One September Day
With a fjord on one side and hills of forests surrounding it on the land side, Oslo is an eclectic mix of the old and new and is the home to world class museums and plenty of outdoor activities. As part of the Nordic Do, I had not quite two days to spend in Oslo, with the first being rainy and cold and not conducive to getting around much. The next day, while chilly, was beautiful and sunny – definitely out and about weather!
Oslo is a very walkable city with many of the main ‘sights’ located right along its main street, Karl Johans Gate. You will find museums, government buildings, open squares, cafes, and a plethora of retail shops.
When I was in Oslo, Norway was celebrating the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch’s birth. One of the most important modernist painters, The Scream is one of his most recognized paintings. I was fortunate to see The Anniversary Exhibition “Munch 150”, the most comprehensive presentation of Edvard Munch’s art ever displayed, at the National Museum in Oslo which featured major works from all periods of his life. What was really neat, was the Museum had a free downloadable app which explained the paintings in the various exhibit rooms. If Munch is not your thing, the museum also houses an impressive collection of European art with works by Gauguin, Picasso and El Greco, and impressionist works by Renoir, Matisse, Manet, Degas,Cézanne and Monet.
Karl Johans Gate is a lovely, wide, mostly pedestrianized main street and is a little over half a mile long. It goes from Central Station all the way to the Gates of the Royal Palace, with many of Oslo’s main ‘tourist’ attractions located right on the boulevard. If you have only a short time in Oslo, this is the area in which to spend your time.
Coffee and Coffee Shops
You may be wondering why I chose to include a picture of a cup of espresso…..
For two reasons actually – the first being that I have found espresso to be my friend when I travel from West to East (from North America to Europe). With a few cups of espresso throughout the first day or two of arriving in Europe, I can keep jet lag at bay. The secornd reason is that so often Americans want to head to the first Starbucks they see for a cup of coffee. Don’t! Honestly, you will get a much better cup of coffee and have a more genuine experience at one of the local coffee shops or cafes. And for those of you who rely on Starbucks for wi-fi (which I understand), many of the larger local coffee establishments offer wi-fi as well.
Viking Ship Museum – Bygdøy
Having always had a fascination with all things Viking, one the things on my ‘must see’ list while in Oslo was the Viking Ship Museum located at Bygdøy in Oslo. My friend and I took the bus which runs around the harbor and ends in Bygdøy. Doing the wise thing, we made sure to ask about the number of the bus and the number of the stop so that we would catch the right bus. Only…. we asked the wrong person and ended up going in the wrong direction. After a meandering, and not unpleasant, drive to the other end of the bus route. We had to wait about fifteen minutes for a change in drivers, but eventually ended up in Bygdøy a mere block’s walk from the Viking Museum, home of the Oseberg, Okstad, and Tune ships. Although the museum is small, the mere fact that we were walking among artifacts from around 900 A.D. was just incredible.
City Hall – Waterfront
I returned from by ferry arriving on Pier 3 next to City Hall. The ferry is actually a part of the public transportation system and was accessible using the two day bus pass I had purchased. You can take the ferry (No. 91) either way with a departure every 20/30 minutes from Pier 3 by City Hall. The government building happened to have closed by the time I crossed the harbor, but the statues outside were stunning (there are statues everywhere in Oslo). If I ever go back, I will be sure to visit – inside are over 20,000 square feet of colorful murals and a beautiful astronomical clock. Also located right at the waterfront is the Nobel Peace Center.
If you plan to visit Oslo for any length of time, it would be worth your while to buy an Oslo Pass. The Oslo Pass gives you free entry to more than 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all public transport, free parking in municipal car parks, free entry to outdoor swimming pools, free walking tours, discounts on sightseeing, ski simulator, Tusenfryd Amusement Park, concert tickets, climbing, ski and bike rental, and special offers in restaurants and shops.
You decide whether you want a card that is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours. The card is valid from the time you validate it by writing the time and date in the space provided. The currency rate is 1 Danish Krone =.$18. The cost of the Pass for adults works out to be about $53 for 24 hours for adults and $26 for Seniors and children. Well worth it considering all that you get.
|24 hours: NOK 290||24 hours: NOK 145|
|48 hours: NOK 425||48 hours: NOK 215|
|72 hours: NOK 535||72 hours: NOK 270|
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Oslo…and given the chance would definitely go back for a re-visit to see some of the things I missed this time. I think, however, I would rather visit in summer.
Have you been to Oslo? Is it on your travel wish list?
Looking for a place to stay? Check out my review of the Radisson Blu Plaza in Oslo.