Oslo is one of the oldest capitals in all of Scandinavia. Because of increased interest in tourism, Oslo has experienced tremendous growth in the past decade. Whereas twenty or thirty years ago, visitors to Oslo would have had to rely solely on the intrinsic beauty of the area for a good time, now, with all of the added tourist attractions and museums, the combination is dynamite. There is enough to see and do in Oslo to keep you busy and happy for weeks.
In the 11th century, a Viking king founded Oslo, and under Hakkon V, the city became the capital of Norway. Throughout the centuries, Oslo has burned to the ground numerous times, but every time it was rebuilt on a grander scale. Most recently, the city was completely destroyed by fire in 1824, but the King of Denmark, Christian IV, rebuilt the town in close proximity to the Akershus Castle. During this time, he renamed the city Christiania, but in 1924 Oslo reverted back to its previous (and current) name. After World War II, Oslo expanded to 175 square miles and today, in terms of area, it is one of the ten largest capital cities in the world. This is quite amazing for such a seemingly small town. However, for its great geographic size, there are only 500,000 inhabitants that live in the city. The region is heavily forested, and along with glaciers and mountains, Oslo has a great deal of uninhabitable area.
The name Norway comes from the word Norvegr, meaning the way to the north. Over one thousand years ago, this term was used by the Vikings to describe the shipping route of the country. Norway is often referred to as the Land of the Midnight Sun because of the long days during the summer. In the wintertime, it is not uncommon to have over seventeen hours of straight darkness; but in the summer, daylight lasts over twenty hours. The scenery in Oslo is picturesque, and destinations to hike, ski, and explore are everywhere. The locals are friendly, and the territory is diverse and wonderfully exciting.
Docking & Local TransportationCruise ships dock at the Port of Oslo, a full service port with transportation readily available and shopping nearby
For a $28 fee, you can purchase a fabulous Oslo Card, which allows for free travel on all modes of public transportation, including the subways, trams, and bus systems. Best of all, the Oslo Card will grant you free admittance into museums and other sites. However, if you desire to take a taxi, they are at your service twenty-four hours a day (23/23-23-23). If you would like to rent a car while in Oslo, contact Budget (47/22-17-10-50).
The Kunstindustrimuseet is located at St. Olavs Gate 1 (22/03-65-40) and is an extravagant museum of applied art. It was originally constructed in 1876, making it one of the oldest museums in Norway. The collections and exhibits are wonderful, and the glass and silver from the 18th-century are amazing. The Scandinavian crafts and furniture are fabulous, as are the works of art. One of the most impressive works in the Kunstindustrimuseet is the Baldishol tapestry from the 13th century. Concerts, guided tours, and lectures are all held here, and if you walk through the museum with a docent you will receive some great insight and knowledge concerning the history of everything that is on display.
Taking a ferry to Bygdøy is an extremely popular activity for visitors to Oslo. The Bygdøy is a peninsula that is home to many Viking shipwrecks, and the area is as fascinating as it is exciting. This region is a tremendous historical site, complete with the Norwegian Folk Museum and a scenic sailboat harbor. The Norwegian Folk Museum is located at Museumsvn. 10 and is home to numerous medieval buildings and exhibits. There are 225,000 independent features inside this collection of smaller museums, and there is something to interest everybody. All aspects of Norwegian life are explored, including information on the heritage and culture of Oslo and Norway. There are outstanding works of art and woodcarvings, great tapestries, and an ornate church that dates back to the 1200s. Forestry and agriculture are big business in Norway, and these industries are showcased and explained in depth, articulating the details of each. After a few hours at the Norwegian Folk Museum, you will have gained a significant amount of insight about the lives and loves of the Norwegian people.
The Viking Ship Museum (22/13-52-80), located at Huk Aveny 35, provides a fascinating look into these ancient vessels of the high sees. Here you marvel at spectacular and ornate ships, preserved for over twelve hundred years. Nearby is the marvelous Kon-Tiki Museum (23/08-67-67, www.kon-tiki.no), located at Bygdøynesvn. 36. Housed in the museum is the famous Kon-Tiki raft, as well as fascinating exhibits displaying Polynesian artifacts and relics collected from the travels of Thor Heyerdahl.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park (23/49-37-00), located at Nobelsgate 32, is a tribute to the work of Gustav Vigeland, Norway's most celebration sculpture. Here you can stroll through a wonderful park and marvel at the more than two hundred sculptures on display.
Norwegian's take great pride in their ski-jumping heritage and success. The first ski jump competition took place in 1892 at the Holmmenkollen Ski Jump facility (22/92-32-00), located at Kongevn. 5 in Oslo. Visit this fascinating athletic center, home to the 1952 Winter Olympic ski-jumping competition.
Drobak is one of the best beaches around Oslo, and Hovedøya is pleasant as well. Be sure to stay away from the inner harbor; swimming there is highly discouraged due to pollution. Hovedøya is a clean, gorgeous beach with a 12th-century monastery on its grounds. The shore is rocky, and jumping into the water from the rocks is not high on my list, but it is popular amongst locals. Other beaches that are frequented by citizens of Oslo are Langøyene and Gressholmen, but beware, all beaches south of Langøyene are nude. If you happen to be into nudism, then jaunt over to Standskogen, where you can wear your birthday suit in style.
Klosteret is located at Fredensborgvn. 13 (23/35-49-00) and features wonderful French and Norwegian cuisine. The décor is marvelous, and you will fall in love with the rack of lamb and boiled halibut. The vegetarian dish of the day is always a good choice, and in the fall, be certain to ask about the game dish of the day, as it is usually delicious. Blom can be found at Karlk Johans Gate 41B (22/42-73-00) and is open for lunch and dinner. People from all over the world hold this restaurant in high regard, and the dining atmosphere is set up in a smorgasbord style. The wine list is one of the best in Oslo.
David-Andersen is located at Karl Johans Gate 39 (24/14-88-00) and is a century-old jewelry chain that features some heavy-duty items. The pieces are so beautiful that even uninterested men will marvel at their brilliance. Viking and Norwegian folklore have influenced the silver designs, and they are breathtaking. Hadeland Glassverk (47/61-31-05-55) is a marvelous place to see glass shaped and blown, and there is a shopping complex that sells all sorts of magnificent glasswork.
Billettsentralen (81/53-31-33) is the place to see ballet, opera, and theater in Oslo. You can purchase tickets by calling this number, and the performances are usually held weekly. Smuget can be found at Rosenkrantzgate 22 (22/42-52-62) and is the hottest dance club in Oslo. Food is served until 3am, the dance floor is active, and the cocktails are potent. You know you can't go wrong with that trio!