Monday, 25 May 2015

10 Things to see and do in Oslo - A quick guide

Oslo… I’m in love with this city. It’s maybe not that classical beauty like many of the Central and South European cities (think e. g. of  Paris, Vienna or Prague) but it has its charm.
There are nice old buildings too, there are great shopping areas and restaurants and a great nightlife (I probably wouldn’t believe that if I hadn’t experienced it). There are awesome parks and a great waterfront to walk along the fjord. Nature is not as far away as in other cities (you can use the subway to go skiing!) as Oslo is surrounded by mountains and forests and the fjord.
Oslo has a certain Skandinavian chic, it seems quite young and hip to me, with a good mix of energetic and relaxed vibes depending on where you’re heading.

When to go

Having been to Oslo quite a few times now, I think all seasons are equally great to go. I mostly visited in winter for a short city trip. There’s snow and ice flows then on the fjord and this creates a nice winter atmosphere. The advantage of winter is that there aren't that many tourists (I don't know about christmas time though) and there are still many things to do. However, in summer, you can sit outside by the sea and enjoy the green parks and forests. So if you fancy dining on the pavement and going swimming on the nearby islands you should rather visit in the warm season.

How to get there and around

There are many direct flight connections from Europe (e. g. Berlin, London, Prague) to several airports around Oslo whereas Gardermoen is the main airport and nearest to the city. There are train and bus connections to the city centre from all airports. By car or train it's a very long journey (via Denkmark and Sweden) so I wouldn't recommend that. However in my opinion, the best way to get to Oslo is by ship. There are several ferry lines from Denmark, Sweden and Germany and you can take your car with you if you need it. I particularly love taking the cruise ferry Colorline from Kiel because it's a very relaxed and a bit luxurious journey of 20 hours in which you can enjoy yourself like on a real cruise ship.
Getting around is easy in Oslo as many sights are in downtown or close enough to walk from there. For transport I would recommend using public transport (especially the tram) as the system is easy to understand and it's relatively cheap (buy tickets e. g. in front of the main station).

Colorline Ferry

Where to stay

Oslo can be really pricey so I would recommend looking for accomodation via Airbnb or choosing a budget hotel (like the Thon hotels). If you're travelling by ferry, the ferry lines (especially Colorline) are offering very good hotel deals. There are several hostels in the city too that seem nice but I haven't tried those.

10 Things to see and do

1) Karl Johans Gate 

Karl Johans Gate
This is the big main street that goes through the city centre and connects the main station with the Royal Palace. Walking along this street you're right in the heart of the action. You see some of the most important buildings like the paliament, the national theatre and the cathedral. There's a little park (where you can go ice skating in winter), lots of restaurants and shops and you should just wander and dive into the feel of the city.

Domkirke Cathedral

2) Shopping one of the main things you can do at Karl Johanns Gate, e. g. here...
Moods of Norway Shop
Besides the known brands there are some good stores of Scandinavian brands that are my favourite for shopping (be sure to check out Lindex and Moods of Norway). Despite the generally pricey city most of the stores are moderately priced and they've got great stuff. The cool thing is that they're a bit more up to date with fashion than shops in Germany. So whenever I go shopping there, I now what's coming into fashion a few months later back home.

3) The Opera House

Opera house
The Opera House lies near the city centre and main station in the fjord. Yes, you got that right -in the fjord! It's a piece of art made from Carrara marble and it's supposed to look like ice flow swimming in the fjord. I've actually never been in the opera house (that's still on my bucket list) but several times on it. Yes, this is the next great fact - you can actually take a walk on the opera house (some Norwegians even go for a run there) or sit on it and have a picnic. The view over the fjord is really nice.

View from the Opera house

4) Akershus Fortress

This medieval fortress is not far from the opera, so you can take a short walk through the old town to get there. Although I'm not that fond of history, I find it interesting to take a look around the old stone walls, the royal stables and the ancient cannons. I would also say that you have one of the best views over the fjord and towards Akerbrygge from there. 

View from Akershus Fortress

5) The waterfront

Speaking of Akerbrygge, you can take a short walk there from Akershus Fortress and you'll pass the charming little harbour, the town hall (which is open to visitors) and the Nobel Peace Center. 
Waterfront view

Oslo Town Hall
Akerbrygge itself is a seafront neighbourhood which is great for shopping and dining but very pricey and touristy. You can walk along the water, take in the modern architecture and have an ice cream - you must have Norwegian soft ice cream - it's yum! - but I wouldn't recommend dining there. Dining is rather great in...

6) Grünerløkka

Grunerlokka is probably not a secret tip anymore but the restaurants here are still much more affordable and often better than in downtown Oslo or at the waterfront. This charming little neighbourhood seems to be where students hang around and has a very relaxed atmosphere that is great for strolling along the small streets, shopping in small boutiques and having coffee in a nice little café.

Shopping in Grünerløkka
French food in Grünerløkka
Grünerløkka by night in winter

7) Walk along the Akerselva

Walking to Grunerlokka from Downtown you can take the route along the Akerselva which is a small river through the city. This was a very industrial part of the city with the river delivering water and power for industrial companies. Nowadays, it's a green escape in the city, surrounded by parks and nature trails. Walking along, you pass some old industrial buildings that are now used as museums, apartment buildings and much more.

8) All the Museums

Speaking of museums, if you're into history you'll find a great bunch of museums in Oslo. Some of the best are probably the ones at Bygdøy peninsula, where you can find 5 museums about the history of seafaring (e. g. in the Viking Ship Museum or the Fram Museum which I really liked) and about the Norwegian culture and history. I haven't visited many of Oslo's museums so far (I'm definitely planning to though) but some of the best art museums that are on my list are the Munch Museum (the famous painter) and the Vigeland Museum near Vigelandsparken.

9) Vigelandsparken

Entrance alley of Vigelandsparken
Vigelandsparken is a sculpture park that is a part of the big Frognerparken (Frogner Park). The famous artist Gustav Vigeland especially made quite true to original stone and brazen sculptures of humans in different ages and different states of mind. Vigeland tried to capture the cycle of life with these sculptures and it's really fascinating to walk along the alleys that are lined with his sculptures.

Sculpture fountain in Vigelandsparken

10) The Nightlife

Well, I haven't got many pictures of this one because I don't usually take pictures while dancing and drinking (haha). And there is definitely a lot of drinking and dancing in Oslo. Especially at the weekends, many restaurants turn into a party location at night. Besides, there are numerous pubs, bars and dance clubs around and Scandinavian people really know how to dress up and party. You can't be overdressed when going out in Norway. So, when visiting Oslo, you should't miss going out  and experiencing the bubbling nightlife.

So, these are some of the best things I have experienced in Oslo so far. I hope, this gives you a good impression of what Oslo is like. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or anything to add. Love, Kerstine

No comments:

Post a Comment