What are the five best things to see and do in Oslo?

Kate Newman

From lush forests and parks to world-renowned museums to cutting-edge restaurants, Oslo offers a wide range of activities for all budgets and seasons. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Oslo:
 
1. Frogner Park. Oslo’s largest park is a scenic spot with lush gardens, fountains, streams and ponds. Most magnificent, however, is the Vigeland Sculpture Park that lies within. Over the course of 20 years, local sculptor Gustav Vigeland produced more than 200 bronze and granite sculptures for the park. The larger-than-life structures reveal intimate human experiences: Lovers share a tender moment, a rotund mother nurtures her brood, a baby screams mid-tantrum and a wrinkled elderly couple chats side by side. The park is particularly stunning at sunset, when the sculptures take on a soft glow.
 
2. The Viking Ship Museum. For a glimpse of Norway’s storied past, visit Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum, where you are dwarfed by sleek, massive ships dating back to the 9th century. The well-preserved Oseberg ship has an intricately carved oak hull and a curling prow that casts spiraled shadows around the museum walls. Thought to have been a burial tomb for a queen, the ship contained jewelry, furniture, sleighs, carriages, tapestries, along with the skeletons of the two women and many animals at excavation.
 
3. The National Gallery. Oslo’s National Gallery houses art by El Greco, Picasso, Cézanne, Modigliani and Gauguin. The highlight, however, is the work of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. One version of his most famous piece, The Scream, hangs in this museum. Visits are best concluded with a stop in the Gallery’s café, where you can sip café au lait while admiring plaster copies of Louvre sculptures donated by France in 1923. Admission is free on Sundays, and a one-day ticket grants access to affiliated art museums throughout the city. To see more work by Munch, visit the Munch Museum in Tøyen.
 
4. Norsk Folk Museum. Oslo’s extraordinary open-air folk museum is filled with more than 150 original buildings, restored and relocated, depicting life in Norway over the past hundreds of years. Top attractions include a cottage interior covered in beautifully intricate rosemaling, a style of decorative painting with flourishes and flowers, and a medieval stave church built around 1200 A.D. 
 
5. Enjoy a ride on the Oslo Fjord. If the weather is decent, consider a hop-on, hop-off cruise on the glittering waters of the Oslo Fjord. This is a great way to visit several city attractions, like the modern opera house with its innovative marble exterior and a roof that slopes to ground level. The cruise continues to the museums along the Bygdøy peninsula.

  • On October 7, 2013
    Kim Ertsås answered the question: Kim Ertsås

    What are the best attractions in Oslo?

    Vigeland Sculpture Park

    The Vigeland Sculpture Park is the largest sculpture park made by one single artist in the world, and is open to visitors all year.

    A Visit to the unique Vigeland Sculpture Park, the legacy of Gustav Vigeland to the city of Oslo, is a must when visiting Oslo. Gustav Vigeland started to work on the sculpture park in 1924, and was still working on it when he died in 1943. Here he had the chance to let his imagination run riot and, the central path takes you into a world of frowning, fighting and posturing bronze figures, which flank the footbridge one the river.

    Beyond the central fountain is an enormous bowl representing the burden of life, supported by straining, sinewy bronze Goliaths, while underneath, water tumbles out around figures engaged in play or talk, or simply resting or standing.

    The Park contains of more than 200 sculptures in bronze and granite, focusing on the cycles of life and death. A stroll through the park makes you feel you are in a different world.

    In the end of the park you will see the twenty-meter-high obelisk up on the stepped embankment, and the granite sculpture grouped around it, which will really take your breath away.  

    Open daily, no entrance fee.

    The Royal Palace

    In the summer, while the Royal family is away on vacation, they open up the Royal Palace to the public in the form of guided tours. During a guided tour you will enter the palace through the tailgate, which is located in the back of the building. In the hall you enter to there are possibility to hang you jackets and bags away, before you meet your guide. The guide tour then start and the guide will show around the palace and you will enter the most beautiful and most important rooms. You will get to hear what the rooms are used for and of course all about the history of the building and wo has lived here since it was completed in 1849.



    The Opera house

    Book a tour to visit the “inside” of the new opera in a stylish design in Norwegian wood. If the weather allows, you can also take a tour on the roof.

    The New Opera house is the result of an international architect competition held in 2000. The Renowned architect firm Snøhetta won the contest. Snøhetta is a Norwegian architect firm, but with solid international experience. Among other projects, they designed the new museum for “ground Zero” in New York.

    In the spring of 2008, the new opera house was ready to open its doors. It houses the Norwegian Opera and Ballet – Norway’s biggest culture and stage institution.

    The building area is 38,500 square meters and consists of more than 1000 rooms. In the main hall, a 1,370 – strong audience will be able to enjoy a performance and the great acoustics which have been the main focus throughout the building process.


    Akershus Fortress and Castle

    Throughout 700 years, Akershus Castle have played a central role in Norwegian history. As a Royal residence, centre of administration and as a military fortification, the Fortress and the castle have been the stage of both mundane and dramatic events, inhabited and visited by several significant historical persons. As of today the castle continues to thrive at the centre of historical events, being the Norwegian Governments principal location for official functions and state occasions. A guided tour to Akershus Castle is a journey through Norway’s history from the 12th century until the present. You may admire the beautiful historically restored halls or marvel at the gloomy dungeons and dark hallways.


    Monday – Saturday 10:00-16:00                                 Entrance fee adults  NOK 70 pp 
    Sunday                    12:00-16:00                                 Entrance fee children NOK 30 pp
    Phone:                +47 2241 2521
  • On October 7, 2013
    Kim Ertsås answered the question: Kim Ertsås

    What are the best attractions in Oslo?

    Vigeland Sculpture Park

    The Vigeland Sculpture Park is the largest sculpture park made by one single artist in the world, and is open to visitors all year.

    A Visit to the unique Vigeland Sculpture Park, the legacy of Gustav Vigeland to the city of Oslo, is a must when visiting Oslo. Gustav Vigeland started to work on the sculpture park in 1924, and was still working on it when he died in 1943. Here he had the chance to let his imagination run riot and, the central path takes you into a world of frowning, fighting and posturing bronze figures, which flank the footbridge one the river.

    Beyond the central fountain is an enormous bowl representing the burden of life, supported by straining, sinewy bronze Goliaths, while underneath, water tumbles out around figures engaged in play or talk, or simply resting or standing.

    The Park contains of more than 200 sculptures in bronze and granite, focusing on the cycles of life and death. A stroll through the park makes you feel you are in a different world.

    In the end of the park you will see the twenty-meter-high obelisk up on the stepped embankment, and the granite sculpture grouped around it, which will really take your breath away.  

    Open daily, no entrance fee.

    The Royal Palace

    In the summer, while the Royal family is away on vacation, they open up the Royal Palace to the public in the form of guided tours. During a guided tour you will enter the palace through the tailgate, which is located in the back of the building. In the hall you enter to there are possibility to hang you jackets and bags away, before you meet your guide. The guide tour then start and the guide will show around the palace and you will enter the most beautiful and most important rooms. You will get to hear what the rooms are used for and of course all about the history of the building and wo has lived here since it was completed in 1849.



    The Opera house

    Book a tour to visit the “inside” of the new opera in a stylish design in Norwegian wood. If the weather allows, you can also take a tour on the roof.

    The New Opera house is the result of an international architect competition held in 2000. The Renowned architect firm Snøhetta won the contest. Snøhetta is a Norwegian architect firm, but with solid international experience. Among other projects, they designed the new museum for “ground Zero” in New York.

    In the spring of 2008, the new opera house was ready to open its doors. It houses the Norwegian Opera and Ballet – Norway’s biggest culture and stage institution.

    The building area is 38,500 square meters and consists of more than 1000 rooms. In the main hall, a 1,370 – strong audience will be able to enjoy a performance and the great acoustics which have been the main focus throughout the building process.


    Akershus Fortress and Castle

    Throughout 700 years, Akershus Castle have played a central role in Norwegian history. As a Royal residence, centre of administration and as a military fortification, the Fortress and the castle have been the stage of both mundane and dramatic events, inhabited and visited by several significant historical persons. As of today the castle continues to thrive at the centre of historical events, being the Norwegian Governments principal location for official functions and state occasions. A guided tour to Akershus Castle is a journey through Norway’s history from the 12th century until the present. You may admire the beautiful historically restored halls or marvel at the gloomy dungeons and dark hallways.


    Monday – Saturday 10:00-16:00   Entrance fee adults  NOK 70 pp 
    Sunday  12:00-16:00   Entrance fee children NOK 30 pp
    Phone: +47 2241 2521
  • On October 7, 2013
    Kim Ertsås answered the question: Kim Ertsås

    What are the best museums in Oslo?

    National Gallery
    National gallery

    When Parliament in 1836 decided to establish a national museum of fine art in the capital, it was out of a desire to show young nations own art In the context of the older European tradition. This was the start of the National Gallery, which eventually came to build up its own collection of art through purchases and donations. During the institution’s history, the country’s Largest collection of Norwegian and international artists painstakingly build up by the inclusion in the national museum of art totaled approx.  4 500 paintings, 900 sculptures, original, 950 plaster casts, 17 300 drawings and 25 000 prints. The building itself was designed in Neo-renaissance style of H.E. Schirmer and his son. The national Gallery rights in Oslo’s centre has Norways largest collection of Norwegian, Nordic and international art from the beginning of the 19th century up until today. The Main exhibition displays Norwegian and international panting and sculptures from the 19th century until today, including many of Edvard Munch’s major works.

    Monday – Sunday 10:00-17:00                                      Entrance fee adults  NOK 50 pp 
    Thursday               10:00-19:00                                      Entrance fee children NOK 30 pp
                                                                                           Entrance fee Sundays FREE
    Visit webpage

    Nobel Peace Centre

    The Nobel Peace Centre presents Alfred Nobel, the peace prize winners and their work. Permanent and changing exhibitions, innovative digital solutions as well as engaging themes, films and presentations create for knowledge and experience.

    The peace price is handed out in Oslo each year on December 10th in the city hall that is just opposite from the peace centre. Grand Hotel Oslo is also the place where the winners have their Galla dinner. 
     
    Monday-Sunday 10:00-18:00                                               Entrance fee adults  NOK 80 pp
    Phone:                +47 4830 1000                                          Entrance fee children FREE
    Visit webpage



    Munch Museum

    The Munch Museum is the legacy that Edvard Munch, Norway’s world famous expressionist painter left the municipality of Oslo when he died in 1944. The exhibition focuses on the main works of his career, but on display is also a very interesting collection of hos graphic works. After two of the paintings have been stolen, the security level is raised in the museum. Luckily the paintings reappeared and are one display again after their restoration. Munch’s oeuvre covers more than 60 years, from the 1880s to his death in 1944. Throughout these years, Munch developed his unique form, while exploring several different styles from naturalism to symbolism and expressionism. Edvard Munch stands out as the most notable representable of the Nordic artist on the international scene.

    Monday-Sunday 10:00-17:00                                                Entrance fee adults  NOK 95 pp
    Thursday:           10:00-19:00                                                Entrance fee children FREE

    Visit webpage
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  • On October 7, 2013
    Kim Ertsås answered the question: Kim Ertsås

    What are the best museums in Oslo?

    National Gallery
    National gallery

    When Parliament in 1836 decided to establish a national museum of fine art in the capital, it was out og a desire to show young nations own art In the context of the older European tradition. This was the start of the National Gallery, which eventually came to build up its own collection of art through purchases and donations. During the institution’s history, the country’s Largest collection of Norwegian and international artists painstakingly build up by the inclusion in the national museum of art totaled approx.  4 500 paintings, 900 sculptures, original, 950 plaster casts, 17 300 drawings and 25 000 prints. The building itself was designed in Neo-renaissance style of H.E. Schirmer and his son. The national Gallery rights in Oslo’s centre has Norways largest collection of Norwegian, Nordic and international art from the beginning of the 19th century up until today. The Main exhibition displays Norwegian and international panting and sculptures from the 19th century until today, including many of Edvard Munch’s major works.

    Monday – Sunday 10:00-17:00                                      Entrance fee adults  NOK 50 pp 
    Thursday               10:00-19:00                                      Entrance fee children NOK 30 pp
                                                                                           Entrance fee Sundays FREE
    Visit webpage

    Nobel Peace Centre

    The Nobel Peace Centre presents Alfred Nobel, the peace prize winners and their work. Permanent and changing exhibitions, innovative digital solutions as well as engaging themes, films and presentations create for knowledge and experience.

    The peace price is handed out in Oslo each year on December 10th in the city hall that is just opposite from the peace centre. Grand Hotel Oslo is also the place where the winners have their Galla dinner. 
     
    Monday-Sunday 10:00-18:00                                               Entrance fee adults  NOK 80 pp
    Phone:                +47 4830 1000                                          Entrance fee children FREE
    Visit webpage



    Munch Museum

    The Munch Museum is the legacy that Edvard Munch, Norway’s world famous expressionist painter left the municipality of Oslo when he died in 1944. The exhibition focuses on the main works of his career, but on display is also a very interesting collection of hos graphic works. After two of the paintings have been stolen, the security level is raised in the museum. Luckily the paintings reappeared and are one display again after their restoration. Munch’s oeuvre covers more than 60 years, from the 1880s to his death in 1944. Throughout these years, Munch developed his unique form, while exploring several different styles from naturalism to symbolism and expressionism. Edvard Munch stands out as the most notable representable of the Nordic artist on the international scene.

    Monday-Sunday 10:00-17:00                                                Entrance fee adults  NOK 95 pp
    Thursday:           10:00-19:00                                                Entrance fee children FREE

    Visit webpage
  • On October 7, 2013
    Kim Ertsås answered the question: Kim Ertsås

    What are the best museums in Oslo?

    National Gallery





    National gallery

    When Parliament in 1836 decided to establish a national museum of fine art in the capital, it was out og a desire to show young nations own art In the context of the older European tradition. This was the start of the National Gallery, which eventually came to build up its own collection of art through purchases and donations. During the institution’s history, the country’s Largest collection of Norwegian and international artists painstakingly build up by the inclusion in the national museum of art totaled approx.  4 500 paintings, 900 sculptures, original, 950 plaster casts, 17 300 drawings and 25 000 prints. The building itself was designed in Neo-renaissance style of H.E. Schirmer and his son. The national Gallery rights in Oslo’s centre has Norways largest collection of Norwegian, Nordic and international art from the beginning of the 19th century up until today. The Main exhibition displays Norwegian and international panting and sculptures from the 19th century until today, including many of Edvard Munch’s major works.

    Monday – Sunday 10:00-17:00                                      Entrance fee adults  NOK 50 pp 
    Thursday               10:00-19:00                                      Entrance fee children NOK 30 pp
                                                                                           Entrance fee Sundays FREE
    Visit webpage

    Nobel Peace Centre

    The Nobel Peace Centre presents Alfred Nobel, the peace prize winners and their work. Permanent and changing exhibitions, innovative digital solutions as well as engaging themes, films and presentations create for knowledge and experience.

    The peace price is handed out in Oslo each year on December 10th in the city hall that is just opposite from the peace centre. Grand Hotel Oslo is also the place where the winners have their Galla dinner. 
     
    Monday-Sunday 10:00-18:00                                               Entrance fee adults  NOK 80 pp
    Phone:                +47 4830 1000                                          Entrance fee children FREE
    Visit webpage



    Munch Museum

    The Munch Museum is the legacy that Edvard Munch, Norway’s world famous expressionist painter left the municipality of Oslo when he died in 1944. The exhibition focuses on the main works of his career, but on display is also a very interesting collection of hos graphic works. After two of the paintings have been stolen, the security level is raised in the museum. Luckily the paintings reappeared and are one display again after their restoration. Munch’s oeuvre covers more than 60 years, from the 1880s to his death in 1944. Throughout these years, Munch developed his unique form, while exploring several different styles from naturalism to symbolism and expressionism. Edvard Munch stands out as the most notable representable of the Nordic artist on the international scene.

    Monday-Sunday 10:00-17:00                                                Entrance fee adults  NOK 95 pp
    Thursday:           10:00-19:00                                                Entrance fee children FREE

    Visit webpage
  • On September 11, 2012
    Kate Newman answered the question: Kate Newman

    What are the five best things to do for free in Oslo?

    While Oslo can dent even the deepest of pockets (there’s a reason it was recently ranked one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in), it is filled with plenty free activities to keep you busy. Here are five of our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ favorite things to do for free in Oslo:
     
    1. Enjoy the outdoors. Oslo’s beautiful parks are the city’s best free attractions. Choose between Frogner Park, with its vivid sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, or Slottsparken (The Castle Park), where you can see the changing of the guard daily at 1:30 p.m. The Botanical Garden is another favorite, with greenhouses dating back to the late 1800s and more than 7,500 species of flowering trees and water lilies. The aptly named “Great-Granny’s Garden” houses heritage plants no longer widely available.
     
    2. Check out local music. Oslo has an active music scene with many free offerings. Look for outdoor festivals like VG Top 20 Live and National Music Day, open to the public for free of charge. On Sunday nights throughout the summer, visit nightclub Blå to hear free jazz, bluegrass, and gypsy music by the Frank Znort Quartet.
     
    3. Visit the museums. To see an extensive collection of work by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, visit the Munch Museum, with complimentary admission from October 1 through March 31. Some of the city’s best museums, like the National Gallery, are free on Sundays, while others — the Oslo City Museum, the Norwegian Customs Museum, and the Armed Forces Museum — are free year round.
     
    4. Picnic. If the weather is pleasant, take your lunch to a park. You’ll see locals making the most of even the faintest sliver of sun. To eat like an Osloite, grill some hot dogs and enjoy them with lompe, a thin, tortilla-like potato pancake. Inexpensive disposable grills are available at local groceries.
     
    5. Winter wonderland. Not to worry — Oslo offers free activities during winter, too. Visit the festive Christmas market outside City Hall and take advantage of complimentary ice skating near the National Theatre or Frogner Stadium. 
  • On September 11, 2012
    Kate Newman answered the question: Kate Newman

    What is the best thing to bring home from Oslo?

    There’s no better souvenir to bring home from Oslo than a beautifully crafted Norwegian sweater. Since the 9th century, locals have used the strong, high-quality wool from Norwegian sheep to make these warm, intricately patterned tops. Cozy and festive, these durable Norwegian sweaters make gifts that will last generations. The Oslo Sweater Shop at Holbergs Plass is a great spot to find these local treasures. Look for quality brands like Dale of Norway.
     
    If you’re in the market for something smaller, consider picking up some Freia Melkesjokolade, the cherished Norwegian milk chocolate, or homemade cloudberry jam, a local delicacy made with light, sweet berries. To pick up these and other culinary souvenirs, stop off at area shops like Fromagerie, Flâneur and Gutta på Haugen.
  • On September 11, 2012
    Kate Newman answered the question: Kate Newman

    What are the best Oslo food experiences?

    There’s much more to Norwegian cuisine than salmon and meatballs, although both are delicious. While visiting Norway’s capital city, here are the best dishes our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend you sample:  
     
    1. Kanelbolle. Norwegians are known for their delicious bread and pastries, and kanelboller are at the top of the list. These sweet, fluffy cinnamon buns can be found all over, but the best are at Åpent Bakeri, the successful joint venture of a Norwegian and a Frenchman.
     
    2. Freia Melkesjokolade. Norway is home to some of the world’s best milk chocolate, delectably creamy but not too sweet. The yellow wrapper of this national brand is enough to bring a smile to any Osloite.
     
    3. Cloudberries and cream. As exquisite as their name suggests, cloudberries are such a Norwegian delicacy that they’ve earned the nickname viddas gull (“highland gold”). This tricky-to-cultivate fruit has a very short season, from late July to early August. Indigenous Sami kept the light, sweet berries in reindeer milk; today, Norwegians eat cloudberries with cream as a Christmas dessert.
     
    4. Brunost. Norwegian for “brown cheese,” brunost is made from the caramelized whey of goat’s milk. Brunost has a sweet, almost nutty flavor, and melts in your mouth. Try it on a piece of buttered dark rye.
     
    5. Kaviar. This salty paste of creamed cod roe is a Norwegian classic. Butter a piece of dark bread, then add kaviar and top with slices of hardboiled egg. Similar spreads are made with salmon and prawns.
  • On September 11, 2012
    Kate Newman answered the question: Kate Newman

    Where is the best nightlife in Oslo?

    Oslo has an impressive share of chic, glamorous bars and laid-back pubs for drinking with friends. Whether you’re seeking a swanky champagne bar, a place to play retro video games or a dance club with thumping techno and house music, you can find them all in Oslo. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the city’s best nightlife:
     
    1. Stratos. Located on a rooftop terrace above the Folketeateret, Stratos offers one of the best views of beautiful Oslo. With a wide selection of cocktails and frequent live music, this bar is open only in summer.
     
    2. Fuglen. Travel back to the 1960s at Fuglen, coffee shop by day and cocktail bar by night. Filled with Norwegian vintage furniture for sale, this unique spot carries an impressive range of Norwegian craft beers (we love Bøyla, a fresh blond ale from Flåm) and some of the city’s best mixed drinks. 
     
    3. Blå. This factory-turned-nightclub in hip Grünerløkka features live music and skilled DJs playing techno, jazz, house and more. With a beer garden overlooking the river Akerselva, Blå is best during the summer.
     
    4. Internasjonalen. Located in the headquarters of Norway’s Labor Party, Internasjonalen is an unpretentious and favored gathering spot. Its décor recalls Soviet Europe, and the bar serves up retro grandfatherly drinks like Pjolter, a brandy-and-soda combination popular in Norway in the 1920s.
     
    5. Champagneria. This sophisticated bar offers a wide array of sparkling wines and an excellent tapas menu. With two floors and outdoor areas open in summer, the stylish clientele has plenty of room to mix and mingle.
     
    6. Tilt. Head to Tilt for a laid-back evening of games with friends. This funky bar features old pinball machines, shuffleboards, Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.
  • On September 11, 2012
    Kate Newman answered the question: Kate Newman

    What is the best way to see Oslo in one day?

    For the best one-day Oslo itinerary, start early with coffee and a sweet, moist cinnamon bun  — Forbes Travel Guide editors like the ones from Åpent Bakeri on the Palace Park the best. After breakfast, head down to the water to board a hop-on, hop-off cruise on the Oslo Fjord. You’ll pass City Hall, medieval castle Akershus and the city’s modern Opera House. The cruise continues to the museums along the Bygdøy peninsula. Get off to admire the massive boats at the Viking Ship Museum and the original 13th century church at the Norsk Folk Museum.
     
    When you return to the city, head to Solsiden, a seafood spot with a vast wine list, for a lunch of exceptional Norwegian delicacies. In the afternoon, wander the gardens of magical Frogner Park to admire Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures. Bring a book and stay until sunset to appreciate the sculptures in their best light.
     
    At night, head to dinner at acclaimed restaurant Maaemo — Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you make this reservation as far in advance as possible. Throw yourself at the mercy of expert chef Esben Holmboe Bang and delight in a nine-course meal of Nordic cuisine at its finest. After dinner, have a drink on rooftop bar Stratos and take in the view of the city at night.
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