"Saagar's Oslo" Oslo by Saagar
Oslo Travel Guide: 2,982 reviews and 7,247 photos
Oslo is the capital of Norway and has about 465 000 people within the city limits, and about 700 000 if you count in the immediate Oslo-dependent communities surrounding the city. It is the seat of government and most national institutions, such as parliament, the royal palace, ministries, the main media concerns, many business headquarters, and functions as a transport hub etc. Oslo doesn't have a proper business centre that gets deserted after 4pm, people live in the city centre; in fact it is a very liveable city for an urbanite.
Interestingly, you do not find Norwegians being very proud of their capital; in fact you will find sentiments going in the other direction. Even national politicians are actively trying to rip apart the city and moving state institutions out of town. The state tax and financial redistribution system fleeces Oslo of funds. You find this sentiment being rooted in underlying settlement traditions here in Norway, favouring the rural origin of most Osloites, and our general scare of power concentration.
Oslo may not be famous for anything much beyond a ski jump (weeeell), the Nobel Peace prize (weeell, that was actually a Swedish leftover), a large bomb blast that destroyed the cetral offices of the government in July 2011, some museums, galleries and bits and pieces of architecture (well, OK), but it is certainly infamous for being the most expensive city on earth. Nothing to boast about, but do not let this fact scare you away. Statistics is like that sometimes, just keep in mind the story of the statistician who drowned in a lake with an average depth of 20 centimetres! There are ways and means to discover Oslo and her surroundings on a modest budget. And there is much to see and do on a budget as well.
Oslo is the third-most northerly capital in the world and as such a blistery cold city during the winter. However, it is not a proper winter city, given it's coastal location. To find real winter and good snow you will need to get up and beyond the city rim, and that's easy by metro or bus. Smart people do not visit Oslo for her city life until after Easter, when things start to warm up, but then May and June is the perfect time to see the Osloites emerge from hibernation. It is indeed a lively spring and early summer city.
I lived in Oslo for five years and explored the city quite thoroughly from both a resident's an tourist's point of view. There certainly wasn't a lack of things to do. As I still live within an hour's travel of most of Oslo's sights and sites I keep till making use of the opportunities of Oslo. For such a small city Oslo actually has a lot to offer. I wouldn't call Oslo right-out attractive, but there are niches and pockets that constitute an interesting mosaic that eventually constitutes Oslo. If you add Oslo as a springboard for day excursions into the hinterland; more cities, fjords and hills, Oslo really has much to offer.
Statistics of Oslo: Statistics
Skiing and snow conditions Skiing
Maps of Oslo (and elsewhere): Oslo map
Oslo's museums: Museums
Basic info about Oslo: Wikipedia info and web links
Official visitors' information in English: Oslo tourism portal
Photographs/maps of all Oslo's streets A-Z (Å): Oslo's streets
About Oslo Municipality in English: Oslo
Cultural events calendar for Oslo: Events
The light and weather in Oslo just now? Check the web camera: Webcam in Oslo
Transport information Oslo: Trafikanten
You can easily circumvent Oslo if you want to go elsewhere in Norway. Norway has several international gateways. However, given that Oslo is the capital, certain key institutions, services and sights are located here, and for transportation you might transit at least... Norway being a small country in terms of population, most national happenings of sorts are also concentrated to Oslo. So the big concerts, key festivals, sports events, political events, cultural venues, exhibitions etc. are likely to find their place in Oslo.
Oslo has a mix of youngish hip urban scene, old brown pubs, some good shopping, traditionalfood at its best, ethnic and "new" crossover food, and a lively immigrant scene. But it is really hard to find a single uniting element to explain Oslo. The name derives from a creek (Lo) that actually divides the city in two - east and west; a division that carries a distinction to this day of separating the city between the posher west side and less well-to-do east side. For me personally it remains a mixed place without too much of a unified city spirit and drive, unlike that of Bergen, Trondheim or Tromsø. The city is divided east-west by class, mood and character, the west being the villa-white district. There is a continual gentrification of the East of Oslo as well, Grunerlokka district being an example. Immigrants concentrate to certain areas, but spread out somewhat in the 3rd generation. The city comes together on Karl Johan street and Aker Brygge harbour front, but apart from this Oslo is a city of cultural pockets.
The industrial age is petering out and vanishing from Oslo's river valleys and Grorud valley (east), being rapidly replaced by highly productive post-industrial "competence" and "knowledge"-based businesses. This in turn appears to create a focus on leisure activities. On a bright summer day you will find the Oslo Fjord is full of white sails, and the forest trails are frequented by hikers. During winter there seems not to be a more popular place to be than the hundereds of kilometers of groomed ski trails starting at Oslo's urban edge.
If there is a factor that is unique for Oslo, it is exactly this easy access to forests and the Fjord. By public transport, including the subway/metro system you can be out hiking, picking berries, skiing, fishing, skinny-dipping in a lake 20 minutes from the downtown area - and nearly all directions. Without this peculiar access to the outdoors, Oslo would have missed one of its main identifying characteristics.
Visitors are increasingly coming to Oslo for week-end breaks, enabled by ferries and cheaper airlines as well as an emerging identity of Oslo being Scandinavia's party town. With about half of Copenhagen's inhabitants, Oslo has double the actual amount of bars, pubs and eateries than does the City of the Queen, Copenhagen. A city-break to Oslo should be planned well ahead in order not to waste time on ticketing for concerts, rummaging around the city to find hotel/restaurants/museums etc. Do create an itinerary for yourself by means of internet sources such as VT and visitoslo.com. Oslo is becoming popular as a snow play and
skiing city as well, with very short distances from the hotels downtown and to well-maintained cross-country ski tracks and alpine ski runs.
More commonly perhaps, is the individual or family visitor who is transiting Oslo to go elsewhere in the country and just wants to pick up the main sights. To avoid frustrations, leave the car parked somewhere and use public transport. Oslo has a Swiss-cheese underground, while on the surface there are seemingly only one-way streets. You will find most of the interesting places in and outside Oslo by easy and fairly cheap means of public transportation.
As part of a tourist tour group, you will probably be whisked around and out of Oslo, catching a glimpse of the key sights without knowing what you have missed; however, the main goodies of Norway are not in Oslo, but elsewhere. This is also my opinion - Oslo? She's ok, but never mind.
For some strange reason, the tiger is the symbol of Oslo; Oslo is called "Tigerbyen" - The City of the Tiger, but definitely not competing with Singapore's lion status.... Perhaps it is because of the urban agressiveness that rural people felt they met here? Like an encounter with an urban tiger? Certainly not a compliment. Not too far off target, perhaps, but then nearly everybody in Oslo identify themselves as coming from/having roots in another place and often rural. Like much in Oslo, the tiger here is an anachronism. There is a very popular big tiger statue placed outside Oslo's central railway station. It is a very common meeting place: "see you at the tiger!"
You do find poverty in Norway concentrated to Oslo, but no slum-like areas. Drug users, beggars and homeless seem to converge on this city, and that is in fact quite true. There is no law against drug fixing, begging or similar public offence style attitude, thus it has become a free for all sort of place; especially well-organised Eastern European beggars are prolific in Oslo. Think of it; you can fix a heroin shot on a side walk in Oslo, but you cannot drink a bottle of beer!!!! Does Oslo need a bit of update or what?
On the other hand, crime rates are very low, mostly petty theft and pickpocketing at central places, station crowds etc. that could bother tourists, and let me add, alcohol-induced rowdyness at taxi stands after pubs/bars/night clubs' closing hours.
However, the Tiger City has a definitely mellow side; you find chic and lax clothing styles side by side, a proliferation of eateries and bars, an international outlook and sofistication that goes well with sitting on the edge of the harbour pier, fishing today's dinner. Oslo has a lot of space and variation.
- Pros:A niche for everyone.
- Cons:Not a united city spirit.
- In a nutshell:A city which you love, hate or just drop in and hurry away.
The Wyller ski run is a part of the Tryvann ski centre, but has a separate access down in Sørkedalen valley. It has the... more travel advice
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