When I shared the news that I’d be traveling to Oslo, Norway, my excitement was met with skepticism. While half of my friends questioned my ability to tolerate cold climates, the other half quipped I would return penniless, as Oslo is infamous, second to Geneva, for being one of the most expensive European cities. Upon arriving, however, I quickly discovered that this bustling maritime town isn’t nearly as expensive or cold as everyone claims. In fact, Oslo offers much in the way of culture and history.
To alleviate any fears you might have about visiting this beautiful city, here are my top five reasons to visit Oslo:
Oslo prides itself on having trustworthy citizens, so much that: (1) mothers often leave their sleeping infants in strollers on storefronts, while catching up with friends; (2) unlike New York or London, travelers taking public transportation are not required to validate their metro cards; and (3) residents gladly help travelers navigate through the city and even suggest alternative routes, making visitors feel more like residents than aliens. This culture of trust sets the tone for the metropolis and explains why Oslo is a political, social, and economic hub for surrounding cities.
Known for its undeniable beauty and sprawling lands, Norway is truly a place for adventurists who love exploring. Oslo gives you a quick taste of the country’s beauty.
Visit Holmenkollen Ski Jump & Ski Museum to learn more about skiing’s importance in Norwegian history. Prior to industrial and technological advancements in the 19th century, skis were necessary to move around. Today, skiing is one of the most important leisure activities in the country. Visit the well-known ski jump and experience panoramic view of the city and the Oslofjord that will leave you speechless. You’ll even witness Nordic jumpers plummeting more than 400 feet into the air.
Also, make your way to Oslo Vinterpark to try out the region’s largest and most frequented ski resorts. The park is noted as having one of the most challenging courses and rivals most international parks. We often witnessed droves of families with skis, snowboards and sleds making their way to the hills. A mere 20 minutes from downtown Oslo, it’s no wonder residents take full advantage.
Next, take a quick ferry ride to visit the Oslofjord and surrounding islands. During the summer visitors hop off at each island to go swimming and enjoy picnics. If you visit during the winter, like I did, you can enjoy the tranquil ferry ride and the scenery.
Art & History
Art, architecture and shipbuilding history call millions of visitors to the city each year. With a history inclusive of truculent vikings, medieval times and strong peacekeeping roots, the city is sure to impress history and architectural buffs alike.
Visit the eerily peaceful Viking Ship Museum, which houses the country’s best preserved viking ships. Along with renovated ships, you’ll see other viking artifacts, such as small boats, tools and utensils.
If you’re a political nerd like myself, stop by the Nobel Peace Center to learn about the city’s deep commitment to peacekeeping.
If art is more of your thing, definitely be sure to visit the Oslo Opera House for a theatrical performance, to view the city or scope out modern design. On Sundays, you would be foolish, not to stop by Bla for some soothing (and free) jazz tunes.
When visiting Oslo there are ways to enjoy yourself without having to sell a kidney when you return home.
Buy a City Pass, which will grant you entrance to more than 30 museums and swimming pools, access to free public transportation, and even free parking at municipal parking lots. Although pricing for the pass varies, depending on the length of your trip, it’s much more affordable than if you paid for entry to individual museums. Next, stop by a local grocery store, like Kiwi or Rimi, to pick up fresh fruits and snacks. Since the city isn’t as large as New York or London, you can walk to most of your destinations. Lastly, booking accommodations through Airbnb can also help keep costs down.
Frozen, frigid and blistering were just some of the words used to describe my impending journey. However, the city’s climate in January was much milder than I anticipated. Either way, learn to dress for your climate and you’ll survive just fine!
*Experience sponsored by Visit Oslo.