Today, I’m joining the 100 cities to homeswap before you die-initiative and I’ll let you in on how to spend a perfect day in Oslo. (For more information on the project, click on the link at the end of the article.)
It’s not easy. That’s not because there’s a shortage of things to enjoy, quite the contrary. Oslo is packed with things to do – outdoors and in; quite a few are even free. But what to choose: that’s the question.
Winter is still here and there are plenty of temptations to lure the kids away from the screens and out in the snow. In fact, it’s snowing right now, which means just about everyone and their dog will be out in the forest enjoying what might be one of the last skiing Sundays of the season.
But for our perfect day, we’ll focus on spring; it’s just around the corner. We won’t go to the forest today, there simply isn’t time. Instead we’ll take to the fjord. The hop-on hop-off old wooden sail ship that plies Oslo harbour is perfect – it stops at City Hall, the Opera House and Bygdøy Museum Peninsula.
Getting on at City Hall, we’ll soon sail past the 700-year-old Akershus Fortress. I love seeing Oslo from the water – and imagine how it must have felt to be a Viking returning home after months – or even years – at sea. Oslo celebrated its 1000-year anniversary in 2000 – and while the skyline has certainly changed since 1000 AD, nature remains much the same: hills and forests surround the city on three sides; the fjord is on the fourth.
We’ll get off the ship at Oslo Opera House and take a stroll up the sloping marble roof for fabulous fjord views. If you have young children along, be aware: running down the slope is very tempting and there are no guard rails before you hit the chilling waters of the fjord.
By now we’re in the mood for morning coffee, and since the weather is lovely, we’ll have it outdoors, right at the water’s edge. In winter – or in the rain – Brasserie Sanguine offers coffees (or lunches or dinners) indoors, with smashing views through the enormous glass wall.
Getting back on the boat, we’ll continue to Bygdøy. This peninsula is home to great hikes, fabulous beaches and Oslo’s best museums. Again, considering we only have one day, we have to choose between several wonderful maritime museums, including intrepid explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s ocean-crossing raft Kon-Tiki, the Viking Ship house, and more.
My 11-year-old is along, and she loves ambling about the deck of the polar ship Fram, used by the first man to ever reach the South Pole, Roald Amundsen. The best thing about this little museum is that we can board the Fram and have a look in the cabins, the lounges, the engine room and the cargo hold. I can imagine how it must have been out at the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica back in 1911.
About time for lunch? We’ll get back on our sailing ship one final time and head back to City Hall and Aker Brygge, a renovated ship yard full of quirky shops and great cafes, bars and restaurants. We’ll have lunch wherever takes our fancy, whether we’re in the mood for fabulous seafood, pasta, Japanese food, or just about anything else. There’s even an American diner.
A perfect day in Oslo will probably include Frogner Park
Everyone loves Frogner Park, so after lunch, we’ll hop on the tram and go west to join (or watch) locals rollerblading, walking their dogs, enjoying the sunshine and the scent of roses. Kids love to climb on the many sculptures in the park, all created by Gustav Vigeland. Or they’ll imitate them: Sinnataggen, the Angry Little Boy, is perfect for this.
A short tram ride – or a brisk 20-minute walk – takes us back to the city centre where we’ll walk down main street Karl Johan to one of Oslo’s most iconic restaurants, Grand Cafe. This used to be the hangout of the Christiania Bohemians, a gang of artists in the late 1880s. Noted playwright Henrik Ibsen was one of them. Twice a day he used to walk to Grand Cafe to enjoy a tankard of beer and read the newspapers.
Before we sit down, we’ll have a look at the large mural in the back of the restaurant depicting the Bohemians. You’ll see the great author in the left corner. He’s the man with the white beard and the top hat.
Since it’s a lovely day, we’ll enjoy our own beer outside in the afternoon sunshine (tea or hot chocolate for the little ones), where we’ll people-watch. The pavement outside Grand Cafe isn’t known as the catwalk for nothing.
We’ve had a full day, so perhaps we’ll just sit here, being lazy until it’s dinnertime. If we feel energetic, we might take a little stroll through Spikersuppa, the area between Parliament and the National Theatre. Or we could pop by one or two of the many snazzy shops at Paleet. There are all sorts of fancy clothing shops (perhaps you need a pair of Ilse Jacobsen wellies (rubber boots) for rainy days) or we’ll browse Tanum, one of Oslo’s largest book shops.
Here are a few more posts on Oslo:
- 17 May – Hip hip hooray! (about Norway’s cherished national day traditions)
… and here are a few from National Geographic’s Intelligent Traveler Blog:
- Oslo Celebrates (about Christmas traditions)
This post is part of the 100 cities to home swap before you die-initiative from Knok.com – hop on over for a look at perfect days in cities around the world.
Every time I’m in Oslo I always end up walking up and down Karl Johan and I have not visited all the other places for decades. Same. So thanks a lot for the reminder of all the other great places.
Come up this summer, Mette, and I’ll take you around. If we’re lucky, the weather might even be great.
Sounds like a really nice day out in Oslo! There’s definitely a few places there I haven’t visited yet 🙂
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
It sounds like an interesting day out for anyone. I don’t hear much about Oslo but it certainly is a place to visit. Whenever I hear about Vikings I wonder how it must have been during their time. Great read!
Sounds like a glorious day to me. In fact I’m sending the link to a friend who will be visiting next year when her daughter studies in Oslo for a term.
Last week I felt like spring was around the corner but not this week – as cold as January and lots of snow. Nice to be thinking of WHAT one’s city will be like though.
It’s still cold here, too – but not long now…
I love having the problem of “too many options”. This definitely does look like a perfect day in Oslo, now I just need to actually visit Oslo 🙂
Pop up here any time, Laurel.
Noted and filed for future reference. I’d especially love to visit on the Fram.
That’s one of my faves, too. Probably because I’m totally fascinated with the polar explorers.
Spring can’t come fast enough to Stavanger! The sun is out but it’s still freeeeezing!
Same here. Helps with sun, I think.
Totally agree with the fortress and the opera house – was on the opera house in the middle of winter a few years ago, and it was great fun with all the snow (although SO cold). I personally love Aker Brygge and I stood and admired those statues at the tables for a while trying for the best angle! 🙂
How cool that you’ve seen those statues, Christina. I only noticed them a little while ago, yet they’ve been around for ages.
Great tips–thanks! Perfect timing too–I am heading to Olso in a couple months, and these look like great places to check out!
Thanks, and have fun here 🙂
I am so sadly to say that I just saw your post about what no do in Oslo.
I am going in cold season, 2 days only, and I was wondering do the Norway in a nutshell
Could you please say a cheap ,but worthy way to go to a fjord like the ones in NiN tour?
I am student backpacker, travelling by myself for the first time to Europe. Blogs like your are just blessing to a begginer like me ! Thank you !
Thanks. If you only have 2 days, the best is to take the tour through NSB (the national railways). It’s possible to do this tour in only one (very long) day, but two is better.
Is it possible go to Preikestolen in week day at 23rd Apri ( Tuesday) ?
I am dreaming hike on it.
I saw in one site that the boat and ferry only work in weekends and on may. I will go swimming if required :);
Thanks for helping !
One more question. Hope without bother. I will land on Sandefjord Airport, Torp. Which train station match with Sandefjord Airport, Torp?
Which put on nsb.no to go to Stavanger? Torp? Sandefjord?
I googled it but still could not find out.
The nearest train station to Torp airport is Sandefjord (there’s a free shuttle between the airport and the train station). Going from Sandefjord to Stavanger is a bit awkward, as you have to change trains in Drammen. The total train journey takes about 10 hours.
Much quicker then (and not too expensive) to fly from Torp to Stavanger – check http://www.wideroe.no/en for flights.
Looks like the ferry (and the bus) begins operations in May, so if you’re there in April, you would probably have to hire a car and drive to Pulpit Rock Lodge. Better not swim, water is bound to be freezing 🙂
Thanks for the advices. I got a flight to Haugesund Airpot for only 10 E:). I also giving one day more on my eurotrip to this amazing country, I will stay 3 days now rather than 2,
The thing is that not looks like so easy to get to Preikestolen hostel by night, despite is the HAU airport is so much close than the one in TORP.
You’re right, Sophie, that’s quite an impressive entrance to Oslo. I can only imagine how the Vikings must have felt when they returned home. Thanks for this tour.
Any time 🙂
You are having perfect day in Oslo! I also love photos you take from the water, it’s a great view. Good post!
wow.. it’s awesome. Norway seems to be a worth watching country. please tell me the best time to visit this amazing country called Norway??
Sorry for the late reply. Best time to visit depends on your interest, but in general, it’s right about now – between May and September, when the days are long.
They love their statues in Oslo dont they 🙂
We’ve been thinking of going for a while as Its getting my accessible to visit now because the cheaper European airlines now have flights going to Oslo but I was worried that its out of our price range, I’ve heard its very expensive?
Inexpensive lodgings and restaurants exist, but it does take a bit of research to find. They’re usually to the east of the city centre.
It’s a very pretty city indeed 🙂
I’m a big Jo Nilsson fan. Does anyone give tours of the Oslo sites in his wonderful mystery novels?
Do you mean Jo Nesbø, Vera? If so, there’s a Harry Hole walking tour every Tuesday. I haven’t done it, but there’s more info here http://www.osloguide.no/html/harry_hole.html