Norway has been the first Scandinavian country I’ve visited not only this year but in my entire life. I’ve had my eyes on Norway, Sweden and Finland since forever, but I never came around to visiting as somehow these countries always seemed unreachable. How come? It might have been because of the cooler climate, or the absence of Scandinavia in media that delayed my visits for a while. Whatever it was is long gone now, as I finally took my first step on Nordic land, and I had the pleasure of discovering Oslo at its most colourful time of the year.
I’m not going to lie, one of the factors I have chosen Oslo to be my first were the £30 return flights from Ireland that I spontaneously got my hands on during the summer.
As Oslo is famous for its museums and art scattered throughout the city, it was a no-brainer I tried to pick the most iconic history statements. I am fascinated by history of ‘ordinary’ people and the architecture of towns etc. therefore a visit to The Norwegian Folk Museum (Norsk Folkemuseum) was compulsory. It made the child in me explode with excitement!
I have previously been in a town-like museum in Northern Ireland (Ulster Folk and Transport Museum) so I somewhat knew what kind of experience to expect. I expected a lot of old-style, ‘old-smelling’ buildings, bringing me back to my imagination of ‘The Children Of Noisy Village’ – my favourite childhood book and movie of all time.
It didn’t take long to feel like the time has stopped and I was brought back a few hundred years ago to the simplicity of lives of Norwegian folks. I have learned a tiny little bit about the history of Oslo, in particular the change from Oslo to Christiania, the religion and beliefs of Norwegian people as well as the lives of Sami people.
The museum also exhibits traditions and style of life present years ago. Not only does it allow the visitors to ‘aww’ at the cute farm animals, but as I later got to know, see actors in action as they mimic the lives of the residents.
The next museum stop involved a chilly walk to the Fram Museum. Now, when an attraction claims to be the best museum in Norway, it’s hard not to set your expectations high.
The main exhibit at the Fram Museum (Frammuseet) was in fact a big ship – the Fram (duh!). This ship has been involved in expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. I was always fascinated by ships hence why I was so excited to learn more about the life and struggles of the people courageous enough to sail it. Isn’t it fascinating to know people have risked their lives in the name of research?
It wouldn’t have been a trip without sightseeing and taking advantage of the free attractions – one of which were the grounds of the Royal Palace.
Remember when I’ve mentioned the insane amount of art scattered around the city? Well, there is even more of it. Hang on tight!
I would be really gutted if I visited Oslo without checking out The Vigeland Park. I really enjoy nature and a lot of open space, but how about adding 200+ human sculptures to the experience just ’cause?
No, you’re not necessarily judgmental – I agree – these sculptures really are strange! All of these are work of Gustav Vigeland, and the park is the world’s largest sculpture exhibition made by a single artist. Vigeland has dedicated his life to the human form and in fact donated all of his work to the city of Oslo (why do I find the generosity so insane?).
The highlight of the park is the Monolith Plateau, a 121 figure (14 metre) tall installation situated in the centre of the park. At this point you are also able to check out a slight panorama of the city and the park itself.
To finish off, one of the architecture gems I got to see last was the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet building right at the harbour.
I have decided to stay at an Airbnb due to the fact I choose not to overspend on my overnight stay as I consider myself pretty low maintenance in that matter. I have also dined at restaurants however unfortunately I didn’t catch a glimpse of any Norwegian specialties, mainly due to the fact I was on a budget and in fact I found it hard to find traditional food offers overall.
Top tips for visiting Oslo:
♥ Wrap up warm! Don’t let the temperature ruin your stay!
♥ If you’re looking to enjoy your stay with alcoholic beverages, try to get yourself stocked up at the airport duty-free stores. A pint of beer at a bar costs +/- £10 which is a ‘little’ steep.
♥ Download the Ruter # app for times and stops of the nearest tram or bus. Get yourself a 24 hour ticket at a cost of 90 NOK (approximately £9) and be stress free!
♥ Avoid taxis – they are extremely expensive and totally unnecessary as the public transport links are very efficient – and better for the environment too!
♥ Follow VisitOslo on Instagram to get yourself excited for your visit! The enquiries are also responded to on Twitter so fire away your questions.
♥ Pay attention to the coins and the numerical value on them – it’s easy to confuse 1 NOK with a 5 NOK! (…and it’s pretty embarrassing too).
My overall thoughts: I found Oslo to be a very peaceful city, with a very European vibe without the hustle and bustle. With practically everyone (which I still find fascinating) speaking English, it is a friendly place where you are made feel welcome. It lacks a little big-city feel which I personally live for, but that’s the magic of exploring new places – exploring the individuality and character of each place. I would love to come back to Olso during the summer and see the city bloom in sunshine, but my under £250 trip was a great Autumn escape and was also an experience out of comfort zone.
As always, all views are my own.