Norwegians love to spend time outside, and that is where many of Oslo's attractions are located. Dress for the season, take water with you, and stay with Choice Hotels in Oslo, Norway to explore this interesting cultural oasis and take in the capital city’s many attractions that include:
Architecture and nature merge at the Oslo Opera House, where you can take a stroll on the roof and instantly forget that you are in a major city. You may be surprised at how many people take advantage of the free admission to enjoy the view. The coffee shop in particular garners rave reviews for its hot chocolate, and the sense of walking around inside an iceberg is interesting. If you have time, take the tour (offered in both English and Norwegian). But do not stop there, because the performances—given by the Norwegian National Opera, the Norwegian National Ballet and the Norwegian National Opera Chorus and Orchestra—are truly spectacular.
Eschew culture in favor of nature and head out to Nordmarka (“north forest”) for a day in the outdoors. The Nordmarka extends far inland, but about 30 kilometers of it is inside Oslo city limits, and there is easy access to it either via road or T-bane lines. Come out and enjoy hiking, fishing, cycling and swimming in the summer, and cross-country skiing and ice-skating in winter. The area is famous for its apple-cake, so be sure and try some. As soon as you leave the tram you will see a restaurant that dates from the 1800s—and still bakes the best apple-cake in the city.
For an outdoor experience of a different kind, visit Vigeland Park, named for the sculptor whose stone and bronze work adorns the site. Gustav Vigeland was a prolific sculptor, known especially for designing the Nobel Prize medal. He explored life, death and relationships in his work. You will see all three themes in the sculpture park that Vigeland himself created, which include a bridge, a monolith and a fountain. Oslo residents spend a lot of time in this park, walking, picnicking and enjoying the rose garden and the art. This is where you will find Norway’s largest playground, sure to delight your children. The park also is a gardener’s paradise with 14,000 rose plants of 150 different species.
The Bygdøy Peninsula—accessible either via bus or boat—comprises a number of different attractions, and you do not want to miss any of them. This is in a sense Museum Central: you can visit the Fram Museum (details below), the Holocaust Center, the Norwegian Folk Museum, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum (remember that Thor Heyerdahl was Norwegian!) and the Viking Ship Museum. The Folk Museum is one of Europe’s largest open-air museums and includes 155 traditional homes and a Stave church, and offers lefse baking and folk-dancing demonstrations. But the peninsula’s attractions do not stop there: locals flock here for Huk and Paradisbukta beaches, forest trails and the opportunity to see the mansions lived in by Oslo’s old-money families.
One of the museums on the Bygdøy Peninsula is the Fram Polar Ship Museum, dedicated primarily to the Fram (Arctic explorer) and the Gjoa (Antarctic explorer), explaining via timelines, photographs and exhibits the races to the north and south poles, as well as the exploration of the Northwest Passage. You will get to board and explore the Fram itself and find out how and why these men were driven to face death itself in their quest for fame. Watch the polar introduction movie when you first arrive, and do not neglect the exhibits on polar bears and ice melt and the rotating temporary displays.
If you would like to get out of town in the most scenic way possible, consider taking a side trip on the Bergen Railway and see Norway’s villages, countryside, fjords, valleys and mountains from the comfort of the train. The trip from Oslo to Bergen is seven hours long and you will not be bored for a single minute of that time. There is a special playroom available for your children should the scenery fail to enthrall them.
Norway has been named one of the most beautiful countries on earth and that beauty surrounds its capital city. Stay with Choice Hotels in Oslo, Norway, to explore the spectacular beauty of this area, take in a museum, go hiking and hang out at the opera and more. It will be one of the most unforgettable vacations you will ever experience.
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