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 September 11, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to eat in Oslo?

    While you’ll find the traditional meat cakes and brown gravy, lutefisk and other Norwegian delicacies in Oslo, there are many modern gourmet restaurants as well. In recent years, the capital city has made its mark on the international culinary scene. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best places to eat in Oslo:
     
    1. Maaemo. Splurge-worthy Maaemo serves up contemporary Scandinavian cuisine using organic local ingredients. Expect memorable dishes like arctic char garnished with crisp onions and a gentle drizzle of aquavit, visually striking and executed to perfection. Expect to spend hours enjoying nine small courses at this must-visit restaurant. Reservations are recommended well in advance as Maaemo is in high demand. 
     
    2. Ylajali. Travel back in time to enjoy an eight-course meal in this charming converted apartment, complete with chandeliers, detailed molding and wood-paneled walls. Named for a mythical, beautiful woman from one of Knut Hamsun’s novels, upscale restaurant Ylajali is located in the same building where this elusive character was said to live. Young chefs Even Ramsvik and Ronny Kolvik use classic Norwegian flavors to prepare inventive dishes like their halibut in a light citrus crust, served in a faint tube of rye with a sauce of fennel, tiny saltwater clams and sago pearls.

    3. Solsiden. The name of this mid-range restaurant means “the sunny side” in Norwegian, and it is indeed the place to celebrate summer. Open May through September, Solsiden looks out to the sparkling waters of the Oslo Fjord and serves the city’s freshest seafood. Its specialty is the towering shellfish platter, a tasty mix of scallops, oysters, crayfish, crab, lobster, mussels and prawns. Book ahead and ask for an ocean view.
     
    4. Arakataka. This hidden gem restaurant in central Oslo offers affordable gourmet dishes like its glazed veal shank and sweetbreads, served with yellow beets and wild garlic. The ever-changing menu offers three-, four-, and five-course options, in addition to à la carte. Just be sure to reserve a table here in advance.
     
    5. Fiskeriet. One of Oslo’s last fishmongers standing, Fiskeriet is a great place to buy fresh seafood or have a casual lunch. The beloved fish and chips feature fresh, tender haddock in a light batter, fried to a delicate crisp and served with tartar sauce and pickled onion.
  • On September 11, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to stay in Oslo?

    You’ll find that accommodations in Oslo range from breathtaking historic hotels to charming guesthouses. Here are our recommendations for the best places to stay when in Oslo:
     
    1. Grand Hotel Oslo. This luxury hotel is a landmark in itself, centrally located on pedestrian street Karl Johans gate. The Grand Hotel hosts the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize each year, and includes the celebrated Grand Café, where playwright Henrik Ibsen ate daily. The traditional rooms have been updated for ultimate comfort, and feature amenities like spa products, fresh fruit, yoga mats and magazines. The hotel’s stunning Artesia Spa is among the best in Norway. 
     
    2. Hotel Continental. This tasteful, family-owned hotel established in 1900 is an Oslo classic, with spacious rooms that are uniquely decorated. Centrally located near the National Theatre, Royal Palace and the Oslo Fjord, Hotel Continental is also home to famous Viennese-style restaurant Theatercaféen. Another highlight: The hotel has an extensive art collection that includes lithographs by Edvard Munch.
     
    3. Grand Hotel Rica. A classic luxury hotel for more than 100 years, Grand Hotel Rica is within walking distance of Slottsparken and other Oslo attractions. The hotel features three fine restaurants and a Tower Suite with breathtaking views.
     
    4. First Hotel Grims Grenka. If you’re looking for something less traditional, head to chic design hotel Grims Grenka near the Akershus Castle. Choose between a modern room decorated in summer-inspired warm green tones or a Winter Suite in cool blues and whites; both options feature cushy Jensen beds. The hotel has a rooftop lounge bar open in the summer months, and restaurant Madu offers contemporary Scandinavian fare year round.
     
    5. The Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel. The 488-room hotel is located next to Oslo’s Royal Palace, with panoramic views overlooking the capital city and the fjord. After a day of sightseeing, use the hotel pool and saunas, and then head to the 21st-floor Summit Bar for more views and tasty cocktails.
  • On September 11, 2012
    Kate Newman answered the question: Kate Newman

    Where is the best shopping in Oslo?

    You’ll find a range of shopping options in Oslo, from vintage spots and touristy souvenir shops to department stores and boutiques. Karl Johans gate is Oslo’s main shopping street, mostly filled with chain stores. For unusual finds in the city center, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you look for smaller boutiques, like Freudian Kicks and Leila Hafzi. Alternatively, opt for less-trafficked areas like Hegdehaugsveien and Bogstadveien in Majorstuen, which carry many of the same commercial shops as well as upscale brands.
     
    For the best of vintage shops and small local designers, head to trendy Grünerløkka. This hip neighborhood is a local favorite for its cozy cafés and boutique shopping. Check out Sjarm, a women’s boutique filled with Scandinavian designers, and Shoe Lounge, a glamorous footwear shop known for its friendly, knowledgeable salespeople.
     
    Other highlights include House of Oslo, the country’s best for interior design, and classic department store Steen & Strøm, established in 1797.
  • On September 11, 2012
    Kate Newman answered the question: Kate Newman

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Oslo?

    Norway’s history is so rich and interesting that even kids will be fascinated by it, especially in its capital, Oslo. Here are our favorite things to do with kids in the family-friendly city:
     
    1. The International Museum of Children’s Art. This unique museum devoted entirely to children’s art contains drawings, paintings, textiles and sculptures from more than 180 countries. Check for activities like art classes, African drumming workshops and storytelling hours.
     
    2. Norsk Folk Museum. Kids find Oslo’s remarkable folk museum equal parts fun and educational. At this open-air museum, wander through more than 150 different buildings depicting life in Norway over the past centuries. Staff welcomes you in period costume, and admission is free for children under six.
     
    3. Take a ride on the Oslo Fjord. Children love this hop-on, hop-off cruise in a traditional wooden sailboat (and kids under 4 ride for free). In addition to the pleasure of a ride on the shimmering Oslo Fjord, this is a great way to see medieval castle Akershus, the city’s distinctive Opera House (with an impressive downward-slopping roof) and the museums along the Bygdøy peninsula.
     
    4. Frogner Park. Kids get a kick out of the park’s famous sculptures, many inspired by children at play. The park also features a great playground with sandboxes, jungle gyms and swings. If the weather is warm, visit adjacent Frognerbadet, a swimming complex with children’s pools, diving boards and water slides. 
     
    5. Get in on winter activities. Summer in Oslo is beautiful but fleeting. During winter visits, children love the festively lit Christmas market outside of Oslo’s City Hall, where they can drink hot chocolate and sample risengrynsgrøt, warm rice pudding seasoned with butter, cinnamon and sugar. There are ice skating rinks close to the National Theatre and Frogner Stadium, and another winter favorite in Oslo is tobogganing in a spot like Korketrekkeren, which means “the corkscrew.” Take the local metro to the top of the 1.2-mile long hill and sled down (helmet and sled rentals are available).
  • On September 11, 2012
    Kate Newman answered the question: Kate Newman

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

    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.