When I think of Norway I think of strength and beauty.
The city of Oslo is a true example of this.
From old to new, not just in architecture but from a background steeped in history and tradition which is still celebrated today.
Norway’s relationship and appreciation for the simple things such as nature and laid back lifestyle is equally balanced with its modernistic buzz of the the city.
From a young age, the mysticism of Norway has always drawn me in, from its uniquely beautiful landscape to Nordic folklore and music scene.
Despite being a metropolitan city, Norway’s cultural past is still very prevalent, even without having to look very far.
Oslo’s Viking past can still be admired and is sure to trigger a little bit of your inner Pagan roots.
I’m sure will you will fall in love with Oslo’s charm just as much as I did.
Even though I didn’t get to see everything on the itinerary, the intent was not to be just a ‘guide’ but to share with you what I enjoyed and learned.
(However I’m putting together of list of alternatives things to see and do for next time, which makes for the perfect excuse to come back.)
Fistly, get yourself an Oslo Pass
I purchased mine on the second day. (Everything on day one was free)
The Oslo Pass includes free transportation operated by any NSB and Ruter within zones 1 and 2 of the city (Train, metro, tram, boat and bus) including the ferry to Bygdøy.
The Pass also includes free entry to over 30 attractions, museums and even discounts on restaurants. Saving you a small fortune against what you would pay separately. (and hassle)
Since there’s are already a bunch of guides about the Oslo Pass, I will leave a link to the official website here.
If you’re planning a trip for a few days then I highly recommended you get yourself a pass, we purchased the 48 hour passes.
*Just bare in mind that the Oslo Pass does not include airport transfers. I have included some information about this at the end.
Overall, Easy, convenient and no fuss.
Alrighty then lets begin.
Here are some of our highlights in Oslo.
On the morning of the first day we decided to start early and focused our attention to a few of the main architectural attractions. First stop being Akershus Fortress and surrounding grounds.
Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle built around 1290 by King Haakon V and served as the residence and protection for the Norwegian Royal family. Over time the fortress has also been used as a military base and prison.
Nowadays Akershus Castle is still used for military space but also open to the public. Inside you can visit the Norwegian Armed Forces museum.
The beautiful grounds which surround Akershsus Fortress are certainly worth the stroll. Offering stunning views of Oslofjord and the harbour.
Along with many other families in the area, this was the perfect spot for us to enjoy a light breakfast which we prepared earlier.
It was amazing to just sit and take it all in, watching the boats glide past whilst we enjoyed the scenery surrounding us. We dropped on lucky with such a bright day, it didn’t feel like late September.
For late lunch we visited Mathallen. You can’t come to Oslo and not check out the atmosphere of this place.
Mathallen is a popular food hall famous for its wide selection of unique international cuisine and traditional Norwegian dishes.
As you can see from the photo above, Mathallen is also a market. Selling anything from alcohol to chocolate.
Although a tad expesnive the quality is top notch! I promise you.
Last up for the day one was Oslo Theatre, connecting land and sea, an important cultural landmark.
Designed to reflect the landscape and modern city. Oslo Opera house certainly makes a statement with it’s grand reflective glass and marble exterior.
One thing we found out is that the Opera House is one of few buildings where you can walk up the exterior and admire the views from the rooftop.
It’s unique ramp-like style allows for large numbers of people to sit and enjoy a beautiful sunset by the Fjord, which is what me and Michael did.
However, during late fall and winter just be sure to bring a warm jacket and umbrella, the winds do kick up from time to time.
As you can tell from my struggle below.
Today was all about exploring the museums over at Bygdøy (also known as the Museum Peninsular)
It soon became very clear just how much there was to see, so we do recommend you dedicate a whole day exploring the museums.
Taking the ferry over to Bygdøy
To get there could only mean one thing, a Ferry across the beautiful Oslo Fjord.
The ferry ride to Bygdøy takes around 10-15 minutes and greets you with stunning views.
Once arriving at Bygdøy, you will be signposted towards the museums. Just a quick five minute walk through the residential streets.
Where to go.
The Norwegian Folk Museum
This Norwegain Folk Museum is a must for any of you history lovers out there. Here you will learn all about the history and lifestyle of our ancient Nordic ancestors.
Crammed with original pieces and excavations, the museums holds a variety of exhibits including the day to day life of a Viking age household, items which include clothing to cooking tools and hand crafted bronze jewellery.
Other topics include the myths and legends of Scandinavian folklore, Sami Culture and a timeline of how Norwegain society has developed over the ages.
*Tip, if you get hungry there is an onsite cafe/restaurant in the courtyard.
Did you know that the Norwegain Folk Museum is the worlds first outdoor Museum?
Outside is a wide area dedicated to showcasing a collection of (reconstructed) builds from the middle ages right through to the 20th century.
The area is split into different eras and regions in time and set out like a walkable timeline made up of a of mini ‘villages’.
Not only do you get to experience a beautiful walking tour of Norway’s past but the natural beauty of the greenery which surrounds the museum is simply stunning. See?
The most popular attraction (and Michael’s personal favourite) is the Stave church. Originally from Gol (Hallingdal region, Buskerud county) the Stave church was reconstructed and moved to Bygdøy and is now serves as a museum and an important piece of Norway’s preserved history.
Back in the early 90’s members of the Norwegian black metal scene began a series of arson attacks against Christian churches. Within a period of four years there had been almost 50 church burnings.
Whether you’re religious or not, you can’t ignore the beautiful craftsmanship which goes into these churches.
For me this was the ultimate highlight of my trip to Oslo, the Viking ship Museum. A bucket list destination I’d been looking forward to visiting for years.
To come face to face and experience some of Norway’s most beautifully preserved Viking ships was a tremendous moment for me.
I felt I was home, as if I’d come back full circle and returned to my Nordic homeland.
Visiting the ships was my personal way of honouring my Scandinavian ancestors.
If you’re only here for a day or two, please visit the museums of Bygdøy.
It truly is a magnificent experience.
Sadly this was our last day, so we decided to keep it easy and explore more of the city centre. By this point our feet were aching after spending hours at the museums yesterday.
Totally worth it!
Karl Johansgate is serves as the main street stretches through the city centre and all the way up to the Royal Palace.
A bustling shopping area filled with lots of restaurants and designer stores.
Me and Michael particularly enjoyed the walk up towards the Royal Palace, enjoying small stops along the way to check out the National Gallery, Parliament buildings and greenery around us.
Another gorgeous day.
Built by Karl Johan, a 19th century Swedish King who ruled Norway after Sweden took Norway from Denmark and the home to the Norwegian Royal family during winter.
One thing we noticed as we made our way to the Palace was how walkable the grounds were.
For a palace which houses the Royal Family you would expect to see large gates and high security.
But here there were no railings or barriers to be seen, just a solitary guard manning the front entrance to the building, that was it.
In comparison to other palaces (for example Buckingham Palace, in London) it is simple in design. Not the usual pompously designed building with fancy embellished and statues.
It was a peaceful location but would pick up momentarily for the changing of the guard.
Lorrys traditional restaurant.
Michael had previously looked it up specifically as it was one of the few traditional eateries where he could try the national dish, fårikål.
As a pescetarian I opted for fishy alterantives. You can read more about the Scandinavian dishes we tried here.
Vigeland Sculpture Park
Frogner Park (also known as Vigeland) is a park and regular spot for both tourists and families to gather.
A must place to enjoy the art within this natural setting.
Throughout the park you will see beautifully unique art installations.
Created by Gustav Vigeland a Norwegain artist, was commissioned by the City of Olso to create life like human statues (mainly made from granite and bronze) which depict Norwegians in everyday life.
Well… maybe not this one below in particular.
Located at the top of the hill is the Monolith (Monolit) the grand heart and center of Vigelands pieces. Surrounded by 36 smaller statues which is said to represent the circle of life and unity.
Visiting Vigeland was the ideal way to relax and reflect upon our busy few days.
The park is a peaceful escape from city life.
Lastly, something quirky
The last location I wanted to include is a famous record store called Noseblod Records, originally known as Helvete.
It was the record shop owned by Mayhem guitar player/songwriter Øystein Aarseth better known as Euronymous and the central hub of activity for the original Norwegian Black Metal scene.
A regular meeting place for Varg Vikernes (ThuleanPerspective on YouTube) of Burzum, the band Emperor, and Darkthrone and other bands of the Norwegian Black Metal community.
Only carrying music of the most extreme bands of the time, this shop and it’s infamous basement was the place where the church burnings of the 90s were conspired.
Here you will find an abundance of extremely rare tapes, vinyls, CDs and shirts from all across the extreme music spectrum, and the infamous basement where the original Black Metal community gathered.
I would just like to add that even though me and Michael are fans of Black Metal music, we so not condone any acts of arson or disrespect to anyone and their religious beliefs.
We simply found the history of Norway’s extreme music scene interesting to learn about.
So folks…. I really hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing about it.
Oslo for us was a truly fascinating experience and highly recommend anybody passing through Europe to check it out.
Below I will include some useful tips on getting to and from the city.
Once again thankyou for sticking around and I hope to connect with you soon.
Happy travels xo
Getting to the city from the airport
Oslo Lufthavn (Gardermoen) Serves as Oslo’s main international Airport and has frequent transport systems which makes it easy to travel between the Airport and City.
*Please note that the Oslo Pass does not cover transportation to and from the Airport.
Purely for efficiency and price, my recommendations are:
Flytoget Shuttle Trains Offer direct routes every 10 – 20 minutes between Lufthavn (Gardermoen) and Oslo city centre. This is the fastest and most efficient way to travel and only takes 19 minutes. Tickets cost NOK 160 each way and run between 05.30am and 00.50am.
NSB Trains Provide a frequent service between Oslo S (Main Station) and Lufthavn (Gardermoen) Airport and takes approximately 25 minutes each way. A one way ticket costs NOK 101. Hours of operation run between 05.54am and 11.54pm