Norway´s capital Oslo is city of growth and innovation. Its rich modern culture bubbles out from the city centre and into the astonishing nature that surrounds the city. We spent a weekend in Oslo, enjoying its world-class museums, cuisine and modern architecture, and gazing at its displays of nature in her finest form.
Oslo sit on Norway’s southern coast, at the head of the Oslofjord. It sprawls from a bustling urban centre, out into the forests, snow-capped mountains and sunny islands that sit strikingly in the fjord. The city is fast-pace, but beautiful and has a strong and irresistible Nordic culture. It lived up to its expensive reputation, with excruciating prices for everything, but it also exceeded our expectations for a city break, with a creative and captivating culture that you can see advancing before your very eyes.
What to do in Oslo:
Watch the sunset from the Opera House roof
Oslo´s Opera House is a remarkable piece of modern architecture. It was completed in 2007, and sits at the head of the Oslofjord in the Bjørvika district. The design is a ‘wave wall’, with the idea of it being a large wall on the line of the meeting between land and sea, Norway and the world, and art and everyday life. It’s the threshold where the public meet art. Typically, you’re likely to be arrested for wandering across rooftops, but the Opera house invites you to do so, to venture out of the ordinary. The marble-embellished roof is a gradual slope and from the top you can enjoy views of the fjord archipelago, the city rooftops, and the hills and mountains surrounding Oslo. The sun sets a soft pink and reflects on the clear glistening water of the sea. The roof offers a moment of complete serenity.
Take a boat ride to the archipelago
With your metro pass, you can board one of the boats leaving the main harbour to the archipelago. The air on the water couldn’t feel fresher or crisper and it gives you a chance to see Oslo from the sea. The islands are popular places to go swimming in the summer, but are still worth visiting in colder climates as each island has its own unique character and history. Wrap up warm, bring a picnic and enjoy the isolated peace you get from ambling through the islands. Many of the islands have colourful wooden houses sitting on their edge and it makes for a stunning picture with the sun shining on them.
Stroll through the Grünerløkka district
Grünerløkka was once a simple working-class neighborhood, sitting north of the city centre. Now the area is the hippest part of Oslo, with an attitude and energy that proves why the city is a hub leading hub of creativity and modernity. It was once a haven for artists and creatives, like painter Edvard Munch, and is still a prime area to experience creative culture. It hosts a number of tendy bars, cafes, eateries, galleries, vintage shops and gift stores. Explore the shops and coffee culture in the day, and head for a beer and an iconic game of shuffleboard at bar Fyrhuset Kuba when the sun sets. On a Sunday, Grünerløkka has a market selling anything and everything and it has a buzz of energy because most other shops in town are closed on Sundays.
If the abundance of people boarding the metros clutching a pair of skis isn’t enough to get you intrigued, then the snowy alpine forests and the frozen lakes will. Try your hand at a new sport, or practise something you already love in Oslo: a city built for cross-country skiing. There are more than 2,600km of prepared ski trails that run deep into the forests and many of these are lit for evening tours. As well as this, picturesque cabins are built along the trails for overnights stays or quick pastry breaks. It’s recommended to use a map and plan your ski route, but the trails are easy to reach on the metro and well-signed. Whether you fancy a relaxing experience through the snow-capped pine trees, or you’re in for a real workout, then there’s a trail option for you.
Climb the hill to the ski-jump
The Holmenkollen Ski jump and museum is one of Norway´s most-visited attractions. It opening in 1923 and is the oldest museum in the world specialised in skiing. The museum sits below the a ginormous ski jump on the mountain that looks over the city below. More than 100 years ago, a Norwegian lieutenant propelled himself 9.5 metres into the air and the sport of ski jumping was born. The Holmenkollen has hosted legendary competitions and still remains a venue for international competitions today. It can hold 70,000 spectators and has astonishing views. You can see the ski jump from nearly anywhere in the city, sitting proudly on the hillside. The museum below explores more than 4,000 years of skiing history and has Norwegian polar exploration artifacts as well as an exhibition on snowboarding and modern skiing. The metro line reaches up to the ski jump so it’s pretty easy to get to with a short walk at the other end.
See the changing of the guards at the Palace
The Norwegian Royal Palace is located high up on the northwest end of Karl Johansgate. It was built in 1825 and is home to HM King Harald V and HM Queen Sonja. It dominates the cityscape, with a beautiful neo-classical style of stuccoed brick and has huge majestic gardens to match. At 1.30pm every day is the changing of the guards and it worth going to watch if you can make it for that time.
See art at the national museum
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and design incorporates a number of exhibition venues across the city. The National Gallery displays Norwegian artists from the 19th Century onward, the Museum of Contemporary Art shows modern Norwegian and international work, and the National Museum: Architecture shows historical themes through to contemporary architecture. The exhibitions are updated often, so check out their website to see the latest works on display. The gift shops sell cultural souvenirs away from the tacky items you see in some of the shop windows.
Eat in the sun at Vippa
Vippa Oslo is a new food, culture and education centre that sits on the edge of the Vippetangen with views of the fjord. It has a number of different international foodstalls and has lots of outdoor seating. If the sun is shining then Vippa is the perfect place to sit back with a cold beer and some delicious peanut thai noodles and take in the sea views.
Admire the sculptures at Vigeland park
Vigeland sculpture park showcases more than 200 sculptures by the famous Gustav Vigeland, in bronze, granit and cast iron. As well as the sculptures themselves, Vigeland was also responsible for the design and architectural outline of the park, arranged around the sections: the central bridge, the fountain and the Monolith Plateau. His most famous sculptures on display include, The Angry Boy and The Wheel of Life. The park is free and is a nice way to experience the culture of Norway in a beautiful outdoor setting.
Step inside the City Hall
Oslo´s gigantic City Hall, or Rådhuset, is one of the city´s great landmarks and it looks out onto the fjord. The outer is pretty spectacular, if only for its imposing size, but if you step inside you’ll see some beautiful art. The rich fresco was created by Henrik Sørensen, Per Krohg, Edvard Munch and other famous Norwegian artists and is designed to showcase and celebrate Norwegian culture and history.
Explore the Nobel Peace Centre
Style yourself with Saint Laurent sunglasses
The KATE frames are an oversized bold cat-eye style and were the perfect companion for our trip to Oslo. The playful blue frames are a creative and modern design and add colour to a city look.
Why do you love Norway’s capital city? Let us know in the comments below.