Oslo is a great city for bicycling, with modest distances between major hubs and attractions. For distances of up a few kilometres, bicycling is often faster than public transportation.
Whether you want to discover attractions, explore nature, or just get a little exercise, Oslo's bicycling options range from relaxing rides with almost no inclines to difficult cross-country cycling in the hilly forests around the city.
Bicycling in the city centre
Many of the city's streets have separate bicycle tracks or bicycle lanes on the roadway itself, making two-wheeled transport a safe alternative.
Markveien, Torggata, Rådhusgata, Ullevålsveien and Frognerstranda are examples of streets and roads that have been adapted for bicycle traffic. Many intersections also have separate traffic lights for cyclists. You can also use pedestrian streets, but here cyclists are required to show consideration for pedestrians.
The route north along Akerselva River is worth mentioning, as it is probably the finest method of getting out of the centre of Oslo.
Bicycling in the forests and countryside
If you prefer longer, more demanding trips, you don't need to travel any further than Sognsvann metro station. From there you are connected to a huge network of gravel roads and forest trails, offering many miles of bicycling pleasure.
An extra motivational factor for cycling in the countryside are the sports cabins; places such as Ullevålsseter, Kikut and Rustadsaga serve coffee, pastries and other refreshments.
Other good starting points for cycling in the forests include the metro stations Grorud, Ulsrud and Skullerud on the east side of town. You pay the price of a child's ticket to bring your bicycle on Oslo's public transport system.
A good map to start with is "Greater Oslo" (Stor-Oslo, scale 1:25,000, published by Cappelen) covering an area from Bjørndal in the south to Frognerseteren in the north. The map shows useful features such as pedestrian streets, tram lines, many hiking trails and cycling routes and the most important sights of interest. Two other useful maps are "Nordmarka sommer" (1:50,000) and "Østmarka", (1:50,000), both published by Statens kartverk.
A simple, free cycling map of Oslo is available at the Tourist information centre by the City Hall.
The length of Oslo's cycling season varies, but the asphalt roads are usually clear and safe between 1 April and 1 December.
In the countryside around Oslo, the gravel roads and forest trails are not usually dry until May or June.
Bicycle hiring and sightseeing
The simplest way to hire a bicycle in Oslo is getting a City Bike card from Oslo Bysykkel. An annual subscription gets you access to over 100 bicycle stands around the city with over 1,000 bicycles that can be borrowed for three hours at a time. Tourists can rent a card for one day at the Tourist information centre. The bikes are available from around Easter to about 1 December.
If you prefer cycling in the hills around Oslo, Ski & Guide has good mountain bikes for hire at Voksenkollen in the summer season (May-September). Ski & Guide also offers guided group tours on bike.
Viking Biking offers quality bikes for rent along with maps that help you see the top sites in a bike-friendly way. In the summer season, Viking Biking and AlternativOslo Bike Tours offer guided bicycling trips for groups and individuals.