Norway has a fascinating history that’s full of excitement that is easy to get swept up in. From vikings to explorers, adventure is definitely in the Norwegian DNA. Oslo, in particular, is easy to navigate and is alive with gorgeous green spaces to languish in along with culture to broaden your horizons and fine dining.
I recently returned from an incredible yet all-too-brief holiday to Oslo. It was one of those getaways that exceeded all of my expectations. I knew I would have a nice time but Oslo went out if its way to make it a unique, unforgettable experience.
The weather was unseasonably warm and sunny – perfect for spending time on the water and touring the city. The lilacs were in bloom and nearly the whole of the city was scented with their intoxicating fragrance. I have never experienced anything like it, anywhere, ever.
There is so much to see and do in Oslo but here are my top seven do not miss experiences:
Oslo has over 50 museums so whether you’re looking for something traditional like the fine arts or even something a bit more unusual, there is something for everyone.
It’s fascinating that there are not one but three viking ships that have managed to survive since the oldest was built in the year 820. In addition to the ships there are other amazing artifacts that the vikings took with them on their ships. They did not travel light!
The Kon-Tiki museum houses the handmade rafts that Thor Heyerdahl used to cross the Pacific Ocean on the Kon-Tiki expedition back in 1947.
There are also a few other rafts that Heyerdahl used for other expeditions as well as artifacts that he and his team collected along their travels. Its very clear that exploration and adventure seems to come naturally to the Norwegians!
If you don’t visit any other museum in Oslo you need go to the National Museum of Art if only to see Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
But do wander around and see the other works in the museum. They have a lovely collection of not only art but also architecture and objects of design. I was incredibly surprised to see that they even had a piece by an artist near to my heart, Andrew Wyeth. This particular artist is from near my home in Pennsylvania.
The fjords around Oslo are not exactly the deep and cavernous ones that you’ll find in other parts of Norway, but taking a fjord cruise is still a fun way to pass a couple of hours. While you’re sailing, enjoy a glass or two of wine and relax as you pass along the fjords and feel the breeze in your hair as you watch the world go by.
The Oslo Opera House tour is a behind the scenes tour that takes you backstage where all of the magic happens. From costumes to set design you’ll get to see what goes into creating a production.
Our tour ended with us being able to watch the crew set up for that evening’s performance of Swan Lake.
The Opera House also has roof top views that are worth checking out. When looking down you can see the sculpture titled “She Lies” that was created by Italian artist Monica Bonvicini.
Did you know that every year on December 10th the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo? It’s unusual because rest of the Nobel prizes are distributed in Stokholm, Sweeden, and no one really knows why Alfred Nobel left it in his will that it be done this way. Take a look around the center and then afterwards cross the street and head over to Oslo City Hall where you can view where the ceremony takes place. One of the locals I met told me that residents call it Oslo’s Living Room because it’s always open to the public.
Walk Around Oslo
There is no better way to get to know a city than by strolling through its streets. Who knows what hidden gems you’ll find. Oslo is no exception. It’s a very walkable city with lots of interesting architecture and green space to rest in or just people watch for a while.
My holiday in Oslo is one that will linger on my mind for weeks to come. And Norway is definitely somewhere that I would definitely like to return to in the future. Have you been to Oslo? What was your favorite experience while there? For those that have traveled through other parts of Norway, what are your recommendations? I’d love to know!
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