Oslo is situated at the tip of the
Oslo Fjord, and the harbor is one of the main outdoor attraction for
both residents and visitors.
Oslo is Norway's
capital city with a population of about half a million. Compared
with places like New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, it's little
more than a village although it does cover an astonishing 454
square kilometers (175 square miles).
In the heart
of the city you’ll find the Royal Palace. For those not
used to kind of freedom enjoyed by the Norwegian
royals, the palace can be quite a surprise. There are no fences
surrounding it and the gardens are open to the public at all times.
You’ll find families picnicking there, people walking their
dogs. There are guards but they generally leave you alone. As
the late King Olav once said, who needs bodyguards when you have
the entire population of your country protecting you?
From the Palace, Karl Johans Gate leads down towards the parliament buildings. The road is divided
in two, with open-air cafes and gardens in the middle. People
of all ages congregate here, but it’s especially popular
with younger people enjoying a half litre of lager (pils).
Johan is also the main shopping street of Oslo but be warned,
prices in Norway are higher than you're probably used to. Make
sure you've taken enough of your hard earned cash with you. Norwegian
enjoy a high standard of living, but they also complain about
the prices. Lager and cigarette prices are what bring the most
complaints from the locals.
associate Norway with snow, ice and extremely cold temperatures,
tending to forget that there are also warm, humid summers. Although
Oslo is alive and kicking all year round, it’s during summer
that the average tourist not there for winter sports, can enjoy
the maximum benefits of a visit to the city. In fact, the variation
in temperature and the magnificence of the surrounding countryside
offer Oslo the benefit of a plethora of outdoor activities that
cannot be competed with by any other capital city.
Don't miss a visit to Frogner Park for an array
of more than 200 stunning outdoor sculptures.
Oslo is situated
at the tip of the Oslo Fjord, and the harbor is of its main attractions.
From here, you can take boat trips out to the surrounding islands,
including Bygdoy with its abundance of museums.
Along Aker Brygge (Aker Pier) you’ll find street musicians and other pavement
performers doing their thing while visitors and the people of
Oslo enjoy fresh prawns and a half liter of lager which is always
served ice cold.
In fact, being able to down that first outdoor
“summer pils” is part of Norwegian culture. For most
it is a symbol of spring and another long, cold winter behind
A varied assortment of restaurants, trendy cafes and bars
can be found along the pier, offering something for most tastes
Bygdoy is one of the more affluent areas and is the place to go for museums.
Whether you want one that depicts rural life in Norway, Viking
ships, or Kon-Tiki, the raft which Thor Heyerdahl built to sail
from America to Polynesia, you'll find it here.
Elsewhere in Oslo
you'll find The Henie Onstad Centre, The Munch Museum and The Museum of Technology and many other collections of art
and cultural treasures. Bygdoy also has Oslo’s only naturist
beach. Topless sunbathing is allowed, and widely practiced, on
all beaches in Norway.
to visit include Frogner Park with its 212 superb sculptures and undoubtedly one of Oslo's finest
Also visit Holmenkollen Ski Jump for its magnificent view across
Oslo and the fjord. Raadhusplassen (the area around the Town Hall)
and the area surrounding Akers Festning are the red light districts
and probably best avoided at night!
To see Oslo
at its very best, plan a visit during May or June. There’s
a special atmosphere in the city during those late spring months
that can’t be experienced at any other time. Call it the
X-factor... with daylight lasting long into the night and the
cold of winter banished there is a feeling of new life and excitement
in the air.
thinking of visiting during winter, be warned that the city center
may not be the pretty sight you might have in mind. The fresh
white snow quickly turns to a grayish slush that natives navigate
through. The surrounding countryside is prettier and will provide
those picture postcard views of snow covered Norway that you expect.
a busy city, and driving can best be described as a nightmare.
If you decide to rent a car, remember that any vehicle approaching
from the right has the right of way and they will make sure they
get it. On main roads this can be pretty scary! There are also
trams to deal with... and they stop for nobody.
of Oslo are generally friendly and most speak very good English.
When you visit, take an hour out of your schedule to just sit
down by the quay enjoying the sun, a cold lager and a bag of fresh
prawns. That's what Oslo's all about.
grew up in East London but moved to Norway at the age of 19, returning
to England in 1998. She now lives in Cheshire with her partner
and two of her three children.