A glimpse of Oslo in summer

By | Category: Travel destinations
enjoying the summer sun at Aker Brygge © Heidi Thon

enjoying the summer sun at Aker Brygge © Heidi Thon

Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen

Two of the most pleasant parts of central Oslo, right on the Oslo Fjord, are at their most buzzing in summer. Aker Brygge, a shipping yard until 1982, now bears little resemblance to its industrial past. Today it’s replete with trendy fjord-side bars and restaurants with pretty views overlooking Akershus Fortress opposite. Next door, Tjuvholmen peninsula is one of Oslo’s newest neighbourhoods, created from reclaimed land at the very end of Aker Brygge. Another excellent place to dine out, it’s also home to Oslo’s recently inaugurated modern art museum, Astrup Fearnley, designed by Renzo Piano.

Akershus Fortress © Nancy Bundt

Akershus Fortress © Nancy Bundt

Cruising the fjord

When the weather is fine, some of the best views of Oslo can be had from the water. There are various sight-seeing boat routes to choose from, e.g. a hop-on-hop-off service that takes in the City Hall area, the Opera House and the museum area on Bygdøy. There’s also a dinner cruise offering diners fresh Norwegian seafood, or why not simply get on one of the many commuter ferries that ply the waters on a daily basis? Get off on one of the nearby islands or peninsulas and spend the day exploring.

Bygdøy museums

at the Viking Museum

at the Viking Museum

The peninsula of Bygdøy, in the southwest, is home to several of the city’s key museums. Best reached by boat, just a short hop across the fjord, this part of town deserves a good day’s visit to cover all the highlights. The Viking Museum with its three large-scale, 9th-century Viking ships is a must, as are the Fram and Kon-tiki Museums, focusing on polar expeditions and the life of explorer Thor Heyerdahl respectively. The peninsula is also home to the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and the Maritime Museum.

Kvadraturen and the Opera House

Kvadraturen, one of the oldest parts of Oslo, dates back to the early 17th century. Situated between Akershus Fortress – well worth a visit for history with a view – and the beautiful, state-of-the-art Opera House, inaugurated in 2008, this is a charming part of town, with pleasant cafés and bars, mostly located around Christiania Square. The Opera House lies a short walk from here and its angled roof allows visitors to walk all the way up to the top of the building for more splendid fjord vistas. Home to both the National Opera and the National Ballet, there is an on-going, changing programme throughout the year.

The Vigeland Sculpture Park © Heidi Thon

The Vigeland Sculpture Park © Heidi Thon


Vigeland and Ekeberg

Oslo boasts not one, but two, large-scale sculpture parks. The Vigeland Park, in the northwest, contains more than 200 works by sculptor Gustav Vigeland and is by now a grand old dame – the installations were completed in the 1940s. This is the largest sculpture park made by one person in the world. Newer on the scene is Ekeberg Park, opened in 2013 in the southeast. So far 35 sculptures have been installed across the wooded area and many more are planned for the future. There’s also a museum of history and nature here, as well as an art and design shop.

Strolling Karl Johan

Oslo’s main thoroughfare, Karl Johans Gate (Karl Johan’s Street), runs for just over a kilometre through the heart of the city, taking in numerous key sights. It’s partly pedestrianised, making it an excellent, stroller-friendly avenue. Starting just near the main central railway station, Karl Johan runs past Oslo Cathedral, the Parliament, the University and the National Theatre, just to mention a few of the sights, ending in-front-of the somewhat understated Royal Palace and park.

Trendy Grünerløkka

The former working class area of Grünerløkka, just north of central Oslo, has developed into one of the city’s most vibrant districts. This is the place to while away time in trendy cafes, sample ethnic food or do some vintage shopping. Akerselva river runs right through the area on its way to the fjord and there are many historical buildings depicting Oslo’s industrial heritage to be viewed or explored.

Looking over Oslo Fjord from Frognerseteren

Looking over Oslo Fjord from Frognerseteren

The great outdoors

If city walking isn’t your thing, in Oslo you’re never far away from the great outdoors. Plenty of hiking and trekking areas are just a swift metro, tram, boat or bus ride away. For some of the very best views of Oslo from above, head to the end of metro Line 1, at Frognerseteren. Take your own picnic or grab a bite in the quaint restaurant up top and head out into the forest for some serious mountain hikes. There are numerous well-marked trails or you could just stroll downhill back towards town, taking in the Holmenkollen Olympic ski jump along the way.

Quirky attractions

The area surrounding Oslo is replete with interesting options for a daytrip, including the ruins of a medieval monastery dating back to the 12th century on Hovedøya island, the island nearest to central Oslo. It’s also possible to take a boat trip on the world’s oldest paddle steamer still in operation. Skibladner, 150 years old, sails across Norway’s largest lake, Mjøsa, throughout the summer, stopping at scenic lakeside communities. There are lunch, jazz and other live music cruises to choose from. Not far from central Oslo, and great for kids of all ages, is TusenFryd amusement park, Norway’s largest, with rides, attractions and a water park.

Tuse Fryd © Andrew Parker

TusenFryd © Andrew Parker

Getting there:

Oslo is currently served by three international airports but one, Rygge, closes at the end of October this year.

Gardermoen is the main airport, just over 20 miles from the city centre. There are direct flights from Aberdeen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester  A Stansted service begins from the end of October. From the airport, there is an express train service called Flytoget which runs six times an hour into the city centre and takes under 25 minutes. There is a slower, commuter line and an express bus service as well.

Torp, the second international airport, is nearly seventy miles away. Up until the end of October there are direct flights from Liverpool and Stansted but, after that date, there will only be a Manchester service. Travelling time from Torp to the centre of Oslo is about 100 minutes by train and about ten minutes longer by express coach

For more information about Oslo click here or go to www.visitoslo.com


Story and images © Anna Maria Espsäter

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