There is nothing quite like the Scandinavian summer for endless hours of daylight and it really allows you to pack in the sight-seeing. Three days in Oslo is just enough time for you to get a feeling for the city and then wish you didn’t have to leave!
We arrived by coach from Gothenburg and the first thing that we did was to purchase an Oslo pass (745 NOK). Not cheap but well worth it if you intend, like we did, to visit a number of museums and galleries and freely use the local transport.
We stayed at the Radisson Park Inn which was brilliantly located near a central tram stop.
It was a little overcast and threatening to rain on our first day, so because the weather looked excellent for the rest of our stay, we opted to do indoor activities first.
We took a tram to Aker Brygge which is known for its pier and restaurants. It’s a busy place teeming with people catching ferries and sitting at the outdoor tables. The onset of the rain didn’t seem to stop too much of the action, but we headed into the Nobel peace centre to escape getting too wet.
The centre showcases the peace prizes and other exhibitions that relate to war, peace and conflict. There is a vast area where you can engage with information on all the peace prize laureates over the years and it was good to find our own Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The current non-permanent exhibition called “Generation Wealth” by the award-winning film-maker and photographer Lauren Greenfield was showing in Europe for the first time. This compelling display depicts today’s all-consuming pursuit of status, beauty and wealth. It’s a unique presentation of how the pursuit of material goods and sexual capital has developed over time and around the world.
“The thing about this project is: It’s not about the rich, it’s really about our aspiration to wealth, and our needing to show it off whether we have it or not.” – Lauren Greenfield
“The pursuit of affluence is never ending. It’s an addiction like any other.” – Lauren Greenfield.
I found it eye-opening, shocking and tragic.
Fortunately the rain had stopped and a number of street food wagons had gathered in the square outside. On offer were burgers, tacos, crêpes and fish ‘n chips. We opted for the latter – quite outstanding!
We hopped onto the Museum Ferry to the Viking Ship museum at Bygdøy. Here we saw three beautifully preserved Viking ships and finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjords. These vessels were used to sail the seas and afterwards were used as burial tombs. All the vessels contained human remains and practical implements and treasures indicating a belief in the afterlife. The really valuable stuff had sadly been looted. It’s quite awesome to stand beneath the hull of a graceful and elaborately carved warship and imagine it setting out to sea under the hands of fierce Viking warriors.
It was still drizzling outside, so we took the No 13 bus to the Fram Museum nearby.
It’s an amazing exhibition that brings to life the Norwegian polar expeditions and explorations. The Fram is the strongest wooden ship ever built and still holds records for sailing farthest north and south. You can climb onboard and see first hand the cramped and awkward living conditions. Most interesting for me was the tragic story brought to life of Ronald Amundsen and Robert Scott’s race to discover the South Pole.
Located right next door is the Kon-Tiki Museum. This exhibition houses the rafts of Thor Heyerdahl and chronicles his expeditions, the most famous of which he and five companions sailed the raft for 101 days over 6,900 km across the Pacific Ocean before smashing into a reef in Polynesia.
All museum-ed out, we hopped on the ferry back to Aker Brygge and the tram to our hotel.
For supper we ventured out to a nice shopping and restaurant area in Dronningan’s gate and chose Risbolle Thai restaurant. It was so nice to sit down and relax with a tasty meal after a day that involved a lot of walking and standing about in museums.
“Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.” – Thor Heyerdahl
We woke to a sunny and clear day and decided to make the most of the lovely weather. We had a simple but good breakfast in our hotel and then took the tram to the Oslo Opera house. What an amazing building. It seems to rise right out of the sea. The unusual aspect of the design is that you can walk right onto the roof and see for miles around. The architectural lines and materials make it fun to photograph and we spent a quite some time walking all over it as well as inside.
Geoff had read about a great walk that you could do from Nydalen along the Akerselva river all the way almost into the city centre. We caught a tram to Nydalen and then began the walk that criss-crosses the water with interesting bridges and subways, quirky parks and gorgeous waterfalls.
We made it to Mathallen where we were excited to try the food hall famous for its Norwegian and International culinary delights. It was hard to choose, but the dim sum won us over.
I have never seen so many mothers and babies in one place!
We meandered up to Telthusbakken, a street with old wooden houses from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, lovingly restored and painted bright colours.
We continued towards the trendy Grünerløkka district which is also home to Oslo’s National academy of the arts. We loved the quirky street art and colorful artworks that appeared in the narrow little streets. So much fun.
Our plan for the afternoon prioritised Vigeland Sculpture in Frogner Park so of course we hopped on a bus!
OMG I loved this beautiful place. We were blessed with perfect weather and Frogner Park was an ideal place to enjoy it. The Park houses over 200 sculptures in bronze and granite by Gustav Vigeland, who also oversaw the exquisite design of the Park. We wandered about enjoying the masses of roses and manicured hedges, the incredible fountain and the crazy but powerful sculptures.
We dragged ourselves away and took a bus and a tram to the primary shopping area of Karl Johan street. Overtired and with aching feet, I squeezed in a teeny bit of clothes shopping 😄
After refreshing ourselves at the hotel we set off in search of a casual restaurant we’d discovered online called ‘Illegal Burger’ purported to have the best burgers in Oslo. We scared a young man when asking for directions. I’m not sure he believed I was looking for food! The entrance was a super-dodgy hole in the wall, but Illegal Burger delivered the goods. What a vibe and what great tasting burgers.
Illegal Burger with Bacon and Gorgonzola
As it was obviously still light after dinner, we decided to head back to the Opera house to take more pics, this time with the sun on the opposite side. We retraced our steps and enjoyed the gorgeous light that seems to linger forever.
Took the tram home for a well-deserved sleep.
One of the things on my Oslo bucket list was to see Munch’s “Scream”. The painting is housed in the National Museum. We took a tram and a bus to get there although it was fairly close to our hotel. I was still feeling the pain of overdoing the walking when we were in Copenhagen.
The National Gallery was wonderful. We were taken aback at all the famous paintings that were housed there. It’s so refreshing to stumble on a Van Gogh or a Matisse or Delacroix when you never dreamt it would be in an Oslo Gallery. The Scream was surprisingly small and like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, it was the most crowded area.
It was great to see it though.
After the Gallery we needed some fresh air and walked down a part of Karl Johan gate
Next we took 2 buses to the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. Wow! What an incredible building. The whole area around the museum features stunning architecture and modern spaces. We spent time wandering around and taking pictures. The weather started to turn so we headed inside and enjoyed some of the startling works of art, some of which were completely lost on me.
Hungry again, so we thought that we couldn’t leave Oslo without trying their famed waffles. We took a Tram to Harald’s, known for brilliant bacon and gorgonzola waffles. Delicious for a light meal.
We walked back to our hotel and repacked our cases for an early start in the morning. We then set off for dinner at Mama’s in Dronningen’s gate, renowned for their pizzas. Just yum. I could eat there every day!
What a great ending to a superb three days in the Norwegian capital.