First time in Oslo? Add these seven highlights to your itinerary…
1. Oslo’s architecture
Oslo’s architectural landscape is a fascinating mix of old world charm standing side by side with cutting edge, modern buildings. The Oslo Opera House and Renzo Piano’s Astrup Fearnley Museum are wonderful examples of new, bold Oslo while the city’s oldest buildings from the 17th and 18th century can be found in Kvadraturen. Much of this historic area was destroyed in a fire in 1624 but was rebuilt under orders by the defiant Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV who earmarked it for the centre of the new town.
If you’re looking to get behind Oslo’s design ethos which inspires the city’s architects, pop in to the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture (DogA) near the Akerselva River or the ROM kunst + architecture galleries which explore the relationship between art and architecture.
2. Frogner Park
When the sun comes out in Oslo, there is only one place to head to with a picnic basket: Frogner Park.
Just outside the city centre, Frogner Park has swathes of lush green grass to sprawl over. You’ll spot locals sunbathing, picnicking, going for a jog, playing badminton or checking out the Vigeland Sculpture Park (the world’s largest sculpture park) and the Oslo City Museum. And if picnicking’s not for you, there’s an open air café and restaurant during the summer months to provide park-goers with some tasty sustenance.
You could take the tram, bus it or hop on a metro. But cycling is by far the best way to navigate Oslo.
There are cycle routes aplenty in the centre of the city, clean air and everything you’ll want to do is close together and within easy reach if you’ve got a bike. It’s the best way to stumble upon unique cafes, independent galleries and quirky shops.
If you’d like a bit more direction, book a bike tour with a local guide who will happily take you around Oslo’s highlights.
4. Karl Johan’s Gate
Carl Johan’s Gate is the hub of Oslo, and the best place to base yourself in Oslo if you’re looking to be right in the thick of the action. By day you can get some serious retail therapy in the shops, sip coffee and munch waffles on a street café, catch a performance at Oslo’s National Theatre or take a turn on the skating rink in winter.
By night, Oslo residents flock to Karl Johan’s Gate to catch a performance at one of the many jazz and blues clubs, sample some fresh Norwegian seafood or sip Aquavit (Norway’s national drink) at one of the trendy bars scattered around the city centre.
The Norwegians love their waffles and tracking down Oslo’s best waffles is one of the most fun ways to get to know the city.
Waffles in Oslo tend to be thinner, lighter and fluffier than their American counterparts, and are often make with a heart shaped waffle iron, which makes them taste all the sweeter.
Waffles are usually taken as an afternoon snack with lashings of cream, fruit preserves and some Brunost cheese (a delicious type of goats cheese) – all washed down with a cup of artisan coffee.
6. Oslo Opera House
Oslo’s Opera House in the Bjørvika neighbourhood was only opened in 2008 and has impressed the architectural community, winning both the culture award at the World architecture Festival and the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture.
Catch a performance by the Den Norske Opera and marvel at the Italian marble and white granite angular shapes of the building which some say make the building appear like it’s rising triumphantly from the water below.
Otherwise known as Palace Park, Slottsparken surrounds the Royal Palace and its 22 hectares of greenery are perfect for a leisurely stroll on a warm summer’s day.
The grounds were designed in the 1820s by Hans Listlow, who also designed the palace for the Swedish monarchy. Book a tour of the palace and its grounds, spot statutes of Norway’s most famous citizens like mathematician Nils Henrik Abel and breathe in the fresh air provided by the 2000 trees which have been planted here – all without leaving the city centre.
What’s on your Oslo itinerary?