A travel guide to Oslo

Viking ships and Nobel Peace prizes, wooden churches and ocean-going reed and balsa rafts (the Kon-Tiki)—welcome to Oslo

A Viking ship in Oslo's Viking Ship Museum.
A Viking ship in Oslo's Viking Ship Museum.
Get jiggy with the original bad boys of Europe, the Vikings, over in Oslo where a swashbuckling seafaring history reside comfortably alongside plenty of modern art and architecture, a thriving ski culture, and access to those dramatically crinkly coastlines called fjords.

Oslo's main attractions

Oslo has a vibrant modern art scene, from the National Gallery and Edvard Munch's Scream, to the seventeenth century cathedral packed with twentieth-century art, which finally reopens April 18, 2010 after a four-year restoration (www.oslodomkirke.no).

It has loads fo maritime history in the astounding Viking Ship Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum, the Polar Ship Fram Museum, and the National Maritime Museum (conveniently, all near one another in the peninsular suburb of Bygdøy—to which, fittingly enough, you can take a ferry). Full Story

Also on Bygdøy is the Norwegian Folk Museum, sort of a 3D map of Norway in miniature packed with 140 traditional buildings, from magnificent wooden stave churches rising like Viking pagodas, to simply, low, turf-roofed peasant houses.

Nowhere is Oslo's commitment to art more visible than in Frogner Park, which is filled with Gustav Vigeland's weird, monumental sculptures. The main 52-foot obelisk carved from a single block of granite and composed of 121 intertwined human figures, which makes it an achievement of both artistic and technical prowess, and just a wee bit creepy to boot.

There's even a Ski Museum (oldest ski here: 600 AD; oldest evidence of skiing: a 4,000-year-old piece of Norwegian cave art) in the schuss-happy 'burb of Holmenkollen (grad line 16 on the T-Banen fo the half-hour ride out here).

Yes, but how many pairs of long underwear will I need?

I'm as partial as the next guy to making flip comments about the Scandinavian winter, but it's really not that bad, especially in the capital cities, which all tend to be on the southern ends of the countries.

December through March, temperatures in Oslo range from 25 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. By April, we're looking at temperatures in the low to mid 40s. Course, this far north, winter daylight hours are ridiculously short.

» How to spend a perfect day in Oslo

Viking Ship Museum slideshow


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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in August 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.