of the city. So, to avoid unnecessary travel, it would be a good idea to check the Northern Lights forecast on the University of Alaska website.

Northern Lights in Oslo, Norway
View of the Northern Lights from Oslo
Final Thoughts

It takes a lot of luck to see the Northern Lights in Norway without leaving Oslo. Even if they appear, most of the time, it won’t be more than a glimpse. However, the chances for a good view are much greater in the five spots we listed above. Whatever happens, you will not be disappointed. The beauty of these landscapes will reward you and is worth the effort.

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