A Weekend in Oslo

March 3, 2017

Oslo combines the perfect mix of rugged nature and Scandinavian flair for the contemporary. It may not be as famous as other European capitals, such as Paris or Amsterdam, but it has its own enrapturing charm and vibrancy.

Modern architecture decorates the waterfront like sculpted icebergs, while the city centre is graced with historic churches, palaces, and museums. Whether your passion is great outdoors, or just looking at the outdoors from a cosy café, with your hands wrapped round a warming mug of hot chocolate, Oslo offers a great place to visit.

 

Explore the waterfront

If Sydney has taught us anything it’s that a decent opera house can really put you on the map. Arriving in Oslo by ferry gives you a good opportunity to catch a glimpse of Oslo’s own stunning Opera House which opened in 2008, rising out of the harbour like a stray glacier. You can also see the stylish apartment blocks and museums of the Tjuvholmen area, part of the grand redevelopments going on all along the city’s waterfront.

The incredibly modern and angular Opera House is both striking and beautiful, providing visitors with a playground of terraces from which to view the city and the harbour. Monica Bonvinci’s huge glass and steel sculpture She Lies, can also be seen from the terrace, gently spinning with the tides. Even if you’re not attending a performance, take a tour of the foyer inside. It boasts vast windows and undulating oak walls, there are even guided tours if you fancy seeing behind the scenes.

On the other side of the waterfront is another of Oslo’s cultural and architectural jewels, Astrup Fearnley Museet, designed by acclaimed architect, Renzo Piano. This gallery is home to an exciting and varied collection of contemporary art, set beneath the glass rooves, the natural light drawing out the truest beauty of the art, with canals, shops, and restaurants.

 

Discover the Norse 

Once you’ve had your fill of modern architecture, you can visit one of Norway’s most popular attractions, the Norsk Folkemuseum. This open air museum brings together an amazing collection of 17th and 18th century traditional Norse buildings, from barns and farmhouses to the distinctive wooden stave church. Farm animals roam freely, giving a sense of authenticity to the experience, with horse and cart ride available. You can see a wealth of Norwegian folk art, traditional clothing, toys and other interesting artefacts in the exhibition hall. Definitely an attraction to save for good weather.

For another aspect of ancient Norse culture, head to the Vikingskipshuset where you can see two impressive Viking longships, Oseberg and Gokstad. These ships were preserved as part of a traditional Viking noble burial, and feature elaborate dragon and snake carvings. It’s worth noting that Viking burial customs never included setting fire to boats and pushing them out to sea, which is why these stunning ships can still be found so well preserved where they were buried with their illustrious owners.

After you’ve had your fill of Vikings, enjoy the best in modern Norse cuisine with fresh local ingredients whipped into deliciousness at hos Thea.

 

Enjoy Oslo’s elegance

In the middle of Slottsparken, one of Oslo’s loveliest parks, is the Royal Palace. Home to the Norwegian royal family, in the summer you can take guided tours when its occupants are away. The park surrounding the palace is rich with stately trees and pathways, perfect for a peaceful stroll.

If visiting the palace has put you in a regal mood, head over the to the Grand Café further back along Karl Johans gate at the Grand Hotel, and enjoy contemporary Nordic food.

Consider Oslo’s impressive art collection at the National Gallery, nestled among the elegant buildings of the university and opposite the grandiose Historical Museum, where you’ll find the country’s best collection of art, including Edvard Munch’s best-known painting, The Scream.

For one of Norway’s most extraordinary artistic expressions, visit Vigeland Park, a stunning sculpture park featuring a staggering collection of over 200 statues by Norway’s most popular sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. His work features an array of human figures from all walks of life, arranged in vivid poses and scenes in this formally laid out park.

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