WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN OSLO?
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is an interesting and pleasant city to visit, with modern and ancient architecture, world-renowned museums, a lively nightlife, and enough to satisfy nature and fresh air lovers who can enjoy many outdoor activities in the surrounding area (skiing, among others). Plan a good budget anyway, because the cost of living is very high!
This selection may be useful in preparing an itinerary and organizing your stay in Olso, giving you a taste of the best things to do and must-see sights to visit.
Here are 10 must-see things to do and see on a trip to Oslo:
1. WALK ALONG AKER BRYGGE QUAYS
Aker Brygge, located on the edge of Oslo Fjord, was home to a shipyard for over a century. After its closure in 1982, many businesses moved into the old workshops. It’s now one of the busiest districts in the Norwegian capital. Its quays are an invitation to relax, walk and shop. You can taste local specialities, applaud street artists, admire the many boats moored or the eternal flame, which burns day and night!
2. THE CITADEL OF AKERSHUS
This medieval fortress was converted into a Renaissance castle under Christian IV in the 17th century. After having undergone numerous degradations, restoration work was undertaken in 1899. In the crypt of the church lie the last kings of Norway. It’s now used as a reception area by the Norwegian government and as accommodation for Ministry of Defence and Army personnel. You can also visit the Norwegian Military Museum, the Norwegian Resistance Museum and the Memorial for Norwegian Patriots. Admission to the citadel is free.
3. THE MUSEUM OF VIKING SHIPS (VIKINGSKIPSHUSET)
It’s part of the Oslo Museum of Cultural History. The three Viking drakkars on display, dating from the 9th century, are the best preserved in the world, thanks to the clay layer that surrounded them. Intended to transport their rich owners to the kingdom of the dead, they were found buried in three burial mounds near the Oslo Fjord. It also contains objects found during excavations: a sled, a bed, utensils, textiles, small boats and sleds. Admission is free for those under 18 years of age.
4. THE ROYAL PALACE OF OSLO (DET KONGELIGE SLOTTET)
It’s the official residence of the royal family. It’s open to the public from June to August, only by guided tour. You can admire the Pompeian frescoed dining room, the bird room and its trompe-l’oeil, the suite of King Haakon VII… You can also attend the changing of the guard every day at 1:30 pm and on May 17, Norway’s national holiday, the royal family appears on the main balcony. Admission is free for children under 3 and people with disabilities.
5. THE KON-TIKI MUSEUM (KONTIKIMUSEET)
In this museum are exhibited the original boats and objects from the expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002), one of the most famous adventurers and defenders of the environment, who crossed all the oceans and especially the Pacific Ocean between Peru and Polynesia, with his companions in 1947, to prove that the Polynesians are from America. You will discover the authentic Kon-Tiki raft (1947), the papyrus boat Ra II (1970), an exhibition on the Tigris (1977) and an exhibition on Easter Island (1956). Admission is free for children under 6 years old.
6. THE NATIONAL GALLERY (NASJONALGALLERIET)
Founded in 1880, it houses Norway’s largest collection of Norwegian early works from the romantic, realistic and expressionist periods, and foreign works from the early 19th century to the present day. You will discover many of Edvard Munch’s paintings, such as “Le Cri”, his world-famous work. The National Gallery also presents temporary exhibitions on contemporary art or Norwegian art history. Admission is free for those under 18 and for all on Thursdays.
7. THE OSLO OPERA
Like Norwegian nature, the Oslo Opera, whose conception is inspired by this same generous and warm nature, is open to all. Large windows on the ground floor provide passers-by with an overview of workshop activities and rehearsals. The interior of the building, mainly made of oak, is reminiscent of forests. The central chandelier looks like a moon. Its sloping roof, sometimes used for concerts, allows visitors to climb up and enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the fjord. Inaugurated in 2008, the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet is now in residence.
8. THE VIGELAND PARK (VIGELANDSANLEGGET)
It’s located in Frogner Park, which is the largest park in central Oslo. It was designed and drawn by Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) to display his works: more than 200 sculptures in granite, bronze and wrought iron presenting Man in all his aspects. The most spectacular are “The Fountain of the Six Giants” surrounded by 20 sculptures, “The Angry Boy” or “The Wheel of Life”, symbol of eternity. The park is open all year round, 24 hours a day, and admission is free.
9. THE FRAM MUSEUM
The Fram is the most solid boat in the world, having sailed furthest north and south. Built in 1892, it participated in the three polar expeditions of Fridtjof Nansen (1893-1896), Otto Sverdrup (1898-1902) and Roald Amundsen (1910-1912). It’s displayed in its original version with some interior fittings and intact objects. Around the Fram, on which visitors can board, there are exhibitions on polar history and fauna. The input varies from 50 to 120 crowns.
10. THE NORWEGIAN FOLKLORE MUSEUM (NORSK FOLKEMUSEUM)
This open-air museum, established in 1894, features more than 150 traditional Norwegian homes, in which costumes, folk art and Sami culture are displayed. Many activities are available: folk dances and music, horse-drawn carriage rides, historical playgrounds, farm animals, crafts, sale of traditional sweets, preparation of traditional cakes… Special activities are organised on Sundays and a large Christmas market every year. Admission is free for children under 6 years old.
MORE THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN OSLO
If you have some time, here are some other things to do and places to visit in and around Oslo:
- The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art
- Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park
- Oslo City Hall (Oslo rådhus)
- Take a walk along the Akerselva
- The Holmenkollbakken Ski Museum and Ski Jump
- The Mathallen Market
- The Botanical Garden of the University of Oslo
- The Munch Museum
- See the statue of the giant tiger next to Oslo Central Station
- Damstredet, an alleyway lined with pretty wooden houses
- The Nordmarka Forest
- The Norwegian Navy Museum
- Take a boat trip to the islands of the Oslo Fjord (from the quays of Vippetangen)
- Leave for a day to visit the old town of Fredrikstad
- Visit the districts of Grünerløkka & Vulkan
- Ekebergparken Park