Oslo Survival Guide
I have now returned from my adventures in Oslo, and I can confidently say that it is possibly the most beautiful country I have ever visited. Stunning pine woods thick with snow lie above a clean and charismatic city in a medley of nature and human creation. I stayed just outside the city, up in the hills near Holmenkollen, and I could easily spend hours talking about the breathtaking views and the crisp mountain air, but instead I present to you a survival guide - my top tips on how to make the most of the city.
- Language: Norwegian
- Currency: Nordic Krona
- Cost: $$$
- Best way to get around: The city itself is very easy to explore by foot, but to reach just outside the city to areas such as Holmenkollen you are best taking the metro which costs around £3 for a single ticket - which is valid for one hour to any destination.
- When to go: Pretty much any time of the year would be worth it, but you will get very different experiences.
- December-February if you love the snow and fancy a bit of skiing.
- April is the perfect time to witness the changing of the seasons, where days reach 16 degrees in the air and yet feet of snow still lie on the ground.
- If snow is not your friend then May-September is best for you, where you can enjoy leisurely hikes in the sunshine, and take a dip in one of the many lakes to cool off.
WHAT TO SEE
- Holmenkollen Ski Jump - Not a sight that is easily missed, as it towers over the city, at a few hundred feet tall. This magnificent structure has been used for major ski jump competitions throughout the decades including the 1952 winter Olympics, and when not in use for ski jumpers, it is is host to a zipline that stretches 361m down from the very top of the jump. Adrenaline seekers - this ones for you!
- Royal Palace and Slottsparken - a beautiful park in the summer time, the Slottsparken surrounds the centerpiece that is the home of the Norwegian royal family. You can walk straight up to the front doors, and take a photo with the royal guards, before taking a stroll around the stunning grounds.
- Akershus Festning and Slott - Oslo's fortress. A vast complex that houses a few museums, as well as a castle, all confined within grand stone walls which you are free to walk along. The grounds are also host to a number of incredibly eerie art pieces that have joined the fortress in recent years that will leave you feeling slightly unsettled, particularly on a grey foggy day.
WHAT TO DO
- Walk on the roof of the Oslo Opera House. This building is certainly one of a kind. Built in
2008 as part of a major waterfront renovation project that will continue until 2020, the opera house is an abstract work of art. Sloping roofs reaching up from the ground allow you to walk all the way to the top of the building, offering one of a kind views over the city.
- Visit the Astrup Fearnley Museum - Also located in Oslo's recently renovated waterfront, this is a museum not to be missed. Displaying exhibitions from different contemporary artists, it is a museum full of the weird and wonderful.
- Visit the Nobel Peace Center - The most beautifully moving museum I have ever visited, the museum explores the major peace movements throughout the world since the creation of the Nobel Peace Prize back in 1901. In particular you cannot miss the spectacular display on the 1st floor of all of the previous peace prize winners. You enter a room full of deep blue and purple lights, with soothing bells softly chiming - and are surrounded by the faces of all of the previous winners of the prize displayed on screens. As you stand over a screen, the bells chime and the lights around the display twinkle as the screen changes to offer you a wealth of information about the prize winner.
- Hike around the woods North of Holmenkollen. If you can only do one thing in Norway, make it a hike. The views through these woods are breathtaking, and if your lucky you might spy some of the local wildlife - woodpeckers, deer, or even a Moose or two!
WHERE TO STAY?
I stayed in the perfect little cabin just outside the city, on the very edge of the forest. It houses two people (a twin bedroom), and looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. (Warning: The cabin is VERY cosy. If you are tall, like my 6 foot brother who I traveled with, then hitting your head regularly may be an issue. 5ft 3 me was perfectly fine however!) It was an airbnb house which I would highly reccomend - our host Elsebeth was incredibly helpful and responsive. Plus nothing beats staying high up enough that you are above the clouds (we woke up many mornings to find the city had dissapeared below us in a thick layer of cloud).
TOP 3 TO PACK?
- Snacks. Whilst beautiful and fascinating Oslo is without a doubt a very expensive city. To avoid being ripped off make sure you bring snacks from home to stave off hunger without spending a penny. Also bring a water bottle with you everywhere to avoid paying over £3 for a bottle of coke.
- More layers than you think. Even in summer Norway can suddenly turn very cold. During my trip I spent one day comfortably strolling around in 16 degree sunshine, before freezing the next day as it dropped to 4 degrees and I was thoroughly unprepared.
- Good shoes. Whether it be strolling through the city or hiking through the woods, you will be sure to walk a lot. Bring some good walking shoes to save your feet any unnecessary trauma.
And finally, a little list for you to try to see as many of these things as you possibly can whilst you explore the city:
- Trolls (probably just merchandise, but triple points if you see the real deal!)
- The Scream (hint: check out the national gallery)
- Woodpeckers. Whilst they do live in the UK, they are often hard to find. Take a stroll through the woods of Holmenkollen and you'll be sure to see (or hear) one before you know it!
- Snow. The difficultly level increases as you get closer to summer.