Norway, one of the northernmost countries in the world, is famous for its fjords, northern lights, midnight sun, mountains, and many other natural wonders. Its capital and largest city, Oslo was named European Green Capital 2019 and is one of Europe’s fastest-growing cities. It’s also one of the most exciting European cities to visit now.
Located in Norway’s southern coast, surrounded by 40 islands, over 300 lakes, forests, and mountains, Oslo offers a perfect combination of city life and nature. You can easily go on a hike in the woods, swim in the fjord and attend a concert and dine at a fancy restaurant in Oslo, all in one day. Whether you have a day or a week, make sure you schedule these 5 things to do in Oslo:
1. Explore Oslo’s architectural gems
Top on the list of architectural gems is The Norwegian Opera and Ballet, Oslo Opera House. The opera house is made for guests to walk on the roof and admire the beauty of the city and fjord from the top.
The opera house sits on Bjørvika waterfront by Oslo fjord, just five minutes from the Central Station. After enjoying the view from the rooftop, go from the main entrance located at the lowest point of the sloping roof to the inside. Check out the wave wall, the windows, and find out the upcoming events at the opera house.
Behind the opera house is the Barcode district, the new skyline in Oslo, and the place to see extraordinary architectural designs. The twelve buildings of different height, width, design, and character in Barcode were constructed from 2005 to 2016.
For older architectural gems, check out Oslo Town Hall, constructed between 1931 to 1950. It’s where Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies are held. Don’t miss the artwork in the town hall.
Equinor, Domkirkeodden museum, “Smykkeskrinet” Conference Center and Holmenkollenbakken Ski Museum and Tower should be on your list if you like architecture and unique structures.
2. Check out the museums
Norsk Folkemuseum, The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, is an open-air museum with 155 traditional houses from all over Norway. The museum also houses a stave (medieval wooden) church from the 1200s. There’s also an indoor museum showcasing traditional handicraft items, folk costumes, Sami culture, toys, weapons, and more.
If you want to learn about the history of skiing, see ski equipment that dates back to the 600s, go to The Ski Museum. It’s the world’s oldest ski museum, founded in 1928.
Fram Museum or Fram Polar Ship Museum has exhibitions about polar exploration, and guests have an opportunity to go onboard Fram, the Polar Ship.
By the fall of 2020, the new Munch Museum with 11 exhibition halls on seven floors with 28,000 artwork will open. It’s a museum dedicated to the works of Edvard Munch, a Norwegian painter and graphic artist, who is best known for his work The Scream.
3. Eat Norwegian food in Engebret Cafe
Norway has the absolute best and freshest seafood in the world. When visiting, try smoked salmon, gravlax and fermented trout. These traditional seafood dishes are easily available on breakfast buffet tables in most hotels and also in cafes and restaurants.
But if you want to try reindeer or moose, go to one of the old restaurants in Oslo. Engebret Cafe, located at Bankplassen in Oslo’s downtown, is the oldest restaurant in Oslo. In operation since 1857, Engebret Café has an old world and an unhurried atmosphere. It’s one of the few places in Oslo that serves reindeer.
4. Take a fjord sightseeing cruise
Enjoy a scenic cruise on the Oslo Fjord through a maze of islands, narrow inlets, and passing by the famous museums on Bygdøy Peninsula and the Opera House.
You can get your cruise tickets at the meeting point at City Hall pier 3.
5. Visit a floating sauna in Oslo
Oslo harbor has several sauna facilities that cater to visitors of all ages.
SALT offers sauna and entertainment in three different saunas – Árdna, Skroget, and Naustet. You can rent one for private use or enjoy the sauna in a group setting.
KOK is a sauna boat that offers a sauna experience, baths, and sightseeing in the inner Oslo Fjord. If you like, you can jump into the cold water of Oslo Fjord. The boats are located opposite the Opera House, just five minutes from the Oslo Central Station.