Why everyone should visit Oslo at least once
Oslo is the capital of Norway and for residents of Britain, its just a short flight away. Within 2 hours, you could be standing next to a fjord, drinking in the fresh, clean air and enjoying the friendly hospitality of those who live here.
Sitting proudly outside the EU, Norway is still very firmly and unquestionably located in Europe, but thanks to its abundance of oil, has an enviable independent wealth. Digital signs, similar to those which display the temperature at sunny beach resorts, are very visible around the streets of Oslo, but here they display the fluctuating price of oil. Luckily for Norwegians they have a socially-minded government who are determined to spend their oil money wisely and responsibly.
It’s not uncommon for Oslo dwellers to remark upon their increasingly good fortunes when it comes to infrastructure. Each year it seems, the government manages to lay on an extra treat for its citizens. Visitors to the country can also reap the benefits.
On arrival into Oslo, you’re initially struck by how clean the air tastes, particularly if you’ve just flown in from London or a similarly polluted city. This is because Norway is committed to keeping their air pollution levels in check. Although oil is the major export of the country, the majority of energy produced for Norwegian households comes from renewables. When pollution levels increase, diesel cars are banned from the road until the levels decrease again.
Additionally urban development is restricted. Protected hills, forests and lakes make up two thirds of the landscape here. ‘The Norwegian fjords’ is one of the most commonly searched for destinations on Google and one of the commonly-included attractions on travel bucket lists. With their serenely remote and unique beauty, it’s easy to see why.
The best way to experience the novel sensation of breathing in such great quality air is by taking a walk in the glorious countryside. The Oslo Tourist Board will helpfully assist you with this by providing you with a master key to the region’s cabins for a nominal price. This means that if you find yourself enjoying hiking along a trail carpeted with richly coloured autumn leaves, through pine forests or beside a fjord, you don’t have to worry about making the return journey before it gets dark. (And don’t forget that this far North, you lose more hours of daylight than in Britain.) Also there is a great deal more freedom attached to Norwegians’ right to roam, so you’ll find much of the natural landscape permits public access.
You simply use your key to gain access to the nearest cabin and spend the night. Beds and bedding of a decent quality will be provided. It’s up to you to ensure you have food to keep yourself going. No scrabbling across the glacially-shaped ground to get back to your hotel for you! You can crack open a beer and watch the Northern Lights dancing overhead, before spending a comfortable night and continuing your journey in the morning. It’s possible to download an app to your phone which will show you where you’ll likely find the best visibility of the Northern Lights on any given night.
Norwegian history and culture
Fiercely proud of their Viking heritage, you’ll find that Norwegians rate strength very highly and for that reason are keen on sports, exercise and healthy outdoor pursuits. Swimming in the beautiful fjords is actively encouraged, but really only a bearable temperature during the summer months.
Skiing is popular here in the Winter. The Holmenkollen ski jump is a famous attraction here and due to its size and altitude can be seen from far away.
Cultural reminders of Oslo’s Norse history are never far away, thanks to an abundance of celebratory sculptures. However, the best places to find out more are in the Viking Museum and the Folk Museum. Vikings believed that when they died, they would need their treasures with them once they reached Valhalla; the afterlife. For this reason, they were commonly buried with their coin collections and their boats. The Viking Museum houses two such boats, which were retrieved from a burial site. The Folk Museum provides great examples of traditional Norwegian architecture. See our collection of Historical Norweigan tours
Making the most of Oslo
Oslo is a beautiful city, with some incredible landmarks and places of interest. Admittedly the prices of goods in the shop and eating out is extremely high by British standards, but you can get around this by choosing to book an all-inclusive package via Aspen Travel. In this way, all of your meals and accommodation will be paid for before you leave. Our team will work hard to get you the most competitive prices for the dates you want to travel. Here are a few of our favourite Oslo highlights:
The sculpture park: These beautiful landscaped gardens offer grounds and a lake which are sprinkled with the artistic offerings of Gustav Vigeland. His most famous sculpture and an iconic image often used to advertise Oslo is The Angry Boy; a metal depiction of a small child having a tantrum located on a long bridge. Rubbing the hand of the statue is said to bring good luck. Just round the corner from the sculpture park is Frogner Stadium. This is where lacrosse and American football games are played during the summer, before the site is frozen later in the year and handed over to the twin pursuits of ice hockey and skating.
The Royal Palace: The Norwegian royal family live in this stunning mansion set amidst manicured parkland in the middle of the city. Unlike Buckingham Palace, there are no fences preventing you from having your photo taken directly outside the front door. You will be prevented from knocking on it though, by two sentry guards protecting the exterior.
The National Gallery: One of Norway’s most famous sons; Edvard Munch, was walking past the fjord in Oslo when he was hit with the inspiration for his world famous work of art; The Scream. The original painting hangs here still and is in good company. Plenty of impressionist classics are housed here, as are some great example of Scandinavian realism.
The harbour front: Every visitor to Oslo needs to experience the excitement of Karl Johan’s Gate and Aker Brygge. Along here you’ll find celebrity hangouts, picturesque pavement cafs, the Nobel Peace Prize centre, which is where the winners are announced and, of course, the captivating Oslofjord. Here you can enjoy traditional seafood dishes, while you marvel at the Akershus Fortress perched on the hillside, take to the charming beach, or board a ferry to one of the islands just off Oslo. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can try the local specialty – rotted fish; fish which has been fermented over many months and will be fairly pungent as a result of this process! Less brave gourmets might want to try the local Oslo pizza, which the city also claims as a regional delicacy. One of our trusted tour opertors Cox and Kings have currently a magnifcent tour of Oslo on sale right now, click here to find out more
How to book your Oslo break
There are many ways to visit Oslo. Our dedicated Aspen Travel team work with a number of internationally renowned tour operators to provide you with an extensive range of all inclusive packages. You might choose a Cox and Kings city break which will enable you to explore Oslo under the expert guidance of your personal tour guide, but with plenty of leisure time built in. Or, you might prefer to spend a few days in Oslo as part of a wider escorted tour of Norway, or even Scandinavia.
Saga’s Majestic fjordland and Oslo tour, is tailored for over 50s and sets sail from Dundee. You’ll head over to the gateway to the fjords; Bergen, before familiarising yourself with some of Norway’s most famous fjords. In addition to this, you’ll enter the Arctic circle via Tromso and visit prominent Norwegian places of interest; Trondheim and Kristiansand. You can now book this tour in our exclusive Saga Suite in store.
To experience the wider Scandinavian area, you might however prefer Regent Travel’s tour; The Four Capitals Tour. This is a holiday that will not only take you to Oslo, but also Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen.
If you’d like to find out why we love to make a fuss about Oslo and why this incredible city deserves to be fussed over, please give us a call to enquire about our Norwegian packages. An experienced member of our team will able to help you find an Oslo holiday that best matches your budget and travel preferences.