How many chances do you get to travel to Norway? If you’re like me, you aspire to experience a diverse range of cultures, and so each place when traveling could be your sole opportunity to explore what that country has to offer.
Let’s start with Oslo. Known as the capital and most populous city of Norway, Oslo is likely the city that you’ll be flying into from your home country. Even if your final destination lies among the Lofoten islands up north or in the backcountry with the sheep (yes, lots of these woolly mammals!), Oslo is well worth your time.
Oslo is tucked among the fjords of Eastern Norway, not too far from the Swedish border. Within the city you’ll find an array of different cultures and cuisines. Having lived in the Boston area for some time, I felt surprisingly at home in Oslo. The city felt relatable – the water residing only a short distance away from any particular borough, and restaurants and shops scattered throughout a city of similar size.
Although our stay in Oslo was brief, we were able to capture the feel of the city by exploring some of its highlights:
Located right on the water, this seaport was my favorite part of Oslo. This area flaunts Norway’s beautiful modern architecture, with uniquely designed buildings lining the pier. A number of apartment complexes, restaurants, coffee shops, and ice cream vendors make their home here. The seafood is fresh, the people are lively, and the view of the Oslofjord is one of a kind.
From Aker Brygge, you can take a ferry to any of the surrounding islands in the Oslofjord. We opted for Hovedøya, which is a small island only 5-10 minutes away. We were greeted with beaches and grassy fields where families picnicked, and further along the path we discovered monestary ruins from the Middle Ages. A nature reserve also resides on the island and this is where we experienced our first sheep sighting. There are a few trails that can be hiked as well, where you will discover cannon batteries from the early 1800s, when the island belonged to the Norwegian army.
The city center has a vibrant atmosphere, with one long street, Karl Johans gate, that takes you through it all. We enjoyed a few local beers at Tostrup Uteservering, an outdoor bar across from the building home to Norway’s Parliament, with a great view of tourists and locals wandering about. Near sunset, we were amazed at the spectacular view of the Royal Palace about a half mile down the street. Exploring the streets throughout Oslo’s city center is sure to be a sight with the abundance of hotels, shops, and buildings of various architectural styles.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park is quite fascinating. As the world’s largest sculpture park, it’s difficult not to be impressed. More than 200 sculptures reside in the park, all donated by Gustav Vigeland to the city of Oslo. The park’s construction began in the 1920s and was completed by 1943 when Vigeland was no longer alive, but the design was consistent with his vision. If you visit, you’ll notice all sculptures are without clothes. The theme of this park is the circle of life – the sculptures displayed are meant to be timeless, allowing the audience to feel a sense of connection.
Now that you’ve been exposed to a brief overview of what Oslo has to offer, I hope it makes your list of future travels! There are many places in which I feel that one trip is enough for me to get a glimpse of the culture and experience the vibe, but I have a feeling that I’ll return to this beautiful city one day.
If you’re interested in learning more about Oslo, check out www.visitoslo.com.