Oslo tourist attractions.
Between the Oslofjord and the forests lies the Norwegian capital. Oslo has a special combination of city life and easy access to the great outdoors.
When most people think of capital cities, the first images that tend to spring to mind usually involve urban sprawl and gritty lifestyles that lack any sort of connection to nature. Up in Scandinavia, however, that’s just not how they roll, with the great outdoors forming an integral part of the culture and philosophy. So, instead of building cities as a means of conquering nature, the Nordic people have designed theirs to blend in with it, and the Norwegian capital is the perfect example of this.
Set on the banks of the Oslofjord (which is in fact a lake, not a fjord), Oslo is one of the sparsest capital cities in Europe, despite being one of the largest in terms of size. This provides lots of space for nature to thrive in the very heart of the metropolis, and it’s this element of Nordic design that permeates all aspects of the local culture.
Outdoor activities like kayaking, skiing, hiking and cycling are just as popular within the capital as they are in the countryside, and the stylish simplicity of modern Norwegian art and architecture also seem to mirror this love of an uncluttered way of life.
Yet that’s not to say that Oslo is all rugged and unrefined, with the city being home to a wonderful collection of sophisticated art galleries and fascinating museums. The National Gallery, for example, contains an array of works by leading Norwegian artists, including Edvard Munch’s iconic painting The Scream. There’s also the Viking Ship Museum, where visitors can learn all about how one of the world’s most mythologised civilisation lived, while the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum provides an exciting look at the way skiing has influences Norwegian life.
The popularity of Scandinavian cuisine is also at an all-time high these days, and Oslo is home to no fewer than three Michelin-starred restaurants. Among them is Maaemo, which uses only organic local ingredients to create traditional regional dishes, and is the only restaurant in Scandinavia to hold two Michelin stars.
Oslo’s new architecture
Oslo has become a capital of contemporary architecture. Recent years have seen the addition of modern landmarks by world-class architects, the emergence of a brand new skyline, and the onset of city development projects that transform old areas and create new ones.
Top 10 attractions in Oslo
Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park
The 80-acre Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park in western Oslo features 212 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. Every year over one million locals and tourists visit the park, which is open around the clock daily.
The Norwegian Opera & Ballet
The marble and glass building in Bjørvika features award-winning architecture and world-class opera and ballet performances. The Opera House is open to the public, and walking on the roof is a popular activity.
The famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump was recently rebuilt. The new state-of-the-art ski jump features the world’s oldest Ski Museum and an observation deck with panoramic views of the city.
Oslo’s rich history is on display in the grand buildings and museums at this 13th-century fortress in the city centre. The fortress is also a popular recreational area with great harbour views.
Viking Ship Museum
The Viking Ship Museum presents Viking ship discoveries from Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune as well as other finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. The museum displays the world’s two best-preserved wooden Viking ships built in the 9th century, as well as small boats, sledges, a cart with exceptional ornamentation, implements, tools, harness, textiles and household utensils.
Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures is found in the National Gallery, established in 1837. The gallery’s central attractions include Edvard Munch’s The Scream and Madonna, and paintings by Cézanne and Manet. The permanent exhibition shows highlights from the collection and national icons from the romantic period until the mid-1900s. Also on display are works by international painters and sculptors, including the French impressionists. In the Fairy Tale Room you meet princesses, trolls and other fairy tale creatures from the museum’s extensive collections. In the new Drawing Room you can experiment with soft and hard pencils. To inspire you, Gustav Vigeland’s sculpture Mother and Child (1907) has been placed in the middle of the room.
Natural History Museum
Located in eastern Oslo, the Natural History Museum complex houses the Zoological Museum and the Geological Museum. Surrounding the museum buildings is the Botanical Garden, with 7,500 plant species from around the world.
TusenFryd features over 30 attractions, including several rollercoasters, children’s rides and a water park. Open from April to October, Norway’s biggest amusement park is located just 20 minutes south of Oslo.
The Fram Museum in Oslo houses the world’s most famous polar ship, Fram. Visitors can go on board the ship and see how Norway’s polar explorers lived and survived in the coldest places on earth over 100 years ago.
Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
Norsk Folkemuseum, as it’s called in Norwegian, is situated at Bygdøy in Oslo and is one of the oldest and largest open air museums in the world. It is open all year, and consists of 155 historic buildings from all over Norway, including its own old town and a stave church from around 1250 AD.