Bygdoy Peninsula
Photo: ojimoreno/Fotolia

Proud of its Viking heritage and history, Oslo is a vibrant modern city surrounded by water and forests, perfectly balancing its rich cultural offerings with magnificent nature for its residents that head outdoors every weekend, summer or winter. The elegant architecture of downtown Oslo can be seen while strolling along the main thoroughfare of Carl Johans Gate to the magnificent Royal Palace. Here are the best things to do in Oslo.

»Aker Brygge

Aker Brygge


Aker Brygge is an upscale neighborhood of Oslo developed on the site of the former shipyard Akers Mekaniske Verksted. It is located on the west coast of Pipervika, the Oslo Fjord arm, west of downtown. The most popular part of the area is a wide boardwalk lined with restaurants, cafes and boutiques.

On a sunny day, the boardwalk is full of people enjoying the pleasant stroll along the quay, watching people pass by or boats in the small harbor on the other side of the boardwalk. It is also a high-end residential area with some very expensive apartments with a view of the water. Some of the buildings are occupied by offices, and there is also a cinema. The terminal for ferries to Nesodden is also here.

Bydel Aker Brygge Grundingen 6 0250 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-22-83-26-80

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»Akershus Castle and Fortress

Akershus Castle and Fortress


Akershus Castle is a medieval castle built in the 1290s by King Haakon V and was developed into a fortress in 1592. It was rebuilt in 1537 into a renaissance castle. The castle was built to protect Oslo, which proved to be successful since it was never breached, and has been used as a prison at some time.

Akershus fortress is today still a military area, and is guarded by His Majesty the King’s Guard, but during the day is open to the public and is a popular spot for tourists. The main building of the castle was completely restored and is being used for dinners for foreign dignitaries and heads of state, as well as for various other official events. The castle has a number of beautiful halls, the Royal Mausoleum, and the Akershus Castle church, the home of the royal sarcophagi.

Festningsplassen 1 0015 Oslo, Norway, hone: +47-23-09-39-17 Photo: TT studio/Fotolia

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»Bygdoy Peninsula

Bygdoy Peninsula

Bygdøy is a peninsula on the west side of Oslo center. Mostly a residential area, Bygdøy is also a popular spot for recreation with beaches, volleyball courts, and great walking and biking trails through parks and forests.

Many of Oslo’s popular museums are in Bygdøy such as the Kon-Tiki Museum about Thor Heyerdahl’s expeditions, the Viking Ship Museum, and the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. The King of Norway has his official summer residence in Bygdøy. The best way to travel to the peninsula is by ferry, which leaves from Pier 3 just behind the City Hall. The trip takes about 15 minutes and runs from early April to October.

Bygdøy Peninsula 0286 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-47-22-44-97-00 Photo: ojimoreno/Fotolia

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»City Hall

City Hall


Oslo City Hall is one of the most famous buildings in Oslo, admired for its characteristic architecture and well known as the site of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. The construction of the building started in 1931 but was interrupted by WWII, and it wasn’t until 1950 that it was inaugurated. Before the construction started, the entire area was rebuilt and renovated to make space for it.

Located in Pipervika in downtown Oslo, City Hall is the seat of the City Council and the city's administrative body. The building contains a number of galleries and art studios, and is home to a large collection of artwork by local artists. Visitors should be sure to listen for the 49-bell carillon in the eastern tower, which plays every hour.

Fridtjof Nansens plass 0160 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-23-46-14-51 Photo: demerzel 21/Fotolia

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»Ekebergparken Sculpture Park

Ekebergparken Sculpture Park

Ekebergparken Sculpture Park is a popular park in the southeast part of Oslo. It is a 25 acre National Heritage and sculpture park with magnificent views of the city. There are 31 sculptures in the Sculpture Park, many of which have women as the subject.

Next to the sculpture park, in an 1891 white villa, is an indoor museum that describes the nature and history of Ekeberg, and is the base of the Sculpture Park. There is also a design and art shop with related objects and books. The park offers art workshops, guided tours, and outdoor activities. Next to the museum is Hakkespettene, the kids’ activity center, and the popular climbing park.

Kongsveien 23 0193 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-21-42-19-19 Photo: Ekebergparken Sculpture Park

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»Fram Museum

Fram Museum


Known as the strongest wooden ship ever made, Fram is the famous 19th century Norwegian ice-defying polar exploration ship that to this day holds the world records for sailing farthest south and farthest north. In the museum, visitors can come aboard the ship and see the place where the crew as well as their dogs survived the trip to the coldest, most dangerous places on earth – the North Pole and the South Pole.

An interesting feature of the museum is a polar simulator where a visitor can experience, virtually, the dangers and cold that the crew of Fram suffered more than a hundred years go. The Gjøa building of the museum has exhibitions on the Arctic and the Northwest Passage.

Bygdoeynesveien 39 0286 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-23-28-29-50 Photo: Edgie/Fotolia

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»Frogner Park

Frogner Park


Frogner Park is the biggest park in central Oslo and a popular recreational area for people from all over the city. It is a part of Frogner Manor, which is located at the south end of the park, and houses the Oslo City Museum. Frogner Park also contains the famous Vigeland installation, a permanent sculpture installation by Gustav Vigeland created between 1920 and 1943.

It is the largest sculpture park in the world, making it a very popular tourist attraction, but also a spot where locals come to jog, have a picnic or relax. Also part of the park are Frogner Stadium and Frogner Open-Air Bath, as well as a collection of 14,000 roses of 150 different varieties. Photo: nanisimova/Fotolia

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»Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower

Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower


Holmenkollen Ski Museum is located at the bottom of the famous Holmenkollen ski jump in Oslo. Founded in 1923, it is the oldest ski museum in the world. It showcases 4,000 years of skiing history starting with prehistoric times, with a range of fascinating exhibits. The main features of the museum are galleries devoted to the topics of winter Olympics, polar expeditions, and skis.

Two Winter Olympics were held in Norway - the Olympics in Oslo in 1952 and Lillehammer in 1994. Polar Expeditions gallery features artifacts and images of the first expedition to the North Pole by Roald Amundsen in 1911 and of the first ski trip through Greenland by Fridtjof Nansen in 1888. The exhibition on skis has on display the first skis ever used, from about 600 AD. A popular part of the Museum is the ski simulator, which allows visitors to experience the feel of jumping from Holmenkollen Hill.

Kongeveien 5 0787 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-22-92-32-00 Photo: gen lock 1/Fotolia

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»Karl Johans Gate

Karl Johans Gate


Karl Johans Gate is the main street in Oslo, named to honor King Charles III John. This elegant old street runs from Norway's Royal Palace to the main railroad station. Strolling along this street will bring you past many of Oslo's popular tourist attractions such as the Central Station, Stortinget (parliament building), the National Theatre, the Palace Park, and the old Oslo University Buildings.

At Eidsvolls plass, you will see Spikersuppa, the pond which turns into an ice skating rink in the winter. Oslo Cathedral is also on Karl Johans Gate, surrounded by the lively Bazaar Market, which is connected to the historic Brannvakta, or Fire Watch, Oslo's principal fire station between 1860 and 1939. Photo: nanisimova/Fotolia

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»Munch Museum

Munch Museum


Munch Museum in Tøyen, Oslo, is home to the world's largest collection of Edvard Munch's works. It offers insight into his life and work as a pioneer of expressionism. More than half of Edvard Munch's paintings and most of his prints are located in the museum. The Museum's collection was left to the city of Oslo by Munch upon his death.

Additional works were donated to the museum by his sister Inger Munch. Various other works were obtained by the museum through trades of duplicate prints and other means. The collection consists of paintings, drawings, graphical prints, and articles. The museum often changes the works in the galleries in order to show the diversity of Munch’s production.

Toeyengata 53 0578 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-23-49-35-00 Photo: Munch Museum

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»National Gallery

National Gallery


Established in 1842, the National Gallery of Oslo has the largest collection of Norwegian art, from works of the Romantic era to more modern works from 1800 to WWII. Edvard Munch's best-known painting The Scream is in the Gallery, as well as a significant collection of European art, with paintings by Picasso, Gauguin, and El Greco and the works by best known impressionists such as Degas, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, and Monet.

The Gallery is a part of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design. The Gallery collections were originally located in the Royal Palace in Oslo and were moved in 1882 to their own museum building designed by architects Adolf Schirmer and Heinrich Ernst. The National Gallery regularly hosts popular concerts by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, set in the Museum’s Assembly Hall.

Universitetsgaten 13 0164 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-22-20-04-04 Photo: Sergii Figurnyi/Fotolia

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»Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum


The Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo is the largest and oldest museum of natural history in Norway. The Museum is divided into the Botanical Garden, the Geological Museum, and the Zoological Museum. The Zoological Museum has permanent and changing exhibitions that showcase and educate about the wildlife of Norway and the world. You can see a replica of a beaver dam, reproduced scenes from Arctic environment, and a variety of exhibitions that range from penguins in Antarctica to okapi and chimpanzees in African rainforests.

The famous fossil called "Ida," the oldest and most complete primate fossil ever discovered, is also located here. The Geological Museum is closed to the public at the moment, but offers some of its most important pieces in the exhibition Stone and Bone. The Botanical Garden is home to 35,000 plants of 7,500 species, all thriving in the 150-acre garden and the two exhibition greenhouses Victoriahuset and Palmehuset.

Sars' gate 1 Oslo 0562, Norway, Phone: +47-22-85-16-30 Photo: Natural History Museum

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»Nordmarka

Nordmarka

Only about 20 minutes from downtown Oslo, north of the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, is the Nordmarka wilderness area. This 30 km long forested, mostly undeveloped area is where Oslo residents like to spend their free time in the summer hiking, mountain biking, fishing and picnicking and in the winter skiing and sledding. There are trails everywhere through the dense forests with picturesque lakes and small islands shining through the branches.

It is a vast area so it is a good idea to pick up a map at the tourist information center. Miles of trails crisscross the Nordmarka in all directions, with small and not so small sport lodges where you can look for a shelter or, as some of them are fully equipped, have an overnight stay and a warm meal. Look for Tryvan Vinterpark if you are skier, or, in the summer, Tryvannstrnet observation tower to see the whole vast green space ahead of you.

Nordmarka 890 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-90-01-26-32 Photo: keller/Fotolia

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»Norway's Resistance Museum

Norway's Resistance Museum

Norway's Resistance Museum is located in a small building on the grounds of the imposing 17th century Akershus Fortress in Oslo, next to the memorial to Norwegian resistance fighters who were executed during the war.

The Museum interprets the five years of Norway history during WWII from 1940 to 1945, during Nazi Germany occupation of Norway, through exhibits, documents, newspaper articles, recordings, models, posters, and photos related to the resistance movement and its activities. The Museum opened its doors to the public in 1970 on the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Norway from German occupation.

Bygning 21 0015 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-23-09-32-80 Photo: Einar Bog/Fotolia

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»Norwegian Folk Museum

Norwegian Folk Museum

Norwegian Folk Museum, or Museum of Cultural History, located on the Bygdøy peninsula, is an open air museum of cultural history of Norway that includes 155 traditional original houses that were relocated from different parts of Norway, as well as a stave church from 1200. The museum has a large collection of artifacts from all regions of the country and all social groups such as traditional handicrafts, folk costumes, weapons, and objects from Sami culture.

The museum is located next to several other museums, including the Viking Ship Museum; the Fram Museum; the Kon-Tiki Museum; and the Norwegian Maritime Museum. In the summer there are fun outdoor activities such as horse and carriage rides, guided tours, feeding of the animals, handicraft demonstrations, sale of freshly-baked lefse, and more.

Museumsveien 10 0287 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-22-12-37-00 Photo: Byelikova Oksana/Fotolia

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»Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology

Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology

The National Museum of Science and Technology is located in Kjelsås, Oslo, and has 20,000 square meters of floor space with exhibitions, a library and historical archives. This haven for the curious and adventurous has 80 interactive hands-on installations, 25 exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, and a range of activities for weekends and holidays.

The museum’s Science Center offers learning through play, with activities such as testing reaction time, looking for virtual fish, and competing with friends for the best brain control. In the digital workshop called Teknoteket, visitors can invent electronic devices, develop designs, and build cars using all sorts of tools, from 3D printers and laser cutters to saws and hammers. The National Museum of Medicine is part of the science museum, and features historical medicine objects, exhibits, books, and materials. There is a nice café with Greek and Italian food and a museum shop with some fun gifts.

Kjelsaasveien 143 0491 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-22-79-60-00 Photo: Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology

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»Opera House

Opera House


Oslo's Opera House, opened in 2008, looks like a glacier slowly floating to the fjord, with white, angled walls and a flat marble roof popular with locals for sunbathing. Tourists love it too for the spectacular views of the city. The interior is equally interesting, with large windows offering glimpses of theatre activities such as rehearsals and workshops.

The main hall is formed like a horseshoe, resembling classical old theatres. The magnificent, futuristic opera building is home to the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet and the national opera theatre, which offer rich and diverse programs. The House has three stages: The Main House with 1369 seats, the Second House with 400 seats, and the Studio with 200 seats. The roof and foyer of the building are also used as stages for concerts.

Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1 0150 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-21-42-21-21 Photo: Sergii Figurnyi/Fotolia

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»Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral, previously named Our Savior's Church, is the main, official cathedral for the Church of Norway Diocese of Oslo, as well as the parish church for the entire downtown Oslo. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1697, and was extensively renovated in 1950 and restored to its original baroque style. The Norwegian Government and Norwegian Royal Family use the cathedral for weddings and funerals.

The altar piece, pulpit and organ front with carvings of acanthus are original. The beautiful ceiling murals were painted by Hugo Lous Mohr and the stained glass windows were created by Emanuel Vigeland. "The bazaar halls" found all around the cathedral were built between 1841 and 1858. The church offers mass on weekdays and high mass on Sundays, and has frequent concerts.

Stortorvet 1 0155 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-23-31-46-00 Photo: nstanev/Fotolia

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»Oslo Fjord

Oslo Fjord


The 100-km-long Oslo Fjord is a scenic inlet that stretches from the Torbjørnskjær and Færder lighthouses all the way to Oslo in the north. It is part of the Skagerrakstrait which connects the North Sea to the Kattegat sea area, leading to the Baltic Sea. The fjord has hundreds of small and not so small islands, each with its own individual life.

Hovedøya has old monastery ruins; Gressholmen has rabbits; Nakholmen, Bleikøya, and Lindøya have charming cabins on the water; and Langøyene is famous for its beach and camping. In the summer, the fjord is a popular place for kayaking, fishing, sailing, and even diving. Most of the islands offer spectacular views of Oslo and can be easily reached by boat from the city. Photo: Leonid Andronov/Fotolia

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»Royal Palace

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace is located at one end of Karl Johans gate, Oslo’s main street, right in the heart of the city. The beautiful Neo-Classical building with stuccoed brick exterior was built for King Carl Johan, who died before it was finished in 1849.

The Palace is the King and Queen’s residence and the place where the Monarchy does its daily work and conducts its business. In the Palace, the King heads the Council of State, has official dinners, and grants audiences. It is also the place where foreign heads of state stay when visiting Oslo. There are guided tours of the Royal Palace available in the summer.

Slottsplassen 1 0010 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-22-04-87-00 Photo: www dzupin com/Fotolia

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»Sognsvann Lake

Sognsvann Lake

Sognsvann is a small lake within the Oslo city limits, only about three kilometers in diameter, very popular with the locals for a weekend break and some fresh air on the water. The area around the lake is used for camping, picnicking, hiking, and cross-country skiing, depending on the season. While great for fishing and swimming in the summer, once the lake freezes in the winter it becomes a skating rink.

There is a beautiful scenic trail all around the lake, about three kilometers long, popular for jogging, well-lit and wheelchair-accessible. Bikes are prohibited due to overcrowding. The Lake and the forested area around it can get crowded during the summer because the access by public transport is so easy. Nearby is another smaller lake called the Black Pool, famous for its nudist beach.

Sognsveien 235 0863 Oslo, Norway Photo: Leonid Andronov/Fotolia

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»The Viking Ship Museum

The Viking Ship Museum

The Viking Ship Museum is located on the Bygdøy peninsula in Oslo, and is part of the extensive Museum of Cultural History of the Oslo University. It houses archaeological finds from Tune, Gokstad, Oseberg, and the Borre cemetery. The reason why thousands of visitors come to the Viking Ship Museum each year are three well-preserved Viking ships: The Oseberg ship, Gokstad ship, and Tune ship, all built in the 9th century.

The most famous of the three is the Oseberg ship, found in a huge burial mound at the Oseberg farm near Tønsberg. It is considered one of the most well preserved artifacts from the Viking Era. In addition, the Viking Age display showcases period objects used in everyday lives such as a horse cart, sledges, beds, wood carvings, parts of tents, buckets, and many others.

Huk Aveny 35 0297 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-22-13-52-80 Photo: franco lucato/Fotolia

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»The Nobel Peace Center

The Nobel Peace Center

The Nobel Peace Center is located in an 1872 train station building near Oslo City Hall, overlooking the harbor. The museum tells the story of the Nobel Peace Prize, the life of Alfred Nobel and numerous Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and their work on promoting peace. Besides the permanent exhibits, the Center offers temporary exhibits, discussions and conferences about peace, war, and conflict resolution.

The Center offers a combination of physical exhibits and films with more contemporary interactive installations and digital communication. One of the most fascinating exhibits is Nobel Field, an open air garden with 1,000 fiber-optic lights, where Peace Prize laureates are introduced on digital screens.

Brynjulf Bulls Plass 1 City Hall Square 0250 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-48-30-10-00 Photo: msw/Fotolia

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»TusenFryd

TusenFryd

Tusenfryd is Norway’s largest amusement park, located in Vinterbro, about 20 kilometers from Oslo. Spread over 55 acres of forested, hilly land, the park is vaguely divided into Morgan Kane Town, Vikingland, and a small Fairy Tale Land. It has 31 rides, four roller coasters, and three water rides. Some of the adrenaline-kickers include SpeedMonster, ThunderCoaster, SuperSplash, and SpaceShot, which are so huge that they can be seen from the motorway.

The SpeedMonster serves as the entrance to the park meaning that visitors have to go up in an escalator, and through a loop of the Speed Monster to get in. There are also carousels, small roller coasters and rides for smaller kids. BadeFryd is the waterpark portion of the park, open in the summer, with a swimming pool, a large slide and a swimming river.

Høyungsletta 20 1407 Vinterbro, Norway, Phone: +47-64-97-64-97 Photo: TusenFryd

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»Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Located in the magnificent Frogner Park in Oslo, the Vigeland Park, or Vigeland Installation, is the world's largest sculpture installation made by one artist.

Gustav Vigeland‘s 200 sculptures, made in granite, bronze and wrought iron, are spaced within five individual park units along an 850 meter long line, starting at the Main gate, continuing to the Bridge, the Children's playground, the Monolith plateau, the Fountain, and the Wheel of Life. Vigeland created most of the sculptures between 1939 and 1949 and was also responsible for the design and layout of the park.

Nobels gate 32 0268 Oslo, Norway, Phone: +47-23-49-37-00 Photo: Leonid Andronov/Fotolia

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25 Best Things to Do in Oslo