Norway’s capital city is just a two hour flight from the UK. Making it a great option for a weekender.
Having visited this beautiful, vibrant and unique city twice this year I thought I’d share the ten reasons why you should put Oslo on your must see list.
Oslo’s most famous artist Edvard Munch is much celebrated and he even has his own museum, the Munch Museum is located in Tøyengata. It is definitely worth a visit. Construction is currently underway on a spectacular new museum next to the Oslo Opera House.
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design has an impressive collection of artwork and sculptures. Norway’s largest collection in fact. There are some iconic Munch pieces located within its walls, including the famed painting “The Scream”.
The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art is home to Norway’s most important private collection of contemporary artworks including pieces by Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.
The art is not only in the museums it’s on the streets as well. There is so much awesome street art on display. Look up and look down because you never know when you might see a masterpiece!
The city is melting pot of architectural design. In Bjøvika you’ll find the stunning Opera House designed by the renowned firm Snøhetta. A marble and glass giant with intricate timber interiors. Make sure you climb the stairs to the roof for beautiful views over the Oslo Fjord. Bjøvika is also home to the Barcode Project, a series of sleek geometric office buildings and apartments that resemble a barcode layout.
As well as cutting edge architecture you will also find examples of Functionalism in the imposing City Hall. Akershus Festning or Fortress, Oslo’s waterfront castle is both medieval and renaissance in design.
The Viking Stuff
This goes without saying in Norway! Take the Båtservice hop on hop off service over to the Bygdøy Peninsula to the Viking Ship Museum, where you’ll find three of the world’s best preserved Viking Ships on display. There is also a collection of small boats, textiles, sledges and utensils.
The Coffee, The Coffee, The Coffee
I said this three times because as an avid coffee drinker, Oslo is what dreams are made of. Norwegians take coffee very seriously and that is evident in the many expresso houses and trendy cafés that have sprung up all over Oslo. World renowned baristas and roasters call the city home.
Whether its the famous expresso bars such as Tim Wendelboe in Grunerløkka, Java Espresso Bar in Ullevålsveien, Fuglen in Universitetsgata or the on every corner Kaffebrenneriet (which I love) you won’t be get a mediocre coffee in Oslo.
Oslo is probably not somewhere you think about when it comes to being at the helm of modern cuisine. Well think again! With restaurants such as Kontrast and the three Michelin Star Maaemo leading the way with modern Nordic cuisine. These restaurants are definitely not for those on a budget though.
Dont worry you wont starve. Make sure you visit the impressive Mathallen Food Hall in the Vulkan District. 33 specialist shops, cafés and eateries under one roof! Special events such as cookery demonstrations and pub quizzes take place regularly in the Mathallen.
You can’t visit Oslo and not try the traditional Norwegian Pølse (basically it’s a pretty awesome hotdog). Oslo’s most famous hotdog stand Syverkiosken is located near Alexander Kiellands Plass and serves delicious hotdogs for around 25NOK.
Oslo boasts over 50 museums. I’ve mentioned a few above such as the Viking Ship Museum and the National Museum but these are just the tip of the iceberg. Quite literally! Oslo and in particular the Bygdøy Peninsula has an impressive collection of museums dedicated to Norwegian history and culture. The Fram Museum celebrates the history of Norway’s polar expeditions, the Folk Museum has the coolest collection of traditional timber houses from all over Norway that have been dismantled and resembled in the grounds of museum. Don’t miss the Kon-Tiki Museum for the story of Thor Heyerdahl and his adventures.
As well as museums celebrating Norway’s history and culture there are also so many others, too many to list but here’s a few! The Nobel Peace Centre, The Vigeland Museum, Film Museum, Miniature Bottle Gallery (yes you read that right), Norwegian Armed Forces Collection and the Holmenkollen Ski Museum.
If you’re planning to visit a few museums consider purchasing the Oslo Pass. It will definitely save you some pennies.
The Family Vibe
You may not immediately think of Oslo as a family friendly destination. But it totally is!
There are some amazing museums that little people and big people alike will love, such as the International Museum of Children’s Art, The Norwegian Science and Technology and Popsenteret (all about Norwegian pop music which we know is amazing).
If the kids are after something more active then the Oslo Winter Park is perfect. Located 40 minutes outside Oslo this ski field offers 18 different runs including slopes for children and beginners. Lessons are available.
Likewise the Oslo Summer Park or Sommerpark is ideal when the weather is less arctic. Located 30 minutes from the city centre, this fantastic climbing park has so much to do! Zip wires, cycle hire, climbing adventures and outdoor fun.
Tusenfryd Amusement Park is Norway’s largest amusement park. Just 20 minutes from the centre the park is packed with 30 different rides and attractions. Make sure you check opening times because the park is only open certain days.
Some other great attractions include the Oslo Reptile Park, MegaFun (Scandanavias largest indoor play centre) and if you’re wanting to save some money why not visit the amazing parks such at the Frognersparken, which is home to the biggest playground I’ve ever seen.
It’s a tale of all four seasons in Oslo.
Most people think cold when they think Norway. There is no denying that during the winter months Oslo is cold but it’s really not as bad as you think, don’t be put off visiting during winter. There’s so much to do.
Enjoy the snow! Winter sports are the order of the day in Oslo at centres such as Oslo Winter Park and Korketrekkeren (the tobagganing field). You can ice skate at several different locations such as Frognerskating Park and Spikersuppa Ice Rink. Snow doesn’t just mean winter sports, it also makes for the most beautiful photo ops. With much of the countryside covered in the pretty white stuff, you can explore the parks and sights easily (they know how to grit in Oslo).
Take a Oslo Fjord sightseeing tour (also lovely in summer). A boat in Norway in winter might not be your first choice but it’s a great time to see life by the Fjords. The boats are charming, there are sheepkins and blankets available to keep you warm. We sailed on a minus 17° day in February and it was amazing.
Treat yourself to a sauna at SALT. This unique project of art, architecture, food, theatre and sauna is a truly unforgettable experience.
Now Summer in Oslo is a totally different experience. With temperatures reaching the early to mid twenties.
The grass is green and the parks are alive with people. Dining becomes an outdoor and rooftop affair. Rooftop bars and restaurants have sprung up around the city, eateries such at Stratos, BAR Vulkan and Eight Rooftop Bar to name a few. Head down to Aker Brygge on the harbour to soak up the sun, people watch, shop and dine at one of the great restaurants.
Oslo Fjord becomes a mecca in the summer. There are many swimming areas such Sørenga Seawater Pool and Tjuvholmen City Beach dotted around the inner harbour.
Let’s not forget Spring and Autumn. The vibrant colours, clean air and decent weather are perfect for exploring the parklands and coastal areas. Take a visit to the Vigelandsparken, Gustav Vigelands magnificent sculpture park that sits at the heart of the Frogner Park (Frognersparken).
The Get Around
As capital cities go, Oslo is a pretty compact one. It is so easy to navigate your way around. Almost everything is within walking distance. If you want to venture further afield, the Ruter# metro and tram services are super easy and straight forward to use.
If you purchase the Oslo Pass, you get unlimited travel on all public transport. A pretty good deal I think given a single journey on the metro will cost you 35NOK.
Finally, it’s just a cool city! There is a fresh modern vibe. Trendy areas such as Grunerløkka, Sørenga and Aker Brygge are jam packed with awesome eateries, bars and cafés. Its clean and people are helpful and friendly. There’s awesome art, design, pop culture and masses of green space. What more do you want?!
This turned into quite an epic post but I really only scratched the surface of the reasons Oslo should be on your Bucket List.
I really hope you find this post useful. Thanks for reading.
Some of our other blogs about Oslo:
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Disclaimer – this is not a sponsored post. Our thoughts and opinions are our own.