Before moving to Denmark I don’t think my city break ideas would have included cities in Scandinavia but since moving here my horizons have been expanded beyond southern Europe. This summer we decided to spend a few days in Oslo, Norway’s beautiful capital city. Once I got over the disappointment the city isn’t ringed by mountains just high hills, I fell in love with it.
We were lucky enough to be given some Oslo Passes by Visit Oslo so we could enjoy everything the city had to offer. I would heartily recommend getting these passes as they offer free public transport in the city, entry into many of the museums and sights and discounts in various shops and restaurants (read more here).
So today I thought I’d share our highlights of the trip. We are into museums so this dominated what we chose to do.
We arrived at our Airbnb in Grunerløkka at lunch time after taking the speedy Flytoget into the city. This is a trendy area a few tram stops from the main station and a perfect place to stay with plenty of cafes and restaurants but relatively quiet. We pottered around the area for a bit and then went back to the city to look at the famous Opera House. It was really hot so we paddled in the water right in front of the Opera House. I love to see buildings designed in a way that enables people to enjoy them inside and out and the Opera House is a perfect example of this. First up on our first full day was the Viking Ship Museum on the Bygdøy peninsula (if you have an Oslo Pass you can use the ferry to the peninsula for free). This museum has some of the world’s best preserved examples of Viking ships. Housed in a former church the presentation of the two ships is breathtaking. There is an amazing film screened all day on the walls and ceilings around on of the ships. I thought this was worth the entry to the museum alone. We had a quick lunch time pitstop of Viking hotdogs here before heading onto The Fram Museum, about a twenty minute walk further along the peninsula.
I will say I am not a massive maritime history fan but I found The Fram Museum fascinating. I didn’t really know what to expect so the fact the actual ship is housed in the museum (I believe the building was build around the ship) and you can go on board and experience what life would have been on one of the ship’s famous voyages was a lovely surprise. The ticket office lady directed us first to the small cinema to watch a film about the ship but I would recommend that you head straight to the ship itself. If you are travelling with children there is a great interactive section where you can experience what it would be like to pull a laden sledge across the Antarctic and hunt for your food.
We had a little bit of time left after this museum so we went into the Norwegian Maritime Museum. I don’t think we would have bothered if we’d not had free entry. This is a museum for real maritime history buffs. In hindsight we should have gone to the Kon Tiki Museum next door instead – may be next time.
Next day we spent the whole day in Norwegian Folk Museum. This is one of the oldest and largest open air museums in the world. We loved exploring the small town area especially the apartment building with each apartment from a different era from the last 100 years or so. The old fashioned sweet shop was also a big hit. We then took a horse and carriage ride around the museum and then spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the farm yard area, watching Sami dancing, eating sweet flat breads called Lefse smothered in butter and being wowed by the wooden Gol Stave Church dating from around 1200. I think this museum was the highlight of our trip to Oslo.There is a lot to do in Oslo and as we were only there for two full days we had to narrow down what we could do. If we’d had more time I would have loved to have headed out to the Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Tower.
One tip I will give you is not to bother with buying wine to drink whilst you are in Oslo. Due to strict licensing laws wines and spirits (but not beers) have to be sold from Vinmonopolet shops which are few and far between unless you are staying in the very centre of the city where there are four. Plus the price of an average bottle of wine is about three times that of the equivalent here in Denmark.
We flew to Oslo on Norwegian Air and as I booked in advance it was good value and only take less than an hour. Many people with better sea legs than us chose to use to do the Mini Cruise with DFDS and say it is a fantastic experience.
Children do have to pay on public transport even when travelling with adults.
You can use Ruterbillett app to buy transport tickets including 24 hour tickets (but not tickets for the ferry to Bygdøy peninsula) and RuterReise app to plan your journeys. There is also an app for the Oslo Pass.
I hope this has given you some inspiration to experience this beautiful city, I’m sure we will be back!
NB I was gifted three 24 Hr Oslo Passes for us to use to enjoy and experience the city. However this post is all my own opinions and thoughts.