Oslo is a city of culture and colour. With parks, museums and history all on offer, you’re never short of things to see and do. However if you are short on time, pull out the city map and head out to the following locations:
Oslo Fjord and Islands
Oslo experiences long cold winters. So when the sun finally shows up, the locals make the most of it and head to the Oslo fjord and its islands. The fjord is easily accessible from the city with many ferries running between the islands and the mainland. Take one such ferry and explore the fjord, take in the scenery and stop by some of the islands. This is Oslo’s favourite getaway; you’ll find a number of spectacular summer homes along these waters. And it’s easy to see why, the forty or so islands here offer a number of recreational options from historical sites and museums to picnics and beach parties.
Akershus Fortress and Castle
This is one of Norway’s most prominent and well preserved structures. This medieval fortress represents a journey through Norway’s history from the 12th century to present day. The castle complex contains a variety of historic buildings, museums and defence installations. During the summers you can take tours of the castle halls, royal mausoleum, dungeons, underground vaults and the three museums here – the Resistance Museum, Armed Forces Museum and Prison Museum. The castle grounds are very popular too, full of picnic spots overlooking the Oslo fjord and islands.
Situated close to the Akershus Fortress and Castle, on the Oslo fjord, is the Aker Wharf. This was once a disused ship yard, but after some intense redevelopment the area has transformed into a thriving commercial structure. The building’s crews and broken ships have been replaced by post modern architecture – crazy steel and glass structures rise up towards the skies and hold some of the city’s best restaurants, boutiques, pubs, and cinemas. If you’re in the mood for a bit of fancy and splurge, or maybe you just want to people watch, then this is the place for you.
Karl Johans Gate
Oslo’s Karl Johan’s Gate is a bit like Paris Hilton – famous but for no particular reason. There is nothing very fascinating about it except that it is Oslo’s main street. The street starts from the main train station, runs past a number of eateries and boutiques before crossing important local institutions like the University, the National Theatre, the Parliament and the Royal Palace. While the gate isn’t Oslo’s most spectacular sight, it is one of the liveliest parts of the city, especially if there is a parade out and about.
The Frogner Park and Museum
If there is one place in Oslo where time stops, it’s at the Frogner Park with its Vigeland Sculptures. This is one of the most popular spots in the city. Here, the summer crowds and the greens are interspersed with sculptures created by the famous Norwegian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. The park has 212 full sized, bronze and granite sculptures that depict the cycle of humanity. If you like his work you’d also enjoy the museum situated in the grounds. It displays some of Vigeland’s other popular works.
This is Norway’s newest landmark. Even if you don’t have an ear for opera, swing by this marvellous white creation, especially if the sun is shining in Oslo. This breathtaking structure looks like it is rising from the fjords, ready to spread its magic around. The Opera House comes with a thousand rooms, three stages and tons of glamour. Furthermore you can even climb the Opera’s roof for views of the city and fjord!
You must make time for at least a few of Oslo’s museums. My shortlist includes the Norse Folk Museum and the Viking Ship Museum . The former is one of the world’s largest open-air museums. It displays homesteads from the 1200s that come alive during the summer with many traditional events like folk dancing, arts, and shows on offer. The latter holds some of the best preserved Viking ships and other articles sourced from Viking tombs around the Oslo fjord.