Artistic, fashionable and quirky; Norway’s capital Oslo is a great year-round destination for a city break or a longer stay. Whether you’re looking to take in some culture, get sporty or entertain the kids, Oslo is a place with something for everyone. Here’s ten of the best things to do in Oslo.
Visit Vigeland Sculpture Park
Quite possibly the most interesting park you’ll ever visit, Vigeland Sculpture Park features more than 200 artworks and is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist (Gustav Vigeland). As well as the individual statues, the centre of the park includes The Monolith which features 121 human figures. Some of the statues – all of which are naked – are quite bizarre; it’s worth hunting out the man getting attacked by babies in particular.
Vigeland Sculpture Park is open all year round and also has the benefit of being a free thing to do in a very expensive city!
Nobels gate 32 – vigeland.museum.no/en/vigeland-park
Climb on the Opera House roof
There aren’t many places where you can climb onto the roof of a major building, so take advantage of it while you can in Oslo. With both ramps and stairs to reach the top, it’s very accessible so it’s must for any visitor. Located on the harbour, it provides a great view across the city – even if the surrounding area is currently undergoing a lot of building work.
Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1 – operaen.no/en/
Located just a short tram ride outside of the city centre, Holmenkollen is a ski jump and museum providing the opportunity to see the city from on high. It’s 130 krone to get in but it’s definitely worth it; the museum is very interesting (and kid friendly) and visiting the top of the tower is a fantastic experience with its quirky lift and far-reaching views. If you’re brave, you can also take a zip wire down!
Kongeveien 5 – skiforeningen.no/en/holmenkollen/
Dine at Engebret Café
It bills itself as the oldest restaurant in Oslo and it has plenty of olde worlde charm. The food is fantastic with a focus on traditional, seasonal Norwegian cuisine and the portions are absolutely huge.
One thing to note – there is a cloakroom but they don’t tell you that you actually pay to use this until you’re presented with the bill, so bear this in mind if you’re on a tight budget.
Bankplassen 1 – engebret-cafe.no/english_/
Explore the city’s free art
Although Oslo is well-known for its art galleries, there’s also plenty to see on the streets. From street art to sculptures aplenty, keep your eyes peeled for interesting pieces brightening up the city. One highlight is Grass Roots Square which features a large number of miniature sculptures of people and can be found at the corner of Munchs gate and Teatergata.
Go back in time at the Norsk Folkemuseum
An outdoor museum which features a large collection of historic buildings from across Norway brought together to single location, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History/Norsk Folkemuseum is a great opportunity to learn about life in Oslo and Norway throughout the years.
The wooden stave church is a particular highlight and the Vinmonopolet exhibition is also interesting to learn more about how Norway’s strict alcohol laws developed over the years. A farm is in the centre of the site with horses, pigs and more.
Museumsveien 10 – norskfolkemuseum.no/en
Learn about the Vikings
See some of the world’s best preserved Viking ships at the Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset) and learn more about the Vikings lived and died. The wooden boats dominate the centre of the building and there are vantage points so you can see them from above. Displays also showcase how the ships were excavated, finds from Viking burial mounds and a short exhibition on how Viking axes are made.
Entrance is 80 krona and the Viking Ship Museum is located very close to Norsk Folkemuseum – there’s a bus which travels between the two but they’re easily walkable – so you can do both in a day.
Huk Aveny 35 – khm.uio.no/english/visit-us/viking-ship-museum/
Go shopping in Grünerløkka
Forget large chain stores and visit some of Oslo’s indie retailers in Grünerløkka. From vintage to art and design to unique children’s clothing, there’s a diverse range of small shops in this part of the city. My favourite was a large second hand shop called Maritabutikken (Markveien 67) which had a great selection of trinkets and homeware to root through.
Visit the Emanuel Vigeland Museum
Quite possibly one of the most unique buildings you will ever visit, the otherworldly Emanuel Vigeland Museum is one to make time to visit. Located in a leafy suburb of the city, the outside belies what you’ll find inside. After paying your 50 krone entrance, you’re pointed towards a small door which reveals a large, dark room. As your eyes adjust, you’ll be able to see the amazing frescos that cover the walls. But it’s not just about what you see; it’s what you hear. The acoustics are so unusual that every sound you make echoes and if everyone in the room starts absolutely still, you can experience a silence that’s so complete it’s both beautiful and unnerving.
You’re not allowed to take photos inside (cameras clicking would definitely ruin the experience and it’s too dark to get any pictures anyway) and it’s not really one for kids either. It’s only open on Sunday afternoons but definitely worth factoring into a visit.
Grimelundsveien 8 – emanuelvigeland.museum.no/museum.htm
Explore the city’s nightlife
Alcohol may be expensive in Norway but don’t let that put you off experiencing some nightlife. Oslo has a wide range of bars from brewpubs to cocktail bars and it’s all about making sure the booze you do drink is worth it! One highlight is Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri – it’s a subterranean pub tucked away in bricked vaults complete with a large, roaring fire and many of the beers on offer are made in house, and another place to check out is Tilt, which features a range of pinball machines and shuffleboard tables.