For years I wanted to celebrate my birthday abroad, but last September the moment was finally there: I celebrated in Oslo! I actually didn’t know what to expect from Oslo, except that it was expensive and a modern city, but nevertheless I was really looking forward to it. And Oslo really surprised me! Anything it lacks in pretty, old architecture – it makes up for in liveability, especially with lots of nice restaurants. To me this trip was mainly about relaxing and enjoying, but there’s still a lot to see in this city! Below you can find nine things you must see and do when you visit Oslo.
1. The harbour
One of the best (and most touristic) parts of the city is the harbour. You’ll find all the boats going to the museum island (sounds cool right? Read on!) but there’s also a cool promenade along the water. The area mainly consists of beautiful apartments with restaurants on the ground floor. A beautiful – but expensive – spot to grab a bite.
2. Go on a boat tour
Oslo is situated in a beautiful bay, surrounded by green forests. The city also consists of multiple islands, and you can visit all of them by boat! You can even go on a cruise through Oslo’s bay, but just don’t expect any fjords – different part of the country. I took a boat to the museum island and found that was a great way to experience Oslo’s nature for a bit.
3. Museum island
Have you ever noticed most big cities have a museum quarter? Amsterdam has one, Berlin has one… and Oslo has one too, but on an island! On the museum island you’ll find a lot of different museums. Because we didn’t have a lot of time we only visited one (and unfortunately had to skip the Viking musem), but even if you don’t visit any museums at all it’s still a great place to visit. The beautiful houses on the islands somehow reminded me a lot of the east coast of the United States!
4. Folk museum
Give me an open air museum where they rebuild the life and culture of a few hundred years ago, and I’m as happy as I can be. I love visiting museums where you can really see what life was like a long time ago. Folketmuseet (Folk museum) is gigantic, with beautiful wooden ‘villages’, a famous church, but also a more modern part where you can see what Oslo looked like around 1950. It’s definitely worth the money, you’ll easily walk around for hours.
5. Frogner parks
This is without a doubt one of the most unique parks I’ve ever visited. The park is full of statues made by sculptor Gustav Vigeland. The statues are of people in all sorts of (not necessarily sexual) positions. So if you want to see a frustrated man juggling three babies (I mean who WOULDN’T be frustrated): this is the place to be. Apart from that it’s just a beautiful park with a river and a fountain where it’s lovely to walk around or go for a picnic.
6. Sørenga Sjøbad
Our supercool Airbnb host recommended us this place. Apparently this ‘city beach’ has been chosen as one of the coolest of Europe, and I can see why. This floating platform gives you an amazing view of the wonderful bay that Oslo is a part of. You can obviously go for a swim, have a shower, and there’s even a ramp for disabled people to enjoy the water. Buy some food and drinks and you can enjoy the sun for hours on end.
7. Royal Palace
Getting to know a city isn’t done before you’ve visited the local royal palace, right? This palace was built at the start of the 18th century and is located next to a big beautiful park. You can get quite close, so to be honest I wouldn’t even want to live there if I was the royal family… having people around your house all day. Just let me live in peace, ya know? You can visit the palace during summer.
One of my favorite spots in Oslo was the area around Damstredet, a really cute street with colored houses on the top of the hills. You immediately get the feeling of traveling back in time to the old Oslo. This is definitely the place to take some great Instagram photos!
9. The opera house
This is one of the most eccentric opera houses in the world (after the one in Sydney of course). I totally love this abstract building. What’s even better is that you can actually climb it, and at the top you’ll have a great view of the city. For me it was extra special to visit this place, since two friends of mine got engaged here a few months ago. How romantic!