Friday, September 11, 2020

Awesome Oslo: Norway's capital, handsome hybrid of old, new, arty

If you enter Oslo by boat, you will transit Akershus Harbor and its Renaissance Fortress.


A statue honoring playwright Henrik
Ibsen invites one to the National Theater.
MY NORWEGIAN is showing, so indulge me, please, as I wax affectionately about Norway's capital, Oslo.
It's a proud city, which grew from a rustic 9th Century village to a bustling region of nearly a million people.
Cookie and Keller in Akershus Harbor.
Norwegian wood escape

Oslo is also a city of graceful architecture, scenic landscapes and rich history, proud of its artistic heritage and long legacy of maritime life.

For art lovers, it's a place to honor Norway's great dramatist, Henrik Ibsen, and its most famous painter, Edvard Munch. Both men's accomplishments are featured in many places in the city -- from galleries to concert halls, parks to museum exhibits.
FOR FANS of the sea, Oslo offers world class maritime museums celebrating Norway's centuries old shipping history.  The country has long been a major player on the world's oceans.  In 1875, Norway was the world's third largest shipping nation with 60,000 sailors. The first regional shipowners association was formed in Norway in 1899. The Norwegian Maritime Museum is rich in experiences and activities with indoor and outdoor exhibitions in a unique maritime environment. The waterside Viking Ship Museum displays impressive Viking ships from the 9th century.
Oslo's Radhus, Town Hall is a striking
building with twin red brick towers.

 capital of Norway sits on the country’s southern coast at the head of the Oslofjord. It’s known for its green spaces, many on picturesque Bygd√ły Peninsula.
If you're feeling athletic, the Holmenkollbakken is a ski-jumping hill with panoramic views of the fjord and a world class ski museum. 
A word about safety.  Unlike other European cities, you'll have little to worry about in Oslo. Crime is nearly non-existent, people are helpful and speak beautiful English, city streets are clean. Norwegians proudly tell visitors that they're more likely to fall off a cliff or be hit by a meteor than be attacked in Oslo.
Oslo's maritime history is celebrated in a pair
of striking museums along the water.

Oslo is also a wonderful city to navigate -- whether solo or with a family or group.
WE'RE BIG FANS of city passes and the Oslo pass is a nifty one, offering entry to more than 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all public transport and other attractive perks.
If you enjoy museums and public transportation, it's cheaper to get the Oslo pass before your trip.
You'll likely want to buy some Viking art, also known as Norse art. Viking souvenirs abound,  because since the 10th Century, my Viking ancestors adorned myriad objects with carving and fine metalwork. 
Oslo's Nobel Peace Center is a proud testimony to Sweden's
generous inventor, Alfred Nobel, and his ideals. 

The Viking symbol is found on everything from bedspreads to tablecloths, coffee mugs to plates and pajamas.  I love my sterling silver earrings -- shaped like Viking helmets.
WHILE STOCKHOLM is home to the Nobel prize hall, Oslo is proud of its Nobel Peace Center. One of the five Nobel prizes, the Peace Prize, is awarded in Oslo. The recipient of this coveted prize is chosen by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Inside the graceful building is a permanent exhibit about Swedish born Alfred Nobel, who -- like his native country -- had deep ties to Norway. Two Americans, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barrack Obama, won the Peace Prize, given annually to someone who has “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Sculptor Gustav Vigeland donated his collection. 

FINALLY don't miss Viegland Park, with its 212 enormous sculptures by Gustav Viegland, the country's most prolific and generous sculptor.  He worked in granite, bronze and wrought iron over a period of 40 years, donating the lion's share of his imaginative work to Oslo.
The Park is one of the most popular attractions in Scandinavia.

The culture of Japan is celebrated at San Francisco's Japan Center,
where an entire neighborhood features all things Japanese. 
UP NEXT: Perhaps you're missing international travel.  You're not alone. So if you'd like a taste of Europe, South America or Asia without leaving the continent, join us next week for a special column on "foreign pleasures close to home." The piece will feature ethnic neighborhoods, with museums, restaurants, architecture and attractions that reflect the influence of other cultures, but on our own continent.  We have suggestions for visiting U.S. and Canadian cities with a European feel -- San Francisco, New Orleans, Montreal, Victoria and more. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at travel, nature, family and the arts:  


  1. We last visited Oslo during a lovely spring period. Such a fragrant, clean and pleasant city. Loved Vigeland park.

  2. Love Norway...such a progressive, beautiful corner of the globe.