Oslo

Oslo Travel Guide

Oslo Travel Guide by CC user simenschi on Flickr

Oslo Travel Guide by CC user simenschi on Flickr

Introduction

Located just below the 60th parallel, Oslo is one of the northernmost capitals in the world (only Reykjavik, Iceland and Helsinki, Finland are further north), but its fortunate proximity gives it, and much of Norway, a climate that is much warmer than places at comparable latitudes elsewhere on the globe.

Here, you’ll learn about Norway’s Viking roots and its history as one of the world’s most powerful subarctic nation states, a status that has only been bolstered in modern times by its pragmatic investment of its oil wealth.

Cultural Experiences

Akershus Fortress by CC user lyng883 on Flickr

In order to get to the roots of Norse civilization, start your time in Oslo by touring the Viking Ship Museum. Stocked with archeological finds from Viking burial mounds, its biggest claim to fame is alluded to by the name of the museum: the interior of this place is dominated by a fully preserved ship from the Oseberg burial mound.

Other items found here that came from these sites include personal affects and jewels that were placed there so that its occupants could enjoy them in the afterlife, as well as the human remains of those that were interred.

Next, head over to the Akershus Fortress, which has the rare distinction of never having been conquered by an invading army.

Constructed in the late 13th century, it had withstood challenges from the Swedes on numerous occasions, and while the Nazis controlled the fortress during the Second World War, the Norwegians opted to withdraw from the city without attempting to defend it from a barrage that would have spelled certain doom for this national treasure.

It also served as a prison in addition to defending Oslo, and it is presently where Norwegian royalty is buried and foreign dignitaries are entertained.

Those wishing to understand how life has evolved in this northern country would do well to spend a few hours exploring the Norwegian Folk Museum.

With over 150 buildings brought here from all over the country, it is one of Europe’s largest open air living history museums, and with a church that was originally constructed in 1200, one of the world’s oldest.

From exhibits on the culture of the subarctic-dwelling Sami, to the scent of freshly baked bread in the air, this attraction is one you won’t want to miss.

Other Attractions

Frogner Park by CC user rogersg on Flickr

Being the capital of the country that gave the world one of its most popular and exciting winter sports, a visit to Oslo wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Holmenkollen Ski Museum.

Located within the bowels of the world’s oldest ski jump, this repository of artifacts related to this alpine sport will guide you through 4,000 years of progression, from the first time humans thought to affix wooden planks to their feet to make snow travel easier, to the latest developments in snowboarding and skiing.

Afterward, head outside and watch a jumping competition, as this facility still hosts international athletes after more than 100 years of competitions.

With much of Norway’s territory sitting above the Arctic Circle, it’s not hard to understand how this country is uniquely adapted to the cold.

This conditioning no doubt played a role in the courage and conviction of bold explorers like Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen, whose hardy ships are both contained within the confines of the Fram Polar Ship Museum.

The Fram holds records for the furthest voyages north and south by boat in the world, and the preserved body of the Gjoa immortalizes the ship that took Amundsen and his crew on the first ever successful crossing of the Northwest Passage in human history.

Wonder how trying conditions were for these intrepid polar explorers? A cold simulator lets you feel their pain.

End off a long Norwegian summer day (seriously, the sun doesn’t set until almost 11pm) by relaxing with the locals in Frogner Park.

While citizens of Oslo love to BBQ and enjoy some wine on its extensive lawns, those looking for highlights will find them in the form of the Vigeland Sculpture Park.

Composed of many provocative pieces (hint: there’s plenty of nudity, but that’s normal for Scandinavia), it is a fun place to visit if you aren’t easily bothered or offended by such things.