Explore Oslo

Oslo Travel Guide

Legends of heroes, trolls and princesses roaming the countryside outside this charming city attract many travellers looking for a Scandinavian holiday. Oslo, situated at the end of a 70-mile (110km) long fjord, is Norway's capital and its largest city, rich in culture and folklore and with a fascinating Viking history. Oslo is the gateway to some of Norway's most scenic areas, with forests, lakes and hiking trails just a subway ride away, but a holiday in Oslo is a joy in its own right. This sophisticated city offers cultural attractions, nightclubs, cafes, and chic boutiques enough to tempt any urban soul.<br /><br /> Oslo is an eclectic mix of old medieval buildings, churches and modern architecture, sitting among the green trees and forests that form the balance of nature and civilization. Around the city there are numerous museums, art galleries and places of interest, especially the Edvard Munch Museum and the Norwegian Folk Museum on the sought after Bygdoy Peninsula. Other attractions include Vigeland Park with its interesting collection of sculptures, and the medieval Akershus Fortress dominating the seafront.<br /><br /> Although Oslo has a small population compared to other European capital cities, it retains a true vibrancy. The city centre is filled with restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs and theatres and has a very cosmopolitan feel, with street artists hanging around the main street, Karl Johans Gate. Oslo is renowned as a city of culture and the City Hall hosts the annual awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize.<br /><br />

Vigeland Park

Address: Kirkeveien Oslo

Vigeland Park is Oslo's most visited attraction, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway. It is a vast green area of duck ponds, trees and lawns that is a monument to the celebrated Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, who spent 40 years creating the life-size statues that decorate the walkways and open spaces. There are more than 200 works presenting the human form in a variety of poses and conveying a range of emotions. At the centre of the park is the most impressive piece, the Monolith, a gigantic mass of writhing bodies carved from a single column of stone, and believed to be the largest granite sculpture in the world at a height of 46ft (14m). Surrounding the column are groups of human sculptures in various forms of interaction with each other. The most famous and most photographed piece is the Angry Boy, a fat child stamping his foot. There are many more sculptures to be seen in the park and in the nearby Vigeland Museum, featuring a display on the development of the artist's work and his sketches and plaster originals.<br /><br /> To avoid confusion, visitors should note that although the attraction is commonly called Vigeland Park, the collection of sculptures is technically in a middle section of Frogner Park.<br /><br />

The Kon-Tiki Museum

Address: Bygdoynesveien 36, Bygdoy Peninsula Oslo

Situated on the Bygdoy Peninsula, the Kon-Tiki Museum contains the iconic balsawood raft, the Kon-Tiki, on which Thor Heyerdahl made his famous journey across the Pacific in 1947 to prove the theory that the first Polynesian settlers could have sailed the 4,300 miles (6,923km) between Peru and Polynesia. The museum also contains the original reed raft, Ra II, on which Heyerdahl sailed across the Atlantic in 1970. Besides the rafts there is a huge stuffed whale shark, artefacts from his expeditions and exhibits from his visits to Easter Island, as well as an intriguing collection of archaeological finds from Easter Island, Galapagos, East Polynesia and Peru.<br /><br /> For travellers interested in the seafaring adventures of Norwegian explorers this museum is a gem: seeing the craft used to make the famous expeditions is thrilling and the voyages can be tracked through news articles and other memorabilia. It is a speciality museum and may not appeal to everybody visiting Oslo, but for those who enjoy such things the Kon-Tiki is an informative and interesting museum which generally scores high with tourists. The museum is located just opposite the Fram Polar Ship Museum, and the two attractions are best combined. Entry to the Kon-Tiki Museum is free with the Oslo Pass.<br /><br />

The Viking Ships Museum

Address: Huk Aveny 35, Bygdoy Peninsula Oslo

Situated on the Bygdoy Peninsula, the Viking Ship Museum houses three 9th-century Viking ships that were excavated from ritual burial mounds in the south of Norway. Their excellent condition is due to the clay in which they were embalmed. Viking ships were used as tombs for royalty who were buried with everything they might need in their life after death. The biggest and best preserved of the ships is the Gokstad, and the finest is the Oseberg, a richly ornamented dragon ship with an intricately carved animal head post, that was the burial chamber of a Viking queen. The elegantly carved sleigh used by the Viking royalty, and a hoard of treasure was found on the buried ship and is displayed at the back of the museum.<br /><br /> Raised platforms allow visitors to view the inside of the ships' hulls. The museum is small and not interactive, but the ships are fascinating and make an impact the moment you see them. The museum is considered a must in Oslo and a visit is one of the best ways to get a taste of the intriguing Viking culture. Most of the displays have some explanation in English, but there is also free wifi in the museum which can be used to get additional information in English. Entrance to the museum is free with the Oslo Pass.<br /><br />

Norwegian Wood Festival

Where: Frognerbadet,Oslo

When: 14 - 16 June 2018

This festival, held annually in June in Oslo, is one of the highlights on the country's musical calendar, if not the highlight, attracting many of the world's top artists as well as plenty of local Scandinavian bands. Norwegian Wood, named for the famous Beatles Song, has an impressive list of past performers, including the likes of Bob Dylan, Sting, David Bowie, Tori Amos, Lou Reed, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Alanis Morissette, Travis, The Cardigans, Counting Crows, Iggy Pop, Faithless and many many more. As clear from the list of performers this outdoor festival primarily celebrates rock music, but there are exceptions. The timing is perfect for those wanting to travel during the Norwegian summer and experience the Midnight Sun. Tickets are limited and they sell out fast so it is best to book them in advance online. Children under five get in free of charge accompanied by an adult. You can buy a festival pass for all four days, or just a single day pass. The festival is always held at the Frognerbadet, which is very near the famous sculpture garden of Vigeland Park.<br /><br />

Independence Day

Where: Throughout the country,Oslo

When: 17 May annually

Norway achieved Independence from the Danes, creating their constitution on this day back in 1814, and progressed to become one of the most successful countries of the twentieth century. Independence Day is the biggest day of the year in Norway and the whole country celebrates with parades and music, performances and parties throughout the long spring nights. The Norwegian Independence Day is notably non-military in flavour, compared to independence celebrations in many other countries, and the main event is children's parades, which are held in villages and cities all over the country. The largest parade is held in Oslo, where some 100,000 people gather in the city centre to participate in the main festivities, marching past the royal palace, where the royals wave from the main balcony. Norwegian flags can be seen everywhere! Traditionally people wear red, white and blue ribbons and clothes, but it is also common to wear traditional outfits of various kinds. The Norwegians are proud and celebrate the day with gusto and much jollity, making it a wonderful experience of the culture for foreigners travelling in the country.<br /><br />

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