10 Sep Photo Tour Through Oslo, Norway
I am surprised how much I enjoyed Oslo; sure, I was expecting to enjoy the city, but not so much that I felt like I could actually live there. The diversity in culture, combination of both modern and historic architecture mixed with easily accessible nature, such as parks, forests and fjords makes Oslo stand out in my mind. If it weren’t for the extremely high cost of living, the city would be a perfect place to lay down roots for a while. I love how you can take a quick train ride to explore the forests and nature just outside of the city, and how you can take a ride along the fjords and out to the islands right off the coast in the harbor. Pair that with the seemingly endless parks scattered throughout Oslo, and you have a large city with tons of easily accessible nature.
We lucked out and had a couple of warm sunny days to explore the vibrant city, and explore we did. Our first evening in the city, we met up with our new friend and fellow travel blogger, Lew from Planet Lew, for dinner. She took us to a food hall called Mathallen in what used to be the working class area of Oslo. Mathallen has both places where you can purchase food products and dine-in restaurants and cafes. I think I may have started drooling as we walked through the hall deciding on where to eat–everything looked absolutely delicious. We settled on a spot where we enjoyed a tapas style dinner, and it was actually much more affordable than we expected.
After dinner, we went on a long walk and Lew showed us fun spots throughout the city. We walked through parks, around the harbor, past the king’s palace and down the popular shopping street, Karl Johan’s Gate. It gave us a nice orientation to the layout of the city and set us on the right foot for our exploration when we returned to Oslo from our side trip to Flåm. She also shared with us a tip that saved our budget–if you are looking for something cheap to eat, stop at the 7-11 and grab a quick hot dog or piece of pizza, and because the stores are continually busy, the food is typically fairly fresh. Normally, convenience store food isn’t my first choice, especially when visiting a new country, but with the high cost of food in Norway it was a welcome break for our budget. For example–we went to a burger place called Illegal Burger, which is considered an affordable “cheap eats” restaurant, and we paid $35 per person for a burger, fries and coke! Compare that to $5 for a pizza and coke at the 7-11 and you might be able to see why the 7-11 ended up being our go to choice.
Over the course of our next day in the city, we mainly wandered around and took in the beautiful sights. Our main stops were the Akershus Fortress, Frognerparken and the Oslo Opera House. We also spent some time wandering back at Karl Johan’s Gate even though many stores were closed due to it being Sunday.
The Akershus Castle was completed in the 1300’s, but its restoration into the Akershus Fortress didn’t start until the 1900’s. The purpose of the fort was to protect the city from potential attacks. In the past, the fort has served as a castle, military base and a prison, and now, even though it is a military area, it is open daily to the public.
Each day at 1:30 pm, you can watch the changing of the guards in a courtyard area. There are also guided tours available, but if you would just like to walk around like we did, you can do that as well–the Akershus Castle is also open to visitors in the summer. The views overlooking the fjord and harbor of Oslo are beautiful.
In Frognerparken, or Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park which it is commonly referred to as, you will find large open spaces great for lounging, as well as many stone statues created by Gustav Vigeland. In the summer, the park is popular with locals–it makes for a great place to picnic, walk, play and get some of the summertime sun. We were surprised with how many people we saw sprawled out on the grass throughout the endless park; I liked seeing so many people take advantage of the nature and parks within the city.
The statues are spread throughout the park, but the main attraction is the Monolith, which is a column that was carved from just one stone and rises over 14 meters tall. Within the column there are 121 human figures carved, and it is quite the sight to see. Surrounding the Monolith, there are numerous smaller statues along the steps. The entire park has 212 statues in total, all of which were crafted by Mr. Vigeland himself, making this the largest sculpture park in the world, created by one artist.
Resting on the banks of the Bjørvika district near the center of Oslo, sits the Oslo Opera House. Architecturally, this building is stunning to look at, and also fun to walk around on. The sloping marble roof that rises up directly from the Oslofjord, almost feels like a marble beach; it creates a great place to lounge in the sun. You are able to wander around the entire white roof to explore the great views of the city from various lookout points. There are stairs, but you can explore any area of the roof you choose, so if it’s raining, be careful not to slip! Even though we didn’t make it inside of the Opera house, I loved being up on the roof–it was quite an adventure in and of itself.
Have you been to Oslo? What was your favorite thing to do?