Things To Do In Oslo
Oslo is lies at the top end of the breath-taking Oslofjord, one of the largest fjords in this country whose coastline features well over a thousand of them. A tour in Norway is most complete if you have visited the marvelous fjords on the Atlantic coast, but Oslo provides a great beginning. The landscape is beautiful and you can learn a lot about the small houses that can be seen on various "islands" and the lifestyle of the inhabitants of Oslo before and now.
Spend enough time to visit and understand the Vigeland Park; this is a great site where the bronze and granite statues are very important. All the statues displayed show the mystery of life from birth to death. Take a ride on the Bergen Railway, where aside from seeing the awesome landscapes across the countryside there is even a stop for passengers to take pictures of a scenic waterfall.
When To Go:
The best time to visit is during the summer season from March to August, when the temperatures climb and there are reasonable room rates for the city. Although this is the best time to encounter some gentle temperatures, which normally range in the mid 60s, it can get chillier -- so make it a point to wear layered clothing. Oslo enjoys almost 24 hours of sunlight in the summer, with the renowned midnight sun generally showing up in June or July. On the other hand, there will be winter days of almost-entirely-dark and gloomy atmosphere -- in the months of November and December. This is matched with cold climate and temperatures hovering in the 20s.
Here are the top things to do when in the city of Oslo:
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Norwegian National Opera and Ballet
The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet house is conveniently located at the center of the city and is an impressive building in the modern opera style. This masterpiece of modern architecture is one of the most unusual architectural buildings and sights of Oslo. Located a stone's throw away from the railway station in the city center this attraction is a must-see. Tickets to see Swan Lake must be booked a month ahead, but even without seeing a performance, anyone can still have a great time exploring, learning its history, and seeing the lovely interior of this building.
In addition to the main entertainment complex there is more to see: the restaurant sundeck (with tasty Norwegian dishes eaten under the light of the warm northern sun); the rave-Playground (a popular place for young parties and skaters; and the observation deck where you can climb the stairs that are specially engineered from the ground to the highest point to enjoy the panorama of the city. Plus, the Opera House is practically in the water; especially in winter the entire complex derives even more personality from the presence of the glassy outer iceberg.
Viking Ship Museum
The Viking Ship Museum is not very big but the three ships (built more or less in 900 A.D.) on display are certainly worth the cost of admission. In the room of each ship there is a pair of panoramic balconies suitable for photo and video. The ships are well preserved; the largest, more than 75 feet long, is truly majestic. There are small balconies from which you can see the tops of the 3 ships.
In the museum there are also other exhibits but the ships alone are worth the price if you are interested in history and navigation. At the entrance / exit there is a souvenir bazaar with lots of interesting goodies. You can purchase a small wooden carved depiction of the head of the ship’s bow. Outside the museum there is a small bar with tables and chairs.
The Vigeland Park is an extensive park full of huge sculptures of people and children. The sculptures are gorgeous and representative of human existence. All sculptures (more than 200 sculptures and 600 characters) are life-size and the surrounding area is nice with well-groomed lawns and flowering gardens.
The park was named after the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. All his works are exceptionally realistic -- maybe one of the reasons why this is the most-visited park in Norway. In the heart of the park, the most majestic monument opens and life spills out. There are men, women, and children that are -- yes, naked -- but without any hint of vulgarity. The small park can be reached by public transport (bus 20, tram 12 to stop at Vigeland Park at the Majorstuen station.)
Choose a warm and sunny day to be in the park because you can spend a lot of time enjoying the sculptures, sitting on the grass or just being one with nature. Whether on a romantic stroll as a couple or with a family outing, here in the park there is not only art but also lots of lawn and benches for resting. A great playground awaits children at the entrance.
In Oslo, you can see a nice pairing of the work of Vigeland (the cycle of life) with the nature of the Frogner Park that is offered for public use -- even for leisure and picnics -- but well maintained and neat as a garden. This is the largest park in Oslo, and the largest anywhere that is devoted entirely to the sculptures of a single artist. There are 212 bronze and granite sculptures here; the progression of the statues up to the panoramic summit at the obelisk will surely enrich the perspective of every guest that visits this park.
The site evokes strong emotion. After walking through the park that is dotted with creative works in granite, bronze, and wrought iron, one arrives at the famous Monolith in the center: it is 56 feet high and carved from a single block of stone around which are woven over a hundred human figures that seem to struggle to reach the top. This work is very impressive and a favorite photo opportunity for tourists and locals alike.
At the Nordmarka, there is a sky park and trails for hiking and cross-country skiing where you can enjoy a fantastic view of Oslo. Mostly visited in winter, this large forest with its stillness, colors, and size is only 20 minutes away from the Oslo city center. Locals mostly suggest a walk on foot from one of the trails on up to the Frogner Park. Since there are several footpaths, you can take one along the lake while others bring you to more remote areas where there are other smaller lakes.
You can wander without knowing where you are going for several hours but it is impossible to get lost. The trees are painted to guide you along the path and the area is full of Norwegians who run or ride bicycles and politely give directions when asked. There are several tables where you can picnic and there is also a small kiosk to buy snacks.
Fram Polar Ship Museum
The Fram Polar Ship Museum offers an interesting experience investigating the ship and its excursions along the polar region. The tour also provides the chance to visit a cave with arctic conditions artistically recreated inside. Take a tour and discover new things in a museum devoted to polar exploration. For fans of the ice, the visit to the polar ship Fram is meant to educate. Explorers Nansen and Amundsen used this ship to reach both the Arctic and the Antarctic. In addition to seeing the actual ship, it can be toured from the hold to the deck.
There are 3 floors of exhibits with a theme of polar expeditions, the explorer’s life, and images of the inhabitants of the Arctic regions. From the ship, every 20 minutes you can watch the spectacle of the Northern Lights. In the museum you can also see a documentary about the exploration in search of the Northwest Passage. Children appreciate this museum because in addition to the interesting content there is a schematic and interactive delivery.
The Bergen Railway
One of the best things to do while in the city is to travel from Oslo to Bergen using the Bergen Railway. It is a worthwhile experience. The train is first class, has excellent service, very comfortable seats, is spacious, and the dining room is great for a wagon train. Beyond the amenities offered, an indescribable landscape can be admired throughout the trip. The train climbs throughout the journey until it is almost at Bergen. Once there, the picturesque bridge over the railway tracks offer a great view of the modern quarter with houses made of glass and concrete.
The views from the train windows are beautiful too; there are snow-capped mountains, fjords, villages, lakes, and many tunnels. If you have time the trip is worth a try. On the train, everything is perfectly arranged and for a small extra charge you can ride in a car with improved outlets for modern devices along with Wi-Fi connectivity, free tea, and coffee. You will have a pause to take photographs at the highest station where you can see a part of the glacier. Everything is worth photographing from the window.
Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Ski Jump Tower
The Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Ski Jump Tower is located on a large hill where you can wander around, above, and below the whole jump. There are beautiful views everywhere. Another thing is to watch people climb to the top of the springboard and go down via rope, whiz zing through the entire length of the ramp. The ski museum is also worth a visit especially if you are fond of skiing. After its reconstruction in 2011, everything was transformed to look even better than before. Now, there is a new trampoline and a huge luxury construction with a beautiful view of the city of Oslo, the fjord, and the surroundings.
You can come to the fence and look down -- everything is safe and truly breathtaking. Below, there is a souvenir shop (prices are higher than in the center of Oslo) and a small restaurant where you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the break between races if you come to the stadium on skis or you want to join the biathlon. The Ski simulator at the Museum is an interesting thing to try, it is a simulation of ski jumping or how to descend on skis. The Museum and tower is quite young but it serves as a good springboard to have the best view of the entire city and all its other exciting attractions.
The most convenient way to get to the Bygdoy Peninsula is by riding the ferry. The round-trip ticket is sold at the box office on the wharf and reasonably priced. It is a charming area of the city where there are several museums to visit: the Viking Ship, Kon-Tiki and Fram. The Peninsula is also connected to the central waterfront with a regular ferry service. Basically on the peninsula, there are small white homes that are decorated with numerous green spaces. There is quite a lot of vegetation especially in the courtyard spaces.
You can also just walk around the “museum island” and see how Norwegians live. From here you can only see private houses and no skyscrapers in sight. It is the summer holiday destination of the Norwegians, because it is a quiet peninsula where many have second homes for the summer season. Take a quick visit to the beach and walk along a wild stretch of land where you can enjoy a little peace while watching the sea. Near the beach there are also clean toilets and a bar.
Norwegian Folk Museum
The open air Norwegian Folk Museum is exceptional and in perfect Nordic tradition because the museum collects different environments from Norwegian history and culture, moving or rebuilding them from other areas of the country. It is great to see the evolution of the country's culture. The most impressive thing is certainly the presence of the oldest preserved wooden church (stave church) on the summit. It is a blast from the past that you will find fun and interesting to explore.
In this park you can see the different types of houses in Norway, from the earliest times up to the first 60 years of the last century -- and you can even enter most of the structures. Some have people in costume that interpret the lifestyle of the generation they represent. There is a home where one person prepares a dessert (which you can also taste and buy), another one knits a sweater, and several areas where people dealing with animals. Truly remarkable is the shop that sells soaps, candies, and sweets in special containers made of tin, the way it was originally packaged. The park is located outside Oslo and is easily accessible. It is ideal for a nice stroll outside the city and especially recommended for anyone who has children.