Set against the stunning backdrop of the Oslo fjord and stretching up into the forested hills behind it, Norway’s capital is full of world-class museums, cafes and restaurants for all tastes, and a vibrant music scene. Read more.
Set against the stunning backdrop of the Oslo fjord and stretching up into the forested hills behind it, Norway’s capital is full of world-class museums, cafes and restaurants for all tastes, and a vibrant music scene. And with nature unabashedly pressing in at its edges, cycling, skiing, sailing and hiking has never been easier to get to.
Sculptures and ski jumps
Oslo is notoriously expensive, but savvy visitors can mitigate costs by seeking out free and cheap attractions. Purchase an Oslo Pass; available for 24, 36, or 48 hours, for free or discounted access to attractions around the city, including museums, restaurants and walking tours, as well as free public transport. Among the city’s free attractions is Vigeland Sculpture Park, an open-air art gallery that displays the life work of sculptor Gustav Vigeland and holds over 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron. Of Oslo’s many galleries, the National Gallery is always popular for its impressive collection, as well as the Munch Museum, where Edvard Munch’s famous painting ‘The Scream’ hangs.
To appreciate Norway’s long history visit Akershus Slott, the medieval castle at the end of the headland, then head to the Viking Ship Museum with its displays of artefacts, including preserved wooden 9th century Viking ships. Oslo mingles with the nature around it and this can be truly appreciated at Holmenkollen, the historic ski jump that was first opened in 1892 and then rebuilt for the World Ski Championships in 2011. The area offers stunning panoramic views, while the nearby ski museum, the oldest in the world, gives an overview of nordic and downhill skiing throughout the years. For a slice of modern Oslo, go to the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, where in summer it’s possible to walk from the water’s edge up the sloping marble roof of the prize-winning building. In the evening head to Grønland, adjacent to the Central station, to explore the variety of ethnic shops and restaurants, then make your way to the newly trendy area of Grünerløkka, full of quirky cafes and bars.
Getting around and where to stay
Oslo Airport is less than 20 minutes north-east of the city centre on the Flytoget express train. Taxis in Oslo are expensive, but the city’s public transport system includes buses, the metro, trains, trams and boats. One ticket can be used for all modes of transport. In the summer months visitors can take advantage of Oslo’s public bike service, a day card gives access all day so long as you check the bike in every 3 hours.
Central Oslo is marked by the harbourfront to the south, Oslo Central Station to the east and the Royal Palace (Slottet) to the west. The main street, Karl Johans Gate, runs between east and west. The lively downtown area is where luxury hotels can be found, as well as in the Old Town to the south. To the west of the city the lovely Frogner and Majorstuen districts are full of restaurants, boutiques and independent galleries, while to the north of the station, Grünerløkka is buzzing, with new establishments continually popping up.