Oslo, Norway was the first destination I stopped at during my European tour, and I can safely say that it was a pretty good start. It would be best described as an evolving, modern city, stuffed with culture and mega shopping. Okay, maybe it’s not so fab on your purse strings, with a packet of crisps setting you back almost a fiver in some shops, but the atmosphere and buzz of the city is a reason to visit all the same.
We visited in the first week of February, and man it was so cold. The water was actually frozen over and some of the pavements were slippery with ice. Oslo is definitely a place for big fluffy coats and thick socks. Nevertheless, the snow (!) and ice made it feel even more magical and there are plenty of places to eat and drink to warm up.
We got an afternoon flight into Oslo, and the connections from the airport to the city centre were amazing. You simply catch the regional train from the airport which takes you right into the heart of Oslo in about 25 minutes. It is cheaper than the flytoget train, and only takes a little longer. Tickets cost about 82 NOK each way, which works out as about £8. We stayed in a hotel called Citybox Oslo,(https://citybox.no/oslo-en/), which was literally a ten minute walk from the train station so it’s perfect if you want to be right in the middle of the city. This also meant that we were about a five minute walk from some of the main streets, as well as restaurants, shopping malls and underground connections.
After checking in to our swanky hotel, we dumped our stuff and headed on a five minute walk to the main City Square and the Oslo Opera House. The square has a fab statue of a tiger, and if you look in the background of the photograph you can see the train station – which brings you out right into the square. This square is where a lot of the trams stop, as well as acting as a sort of crossroads to all the main streets. Across the road is the beautiful Opera House overlooking the water. It is a white building, with big glass windows and many levels. It is free to have a snoop around, and you can climb up to the top of the building by using its slanted roof. The inside is also pretty neat if you like architecture and edgy instagram photo opportunities. The views from the top are lovely, giving you a panoramic view of the centre of Oslo – for free!
Our next stop was the Munch Museum. We got there using the underground, where you can buy tickets at the station. Now, it should be noted that the famous “Scream” painting is not at this museum, despite some advertising saying that it is. However, I would recommend a visit, as it is a very good collection of Edvard Munch’s work and an enjoyable visit, especially if you’re artsy like me. Tickets cost 100 NOK, which is about £9.50, however, if you are a student, I would recommend bringing your student card with you wherever you go in Oslo, as there are often student discounts available if you present it. If you do not have a student card, sometimes a passport works as it proves you are of student age.
After the Munch Museum, we visited the Oslo National Gallery. This is where Edvard Munch’s “Scream” is actually displayed. The gallery was free, which was an absolute bonus considering that everything in Oslo is so expensive. There were loads of beautiful artwork there; I think it probably took us the best part of 2 and a half hours to have a look around the whole thing. You are given a locker to put your coat and bag in, so you don`t have to lug everything around the gallery with you. Seeing the Scream was definitely a highlight of Oslo for me, and I loved getting cultural by visiting the art galleries there. We had to take THE photo, of course.
The last thing we did during our visit to Oslo was visit City Hall. Once again, it was free! We were also very lucky during our visit as the place was pretty empty. City Hall is an unassuming, quite ugly building from the outside, but the walls within are decorated with amazing murals, paintings and design. It took us nearly an hour to wander around and look at all the beautiful artwork, and we also ear-wigged on a tour guide taking another group around. I would definitely recommend a visit to City Hall if you love architecture and art, as well as history and culture.
Okay, Oslo is expensive, but it is a fantastic place to really immerse yourself in the culture and get artsy, with loads of galleries and art work all over the city. It is also a brilliant place for shopping, as there are tonnes of shopping centres around the square near the train station. I can’t wait to go back in a few years time to see how the city has developed, and this time I’ll be taking an empty suitcase with me to hit the shops! Never have I seen so many H&M’s in one place… dreams…
What things are you going to do in Oslo when you visit?