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Oslo, Norway City Guide

Oslo, Norway
Oslo, Norway
Tyson Wintibaugh

Oslo is the modern epicenter of Norway and serves as a great introduction to the country. Here you'll find the country's top museums, nightlife and shopping. Be sure not to miss the following top sights:

#10: Akershus Fortress

This castle is a highlight of the Oslo skyline, providing a charming alternative to the forest of modern glass and steel lining the harbor. Here you can soak up Oslo’s history, take a castle tour and watch the changing of the guards.

#9: City Hall

Each year on December 10th, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony takes place at Oslo’s city hall. This plain brick building with two towers is lined with colorful wooden reliefs depicting Norse mythology, while inside the building is filled with painted murals depicting civic scenes and moments throughout Oslo’s city history.

#8: Oslo Domkirke

Oslo is compact and completely walkable, which is perfect for checking out all the architecture and design. Wandering its shopping arteries, you'll come across Oslo Domkirke (Oslo cathedral), well worth a look. Unlike many of Europe's cathedrals, this one is uniquely Norwegian. Painted murals cover most of the ceiling, broken up only by golden candelabras.

#7: Edvard Munch Museum

Art lovers will want to take a trip to the Edvard Munch museum where one of the copies of "the Scream" is on view, along with many more paintings. However if pressed for time, visit the National Gallery instead, which has a Munch room and its own painting of “The Scream”.

#6: Oslo Opera House

Rising from the sea and angled like a snow-capped mountain dropping straight into a fjord, this modern building designed by Tarald Lundevall, is completely outfitted in white Carrara marble. Best of all you can walk right onto it and climb all the way to the top as it gently slopes upward. Floating in the sea out front is the opera house's glass counterpart: a spiky glass sculpture designed by Italian sculptress Monica Vonvicini.

#5: Boat Cruise

One of the most enjoyable ways to orient yourself is to take a boat cruise and see the city from the water. You can even enjoy a classic Norwegian seafood lunch of fresh shrimp on board as you watch the scenery glide by with the wind in your hair.

#4: Viking Ship Museum

No visit to Oslo is complete without a trip to nearby Bygdøy island. Here you'll find two great museums, the Viking Ship Museum and the Norwegian Folk Museum. Small but packed with history, the Viking Ship Museum houses three ships discovered in the Oslo fjord buried in a clay that by chance kept them preserved.

#3: Vigeland Sculpture Park

Be sure to take a breather from the city and visit Frogner park and Vigeland Sculpture Park, a spiraling expanse of greenery in an already very green city. 227 of Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland's works fill this park! You'll cross a bridge lined with his sculptures, which are exceptionally striking in the rain, with water spilling off them. (Notice the sculpture of a crying boy with a golden hand polished clean from so many people touching it.) The bridge leads to a fountain lined with more sculptures that depict the life cycle, from birth to death. Just past this is the centerpiece of the sculpture park: a giant monolith composed of sculpted bodies suspended in movement, again symbolizing the struggle of life, surrounded on the ground by a circle of equally powerful sculpted works.

#2: National Gallery & Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”

Dive further into the world of Norwegian art by visiting Oslo's National Gallery, filled with works by both Norwegian and international artists. The highlight of the collection is the Edvard Munch room, where many flock to see his expressionist painting "The Scream".

#1: Norwegian Folk Museum

You can easily spend the bulk of a day at the Norwegian Folk Museum, getting lost among traditional farmhouses with grass roofs. There is also a beautiful wooden stave church dating from 1200 and you can explore an early 20th century Norwegian village complete with stores like a candy shop, dentist, prison and pharmacy. There are also recreations assembled from more modern homes, such as a Pakistani-Norwegian home. (Pakistani immigrants make up a big part of Oslo.) The folk museum also has traditional crafts, music, dancing, food and exhibits like traditional Norwegian folk clothing.

Oslo is a cosmopolitan seaside city that is a perfect jumping off point for a further exploration of Norway. Filled with cultural gems, and a harmonious fusion of old and new, traditional and contemporary, a few days here will have you primed for the stunning landscapes and breathtaking fjords waiting for you across Norway.

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