“ City: Oslo / Country: Norway / World Region: Europe „
Although we knew beforehand how expensive visiting Oslo is, my partner and I raced to Ryanair's website when we learned that a new route was being opened from our local airport, Newcastle, to Oslo Rygge; a few years ago we had an excellent selection of destinations from that airport but we didn't manage to visit all of them before the flights were axed, so this time we wanted to get in at the beginning. We'd previously visited Bergen, on Norway's west coast, so we had an idea of what to expect but there were a couple of attractions in Oslo that we were particularly keen on visiting.
There are three main airports serving Oslo but two of them - Rygge to the south, and Torp to the north - are about an hour from the city. Express coaches from both airports drop you in the city centre and are timed to coincide with Ryanair flight arrivals and departures. The more expensive airlines, such as Norwegian, fly to Oslo Airport. It cost us more for a return ticket on the Rygge Express bus service than our return flights.
Like everything else, accommodation is expensive and Oslo has a reputation for having a dearth of hotel rooms; this keeps prices high and stifles competition. We stayed in a hostel to keep costs down but it was still relatively expensive.
Oslo has a brilliant public transport system that is easy to use with frequent services and clean vehicles. On our first day we managed to get around by foot and the city centre is pretty compact so you can get around a large number of sights without needing to resort to buses, trams or the underground Metro. On our second day we wanted to use a scheduled ferry service so we bought a day ticket which prompted us to visit the Holmenkollen ski jump which is two bus rides from the centre; a one day ticket for adults costs 80 Kroner (correct in July 2010).
The first thing we noticed about Oslo was how multicultural it is; with its relatively modest size you could forget that it's a capital city but the racial diversity of its population is a reminder. This cultural diversity is good for budget travelers who should head for areas such as Grünerløkka and Grønland to find cheaper eating places (these are within easy walking distance of the centre).
Practically everyone speaks English and most menus are in English and Norwegian; Norwegian is incredibly close to English (it looks to me like a mix of English and German) and most signs are easy to understand.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Although the centre of Oslo is quite compact, the main sights are spread out and we found it was better to plan a route rather than just wander. Karl Johan Gate is the pedestrianised main shopping street and more shopping streets lead off it. Although shopping doesn't interest me much (especially at Norwegian prices) we found ourselves on this street several times: at one end is the red brick cathedral, a little further up is the Norwegian Parliament building the Storting, and at the end is the Slottspark and Royal Palace. The street is broken up by a number of elegant squares, each containing fountains and statues (I think there must be more fountains in Oslo than any other European city!).
If you head up Karl Johan Gate and turn left onto Roald Amundsen Gate, this brings you to the wonderful City Hall building: you must view the building from the waterside as well as the landside because the plaza in front of City Hall is really magnificent with it's pools and fountains and sculptures. Just behind it, across the road, is the ferry quay for boats out to the islands in the Oslo Fjord, and the peninsular of Bygdoy where several interesting museums are located. Torn between the Kon Tiki Museum that tells the story of Thor Heyerdahl's impressive voyage to South America on his balsa wood raft, and the Fram Museum that displays the famous ship of the same name used in voyages to the frozen north by Nansen and later Amundsen, we chose the latter but would have visited both had we been staying another day.
Just over the road from the quayside is the Nobel Peace Prize Building which holds exhibitions throughout the year. Also on this side of town is the Akershus Fortress and this site contains several worthwhile museums and other notable attractions. We arrived just in time for the "Changing of the Guard"; the fortress is still in use for military purposes today but visitors can wander around freely. We spent a morning at the excellent museum that covers the Norwegian resistance Movement in World War Two.
After spending an hour strolling round the beautiful Botanic Gardens, we then visited the neighbouring Edvard Munch Museum, dedicated to the famous Norwegian artist whose best known work "The Scream" is on display there (well, one of the two versions). Although I was pleased to finally see this work of art, I was more impressed by other works from this fairly extensive collection.
Even if you don't actually go inside (and you are permitted to), a trip to the waterside Opera House is a must. It's a very new and modern building that slopes down into the water on one side. You can walk up the slopes and almost onto the roof of the building to take in some great views across the city skyline and, in the other direction, across the Oslo Fjord.
You don't have to go far to find some fantastic countryside and set amongst it is what is reputed to be Norway's most popular visitor attraction (I was surprised to learn this although it was quite busy when I was there), the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and the adjoining ski museum. It's a two bus journey from the centre of Oslo but it's worth it. It's not necessary to go into the museum, for which there is an admission charge, because, due to the current reconstruction work for next year's world championships, you can get a good look at the jump from the side. However, only by paying the charge, can you take the lift to the top and see what the ski jumpers see before they take off. We even paid 50 Kroner each (which was surprisingly cheap) to go in the ski simulator: it's like a flight simulator but on the screen you get a skiers eye view of a downhill piste and get to experience the sensation of careering down it at speeds of up to 130 kilometres and hour, as well as experiencing a simulation of a ski jump.
If you do like shopping then there are plenty of opportunities to indulge. There are lots of places selling the sorts of stylish homewares that Scandinavia is renowned for. A good area for shopping is the northern part of Grünerløkka where there are some one-off boutiques and vintage clothing stores. On Karl Johan Gate the souvenir shops sell the same Norwegian knitwear, "amusing" troll items and Viking helmets; if you want to take home something fairly cheap but still quite "Norwegian" drop into a supermarket for liquorice which comes in all kinds of varieties.
When it comes to eating you can save money by taking your main meal at lunchtime as most restaurants have what are described as "middag" specials which are usually better value. However, Himself always prefers to eat his main meal in the evening so we visited kebab cafes at lunchtime and had wraps (go to Habibba for the best ever falafel wraps!). One lunchtime we ate at a hotel restaurant we'd heard was good value but it was still pricy at 350 Kroner for two lunches and one soft drink.
In the evenings we stayed in the "ethnic" areas where we had a huge choice of restaurants. One evening we ate Indian, the next Eritrean. We'd have loved to have eaten some Norwegian seafood but we couldn't bring ourselves to pay those prices. Even in the Indian restaurant we managed to lop approximately £5 off the cost of each main course by going veggie.
As we had a fridge in our room, we would fill up our water bottles in the hotel and take them out for the day. Even a small bottle of water will set you back at least £2.50, usually more. We also bought beers in the supermarket and had a drink before going out to eat, and when we got back. If you have time, take your empties back to the supermarket and get the deposits back; this comes in the form of a ticket which you then hand in as part payment on other goods (in our case more liquorice).
Buying an Oslo Card is another good way of saving money and in retrospect we wished we had done that, at least for the day when we used public transport. We also could have got a discount on lunch and free museum entry at one museum, and reduced admission at the other, all on the same day. However, Oslo Cards are still costly and it's wise to consider what you'll use it for before you buy one. Oslo Cards can be bought at Tourist Information Centres and some hotels. (Museum entry varies between 50 and 80 Kroner)
I've barely scratched the surface here but I do intend to write in more detail about some of the places we visited. Due to the high costs, it's not, perhaps, the sort of place you'd do much sitting around soaking up the atmosphere in cafes and bars; however, if you are an active tourist and like to visit museums, galleries and landmarks, you are really spoiled for choice in Oslo. It's a relaxed city with plenty of green spaces and attractive squares with plenty of seating, and even on a Monday morning during rush hour, it wasn't at all hectic.
One of the problems - if you can call it a problem - for me was that there was just so much to do and not enough time to do it. I'd love to go back and see more but the high cost is a deterrent. Usually my research consists of a brief glance to see what there is to see and do but I would advise some decent planning for Oslo in order to save money: if you know in advance what you want to do, you'll be able to work out whether there is any financial benefit in buying an Oslo Card which does appear to have numerous offers attached to it.
We did have a really great time but we are realistic about the likelihood of returning and that's mainly due to cost. I can't fault Oslo for sights and things to do but the penny pincher within knows that Oslo is just too expensive to enjoy the way I like to spend my weekend breaks.
At the time of writing £10 is approximately 95 Kroner. (For ease we usually considered £10 to be 100 Kroner)
My friend and I stayed in Oslo two weekends ago (mid March) and flew with Ryanair (but thats another review!). We arrived in Oslo, Torp which is quite deceiving seeing as it's not actually in Oslo (however us Brits cant complain - it's the equivalent of Stansted being classed as London!). However that said, there were frequent buses and also a bus to a train station. We chose, however, to take a bus all the way into the centre of Oslo. That took approx 1 hr 50 mins for a reasonable 180 NOK (approx £20).
As mentioned before we went in Mid March and that is the equivalent of being in Britain in January, with the added guarantee of snow! It didn't snow whilst we were there but it was very cold and bitter. I'd recommend wearing a lot of warm clothing and some decent walking shoes!
That said, when things warm up in Oslo it's said to be very nice indeed with some added things to do such as getting a boat to the nearby Oslo Fjords. Sadly we were slightly too early as the first boats leave in Apr.
Things to do...
For only two nights and days I think we fitted quite a bit in. Firstly we had a good walk around the city and got a general feel for the layout - Oslo is quite a small city in my opinion and we found it very easy to find our way around and not get too lost too often!
On the first day we went on a tour guided bus tour which we managed to book at the Tourist Information centre (which was very informative). It cost approx 250 NOK and included a trip to the Viking Ship museum and a choice of the Fram museum, Kon Tiki and Maritime museum. We chose the Maritime museum because of the free tea offer but they do a 10 min beautiful film of the whole of Norway which I highly recommend. The Fram museum we went to afterwards (we paid extra) and it is VERY good. The Fram ship, if you didn't know, was a ship that went to the North Pole twice and, famously, the South Pole. This was a big acheivement for Norway as it was the ship that took Roald Amundsen to win the race to the South Pole. The ship is actually in the museum and there's plenty of English, German and Norwegian translated information on the ship and the famous people who used her for their expeditions.
As well as the museums we also went to the Nobel Peace Center where they had a very large exhibition on Barack Obama, the recent winner, which charted the success of the Black American from Martin Luthor King to the present day. This exhibition is very much worth seeing for only 50 NOK for students. There is also info on other winners but primarily on the current winner.
Another site worth seeing is the newly established Opera House - this is the pride of Oslo and was designed by a very creative Architect. Basically there a few walls and the sloped design enables you to walk right up to the roof where many local people spent a few hours in the summer for picnics or simply to just enjoy the view.
Although we tried good old pizza on the first night we did try some local Calzone's and they were very simple but very nice - a good snack to get you started in the morning!
Also we tried Bolla which is simply a hot cross bun without the cross and these were extremely tasty! Another specialty was sausage and I tried one my last day, expensive but worth it!
On the subject of expense, Oslo is not cheap! If you're going there for a boozey weekend then I suggest you'd consider your options unless money isn't an issue. It cost us approx £7.50 a pint (!) in almost every bar we went to (which admittedly weren't that many) but even in places such as TFI Fridays where you'd expect it to be a normal price, it wasn't.
i've been informed that Norway has a very high minimum wage so unless you're a tourist then this isn't an unusual amount to spend. It wasn't just pints that were expensive, food was too, even at McDonalds - £5 for a Big Mac! We also went to the equivalent of a kebab shop for Pizza and it ended up costing us £35!
I would recommend asking the Hostel / hotel is there's anywhere cheap but not too dodgy. We also found that the beer at the hostel was almost half the price so I'd recommend having a few there first!
All in all I liked Oslo, there's plenty to see and do if you're after information and culture but just be careful about the prices!
A friend of mine visited Oslo last year. As another of my friends is born and raised in Oslo I had her help me arrange an itinerary for him and his girlfriend. They are in their late 20s. Perhaps it could be of help for others as well? They visited Norway in January. If you're in Oslo during the summertime you might want to do a boat trip or go for a swim in the fjord - but this is not in the itinerary below.
1. Arrive Gardermoen (Oslo Int'l airport) in the morning
2. Airport train to Oslo Central Station
3. Walk up Carl Johan (main walking street, it's right outside the central station), this will take you by the Parliament building as well as the castle
4. Walk down towards Aker Brygge (the pier), here you can see Oslo City Hall as well as Akershus festning (fortress). Take a stroll over to the new Opera building (no entrance fee if you want to take a look inside).
5. Walk back to Carl Johan, in a side street you'll find a place called Tullins (ask somebody for it, Norwegians are generally very competent English speakers) - great place for lunch.
From here, either walk or use the tram or subway. If you want to do any shopping, Majorstua is a good area, so walk up Bogstadveien (Bogstad road). It'll take you from Slottsparken (the castle park) to Majorstua. Here you'll pass plenty of stores...
When you've reached Majorstua Subwaystation, look at your map, make a left - walk a bit further, and you'll find Vigelandsparken/Frognerparken. This is a park with lots of sculptures, worth seeing.
Other museums you might want to take a look at is the National Gallery (close to parliament, castle) or the Munch Museum (Tøyen). If you've ever heard of Thor Heyerdahl and his journeys, or want to look at Vikingships, go to Bygdøy, and visit the two museums: Fram and Kontiki. By night it's a good idea to go to Holmenkollen (skijump), great to look at and great view of Oslo.
Start with a museum, or whatever you didn't make time for yesterday, then take the blue tram (LJABRU-trikken), get off at Sjømannsskolen, follow a walkingpath up to Ekebergrestauranten. Eat lunch here, and enjoy the view...
Then go to a part of town called Grünerløkka. Plenty of great places to eat along Markveien. Recommended is Sult (=starvation), and good seconds are:
Dattera til Hagen (next to Grønland Subwaystation) or Fru Hagen.
If you want to go out at night, you might want to try these places:
Have a great stay! Please drop me a line if you have any questions.
After recently returning form a trip to Oslo, The capital city of Norway I was obliged to write a review of the city. After finding cheap flights from Stansted with Ryanair for £9.99 return my friends and I travelled to Rygge airport some 60km from the centre of the city.
Transport from the airport to the city is mindless, A bus and train run every 30mins, The bus is cheaper but takes 15mins longer and the train is quicker but costs more! We opted to take the bus as we needed to save as much money as we could, Oslo's second name is one of the worlds most expensive cities in which to stay.
The city is very welcoming and very clean. There are good transport links provided by trams, buses, a metro system and ferries. A 24hr pass for all public transport cost around 70kr and is a good way to see the city.
There are a variety of museums which cover a wide range of historical items from art museums to viking museums. A lot of the museums are free to visit and it is worth picking up one of the free Olso guides for tourists which highlights all of the museums.
Eating out and drinking is pretty expensive, expect to pay around £12 for a main meal and £3 for a coke or £4.50-£5.00 for a foreign beer.
The city oozes culture, history and is a great place to visit which is a little different from other capital cities which can be confused with one another.
One of my most interesting, and ultimately rewarding, weekend breaks was to Oslo the Capital City of Norway. My girlfriend booked us tickets a few years back as I'd become really interested in the paintings of Edvard Munch and wanted to see the museum in his home town of Oslo.
It's not often a holiday is ruined by international criminals before it starts; unfortunately this was what happened to us. Weeks after booking the tickets some international art thieves stole the world-famous 'Scream' picture as well as another of his more famous works. Obviously we were slightly miffed that one of our Christmas break's main attractions had been made less attractive but the tickets were already booked. Thankfully the paintings have been recovered and can now be seen, under heavy security, in the Munch museum in Oslo. Munch is a really unique artist and his museum is well worth a look for anyone with artistic interests.
On arrival in Oslo, I was slightly annoyed to then find out I'd been tricked by my girlfriend: we weren't exactly in Oslo. We'd actually flown to Oslo Torp: A few rusty sheds stuck next to a runway in the middle of nowhere. At this point, I'd like to stress that there is an airport actually in Oslo, but Torp is the equivalent of flying to an airport called London Norwich. Be careful before you book.
'Never mind' I thought, a quick train journey and we'll be in the hotel....Not so. We'd rented a car: or to be more precise, a wreck. I seemed to remember agreeing to a little driving but alarm bells should have rung when the company we got the car from was the uniquely-named 'Rent a wreck'. Half an hour later we were driving down the motorway in a blizzard surrounded by hills of snow in a 1994 Ford Fiesta.
Thankfully we arrived unscathed and booked into the Thon Hotel Munch in the centre of Oslo. The city is beautiful in winter but so cold so be sure to take lots of thick clothes and above all gloves. The temperatures dropped to -15 on our first night and I really didn't know whether my hands were still there after an evening walk.
Our walk actually took us to the beautiful Vigeland sculpture park (it's free) with lots of weird and wonderful creations by another Norwegian artist called Gustav Vigeland. These include a 14 metre high tower made up of intertwined humans, many variations on family life and my personal favourite: an angry, stomping baby.
The following morning we went into the centre and to the Munch museum. The metro was simple, cheap and easy to navigate. This is the only time I'll use the word cheap in this review however. Oslo is a very expensive city and you will certainly pay more for meals and any other shopping you undertake. We paid almost £30 for Pasta and some drinks in one pub; thankfully we'd bought a lot of food with us the previous night so this was a one-off. If youre going on a longer trip, you either need to be minted or be able to get out of the city to one of the cheaper suburbs as Oslo was recently voted the world's most expensive city.
The city centre is very pretty with street entertainers and a good range of shops on the main road Karl Johan gate. Again, expect to pay more than you would in England for most things; although a part of the city called Gronland has cheaper shops run by immigrants which can do better deals on food, clothes and jewellery.
The harbour is quite busy but there is the viking ship museum and other naval-related attractions there. Perhaps the biggest surprise I got was the Children Art Museum which has hundreds of creations by children around the world. This was advertised as 'seeing the world through the eyes of a child' and I was really impressed by the variation and quality of the work.
After a good night's sleep, we woke on Sunday and scraped 8 inches of snow off our wreck before driving back to Torp. As a weekend we fitted loads of cultural stuff in but Oslo is a modern city as well with lots to offer all kind of tourist. An excellent weekend break but beware the airport you choose and take lots of spending money if you want to shop or eat out.
"I wonder if there's a vacancy in a brighter place... if they need a cop in Bergen" (H.Hole)
Say you go to visit Norway. Of course you want to stay in Oslo a few days.
Say you want a unusual guide giving you an overview of the city with the eyes of a local (a very disillusioned one, I should add) and a few political and historical insights, keeping always your attention to "on your toe" level.
My choice was Harry Hole (Jo Nesbø's "The Redbreast " character).
He took me around places and showed the good and the bad side of the city, some bars and restaurants included, made me smile explaining the naive customs (i.e.: cops don't wear weapons? unbelievable but true over there!), thrilled me with the investigation on a terrorist threat connected to some apparently randomic murders, made me feel the taste of a sad winter in a nordic metropolis and the relief of the coming spring... and laying down on the table a down to earth analysis of norwegian sense of guilt toward nazism and a flame out of the problem in the youth suburban culture...... how does it sounds? It worked for me, I enjoyed the mix book/tour to the point I went back to Norway (in the spring this time!) with another Nesbø's masterpiece!!! :)
Just a warning... if you are heart broken, find other ways to enjoy the city... there's a full plenty of'em... Harry's company wont do you any good... his drinking genes and his grim view on the future will make your perpective even murkier...
Having just returned from a weekend in Oslo I thought I had better put pen to paper and write a review about Norway's capital city. In the past I have always travelled to Norway by ferry which is a scenic and enjoyable way to arrive. I remember passing endless islands and holms situated in the 100 kilometre Oslofjord to be greeted by wooded hills in the background and shores lined with port installations, ferries and commercial vessels in the foreground. The city of Oslo is hidden amongst all this and on past visits I have often found it quite a dull city compared with Norway's other delightful gems, Bergen and Trondheim.
So why am I re-visiting. Because I needed a break, had limited time and it was the only destination I could find on the spur of the moment. This time I flew and I have to say it wasn't cheap. I flew from Warsaw with KLM and the return flight cost over £200. I don't generally pay extortionate fares for flights but this was the best deal I could find. Most of my trips are done by road or boat but it would have taken too long this time as I only had three days to spare and I was desperate to get out and about as Warsaw can get a bit stifling at this time of year with the humidity.The journey took just over 4 and a half hours and I had to change at Amsterdam. Not too bad. And is Oslo still the dull provincial capital or has it changed to a modern cosmopolitan city. Read on........
First, a small history lesson about Old Oslo.
Situated at the end of Norway's most eastern fjord, the trading centre of Oslo developed into a town around about the 11th century. After being appointed the capital of the Norwegian empire by King Hakon V who reigned from 1299 until 1319, Oslo was the city were kings were crowned until 1514. It was in the Hanseatic period that the Oslo's importance as an influential port diminished.
After the huge fire of 1624, Christian IV rebuilt the town and the name was changed to Christiania. During the 18th and 19th centuries the settlement grew into a European style city with the first Norwegian University being opened here in 1813. The following year it was chosen as the country's capital once again.
Oslo became politically important in the nineteenth century which had an impact on the growth of the city. At the beginning of the 20th century, Oslo became the main important centre for imports. Consequently, the name of Christiania was changed in favour of the city's old name - Oslo. In 1948, when the district of Akershus was included into the municipality, Oslo became one of the largest cities in Europe in terms of surface area encircling over 175 square miles. The inhabitants of the city which comes to around 521,000 only live in a fraction of this space. So what makes the city attractive to its inhabitants and visitors - Nordmarka. Nordmarka includes the ski-ing area of Holmenkollen, many clear lakes of crystal, cold water, vast woodland and scores of footpaths that would take a while to find - probably days, at a guess. This Norwegian city which is set in a broad valley has its own microclimate which is actually quite favourable.
Sightseeing Tour Coming Up
To see what Oslo has to offer you need a quick, efficient and reasonably cheap way of getting round. I sugest that you buy an Oslo Card (Oslokortet). These can be purchased from tourismos, most hotel receptions and a few newsagents. It is a city wide travel pass and can be used on buses, trains and ferries and gives discounts on some coach sightseeing trips and boat trips. It really is worthwhile investing in one of these as it enables you to get free entrance into most museums and cinemas and if you did have a car you would be entitled to free parking in council run car parks. Oslo Cards are valid for 1, 2 or three days.
My husband and I purchased a card for three days and the price was NOK 410 which is approximately £39. A bit pricy I know but the everything is in this part of the world.
There are concessions for children from the age of 4 until 15 years and for senior citizens from the age of 67. I don't qualify for either of these, unfortunately. The three day pass for this category of people is £15.
So what are the star attractions - Let's take a look and see
Good news is that the city centre of Oslo can be easily covered on foot and is very straightforward. The city pattern is the same as a chequerboard and I would say takes 3 hours to walk around.
First stop is the enormous fortress on the east side of the bay and perched on a hill top. This was built in several stages and started by Hakon V Magnusson (I wonder if he was related to the Mastermind chap) in the year of 1300. Over the years work and reconstruction took place and it wasn't until the late 16th century that it was transformed into a Renaissance - style palace. The fortress was obviously built to ward off any enemies and it certainly did the job as no Swedish or Nazi armies got a look in. It was never conquered by either.
Within the faded red brick walls of the Akershus, stands the impressive Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and the Resistance Museum. The Resistance Museum occupies the harbour end of the castle precinct and consists of several displays illustrating the strategic importance of Norway during the Second World War. The museum is very sombre and detailed. I found the experience quite draining and at the end of the time in the museum I was really tired through concentrating. Photographs, posters, written documents, models, copies of original newspapers and other reading matter illustrate and help us understand what it was like to be invaded and occupied by the Nazis for five years. Amongst the special artifacts are transmitters that were used by the Resistance to communicate with the British Allies. Most written headings are translated to English. We spent nearly two hours in this museum but then my eye sight isn't too good and it took me ages to read everything.
Opening times are Monday to Saturday from 10am until 5pm
If you don't have an Oslo Card the admission charge is the equivalent of £3. Children under 14, students and Senior Citizens - £1.50
Well worth the visit.
The Armed Forces Museum is next to the castle and in the lower area of the fortress and has a warehouse look about it. Square looking grey/red brick buildings with wooden, arched windows. Cannons stand on parade outside the museum. Inside displays of military equipment depict the history of the Norwegian defences from Viking times through to the 1950's. A large section concentrates on the history of Norway's part in the second World War.
If you find this museum a little dry as I did then you can nip to the cafe in the reception area. It sells basic snacks such as sandwiches, hot soup, baguettes, hot and cold drinks and the odd cake or two. The cafe is open the same times as the museum but closes about an hour before the museum closes its doors. Admission is free and the museum is open all year round.
The palace is still used by the Norwegian Government for official receptions, and members of the Norwegian royal family are buried in the Royal Mausoleum.
Out of the two museums, I recommend the Resistance Museum.
Karl Johan's Gate is the city's main shopping street which was set out in 1835. It runs from the station to the Royal Palace, and is an embodiment of modern Norway. This street is very active and a very pleasant place to spend some time in. When I was there at the weekend performing artists were dressed in various costumes and the street theatre was colourful and amusing. Market stalls were set up and seemed a great crowd puller. I did notice that there seemed lots of different nationalities milling round. I like this cosmopolitan aspect of Oslo. The street is also home to a number of brasseries and is a very good place to sit, eat and people watch.
A narrow pedestrianised zone ends by the Storting, the Norwegian parliament building which dates back from the mid 19th century. If you want to be sophisticated and a culture vulture then why not stop and have a coffee in the very dignified Grand Cafe in the Grand Hotel. This is where Norway's famous playwright and writer, Henrik Ibsen, spent many a sunny afternoon. Another option on a sunny day, is at the open-air Sara's Telt which is opposite and has lovely views over the fountain.
Just across the road in Universitets Gata is the National Gallery. Now, I know this sounds ludicrous coming from an artist but I don't generally like art galleries. I think art should come alive and not be stashed away in a boring gallery where everybody walks round in silence. However, this is one gallery I did want to vist and hadn't visited before. The main reason being that apart from holding the nation's main art treasures the gallery has two rooms devoted to paintings by Edvard Munch and this is a man's whose work I admire. All the other paintings, 4,000 to be exact, are on display and they are all by other Norwegian painters. It is worth a visit and I enjoyed my time there.
The gallery is open from Tuesdays to Sunday - from 10am until 5/6pm There are also guided tours in English but only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am, noon and 2pm.
At the end of Karl Johans gate is the Royal Palace which has a grand park and huge square. The palace was built between 1824 and 1848 and it was the home of Harald V and Queen Sonja and the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg. That's a bit of a tongue twister. The palace is open to the public but on this visit I didn't go in. Instead I took a leisurely stroll in the park which was very relaxing and worth it for the views over the city. To the right of the palace and about a 10 minute walk away is the port.
The harbour area is a very popular area and always thriving due to the development around old west station. Here there is an exhibition centre and the Aker Brygge quay. I should imagine on sunny days, this promenade is delightful but the weather last weekend was dismal and raining. This is the area where old and young sit outside, drinking beer and eating ice creams in one of the many cafes and restaurants. On the other side of the bay, the Akershus fortress stands proud protecting its city and harbour.
To visit the city's best museums I suggest you start with a ferry ride from Radhusbrygge to the Bygdoy peninsula. In my opinion this is Oslo's most exquisite quarter. The ferry moors right next to the Gjoa, the ship that was used by Roald Amundsen when he negotiated the Northwest Passage through Canada between 1903 and 1906.
The ferry leaves from Pier 3 at the back of the Radhuset and I got off at Dronningen. You can also take a bus number 30 which is signed for Bygdoy, from the National Theatre and ask to get off at the Folk Museum. There is a traditional Inn close by on Huk Aveny 2 if you want to stop and eat but it isn't cheap.
Having lived on a boat in Portugal I am always drawn to anything maritime and my favourite museum in Oslo is the Maritme Museum which is split into three museums, Norwegian Maritime Museum, Fram Museum and the Kontiki Museum. A stroll through all these rooms will introduce you to exhibits of Norway's heroic explorers including the Fram, the exploration ship used by Nansen and Amundsen, most notably o their Antarctic expedition; the Kontiki raft, an amazing piece of work built in 1947 by Larvik born Thor Heyerdahl who sailed from Peru to Polynesia to test his theory that the first Polynesians came from South America; and his papyrus raft Ra II, in which he sailed across the Atlantic in 1970.
A few minutes walk away from the polar vessels takes you to the three Viking ships which in many respects were the forerunners of ships commisioned for more modern explorers. Oseburg, Gokstad and Tune in the Viking Ship Museum confirm the remarkable boatbuilding skills of the Norseman. Platforms enable you to get good views of the hulls. I found all the exhibits in fantastic condition and the museums were well laid out, well looked after and scrupulously clean.
Another mmuseum that I really enjoyed and one every one visiting Oslo should try to fit in - is the Folk Museum. The museum first opened in 1894 and it offers a comprehensive insight into the Norwegian way of life from the Reformation to the present day.
Examples of both rural and urban architecture are preserved in this open-air museum, which features 155 reconstructed authentic timber houses. Displays inside include contemporary furniture and household goods and utensils. Probably the most striking medieval building in the open air section is the God stave church. There is a lot to take in here and to be able to scrutinise everything you are looking at least 2 days to see all the exhibits. As we were only in the city for 3 days and wanted to see as many different things as posssible we chose mainly to look at displays illustrating facts about Norwegian music, medicine and the Sami culture. Outdoor activities which included traditional dancing and cooking took place which was colourful and lots of fun to watch even though the weather was a bit of a downer.
The Norwegian Folk Museum is open daily to the public from mid May until mid September.
If you like art and nature and still, after seeing the attractions I have already mentioned, want to soak up more Norwegian culture, then I suggest you did what we did and jump on a bus number 20 to Frogner Plass and visit the Vigeland Museum. This museum is named after the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) and the park, Vigelandspark is open 24 hours and is home to 200 monumental sculptures. It is a good trip outside the city and seems to be a playground for young and old. Don't let the weather put you off - it is still worth a trip. Some of the sculptures are fascinating and I actually think Vigeland was a genius. He definitely stood out amongst his contemporaries. I love the smoothness of his work and the rounded shapes of his bodies which are then twisted and wrapped around other bodies in the most unusual shapes. Even though he was recognised as a great sculptor he never really made a living from his art and as a result, in 1921, he offered his life's work to the city of Oslo and in return received a studio and a park. The former studio is now the museum.
A ten minutes walk away from the park will bring you to the International Museum of Children's Art. This is a very bright modern museum and I was pleased with this as I love the simplicity and primitiveness of children's art work. The museum not only displays children's art from more than 180 countries, but allows youngsters to let their imagination run riot in the hope that one day their work will be shown here.
Opening times are Tues - Thurs - 9.30am until 2pm, Sunday 11am - 4pm. The museum closes on the 8 August until 17 September.
If you have read any of my other city reviews you will know that I usually like to leave the city for a few hours to see what is on offer outside. The area that surrounds Oslo is very pretty with its villas, woods and footpaths. The Froen subway station is on the Holmenkollen line and every 15 minutes a train stops here on its way to Oslo's best summit, some 227 metres above sea level. The Ski-ing Museum beneath the Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Jump tower is worth a peek and if you are feeling brave there is an opportunity for you to try the ski simulator and imagine making the jump. However, I do suggest that you make the ascent because of the view which extends across the city centre and over the fjord. Oslo, is a wonderful city, especially from this perspective. The first ski jump was built in 1892, and has since been updated and expanded about 15 times.
This recently expanded national ski facility is open throughout the year with a cafe and souvenir shop. The museum exhibits the history of ski-ing over 4,000 years. There are also displays illustrating polar exhibitions made by Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen, and the sk history of the royal family.
Open Daily in the summer from 9pm until 8pm - Spring and Autumn 10am - 5pm
That's the run down on the attractions available in the city of Oslo now I will just give you a few tips about accommodation. Most of the hotels in Oslo are quite expensive. Big chains like Best Western, Comfort and SAS Raddison are well represented but I am not a fan of these type of hotels as I think they are generally quite banal and you could be staying anywhere in the world. There is one rather posh hotel which is one of the capital's long-standing institutions and offers a high level of comfort. This is the Grand Hotel and I have only stayed here once when running a conference. The hotel is spacious and has a pleasant atmosphere, particularly in the lobby area. Facilities include an indoor pool, sauna, health club and several restaurants. I know from the Internet that there are big discounts on at the moment if you book 3 nights you get a discount of 30%. You are looking at $143 per room for three nights. Actually, that's quite good value because this is a very classy old-style hotel.
Seeing that I had overspent on the flight I didn't stay at the Grand but at Ellingsens Pensjonat which is very central but in a quiet location in an old wooden villa surrounded by a lovely type of cottage garden. It is well located near the Royal Palace, the tram 19 stops outside and the price we paid was $55 for a room. Rooms are basic but clean and comfortable. Toilets and bathrooms are shared but they are spotless and very quaint. Breakfast is not included in this price but there is a nearby cafe where you can eat and are entitled to a small discount.
There are some fantastic restaurants in Oslo but very expensive. We only ate out once and that was at the Lofoten Fiskerrestaurant which is on Stranden, 75 in the Aker Brygge area. This is a very good fish restaurant with maritime decor. The atmosphere is boisterous but a lot of fun. If you go at lunch time it is better as the prices are cheaper. To save money, my advice, is to buy food from a supermarket or find a department store that serves meals - these are usually quite cheap and wholesome. If you want to eat fast food then the choice is between a restaurant serving continental style food such as lasagne or quiche or a gatekjokken - takeaway street kitchen.
As you might have gathered from my restuarant reviews I am partialled to a beer or a glass of wine but Norway doesn't make it easy to have several drinks as it is so pricey. Before this trip I took my own bottles of wine into Norway but I was travelling by car. I didn't drink any wine on this last trip as it is too expensive in a restaurant and I don't like going in the state run retail shops, the Vinmonopolet. These outlets are to sanitised - they give me the creeps.
The Vikings knew a lot about brewing beer and there are many different regional variations, including the celebrated Arctic ale brewed by the Mack brewery in Tromso. Spirits are subject to strict state control but are available at most restaurants and in the Vinmonopolet. Akevitt, is Norway's most important alcoholic export and the country's only spirit.
So, did I think it was a dull provincial town. No, they have made a lot of changes to the city since I was last there. This trip I enjoyed even though the weather was wet and drizzly. It made a nice change from the greyness of Warsaw. The good thing about the city is that there is plenty to see and do if it does rain. The bad thing about the city is that accommodation and dining out is very expensive and you really do need a Gold American Express card for this city. Overall, it is an attractive, bustling city which is very colourful and cosmopolitan but I still think I prefer Bergen.
Oslo, the capital of Norway, was the second stop on my current month long journey around Europe. Going to Oslo was an obvious choice, as we were working our way through Scandinavia, it made sense to go to one of its capitals, and was also very easy to get to from Bergen, on Norway's west coast, where we'd made our first stop.
Getting to Oslo was relatively easy: we took an overnight train from Bergen, which since it was during the summer meant that it was slightly difficult to sleep as it didn't get very dark, though this did mean that we got to see the beautiful scenery of the Norwegian fjords as we wizzed across the country through the night. It really was a good way to see the countryside of Norway without actually going to stay there. If you're travelling from the UK, Oslo has a major airport so it shouldn't be too difficult to find a flight from an airport not too far from you, or you can get the ferry from Tyneside to Bergen like we did. When we tried to get a train to Stockholm, we were told that there is apparently only one each day, but I find that difficult to believe, so if you're in Sweden you could always get the train (or a bus) to Oslo.
Since we got an overnight train from Bergen, we arrived in Oslo at 6.30am very very tired, and with nothing to do since everything was still closed. We put our bags in lockers at the station (which cost about 40kroner i believe) and then went out to explore the city. Unfortunately, it was a very hot day that day, and although it was only early morning it was already heating up quite a lot. We ended up finding ourselves in the grounds of the palace, where I had a nice little sleep under a tree for a few hours. The palace itself was large and beautiful, and had important looking cars coming out of it all the time, and I was very impressed at how close we could get to the building. Imagine getting into the grounds of Buckingham Palace without having a corgi set on you! Not far from the palace was another large park where we sat in the cool next to a fountain, where there was a cafe that was too expensive for us.
Since we're students and travelling on a budget, it was important for us to find some cheap food while in Oslo. Unfortunately, Norway is notoriously expensive, and it was very difficult for us to find anything at a price that we wouldn't have to sell our belongings to afford (overexaggeration slightly, but you get the idea). My boyfriend had a Lonely Planet guidebook which recommended a volunteer run cafe which did open sandwiches for only 10 kroner (about 1.10 pounds sterling) which in such an expensive city was an offer we couldn't refuse. We eventually found it, inside what seemed to be a building site, and were told it opened at midday, so we had to find some shade for me to sit in while we waited for it to open. The cafe was called Cafe Blitz, which seems like a perfect name since it appeared as if a bomb had hit the exterior. Inside though it was very nice, if a bit studenty and basic (we loved it). We had a couple of open sandwiches each, along with some free water, and they were very nice and enough to keep us satisfied until teatime. The cafe had a bizarre atmosphere - there was music on, not a huge amount of space, and an aging rastafarian man sitting in the corner who just drank lots and lots of coffee. Needless to say we enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get some food on the cheap in Norway's capital.
If you've read my Bergen review, you'll know that we found it very hard to find any restaurants or bars that did food for a reasonable price, and Oslo was the same, if not worse! If you want to go and have a night out and a meal in Oslo, you better save up for it or be well off, because at around 60 kroner for a beer, it's nowhere to go if you want a quick drink on the cheap. However, like Bergen, the town was covered in 7-Elevens, so you can always get a 29 kroner calzone or sandwich to eat on the go, if you're a bit strapped for cash like we were. For tea we went to the restaurant attached to our hostel, and shared a ham and mushroom pizza for 70 kroner, which was easily enough for both of us and worked out quite cheap between us. We still had to drink tapwater though, as the beer was still extortionate.
Our hostel itself was very nice: only a five minute walk from the station, a large guest kitchen, and even fridges in the rooms, although you have to share showers and toilets. It was called the Centrum Pensjonat, and I would recommend it if you want a cheap hostel near the station (about 30 pounds a night each for a private room), as long as you don't mind sharing facilities.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you a ridiculous amount more about the city of Oslo other than what I've already written, as we were only here for little over 24 hours, and the ridiculous heat and high costs meant that we couldn't properly enjoy the city at it's best (we spent the night watching comedy DVDs in the hostel). I will say though that it wasn't as nice as I expected: the buildings were quite dull and don't have any of the beauty that Bergen had, there was little visible scenery, and the high prices put a downer on our whole experience, as we couldn't even sample local food or beer without taking out a small loan. On passing by shops on the main streets, they were more reasonable prices, but still more than i would pay at home, so we didn't part with our money on any souveniers, entertainment or clothes. If the weather hadn't been so unbearable, I'm sure i would've enjoyed the city more, but so far after going to twelve cities in Europe this month, Oslo is the only one that I don't fancy coming back to. Yes the palace was nice, as were the parks (and the city seems to love its fountains), but it just wasn't enough to make me enjoy myself despite the heat.
Oslo, the Nordic City of Light, has changed over the last 100, and even the last 20 years, and a new cosmopolitan Oslo has wakened in the shadow of the images of the old sombre Oslo as depicted by Edvard Munch, the citys famous painter.
Oslo is situated in southern Norway, at a latitude of almost 60 degrees N. If you have the time and the money, you can reach Oslo via one of the 100 or so cruise ships that stop here every summer, but otherwise the simplest way is via direct flight to one of Oslos two airports Gardermoen to the north of the city, takes 40 minutes into the capital, or Torp, served by Ryanair takes 1hr 40 minutes via the airport bus links. The cost of the bus trip from Torp to central Oslo, is 230 Kr per person, or around £20 return.
Oslo can easily be explored on foot, as the city is still reasonably compact. Karl Johans Gate is the amin thoroughfare linking Sentralstasjon in the SE and passing the University and the National Theatre to reach the expanse of Slottsparken in the NW of the City.
The Oslo T Bane has five lines which cross the city from East to West, and most lines run through all the more central stations. A 24 hour ticket costs about £5 and should be validated at the yellow machines before you board your first train; thereafter it is valid for 24 hours. Generally speaking the platforms I encountered were clean and tidy and the trains were running efficiently and without delays, nor were they too busy.
There are of course hundreds of buses to help you on your way, although taxis seem quite expensive especially if you get stuck in traffic, and probably not worth the extra.
Eating and Drinking
Probably best avoided altogether if you can! The price of drink in Norway is shockingly expensive. Generally speaking a .4l glass of draft local beer would set you back around 60kr or £5.00. This is definitely not a place to go for a stag or hen night. More popular beers and spirits were even more expensive; something like an Irish coffee would be nearly at the £10 mark; a bottle of very ordinary Australian Chardonnay that would cost about £4 in a supermarket here was about £35 in one restaurant, and as for champagne, even a Moet would be up around the £80 mark.
Soft drinks do not fare much better either with a coke in a restaurant coming in around the £3 mark.
The Aker Brygge is a lively area at night and the waterfront is lined with restaurants of all varieties, including Italian, Norwegian, Pizza houses, The Golden Arches, Indian and plenty of nice waterfront bars offering salads, sandwiches and tempting desserts. Steak and Fish are popular, although this will definitely push the cost of a main course up to well over £20 each. We ate at a lovely pasta place at the waterfront and our meal came to 545Kr including two beers each. Main courses such as pasta or pizza were typically around 120Kr, and so much more affordable.
Its no joke that the tourist books advise you to make your hotel breakfast your main meal of the day and avoid eating a big meal in the evening if you want your money to stretch as far as possible. In Oslo, there are hot dog outlets everywhere, and a hot dog and a 0.50litre bottle of coke to go would typically cost around 39Kr or £3-£3.50 or so.
Coffee bars are everywhere and are on the expensive side of affordable, but not completely out of range.
Finally there is a proliferation of Mcdonalds and Burger King restaurants with a meal here costing about £6.00.
1. Not to be missed is the opportunity to get out onto the water, and the Waterfront at the Aker Brygge area to the west of the city is a match for Sydneys Darling Harbour in my eyes, any day of the week. Oslos waterfront area is slowly changing and developing and they are getting their own opera house by 2008, work having begun on the foundations already. There are a number of sighseeing cruises available, ranging from a 50 minute mini cruise at 100Kr (£8.50); to cruises which combine Fjord sighseeing with city sightseeing via coach. If it is evening sightseeing, then the opportunity to get out on the Fjord, and enjoy a Norwegian Prawn buffet is an attractive option. Tickets are available at the pier opposity the city hall.
Of course the mini cruises come complete with a Guide who will normally speak Norwegian and English, but a cheaper option is to take the Public Ferry service between the Aker Brygge area, Dronningen and Bygydones with stops at both places. Some of the main museums of Oslo are situated near these locations but if you prefer to stay on the boat a 20Kr ticket will be adequate for the round trip which will be completed in under 40 minutes. Otherwise the 20Kr ticket is valid on the ferries for maximum one hour and if you spend time at the musuem you will need to buy another 20Kr ticket when you reboard the ferry.
2. If you only go to one museum while in Oslo, then my recommendation is the Norsk Folkemuseum. Entrance fees are 75 Kr per adult, with discounted tickets at 45Kr, and a family card costs 150Kr. Guides are available for between 60Kr and 120Kr and are available in English.
One of the main parts of the Folkemusuem is the Open Air museum which contains a plethora of traditional buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, many of which you can walk into. There is something for all the family with the various re-enactments in some of the old properties, and the visual indoor exhibitions are also amazing, particularly the Toy Exhibition, the Sami exhibition and the exhibition detailing their close alliance with Russia.
I loved this place, and will write a separate review on it when I get a minute or two to write up my thoughts in full!
3. For a cheap trip, take your one day T-bane ticket and take the No 1 line west to the final stop Frognerseteren. The views looking back on the city are simply amazing, and at the top there are a few opportunities for photographs, although unfortunately it was extremely wet when I got here. You simply cross over the track and come back down again!
4. Take any T Bane west bound and head for the parklands at Frognerparken or Vigelandsparken. The Vigeland park is filled with sculptures and you can also view the Monolitten, a huge spire carved from granite. You can enjoy a pleasant walk in the grounds and viist the Oslo Bymuseum in Frognerparken. The bymuseum is free to enter, although not many of the exhibitions have English information cards with them (some do). The museum shows how the city has developed over the years e..g the main infratructure systems.
5. West on the T Bane up to Holmenkollen bakken will also take you to Norways Ski Jump which is only used in February and March. It is visible from the city itself, although it would take about 20 minutes to get to the station. It was built in 1892 and is the worlds oldest ski jump and there is a ski museum adjoining detailing the history of skiiing over 1000 years.
6. If that isnt enough museums for you, Oslo also has a museum of Architecture, a museum for contemporary art, a Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery, Museum of Applied Art, the Kon Tiki Museum, Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Technology.. Phew..An Oslo Pass can be purchased for entry into all the museums and for discounts on travel.
In addition there are a number of tour companies who operate tours from Oslo, out to Bergen and Flåm, where you can ride the Flåm Railway with its gradient of 1 in 18 and 20 tunnels. The latter trip also incorporates valleys and stunning scenery and can be done in a day, or can include an overnight stop.
My recent weekend break in Oslo certainly gave me a taste of Norway, and I would welcome the opportunity to go back and explore more and travel further afield within this beautiful country, however I may need to scoop lucky on the lottery to stay for more than a few nights!
Recommended, but take plenty of cash! If you go in June, enjoy the 24 hour daylight...
A couple of summers ago we decided we'd hitch our way from here in the Stockholm area of Sweden to Oslo in Norway. One way or another, in sweltering heat, and by more than half a dozen different lifts, and with virtually no money in our pockets, we made it. This is a a little bit of what we did. After a first nights camping in the north of the city forest area called Sognvann, we decided that we would go and see some of Oslo today, so we made the journey by bus and train back to the Central Station, and put our rucksacks into lockers, although it was quite unclear how much they cost or how long you had. We took a chance. We were so happy to get the heavy bags off our backs, and looking forward to see Oslo without concentrating on getting a lift anywhere. The tickets which cost 50 Norwegian Krona, entitled us to travel anywhere in the Oslo area by bus, train, tram, or boat, so we took a trip from Vippetangen docks. This trip took us around the 4 nearest islands : Bleikøya, Gressholmen, Lindøya and Hovedøya. We got off at Hovedøya and explored for a bit. We saw the ruins of an old Catholic monastery that dates back to the year 1147. Among the ruins were a number of sheep and goats. The island was quite spooky, with what looked like millions of snake homes all around, a few canons and hardly any people at all. We had an expensive cup of tea at the cafe, although they only had strange flavours. We took the boat back to Vippetangen and continued to explore the city. We looked at the Royal Palace, and it's grounds - Slottsparken. We did the usual touristy things, although the sky was a bit grey and not at all good for photos. We took some nonetheless.. We didn't go inside the palace, but imagined what it was like inside. Later we went to Holmenkollen, a huge ski
jump and ski museum. The cost was around 100kr. To be honest the museum wasn't too interesting, and once we had climbed to the top of the ski jump and looked down for a few minutes, there wasn't much else to do apart from visit the gift shop. We'd hardly recommend this to anyone unless you are particularly attracted to the sport and it's history. As we decended, we spotted an interesting looking church, so went along to have a look, it was closed however. We started back to the train station and stopped off to look a a huge Troll sculpture, constructed recently in concrete. We just beat a group of Japanese tourists to a quick photo session. As we approached the station, more Japanese tourists approached us and wanted a photo of them altogether by the train station, no idea why, it wasn't particularly scenic, however we obligued. Tired from all the sightseeing, we collected our backpacks, and made the journey back to Sognvann. We chose a different place to camp this time, almost in the lake. There was a place to make a fire too, and after a bit of effort the fire was alight and ready to cook. We had bought some tinned norwegian food from the supermarket earlier, but instead of emptying into the saucepan, it missed and landed in a nice heap on the floor. Luckily we had alternatives, and didn't starve to death. It was raining and the mosquitos were out in force. The weather getting to Oslo had been fantastic, but now we were here, well - that night it rained and rained. The tent was absolutely useless, and we might as well have slept in the lake itself. The following morning, the rain had stopped, but we were still wet from the rain during the night. The morning continued with Sean doing the dishes, and Karolina washing her hair in the Lake. Once again we packed up the tent, and got a ride to the Central S
;tation. We put our rucksacks into the lockers again, now confident of the price, a reasonable 20kr for 24hours. We noticed that many lockers had racked up debts of over 500kr, people had obviously either forgotten them or lost the keys. We were starting to get used to the transportation in Oslo, and were confident getting on and off of the bus, train and the trams. Using the day pass is easy, you don't even show the driver, which I should imagine is open for abuse. The few days we used them, the ticket wasn't ever checked, but there is a hefty fine if you do get caught. We visited the Åkershus Festning (castle and fortress). This dates back 700 years to King Haakon V Magnusson who initiated it's construction. Got told off by a guard when we entered a restricted area, oops. We also took a brief look at the City model of Christiana (now known as Oslo). This showed the history from 1624 to 1840, although it would have been better if we could have actually gone into the model a little. This was all free to see. We took a train ride to the Botanical Gardens which is part of the University of Oslo. At first the place looked quite dodgy, a bit like a ghetto, until we were safely in the gardens. Here we found a spot to eat the ham baguettes and danish pastries we had. The ducks ate well too. The gardens themselves were fine, split into different Continents, although there wasn't nearly as much colour as there could have been. A lot of water features though. Free to enter. Next was the National Art Museum of Norway in Universitegaten. This is the largest collection of Norwegian and International art in Norway. We saw the famous painting "The scream" by Edvard Munch. We thought of trying to smuggle one out under our coats
but decided against it in the end, sure it would have been easy enough though. Free to enter. Last tourist tour of the day was to Vigelandsparken. This was recommended by the last two Norwegian nutters (just joking), who had kindly given us a lift days before. This is the number one tourist attraction of Norway with over 1million visitors each year. This is a park area full to the brim of naked sculptures (around 200 in fact). The sculptures and the layout of the park were created by Gustav Vigeland. Strange man he must have been. Really that's all there is to it, but they are all quite unique, some amusing, others just fascinating. This is free to enter. After collecting our rucksacks again from the station it was back to the lake for more camping, taking more or less the same spot as the previous night. Our sleeping bags were still a bit damp from the previous night. We cooked spagetti this time using a disposable BBQ we had bought, as it would have been impossible to light a fire with no dry wood around. We prayed that it wouldn't rain. It rained. We swore (a lot). We tried to sleep. We got wetter as the the rain continued. We tried sleeping on each other in a effort to stay dry, it didn't work. We got out of the tent in the middle of the night, and took shelter for ages, and watched the rain. It appeared to slow down, so we tried the tent again. What we should have done at this point was to find a nice warm hotel, but we didn't. Instead we just tried to keep warm and wait til the morning, we got hardly any sleep.... The next day we were to be honest very ready to go home. We packed our wet things, minus the tent, which we purposefully left behind. We took a final walk around the lake before getting the early bus followed by a train to the Centre of Oslo. Went in search of
68;anish pastries again, but it was early. Saw some outside the supermarket, which we were tempted to have, but thought it was best waiting until they were on the shelves. Oslo early in the morning is completely dead, with only the trusty 7-11 open. The sky was looking a little bit bluer this morning, typical as this was the last day in Oslo. Once the Kiwi supermarket was open we raided the danish and bread section - supplies for breakfast and lunch later. Walked around for a while, and then visited the Domkirke, Oslos cathedral - St. Saviours, which was first consecrated in 1697. There were a group of people practising for a concert the next day, which was relaxing to listen to for 20 minutes or so, and of course it was free to enter. Made a brief stop to the library, before going to Margareta Church, where some of Edvard Munch's family is buried, including his parents and sister (who he loved to paint). We didn't actually find the graves themselves, as our lift turned up for the journey back home, via Gotenberg! In conclusion, we'd both agree the week was an experience. An experience to look back on and laugh about, reflect on, and remember for ever. There were some things though which we may do differently next time, and there will be a next time - probably not to Oslo though. Whilst we appreciate that the country is very beautiful, we do not appreciate the fact that the cost of living, or visiting is so damn high. We did manage however to find a good number of things to look at which cost little or nothing at all. It seems mad that Norwegians have to drive across the border to Sweden in order to save a whole load of money on just about everything. What is going on here? Sweden is expensive enough, but Norway is just crazy. We were warned before going, but never imagined the extent of e
xtortion. Sorry but unless we win a whole load of money, we won't be back, which is a shame. For the complete story, including the hitch-hiking journey there, and photos, take a look on our website : http://www.angelfire.com/retro/seany
As some of you already know, I spent a huge chunk of my life in Norway. During the 18 years I spent there, I grew to love the country and its people, both of which will always have a very special place in my heart. I miss it terribly, and had it not been for the fact that I’ve found a very special person here in the UK, I might very well be tempted to turn around and go back. Most of my time in Norway was spent in a town called Drammen, which is about 40 kilometres northwest of Oslo. As such, I visited Oslo on numerous occasions, in much the same way as somebody living in Basildon would visit London. I had a love/hate relationship to it really. There are reasons why I would never like to live in Oslo, but it’s certainly a beautiful city with plenty to offer the tourist. Smack bang in the middle, you’ll find the Royal Palace. This is completely different to Buckingham Palace. There are no fences surrounding it, and the gardens are open to the public at all times. You’ll find families picnicking there, people walking their dogs, but unfortunately, you’ll also find that it attracts hard drug users. Luckily, they tend to keep themselves to themselves and there’s rarely any trouble from them. Used needles etc have seldom been a problem either. Whether or not that’s due to the addicts being thoughtful or the fact that the park is regularly maintained, I really wouldn’t know. Maybe a combination of both. The palace isn’t the main Royal residence, although heads of state and other official visitors are entertained there. A friend of mine was quite astonished because she’d walked right up to the walls and looked through a window without anybody stopping her. There are guards, but they generally leave you alone. As the late King Olav once said, who needs bodyguards when you have the entire population of your country protecting you? From the Palace, Karl Johans Gate leads down towar
ds the parliament buildings. The road is divided in two, with open-air cafes and gardens in the middle. People of all ages congregate here, but it’s especially popular with the students of nearby Oslo University. Karl Johan is also famous in Oslo as the main shopping street, their equivalent of Oxford Street you could say. Be warned though, prices in Norway are MUCH higher than here, so be sure you have enough of your hard earned cash with you. Example prices: ½ Litre of lager: kr 45 (about £3.80) Loaf of bread: kr 16 (about £1.30) 20 cigarettes: kr 68 (about £5.70) 3-course meal in a good restaurant: kr 700 (about £60) Lunch in a nice café: kr 150 (about £12.70) These prices seem stiff to us, but Norwegians earn far more than the average Brit and they enjoy a standard of living that’s far higher than we normally experience. Most people associate Norway with snow, ice and extremely cold temperatures, and tend to forget that they also enjoy warm summers, sometimes hotter than ours. Although Oslo is alive and kicking all year round, it’s during summer that the average tourist, who isn’t particularly interested in winter sports, can enjoy the maximum benefits of a visit to the city. In fact, the variation in temperature and the magnificence of the surrounding countryside offer Oslo the benefit of a plethora of outdoor activities that cannot be competed with by any other capital city. Oslo is situated at the tip of the Oslo Fjord, with its harbour being one of its main features. From here, you can take numerous boat trips out to the surrounding islands, including Bygdoy with its abundance of museums. Along Aker Brygge (Aker Pier) you’ll find street musicians and other pavement performers doing their thing while visitors and the people of Oslo enjoy fresh prawns and a half litre of lager, which, incidentally, is always served ice cold. In fact, being able to down that first outdoo
r “summer pils” is important to Norwegians. It’s a symbol of spring and yet another long, cold winter behind them. A varied assortment of restaurants, cafes and bars can be found along the pier, offering something for most tastes and budgets. Remember to leave a tip in cafes and restaurants. 5-10% is the norm. Bygdoy, as mentioned earlier, is the place to go for museums. Here you’ll find: The Norwegian Folk Museum - Depicts rural life in Norway during the 18th century. Home to one of Norway’s oldest stave churches and 150 other buildings that've been transferred from various parts of the country. The museum is party open-air, partly indoor, including a variety of exhibitions. Guides are generally found in national costume. Entrance: adults kr 50, children/students/seniors kr 30. Viking Ship Museum – Houses the world’s best preserved viking ships and related artefacts. Entrance: Kr 40. Kon-Tiki Museum – Houses the raft which Thor Heyerdahl built to sail from America to Polynesia in 1947 as well as “Ra”, a papyrus raft in which he sailed half way around the world in 1970. Polar Museum – Houses “Fram”, the ship used by Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen in three separate polar expeditions. Built in 1892, the ship is exhibited with original interior and inventory. It’s worth mentioning that Bygdoy also has Oslo’s only naturist beach and that topless sunbathing is allowed, and widely practised, on all beaches in Norway. There are plenty more museums in Oslo, including The Munch Museum, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, The Ibsen Museum, The Henie-Onstad Art Centre and The Museum of Technology, the latter of which I’ve visited regularly and can highly recommend. If you like to enjoy an abundance of nightlife during your visits abroad, Oslo probably isn’t the best place to
head for. Having said that, I have to add that Oslo’s nightlife has picked up remarkably over the past 10 years or so, and if clubbing’s what you want, you will find places to go. Bare in mind that it won’t be cheap though. I well remember how quickly my bank account shrank during my days of clubbing, even though that was way back when…. when? Well, back in the 80’s. I’m past all that now. There are plenty of bars about, catering for all tastes. There are even a few English pubs along with an Irish pub of two. One place I would definitely recommend visiting is Frogner Park. This is home of Vigeland’s sculptures, 212 of them in all. Now don’t go imagining that they’re just like any other old sculpture you’d find dotted about the cities of the world because Frogner Park is truly unique. It’s worth visiting just for The Monolith alone. What’s that? A 46 foot monumental sculpture carved from a single block of granite, depicting the moods of human nature. Nowhere in the world will you find a collection of sculptures that cover human nature as thoroughly as the work of Vigeland, and the park is without doubt one of Oslo’s finest pearls. Unfortunately, Vigeland died before the park was completed. If you enjoy views, the Holmenkollen Ski Jump would be well worth visiting. It’s a long climb to the top, but once you’re up there, the views across Oslo and out over the fjord are sensational. Raadhusplassen (the area around the Town Hall) and the area surrounding Akers Festning are best avoided at night. These are the red light districts. Mind you, having said that, I’m sure there are some who’d visit those areas specifically for that reason. Each to their own, but either way, it’s worth knowing about. TRANSPORT Getting around in Oslo is easy. The T-Bane (metro line) goes underground in the city centre, over gro
und in the suburbs. Buses run regularly (yes, they’re actually on time) and trams still operate throughout the city. Taxis are abundant, but expensive. I wouldn’t recommend using them on an average tourist budget. Public transport day passes are available for 50 kroner; weekly passes are 150 kroner. These passes offer excellent value for money as they’re valid on the T-Bane, buses and trams. Tickets can be bought from bus and tram drivers. ACCOMMODATION Hotels are generally expensive, so the best idea, if you’re looking for comfortable accommodation, is to book a package deal. There are four Youth Hostels in Oslo, two of which are open all year round. Prices vary from about kr 190 to kr 350 for a night, which is about what you’d pay for a private B&B in the UK. Camping is allowed anywhere, as long as you’re 150 metres away from private houses or fenced boundaries. Unlike the UK, most privately owned land isn’t fenced in, meaning that you can pitch your tent or park your camper just about anywhere. Miles upon miles of magnificent countryside surround Oslo, so if you don’t mind roughing it a bit, I’d definitely recommend camping. MISC AND THINGS To see Oslo at its very best, I’d recommend visiting during May/June. There’s a special atmosphere in the city during those late spring months (remember that spring arrives later in Norway) that can’t be experienced at any other time. If you’re thinking of visiting during winter, just let me warn you that the city centre isn’t a particularly pretty sight. Don’t expect white, snow covered streets because what you’ll get is filthy exhaust polluted slush. Mind you, the countryside surrounding the city’s pretty enough and if you’re lucky, you might catch the World Cup in Ski-Jumping that’s arranged every year in March, at Holmenkollen.
The people of Oslo are generally friendly and most speak very good English. Oslo’s a busy city, and driving is a nightmare. If you should be foolish enough to rent a car, remember that any vehicle approaching from the right has right of way and they make sure they get it too. This applies on main roads too, so anybody coming from a right hand side-turning will just turn out in front of you. If I had a pound for every near miss I’ve had in Oslo, I’d be a rich woman now. But that isn’t the only problem; there are trams to deal with too. They stop for nobody! If you must drive, please keep your wits about you or we’ll never see you again. If you want more information about doing Oslo on a budget, there’s an excellent website at http://www.unginfo.oslo.no/useit/index.php called “StreetWise – Your Budget Guide to Oslo”. It covers just about anything you’d want to know, and is especially useful for anybody thinking about studying or working in Oslo. If you ever decide to go, do let me know what you thought. I’ll be envious though, because even though Oslo isn’t my favourite place, it’s part of Norway and any part of Norway is better than never seeing Norway at all. ~~+~~+~~
As I am living in London, I didn't really expect Oslo to be more expensive. That was quite a mistake I made there, but I am still glad I went. As Norway is not part of the EU, it's very expensive to import all the products, so you can expect prices three times higher than in London! Luckily Ryanair flies to Oslo-Torp for a very low price, from where you can take the bus into the Oslo city centre, which only takes about an hour, and it's a nice ride. I was also lucky booking my hotel in advance, as I got quite a good deal. Hotels are just as expensive as everything else, so shop around in advance! I was staying at the Radisson SAS, which is quite conveniently located in the city centre. Now, Oslo might be very expensive for eating and drinking, it has a lot of lovely museums and sights which are quite reasonably priced and absolutely worth it. An absolute must is taking a boat to the peninsula called Bygdoy, where all the major museums are located. It's a great boat trip and strolling around on the peninsula is also very nice, as it is a very highly desirable residential area too. One museum which you should definitely visit is the Vikingship Museum, where you can find some origional ships and their history. I also visited the folk museum, which show how Norwegian and other people used to live. If you are not tired of visiting museums after that, there's also a maritime museum. Another absolute must in Oslo is the Vigeland Sculpture Park, an enormous park with hundreds of sculptures which looks gorgeous! There's a small museum too, if you're interested. I only stayed for one weekend, so I didn't really have time to see more of Oslo, but all in all it has been a pleasant experience! The people are so laid back and friendly, their English is brilliant too! Like I said, eating and drinking is expensive, but it is very high quality indeed, and you should have at least one night on the town. I want
to return one day, because there was so much I didn't see. For me, this would be an ideal place to live! (if you can stand the cold)!
I spent a month working in Oslo in september last year. I had no idea what to expect but it is certainly a place I would undoubtedly visit again and I would not mind working in for a while. Oslo is beautifully situated at the mouth of a fjord. It spreads up from the water level into the surrounding hills and whilst encompassing quite a large area, Oslo has many parks and the city boundaries include areas of forest and lakes. It is a very clean city and generally wealthy. The dodgier areas tend to be around the Central Station at night. Transport in Oslo is easy and relatively cheap. A weekly travelcard costs roughly what the equivalent does in London and can be used for the tram, underground and buses which cover the whole city more than adequately and generally efficiently. Things to do include exploring the wealth of local museums such as one which contains two viking longboats which have been recovered and now preserved, the museum and park celebrating the work of the scultor Vigt, several art museums and the Kon-Tiki raft musem. There is aslo a botanical garden. Further on the outskirts is the Holmenkollen ski jump with its museum which is well worth a visit for the view from the top of the jump tower. Outdoor pursuits in summer include walking and mountainbiking in the area North of Oslo which comprises of forests and lakes and is actually suppled by the underground system. This area also doubles as nordic skiing country in winter with a variety of runs. Visting the islands in the fjord is well worth it as transport travel cards can also be used on the ferries. One of the islands has an old Cistercian monastery. Nightlife and restaurants surround the central square which is lively at night. Beware of the cost of food and drinks though ie. a pint costs about £4/£5 at cheap places. I would greatly recommend Oslo for a week's visit and as it is connected to the Western Fjords of Norway by train it could
be a starting point for a tour of more of the country
Everybody who has been to Oslo would probably tell you of the sky high prices one has to pay to get a decent meal. If you thought that a McDonalds value meal here cost too much ...then you will be happy to know that the the same value meal would cost you double in Oslo. So how is one expected to eat and survive in Oslo especially if you only have got pennies to spare? ..Luckily for us..Norway is well known for its fishing industry. If you dont mind tin fish balls which taste like soft rubber..then you can easily get it in one of the many convenient stores around Oslo for less than a pound (its a big tin too!). However theres an alternative to those little white round squashy balls ..thank God that He created Oslo just next to the sea and that we can get our daily required proteins fresh from the sea in the form of freshly boiled shrimps. When I say fresh ..i really do mean fresh, you would definitely give fresh a new meaning when you taste this prawns. They are freshly caught in the sea and are then boiled on the boat so that when the boats arrive in the habour, all you have to do is surrender 25k(about 2£) for 500 grams of frshly boiled prawns that are juicy,bouncy and succulent. Eat that for the next two days and you dont have to worry about your protein intake for the next whole week!..Oh! and the fishing boats are just behing the Radhus.
Oslo (called Christiania in 1624-1878 and Kristiania in 1878-1924) is the capital and largest city of Norway. The population of the city proper is 548,617 (as of January 1, 2007). The city area extends into the surrounding county of Akershus, with a total population of 825,105 in the conurbation (as of January 1, 2004). The city has a current annual growth exceeding 15,000. The city centre of Oslo is situated at the end of the Oslofjord from where the city sprawls out both to the north and to the south on both sides of the fjord giving the city area more or less the shape of a U. Oslo's metropolitan area, also referred to as the Greater Oslo region (Stor-Osloregionen) and which extends beyond the city boundaries, has an estimated population of 1,121,020 citizens (2005) and a land area of 6 920 km². In the entire Oslo Fjord Region there is a total population of about 1.7 million. About 22 % of the population of Oslo is comprised of immigrants. The urban municipality (bykommune) of Oslo and county (fylke) is the same entity. Of Oslo's total area, 115 km² is built-up and 7 km² is agricultural. The open areas within the built-up zone amount to 22 km².