NORWAY  |  Oslo, Norway Travel Guide
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Oslo, Norway

The new Opera House in Oslo, Norway (cc)
 

Oslo Travel Guide

Introduction

Oslo, capital of Norway, is arguably the most expensive city in the world, where a 12-ounce bottle of a middling Midwest brew runs 20 American dollars and a cheeseburger as much as a whopping 30 bucks! But then, Oslo is among the richest cities in Europe, its fortunes tied to the North Sea oil, its history to Viking gods, its legacy to the Nobel Peace Prize, the most coveted prize on Earth. To add to that, as capital cities go, Oslo is also one of the loveliest, set upon a fjord and surrounded by stunning scenery that takes in mountains, lakes and forests, with skiing, hiking, kayaking and any number of other outdoor pursuits literally on its doorstep. And yet, it is just as much a cosmopolitan city, with chic, world-class shopping venues, no dearth of upscale restaurants, an entrenched café culture that continues to proliferate, a slew of hip bars and edgy clubs that rock into the frigid winter nights, and architectural treasures that are a refreshing mix of historic and futuristic, with royal palaces and 21st-century Scandinavian-design eye-poppers among them. It is a city, too, prized for its museums and green spaces, where Edvard Munch's eerie The Scream and Gustav Vigeland's endless array of granite sculptures both tantalize and linger. Ultimately, Oslo – derived from the words "Os" and "Lo," meaning "Viking god" and "field" respectively – aspires to live up to its lofty moniker, "Field of Gods," albeit with sticker shock.

Location

Oslo is situated at the head of the Oslofjord, near the southeastern tip of the country, some 263 miles (425 km) west of Stockholm, or 189 miles (304 km) east of Bergen, or 158 miles (254 km) and 301 miles (485 km) north of Gothenburg (Sweden) and Copenhagen respectively. It is well connected to most Scandinavian cities and European capitals as well as destinations within Norway.

How to Get There

The best way to get to Oslo is to fly into the Oslo-Gardermoen Airport, the city's main airport, which is well-connected to other Scandinavian cities and most of the major northern European cities via international carriers.

Sightseeing

Oslo's principal attractions are its new Opera House, a New Millennium architectural masterpiece that rises from the fjord like a giant sheet of ice, its angular white marble slabs resembling ski slopes; and Holmenkollen, one of the oldest and most famous ski jumps in the world, which affords fabulous, birds-eye views of the city of Oslo and the Oslofjord from its 1,180-foot-high (417 m) jump tower. Other top draws include the 14th-century Akershus Fortress, the 19th-century Royal Palace, the neo-Romanesque Parliament Building, Oslo's City Hall where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, and the Vigeland Sculpture Park where you can feast your eyes on more than 200 granite and bronze sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, Norway's most famous sculptor. Among Oslo's museums, the pick of the bunch are the National Museum of Art where you can see Edvard Munch's Skrik (also known as The Scream), the world's most recognizable painting; the Munch Museum, dedicated entirely to the works of Munch, Norway's most famous painter; and the Oseberg Viking Ship Museum which has on display three of the world's oldest and best-preserved Viking ships, dating from more than 1,100 years ago.

Main Neighborhoods

  • Sentrum / City Centre - Oslo's core district, which lies largely along the city's main boulevard, Karl Johan, between the Royal Palace and the Central Station. It has in it most of the city's hotels, shops, restaurants and cafés, and nearly 50 museums and galleries, including the National Gallery and Akershus Castle.

  • Frogner - Historic area with lovely old buildings, centered on Frogner Park. It has in it the Vigeland Sculpture Park and lies just to the northwest of the City Centre. There are several good bars and cafés here, as well as some of Oslo's best restaurants, among them Feinschmecker, Bagatelle and a chic bar, Champagnerian. Principal draw here, apart from Vigeland Park, is the 18th-century Frogner Manor which houses the Oslo City Museum with some 6,000 works of art.

  • Gamlebyen - The essential "Old Oslo," which lies just to the south of the City Centre and the main drag, Karl Johan.

  • Aker Brygge - One the newest districts of Oslo, which unfolds along the waterfront at the mouth of the Oslofjord and is noted for its high-brow apartments, chic shops and boutiques, open-air restaurants, theaters and other cultural draws. Adjacent to it is the revitalized Bjørvika quarter with its high-rise Barcode buildings.

  • Grünerløkka - A former blue-collar neighborhood, newly transformed into a trendy, happening place with a lively night scene, which draws a mainly young party crowd to its hip cafés, restaurants and clubs, and which lies to the northeast of the City Centre.

  • Grønland - Lies just behind the main rail station, close to Grünerløkka, and offers a slice of ethnic Oslo, with cheap ethnic eats.

  • Bygdøy - Museum-rich peninsula, lying almost 4 miles (6 km) west of the City Centre. Among the museums here are the Viking Ship Museum, Maritime Museum, the open-air Norsk Folkemuseum which incorporates more than 150 historic Norwegian buildings from other Norwegian towns and rural districts, and the Kon-Tiki and Fram museums.

How to Get Around

Oslo has tramlines, city buses, metro trains and even an Airport Express Train, Flytoget, plus an extensive rental bikes program in the City Centre, making it relatively easy to get around the city.

Where to Party

Oslo's city center – particularly its main drag, Karl Johan, together with Rosenkrantz, Tinghuset and Stortorvet – has the greatest concentration of bars and nightclubs in the city, most popular among them The Villa, Stravinsky, and the trendy Living Room which draws a mainly younger, hip crowd. The up-and-coming Grünerlokka district has its gems too, with the monstrously popular Südoest at the top of the list. For upscale venues, check out the west side of town – the Majorstuen, Vika and Frogner areas – where the high-profile Cosmo is the place to be seen.

Where to Eat

Where to Stay

Trivia

Oslo's most famous sons are playwright Henrik Ibsen, author of Peer Gynt and A Doll's House, and painter Edvard Munch, who enjoys world renown for his Skrik (The Scream). Its most famous daughter is figure skater and three-time Olympic gold medalist Sonja Henie, who went on to Hollywood stardom in such films as One in a Million (1936) and Second Fiddle (1939).

Know Before You Go

  • Best Time to Visit: June-August
  • Cost Per Day: US$120-US$550 (kr650-kr3000)
  • Currency: Norwegian Kroner NOK (US$1 ~ kr5.5)
  • Electricity: 230V - 50Hz | Schuko socket and Europlug with 2 round pins
  • Phone Code: +47 2
  • Population: 615,000 (1.5 million in the greater metropolitan area)

Nearby Destinations

© Indian Chief Travel Guides

Last updated December 14, 2013
Posted in   Norway  |  Oslo
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