Some destinations can capture your heart and your imagination in instant. Others gently grow on you and then, out of no where, it hits you, and you realise how special and interesting they are. Oslo, for me, was the latter and now I feel that it is a city that I could happily live in and somewhere that I cannot wait to return to.
The capital of Norway is one of Europe’s largest in terms of area but has one of the lowest population densities on the continent; just 322 inhabitants per square kilometre (in London we have an average of 5,285 inhabitants per square kilometre and in England we have an average of 411 inhabitant per square kilometre). This means that the city feels spacious, uncrowded, lush and relaxed. Its calming influence is noticeable in the faces of those who call the city their home and, after a couple of days, in those visiting.
It is a city in transition with new, innovative and contemporary architecture springing up everywhere. Take a stroll from the Royal Palace, along the waterfront districts of Aker Brygge and Tjuvolmen to the Astrup Fearnley modern art museum to see for yourself the sympathetic changes afoot. The buildings have been designed to blend into the landscape and to bring the outside in.
From shopping streets, world-class museums and restaurants to parks, waterfront promenades and the fjord, Oslo has it all. Take a walk around the city and discover its delights for yourself.
The Opera House:
Opened in 2008, the Opera House is one of the city’s main artistic centres and one of its greatest attractions. You can climb the slopes of the building and enjoy lunch on its marble rooftop. Views from the top are over the Oslofjord and the city.
The Royal Palace:
On the central street of Oslo, the Royal Palace is the official residence of King Harald V and Queen Sonja. The lack of fences and barriers surrounding the property is symbolic of their connection with the Norwegian people. Surrounding the palace is Slottsgarden, perfect for a stroll or for a picnic.
Home to a collection of works by Munch (including The Scream) Cezanne, Picasso and Manet, a visit to the National Gallery is highly recommended. There is a lovely cafe on the ground floor.
Vigeland Sculpture Park:
A must-see attraction in Oslo, the Vigeland Sculpture Park will not only appeal to art aficionados but, also those wanting to experience the ‘green side’ of Oslo. Locals can be found here jogging, reading and relaxing.
Accessed by a tram from the city centre, Holmenkollen is an affluent residential area surrounded by forests. It is home to Oslo’s ski jump and cross country skiing trails, as well as an abundance of marked walking routes. The views from Holmenkollen over Oslo and the Oslofjord are the best in the city!
Aker Brygge and Tjuvolmen:
Head to the waterfront districts of Anker Brygge and Tjuvolmen in the evenings, and mingle with the locals in the numerous restaurants and bars.
Accessible by a short boat ride or bus from the city centre, Bygdoy is home to some of the best museums in Oslo. It is here that you will find the Fram Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum, Norwegian Folk Museum and the excellent, Viking Ship Museum. There are also walking trails and beaches on the island.