Located in southern Norway, Oslo is the country’s capital. Known as a city with stark contrasts, it shows with wilderness areas surrounding the city along with endless rows of museums, parks, and shops. Oslo has a bustling shopping scene, and the sight of watching cruise shops dock along the city’s quays where merchandize is shipped to the center is a sight to behold. If you want cross country skiing, Oslo is considered one of the world’s finest destinations in that respect, with hundreds of miles of slopes and ski runs right inside the city. It is less popular than other major European capitals, but remains as unique as New Zealand.

Things to Do in Oslo:

  • Waterfront – Oslo sits by a fjord, which means water galore. It holds an impressive and dynamic waterfront area called Aker Brygge which has seen numerous construction projects over the past few years with an opera house in the works by 2008. Sightseeing cruises drift by like clockwork. A scenic cruise can be had providing views of the fjord and the city. All mini cruises along the fjord come with guides who narrate city history stories.
  • Akershus Castle’s Resistance Museum – A former prison used by the Nazis in World War II, Akershus Castle boosts beautiful indoor dungeons, immaculate floors, and meeting rooms that are used by royalty to this day. The Resistance Museum within is a recollection of events in the form of artifacts and pictures that describe the Nazi occupation into Norway. There are tons of activities outside the Castle’s doors from dances to plays, especially during the warmer months.
  • Vigeland Park – Unquestionably Oslo’s most popular attraction. Lush with greenery and water with ponds and majestic lawns, beautiful life size statues of former royal figures and statesmen line the park’s walking areas. The park’s center holds a column of stone called the Monolith which is the largest granite sculpture in the world decorated with bodies in contorted positions.
  • Viking Ships Museum – Right on the Bygdoy Peninsula, Viking life is celebrated here – the home of Viking ship exhibits dating back to the 9th century. The museum is widely acclaimed for its fine preservation practices, and many of the ships remain in untouched, original condition today. Everything from the simple to the elaborate (i.e. dragon ships with majestic head posts) is here.

Where to Stay in Oslo:

  • The Grand Hotel: More than a century old, the Grand Hotel is one of the most impressive pieces of architecture in all of Oslo, With more than 280 rooms and five restaurants and bars; the hotel sits right near the parliament building and the Royal Palace. Amenities include a gym, a swimming pool, and conference rooms for business travelers.
  • Rica Hotel Bygdoy Alle: This hotel is close to all of the major Oslo tourist attractions including the Royal Palace, the National Art Museum, and the Aker Brygge. Perks include conference rooms for business travelers, shops, bars, and restaurants within. If you want a hotel close to all of the action, look no further than the Rica Hotel Bygdoy Alle.
  • Hotel Continental: More than 100 years old, the Hotel Continental sits in the middle of Oslo within close range of the National Theater. Its restaurant, Annen Etage, is nationally renowned. It also has close ties to artistic works, as evident with the artifacts scattered throughout the hotel in neat displays.

Reaching the City:

Hundreds of cruise ships dock into Oslo from neighboring countries, but your best bet is to land a flight in either one of Oslo’s two major airports – Gardermoen or the smaller Torp airport, which is serviced by Ryanair (one of Europe’s leading budget airlines.) Gardermoen is 40 minutes away from the city center while Torp is a bit farther with a two-hour ride by bus.