Oslo: One word comes to mind when people start talking about the Norwegian capital, ‘Oslo’, and that word is ‘money’. Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world to visit and when visitors do come here, it isn’t for long. Maybe a few days in the north for the northern lights, a few days in the west to see the fjords whilst doing a cruise along the Atlantic coastline or here, the capital, one of the main gateways to the Arctic.
Oslo is a very small city compared to others in Europe but is still worth checking out and can be done on a budget. With more and more no-frills airlines flying into the main airport ‘Gardermoen’ and the expansion of Norwegian, the second biggest airline in the region after SAS, flying to Oslo is not a problem. With its fast connections by train from the airport to the central station (which if booked in advance is not as expensive as one may think), the city is waiting to be explored. Even having a day here as a layover, most of Oslo can be visited.
Flying is affordable to Oslo but now it’s the case of trying to keep the price down and not leave suffering with open wallet surgery. Just before leaving the central station, make sure to have a street map or a guide book or have something on the smartphone to guide you.
Sights to see
Oslo Opera House (Operahuset Oslo)
Just south of the central station and next to the harbour is the Opera House. Buying a ticket to seen an event will be a bit pricey (but worth seeing) but if looking to do something for free, then take a walk on the roof of this amazing modern building. The roof of the Opera House angles down to the ground level and because of the width of the building, the final design has created a large plaza. Pedestrians can walk up this and hang around for free but also enjoy one of the best panoramic views of the city.
The grounds of Akershus Festning
Heading west from the Opera House along the waterfront, the grounds of the Akershus Festning (Fortress) can be explored. Built as a castle originally in the medieval times, it has since served as a prison and a palace. The fortress since it was built has not really been used in any sort of conflict until as recently as the Second World War when Nazi Germany invaded. During those years, several people were executed in the grounds by the Nazis but even as the war ended in 1945, the fortress still saw the executions of eight Norwegian traitors who had been tried for war crimes. One of them was Vidkun Quisling who was the Prime Minister of Norway before the war and assisted the Nazi-Germans during the war years. He was killed for treason against his own people and the country of Norway. Since then, no more killings and the fortress overlooks the fjord, all peaceful. A great place to stand and take a view from the walls looking at the calm water of the fjord and looking north towards the city skyline.
Karl Johans Gate
The main street through the centre is Karl Johans Gate which has a range of shops, department stores, cafes, restaurants, theatres which runs from the main train station to Det kongelige Slott (The Royal Palace). The view looking east from the palace is one to be had and a walk in the grounds shouldn’t go a miss.
Frognerparken (Frogner Park)
A short tram ride away from the Royal Palace (tram no.12 – buy tickets from a newsagent if none already brought) is the Frognerparken. This park is the largest in the city and has to be explored, anytime of the year. The reason most visitors come here is because of the permanent sculpture display created by Gustav Vigeland, which contains sculptures as well as bridges and fountains dotted around the centre of the Frognerparken, and is also the world’s largest outdoor sculpture collection done by one single artist. (Note: a lot of visitors call this park Vigeland Park, that’s because there’s a lot of works here by Vigeland. However, when looking for the park, look for Frognerparken as that is the official name for the park).
This is certainly a place to take a stroll and look at all these marvellous pieces of art but of course, in the winter months, make sure the winter clothing is wore to keep warm but if coming here in the summer months, then take a picnic. A few hours in the park can be had.
Nobels Fredssenter (Nobel Peace Centre)
One of the famous buildings in the city which is known worldwide is the Nobel Peace Centre near Aker Brygge. This former railway station building hosts the Nobel Peace Prize every December to honour those during the previous twelve months in various subjects of the world like Science. There is a small charge to check out the museum here but as it’s the only Nobel Peace Centre in the world, it’s worth a visit.
Of course there are plenty of other things to see and do in Oslo which are worth checking out but it does come with a price. There are places where cheap eats and drinks can be had (for Norwegian standard) but it’s a case of looking in the side streets and hoping for the best. We are not saying you shouldn’t visit Oslo because visitors may return home bankrupt, no way, Oslo is one of those cities which is pleasant to walk around, enjoy the local culture and cuisine and has some charm to the place. It is one of the most peaceful cities in Europe we have come across and locals are always willing to give a smile and a warm welcome. If you have the chance to visit, then go. Even if it is a day trip.
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