"Oslo for Beginners" Oslo by Ekaterinburg
Oslo Travel Guide: 2,977 reviews and 7,236 photos
When I booked flights to Oslo, I realised that it was one of the few places in Europe I knew absolutely nothing about. VT member Titabell had posted some interesting tips and videos and I checked those out again along with many, many other VT pages, the Rough Guide and some novels set in Oslo by Anne Holt and Jo Nesbo.
The consensus seemed to be that what Oslo lacked in major sights, it made up for in things to do and the chance to access some typically Norwegian landscapes via the Oslo Fjord and trips into the surrounding hills. Having been there I would say this is a fairly accurate summing up but of course every city will mean different things to different people.
At first I was disappointed. Like Berlin, Oslo is choc-a-block with ugly, modern office blocks, often interspersed between graceful older buildings and this was a big turn off for me. Our first morning, in constant rain, it seemed that this was a very underwhelming capital city but a sunny afternoon and trip across the fjord to Bygdoy made a big difference. Returning, through the elegant western suburbs and strolling down Karl Johan's gate the city came to life and into its own. After dinner and a long wander round Grunerlokka, Oslo had definitely begun to grow on us. Just as well we got to experience that afternoon and evening of golden, intense sunshine because apart from one other dry morning, it rained for the rest of our trip. Until the day we left of course, when the sun split the stones all the way to Torp.
The weather definitely influenced what I saw and didn't see. The longed for trip around the fjord didn't happen, I didn't get to Akershus Fortress, everytime I came near Aker Brygge it was wet and a downpour made us abandon our visit to Vigeland Sculpture Park. So far so disappointing and worst of all I didn't get to Toyen to The Munch Museum and Kampen Park.
So what did I see/do/experience ? The short answer is a lot. Some of the things I'd planned on and lots of others just happened along the way.
These were some of my favourites :
Grunerlokka, Anker brua, Hausmanns gate,Akerselva river- these were the areas round my hotel, on the east of Oslo.
Karl Johans gate and surrounding streets - National Gallery, National Theatre, University of Oslo, streets and squares I liked.
Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace , Ibsen Museum, Frogner's streets and parks - tram and bus rides through this area on the west of Oslo.
Trips on the T-bahn up to Frognerseteren, in the hills above Oslo and to the lake at Sognsvann - miraculously, it stayed dry for these two trips.
Old Oslo - Christiania torv, old town hall, the buildings along Radhusgata, and Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art.
Oslo S ( central train station) and the area around it.
Oslo Opera House
Stave church at the Folks Museum
Around Damstredet - the first place that I fell in love with in Oslo
Lots of other things and places appealed to me in passing. As we had a 72-hour Oslo Pass we zig-zagged backwards and forwards and often without any destination in mind, from end to end of the city. The public transport system is second to none and we never waited more than a few minutes for a tram. This is a way of seeing a city that I particularly enjoy not to mention a chance to rest aching legs and backs while being constanrly diverted.
I couldn't see myself rushing back to Oslo but if for some reason the opportunity arose, then I'd go very happily. This kind of sums up my feelings about the place : it didn't excite me but there was always something interesting to do or see and some parts, especially on the east side, I would have loved to spend more time in. Overall, definitely worth a visit.
I haven't added opening times or prices to any of the museums/galleries listed in the tips below as these are subject to change. Check the website contact details.
Oslo may not have triumphal arches or ancient monuments but it has a portfolio of galleries and museums that are world class. Perhaps this is because the frequent rainfall makes indoor diversions a necessity rather than a luxury but whatever the reason, they are absolutely outstanding. I had shortlisted six but only managed four because we spent such a long time in each. The photo shows the Stave Church reconstructed in the Norsk Folkemuseum at Bygdoy.
Oslo is a small city in a vast hinterland that incorporates some of the classic Norwegian land and seascapes. Forests, fjords, islands and lakes are all accessible on public transport within the city limits. This gives a whole extra dimension to the concept of Oslo as a city break and the chance to see some of the countryside should not be missed. Two trips to the end of the line on the T-Bahn, are all you need for your very own Norwegian Wood experience and I promise you that the song will go round in your head for days afterwards.
Consciously or unconsciously we all absorb prejudices and for some reason I expected Norwegians to be reserved and uncommunicative. Starting ( and finishing) with two very friendly bus drivers, I couldn't have been more wrong and we had lots of interactions with very pleasant and helpful people . Add to that the fact that Oslo is an easygoing and predominantly safe city and you have another very good reason for visiting.
- Pros:Lots to do, friendly people, excellent public transport
- Cons:Rains a lot and is very expensive
- In a nutshell:You won't die of excitement here but you'll have a good time.
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