How to Spend a Day in Oslo

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The cosmopolitan heart of Norway, Oslo offers travelers a superb mix of world class restaurants, museums and night life. And being one of Europe's most active and outdoors-oriented capitals, locals and visitors alike are always just a heartbeat away from a hike, kayak, ski or sail.

Oslo is recognized as a "biophilic" city, which means it embraces nature in an urban setting: 94% of its inhabitants live near a park, protected forest, or green space. We're joined here today by long-time Oslo local and licensed guide, Kirsti, who's here to tell us about her favourite way to enjoy this sparkling Scandinavian city.

The Blue and the Green and the City in Between

Oslo’s motto is “the blue and the green and the city in between.” Blue for the sea that gives the city a long, exciting and revitalised waterfront, and green for the ridge of forested hills forming a half circle around Oslo, a haven for outdoor activities in both summer and winter.

History and Culture in Oslo

Also the “in between” bit, the city centre, has a lot to offer. Exciting and numerous museums, restaurants where you can find food to suit any palate and wallet, a coffee bar at every corner, festivals all year round, and two very exciting sculpture parks. Head to the peninsula of Bygdoey just outside the city where you can study our history by looking at the Viking ships, and view buildings and artefacts from medieval times to the present day in the open air heritage museum. Our maritime museums are also worth a visit. From the ski jump of Holmenkollen you have a startling view of the city and the fjord.

Walkable City: Suggestion for a Stroll

Oslo is small and walkable. My favourite walk is along the Oslo waterfront, offering exciting modern architecture. If you start in the west you can admire a completely new section of town, with the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, designed by the famous architect Renzo Piano as a central building. Here there are outdoor sculptures, a small beach if you want a dip in the water on our hot summer days, and numerous restaurants. You will also find many galleries and attractive modern buildings as you continue walking along Aker Brygge. Here, mechanical wharfs have been replaced by shops, restaurants and flats. The Lofoten Restaurant will offer you delicious fresh fish.

Next, pass the Town Hall, the Medieval Castle and Fortress of Akershus, and end up by another new waterfront section, with the Opera as a natural centre. The Opera, built with white marble and glass, is designed by the Norwegian architects “Snoehetta”. It lies in the water like an iceberg. You will be amazed to see people walking on the roof, and if you are lucky you can attend a concert there on a summer's day.

Numerous modern and exciting buildings are to be found in this new section of “Fjord Oslo”. I would end the walk with a visit to the Ekeberg restaurant - good food and a beautiful view of the fjord and the city. After a meal you can walk in a new sculpture park with modern sculptures of well-known international artists.

The Works of Munch

Most works of our famous painter Edvard Munch reside in Oslo. He gave all the works that he had not sold or given away to Oslo municipality. His most startling paintings are to be found in the National Gallery in the centre of the city, amongst others the “Scream”. But the Munch museum must also be included, which shows most of his works. Standing in front of his work, you will be struck by the force of his paintings. You can combine these galleries with a meal at the Grand Cafe, where Munch, Henrik Ibsen and other artists used to go. Here they serve traditional Scandinavian “smoergaasbord” at a reasonable price.

Oslo is an enticing city in rapid development. You will not regret including a visit on your next trip to northern Europe.

Thank you Kirsti, for sharing your passion for Oslo with us! For any travelers headed to Kirsti's stunning Nordic city this summer, consider getting in touch with her to design your own, customized Oslo tour. You can read more about Kirsti and her tours on her guide profile page.
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