Norway’s 100-year-old capital city is a technicolor destination with Instagram-worthy natural views and architecture. Perched on the southern coast of the Oslo Fjord, its popular 100-kilometer waterway, Oslo is Norway’s most populated city—and its most expensive. Year-round, visitors immerse themselves in outdoor activities, world-class dining, rich cultural experiences and a bustling nightlife.
After suffering a three-year lag, western Europe’s leading oil and gas producer shows signs of timid economic growth. Easing inflation and rising oil prices are helping reactivate Norway’s sluggish petroleum-dependent economy. Business travel decreased along with the declining oil sector, but the weakened krone (Norway’s currency) means visitors got more value for their money.
Getting to and from the airport
Oslo Airport is the main hub and international airport in Norway; it’s located 35 kilometers (22 miles) northeast of Oslo in the city of Gardermoen. Oslo is also served by Torp Airport, located 1.5 hours south of the city. Visitors may use trains, taxis or buses to get to and from the airport. Train trips from the city center to the airport last about 20 minutes. Fixed-rate taxi companies operate from all Oslo airport terminals and can be found just outside the arrivals hall. Representatives at the airport’s taxi information desk can assist.
Getting around Oslo
The train is part of the Ruter public transportation system of city and regional buses, trams, subway, local trains and ferries. Ticket fares vary by the frequency and number of zones traveled. A single ticket fare for one zone is 33 krone for adults and 17 krone for children and seniors ($US1=8.61 krone). The Oslo Pass offers unlimited free trips by bus, tram, underground, boat and local train within Zone 1 (Oslo) and Zone 2. Cars and bicycles are also available for rent.
Where to stay
For upscale accommodations in walking distance of popular attractions, try the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Oslo (Sonja Henies plass 3, 0185 Oslo; Ph: 47-22-058000) or Clarion Collection Hotel Savoy (Universitetsgata 11, 0164 Oslo; Ph: 47-23-354200).
Midscale options include Park Inn Oslo (Ovre Slottsgate 2C, 0157 Oslo; Ph: 47-22-400100) or Scandic ByPorten Oslo (Jernbanetorget 6, 0154 Oslo; Ph: 47-23-155500).
Things to see and do
The Oslo Pass is the city’s best option for activities and convenient transportation. Use it for free admission to more than 30 museums, public transportation, swimming pools, walking tours and more.
Active visitors may choose from Oslo’s numerous skiing and sled trails in winter. The Holmenkollen ski hill has a rich history dating back 100 years. Twenty minutes by subway from the city center, the hill is the site of festivals, competitions and events all year. It’s also the gateway to the city’s popular Nordmarka forest.
Nordmarka forest is home to more than 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) of prepared ski trails. Trek along the scenic, yet relatively short Sognsvann – Ullevålseter – Sognsvann route, and stop for lunch at Ullevålseter restaurant, known for its hearty stews, crusty breads and jams. More ambitious skiers might try the route from Frognerseteren to Sognsvann, which traverses along the Bjørnsjøen lake.
Travelers can expect warmer weather from March to August. But Oslo’s weather is unpredictable, so be sure to pack warm clothes, even in summer.
Spend a day learning about the Nordics’ epic Viking history through exhibitions at the Museum of Cultural History, home to the Historical Museum, which houses the only intact Viking helmet ever found, and the Viking Ship Museum, with three preserved ships that date back to 800 A.D. Discovered in Viking tombs, the ships are the world’s best preserved. The Historical Museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. from May 15 to Sept. 14 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. from Sept. 15 to May 14. The Viking Ship Museum is open daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m. from May 1-Sept. 30 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from Oct. 1-April 30. Both museums are closed some holidays.
The Munch Museum is dedicated to the life and art of Edward Munch, Norway’s most famous artist. Guided tours are available. The Munch is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month. Admission is 100 krone ($US 11.65) for adults and 60 krone ($US 6.99) for seniors; children 18 and under are free.
Oslo’s Nobel Peace Prize Museum houses permanent and changing exhibitions that chronicle the story of the Nobel Prize, its laureates and their work. It’s open Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adult tickets are 100 krone, seniors are 65 krone and children under 16 are free.
The Norwegian Museum of Magic details the work and history of Norwegian musicians. It’s open Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Get there by 2 p.m. to watch the magic show.
Where to eat
Diners at Maaemo should plan to spend an evening eating their way through beautifully plated entrees of raw foods. The pricey fare at this groundbreaking three-Michelin-starred eatery changes regularly; one recent offering: reindeer hearts, spruce juice and fried rye bread. You’ll need a reservation (Schweigaards gate 15B, 0191 Oslo; Ph 47-22-179969).
Discover why sushi is the unofficial food of Norway at Hanami, arguably the city’s finest Japanese fusion restaurant. The restaurant encourages sharing and advises first-time diners to order meats robata-style, cooked quickly over an open grill at a high temperature. Find it at Kanalen 1, 0252 Oslo; Ph: 47-22-831090.
Glimmering candles, wooden wall panels and traditional food harken back to Norway’s past at Engebret Café. Visitors dine in a low building that dates back to the 1700s. In spring and summer, sit outside while you enjoy reindeer, cod and other local fare. Visit at Bankplassen 1, 0151 Oslo; Ph: 47-22-822525.