Fun, offbeat things to do in Norway’s capital Oslo
My first impression of Norway’s beautiful capital was rather accurate. Oslo is a charming, laid-back city. There’s plenty to see and do, but out and out tourist spots are few. Instead, enjoying Oslo is about taking in all those truly ‘Norwegian’ experiences.
Adventures on a fjord: If you’re in Oslo on a bright summer day, you will notice that the city’s waterfronts are buzzing with activity. Aker Bryggae is Oslo’s hip waterfront located on the Oslo Fjord, home to an eclectic bunch of eateries and watering holes. At one end of Aker Bryggae stands Akershus Festning, a medieval stone castle and fortress dating back to the 13th century. Don’t miss the fjord cruise around the Oslo Fjord. It offers a stunning experience, being enveloped by the vastness of nature.
Ships in museums: I’m not really a fan of museums, but enjoyed my time in Oslo’s museums. Maybe it’s because Norwegians seem to love putting giant ships into museums—each of the three museums we visited boasted of a life-sized ship exhibit!
A silver mine and a ski jump: I’m always looking for unlikely experiences on my travels. So when I heard about the opportunity to visit The King’s Mine (located 500 meters below the ground) near Kongsberg, Oslo, I was sold. The King’s Mine was closed in 1958 and has been preserved since. Holmenkollen is home to an eponymous ski jumping hill which has been hosting competitions for over a century. Inside the ski jump is the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, the oldest of its kind in the world. The observation deck on top of the jump tower offers panoramic views of Oslo.
Visit the Christmas House: The quaint town of Drobak is located just 40 kilometers from Oslo – a perfect day trip! Drobak is straight out of a fairytale with charming wooden houses painted in bright colours lined up against the picturesque coast. Vintage cars were parked by the sidewalks and every house had a perfectly manicured rose garden. Dozens of sailboats bobbed in the shallow port (it seems that everyone here owns a boat!) Drobak is packed with scores of tiny eateries, cafes, bakeries, galleries and shops run by the locals. The town's Christmas House (Julehuset) piled high with festive souvenirs. In here, it feels like Christmas all through the year. There is an adorable traditional-style bakery on the center square called Handverksbakeriet. We had some delicious apple and plum cake, with dessert wine for the Christmas feels!
Walk atop the Opera House: Oslo’s fabulous opera House was special simply because it let visitors like us simply walk onto the roof of the building and enjoy the view! We saw dozens of locals sunbathing on the roof, while others jumped off the roof into the adjoining water body.
Hiking and more: What is a Norwegian’s favourite weekend activity? Without a doubt, it is hiking and tenting in the great outdoors! Norway’s ‘Right of Access’ law means that everyone can freely camp anywhere in the open countryside. This translates into Norwegians literally pitching a tent anywhere that catches their fancy! For a true taste of the land, go out tenting in the Norwegian countryside around Oslo.
Oslo Nightlife: Norway has a relatively strict alcohol policy and regulations; hence the price-level of alcoholic beverages is high. As a result, the Norwegians tend to have a few (or a lot!) of drinks at home before they go out. Norwegians arrange the infamous “vorspiel” (pre-parties) with friends before they go out.
The most tourist area of the Oslo and the core of the city, with the main street Karl Johan in the middle, have a wide variety of different pubs, bars and nightclubs that attract all kinds of people. The west-side of the city centre, Majorstuen, Vika and Frogner, is characterized by its fashionable, flashy and beautiful guests that want to see and be seen. In the Grünerlokka district the atmosphere is more relaxed and low-maintained; the guests are still trendy, but more laid-back and carefree. Boat parties are hugely popular in Oslo (why not, given how gorgeous the fjords are).
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