I didn’t really stay that much time in Oslo. We started our trip in Norway from Bergen, and we arrived in Oslo after our Norway in a Nutshell Tour that covers some of the most beautiful fjords in the country. If you want to know more about how to plan the trip and make the most out of the tour, check out Making the Most out of Norway in a Nutshell. I had some amazing tips and photos.
So, our stay in Oslo is only a “quick spin” for two days. But still, it was okay as Oslo is a small city covering about 400 square kilometers and less than 1 million population (about 1.5 million for the metro area). All main attractions and highlights are located in the city center that’s quite accessible by foot, or by local tram; even the Vigeland Park, one of my favorite urban parks, is about 2 kilometers away from the Royal Palace.
Comfort Hotel Xpress Central Station
We were heading to Oslo by train from Bergen (well, Myrdal to be exact), we had our luggage picked up in Bergen in the morning and they arrived at our hotel in the evening. To make our lives easier, I booked a room at the Comfort Hotel Xpress that is a stone throw away from the train station – it is a boutique hotel with clean and soundproof rooms.
As I already described Oslo is a very compact city. Most of the city’s key buildings and sites are lined up along the Karl Johans gate, which leads to the Royal Palace. In fact, most of the shops and restaurants could be found in the radius of these streets.
The Royal Palace
The Palace is located at the end of Karl Johans gate and the official residence of the current Norway monarch while the Crown Prince resides at Skaugum in Asker west of Oslo. Palace Square is a little bit higher and it offers a great view of Oslo’s city center. To me, it’s a great place to have an overview and begin the city’s explorations.
The palace was built in 1825 and completed in 1849; it was renovated and opened to public access starting in the year 2002. The palace, while it’s still functioning, is guarded by His Majesty The King’s Guard; you will find a few sights around the palace like the Queen Sonja Art stable, and the Palace Park. The Queen Sonja Art Stable was stable and converted into a multipurpose art venue which was named Dronning Sonja KunstStall. The building will be used as an art gallery, museum and concert hall and is now open to the public.
We didn’t actually enter the stable yet we chilled out in the park and just in time to catch the changing of the guards. Honestly, we didn’t plan for this – we were at the palace at 1:30 pm and this is the time when the change of the guards happens.
National Gallery and Historical Museum
The National Gallery and Historical Museum are another must-sees. It ‘s right on the side of the palace and its part of the National Museum of Art of Norway since 2003. The gallery showcases pieces of Norwegian artists from sculptor Julius Middelthun, painters Johan Christian Claussen Dahl, Erik Werenskiold, Christian Krohg, and, of course, Edvard Munch. You don’t want to miss The Scream, the most recognizable paintings in the world.
The gallery has a collection of old master European paintings by painters such as c Don’t forget to check out the paintings in the gallery as well.
As many of you would know by now that I am an art enthusiast and so, of course, I would bring my friends to the Munch Museum on the other side of town. The museum is dedicated to the most famous Norwegian artists Edvard Munch.
The museum was opened to the public in 1963 to commemorate the artist’s 100th birthday. The museum has undergone several renovations and movements, and now it’s located nearby the Natural History Museum through the lawn.
For years, Munch was closely compared with Vincent van Gogh, and it was always said that Van Gogh inspired Edvard Munch in contemporary art history. The exhibition in the museum shows the two artists, who never met, share a passionate desire to paint the savage intensity of life. It was interesting to know how the two crossed paths (they both visited Antwerp) during their time and how their works have something in common, but also very unique.
The museum shows many hand drawings and drafts of the two painters, dig deeper into their personal history and style, and we saw different versions of Screams (yes, Munch has created more than one).
Oslo Cathedral, the City Hall, and the Nobel Peace Center
The next day we explored the waterfront before our little picnic in Vigeland Park. The urban renewal project for the waterfront of Center Oslo. Don’t get me wrong, the first redevelopment took place in Aker Brygge during the 1980s. Now, the area is already re-developed as an upscale shopping, dining, entertainment, and high-end residential area.
While it’s a great area to enjoy dinner by the water, one important site is located at the corner – the Nobel Peace Center. Many of you know the Nobel Prize is from Sweden and the ceremony takes place in the Stockholm City Hall (I visited the Stockholm City Hall it was impressive); While the literature, physics, chemistry, economics categories are presented in Stockholm, Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony is held at Oslo City Hall instead. Why? There is no clear answer that the creator of the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel, wanted the Peace Prize to be presented in Norway. One likely explanation is that Nobel lived most of his life abroad and who wrote his will at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, may have been influenced by the fact that, until 1905, Norway was in union with Sweden. Since the scientific prizes were to be awarded by the most competent, i.e. Swedish, committees at least the remaining prize for peace ought to be awarded by a Norwegian committee.
The Nobel Peace Center is a small building and it’s the venue for exhibitions, meetings, debates, theater, concerts, and conferences, as well as a broad educational program and regular guided tours.
Another place of interest was the Norway Yacht Charter. You can take a boat to Bygdøy, where you could visit a list of museums like the Oscarshall, The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, and the Viking Ship Museum.
Oslo Opera House
The Opera Huset is the national opera theater in Norway, and home to The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. It is a modern and eye-catching building right by the water. The roof of the building is covered in white granite and rises from the ground level, and this slope is a platform that allows visitors to walk up the building and enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
The Vigeland Park
The park is one of my favorite spots in Oslo. We went there twice in the two days we stayed in Oslo. The park is a true masterpiece.
Frogner is historically part of Frogner Manor, and it is an impressive urban park in Oslo with an impressive collection of Norwegian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland’s installation created between 1924 and 1943. The Vigeland Sculpture Park is a park within Frogner Park that displays over 600 pieces of bronze and granite sculptures that depict different faces of human life.
The showcase consists of three areas: The Bridge, the fountain, and the monolith Plateau.
The work of Vigeland is deeply influenced by Robin and it could be seen by the modern and clean surface and vivid manifestation of emotions. While it may not be a big name to the world compared to Central Park or Hyde Park, it is for sure one of my favorite urban parks in an intimate and artistic setting.
To find out more about the sculptures and design of the park, check out This is life – Vigelandsparken.