A brilliant sculpture on every street and mind-blowing museums make Oslo a beautiful and historic city to visit. However, how do you afford to see everything that Oslo has to offer, in the most expensive city in the world? Put together by an impoverished student, this guide proves that you can experience the wonders of Oslo without stretching your wallet. Behold the wonders of the Norwegian capital.
To begin our holiday we invested in the Oslo Pass. Most of the museums charge between £3 and £10 for admission, but with the pass, you get in for free and also get to travel on the extensive public transport system for free as well. One of the major attractions of Oslo is the new Opera House. Sitting by Oslo Fjord, the Opera House is designed so that people can walk around its roofs, allowing themselves amazing views of the city. It’s beautiful modern design guarantees that it stands out from the traditional architecture and wows passers-by. It has a beautiful cafe which serves traditional Norwegian pastries and it even offers guided tours. Of course, there are regular opera and ballet shows – but this is a cheap guide to getting the most out of Oslo!
The next place we visited involved getting the (free with the Oslo pass) Fjord tour. This beautiful, wooden long boat took us around Oslo Fjord to the other side of the city. Oslo also has a regular public ferry system which takes passengers between the city centre and the museums on the outskirts, but the real way to travel is on the tour boat.
This boat brings you to the Kon Tiki Museum and the Maritime Museum. We decided to bypass the Maritime but went to the Kon Tiki. This museum marks the travels of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who made many experimental and traditional rafts in order to show that long sea expeditions were possible for ancient civilizations. This museum is fascinating. We knew nothing about Thor before we went in, but coming out, you find yourself itching to know more. A definite 5 stars. Unfortunately, it was difficult (when I had forgotten my flash) to take any pictures, so the next place we ventured to was the Viking Museum.
As a side note, we went to a small generic cafe on the way. Like many shops in Oslo, they serve hot food. I tried one of their kebabs and it really was the best I have ever had. Therefore, try the kebabs!
The Viking Museum is one of the best-known attractions in Oslo. It contains 3 well-preserved Viking ships which were originally buried with their dead King. This way, the Viking King travelled well in the afterlife, but being buried with a long boat was mainly a show of his wealth and status. The museum also contains other artifacts found in the ships, like intricately carved wagons and even woven cloth. The ships, however, steal the show. The size, shape, and beautiful carvings are mind-blowing and give brilliant insight into the Viking way of life.
After catching a ferry back to the city centre, we had a date at Oslo Ice Bar. This was the most expensive thing we did, but it is really worth it! You also get a 20% discount with the Oslo Pass, so it’s not too bad. This bar is entirely carved out of ice and is kept at a constant temperature of -5°c. For an extortionate £10, you can sample some of the amazing and delicious cocktails the bar has to offer, all in a glass made entirely of ice. Alcohol, along with tobacco are the two most expensive things in Norway (so don’t come here if you want to get smashed). Although the prices were high, it really was a one-off experience, and some of the pictures and sculptures crafted into the ice are amazing. It really is not to be missed.
The next day we headed to the Nobel Peace Centre and had a general wander around the city. The streets are remarkably well kept and there really is a sculpture on every corner. After this, we went to the Historic Museum, which boasts of the largest hoard of Viking gold. As well as this, it contains superb collections of traditional dress from around the world and a beautiful exhibit on Ancient Asia. It also held a temporary exhibit of aborigine art. All in all, it is one of my favourite museums in Oslo.
Art is one of the main attractions in Oslo and the Munch Museum showcases art from Norway’s most eminent painter, Edvard Munch. This gallery shows most of Munch’s life work, including some impressive wood prints. ‘The Scream’ is the main attraction although it is rarely in the museum (it tends to travel the main world galleries). Even so, Munch’s ‘Madonna’ is a real highlight, as are the various versions of ‘Vampire’. One exhibit focused on Munch’s stories and poetry behind the paintings and was highly interesting.
Another gallery worth seeing is the Museum of Contemporary Art, which currently exhibits a show called ‘Installation’ and work by South African artist Nicholas Hlobo. It is also worth visiting the privately-owned Stenersen Museum, which shows an amazing collection of modern Norwegian art.
The Natural History Museum in the Botanical Gardens is definitely worth a visit. They have an impressive selection of fossils, plants, crystals and stuffed animals. There is definitely enough to keep even the most curious mind busy and I would recommend spending a whole day here to really appreciate all it can teach. The only problem I had was with the labels on various exhibits, they were only written in Norwegian, which made it difficult to get the full experience. Nevertheless, T-Rex will always impress me.
There was a particular exhibit at the Natural History Museum which I absolutely loved and which also came as a great surprise. It showed animals ‘which you would never want to meet’ and was based on a children’s book about a mad scientist. Some of the models were truly frightening, whereas others were hilarious and even cute looking.
The most famous attraction in Oslo (and by far my favourite) is the amazing Vigeland Park. Showing the life works of sculpture Vigeland, this park is not only stunning in its greenery but contains some of the most mind-blowing bronze and stone sculptures you are ever likely to see. It really is worth letting the pictures speak for themselves here.
Overall, Oslo is an amazing city to visit and, if you’re careful and really utilise all the offers you can, it doesn’t have to be too expensive. If, like me, you stumble across cheap plane tickets, then don’t hesitate to go, it really is an experience you won’t forget.