Norway's capital city is a cosmopolitan hub with a fantastic array of world-class art galleries and museums, inspiring modern architecture, top quality restaurants, a dynamic programme of events throughout the year and a vibrant social scene. Moreover, its stunning setting between the dramatic Oslofjord and the lush forested hills gives this fast-growing city a unique character that makes it a very special destination indeed. Oslo is made up of 40 islands, Malmoya being the largest, and there are over 340 surrounding lakes. The city is spread out over a large area and has a relatively small population compared to other capital cities in Europe, with almost two-thirds of the city being made up of protected areas of forests, hills and lakes. Numerous public gardens, parklands, waterways and open spaces give Oslo a distinctive green, spacious and airy feel.
Dating back to 1000 AD, the city has a fascinating history and has gone through great changes. Visit the impressive Viking Ship Museum that has three well-preserved Viking ships on display or the Norwegian Folk Museum, one of the world's oldest open-air museums. Here you can look round over 150 historic Norwegian houses from all parts of the country and learn about traditional crafts and costumes. Oslo City Museum gives a good overview of the area's long history and a unique insight into the spirited and versatile people of this industrious city.
Oslo is certainly a city where you'll never be at a loss for things to see or do. It offers a whole variety of activities from horse riding to winter ski sports and climbing trails plus non-stop live entertainment and annual festivals including Jazz, Rock and Church Music festivals. Live music is an important part of city life; the numerous clubs and arenas host concerts from aspiring local bands to international artists. This friendly city, with its abundant cafés, bars and restaurants, is full of surprises. The growing number of stunning contemporary buildings located alongside impressive historical attractions makes for a delightful mix just waiting to be explored.
Things to do
Oslo really blossoms in the warm summer months with long daylight hours, and it has an extensive choice of places to visit and adventurous activities to take part in. Whatever the visitors age, there is plenty to enjoy, from the Tusenfryd Amusement Park to more sedate cruises to see the spectacular fjord. During the winter months, Oslo is transformed into a winter wonderland with snowboarding and skiing at the Winter Park and Alpine Centres located just 30 minutes from the city centre.
Cultural Attractions Galore!
Oslo is home to Norway's largest cultural institutions including the National Theatre, the Norwegian Opera and Ballet and National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, all of which have rolling programmes of exciting events. Don't miss a visit to see the world-famous artwork The Scream at the Munch Museum or walk around the internationally renowned Ekebergparken Sculpture Park and marvel at the wonderful sculptures set amid the wooded grounds.
The capital has a great selection of retail outlets. There are several exclusive shopping centres, including Glassmagasinet, Paleet, Eger Karl Johan and Steen & Strøm. You'll find top fashion brands such as Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Louis Vuitto as well as stores selling Scandinavian products and local boutiques stocked with handicrafts and vintage clothing.
Year-round golf is available at ToppGolf and 18-hole mini-golf can be played at Ekeberg that has waterfalls, bridges, streams and lots of fun obstacles. Kids with excess energy will enjoy the Leos Lekeland indoor adventure playground or a tour around the interactive Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology.
Visitors to Oslo can benefit from purchasing an Oslo Pass valid for 1-3 days. The Pass is great value and allows free entry to over 30 attractions and museums plus the city's outdoor swimming pools. It allows free travel on public transport and discounts on sightseeing tours, entrance to the Tusenfryd Amusement Park and concert tickets. It can also be used for many other special offers.
Oslo is a well-known location for indulging in Spa treatments. There are some awesome Spas such as The Well, which is Norway's largest spa and boathouse. It has 15 saunas and steam rooms, 11 pools and a Japanese onsen bathhouse. Massages and treatments will help you relax and reinvigorate your mind and body. Alternatively, try the alternative Nordic and Norwegian treatments offered at The Thief Spa, where the atmosphere is inspired by moss, slate, sea and Nordic light.
Calendar of Events
The capital's calendar of events is jammed packed with an amazing variety of festivals, concerts, parades and sporting fixtures. The world-famous Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony is held every December in the City Hall and the award recipients are greatly anticipated each year.
Tens of thousands of people line the streets to see the big Oslo Pride Parade in July each year. It is the country's largest festival celebrating the LGBT community. Pride art also runs at the same time, exhibiting work by more than 70 artists both amateur and professional and from 20 countries around the world.
The Oya Festival is held in August and is one of the largest outdoor music events held in Oslo. Four days of big international names from rock and pop genres perform alongside up and coming musicians. The day before the festival starts, the Oya Club Night takes place with numerous concerts being held around the city.
Oslo Jazz Festival is also held in August and has been attracting loyal fans from around the globe since 1986. Genres range from ragtime to swing, rap to bop, with both electric and acoustic performances. This a well-organised event suitable for all the family.
World-class chamber ensembles travel to Norway each summer to perform at the Oslo Chamber Music Festival. It has been a well-received event since Norway's acclaimed violinist Arve Tellefsen established it 1989. As well as presenting chamber music to a wider audience, it provides an opportunity to see some of the city's most beautiful concert venues, some of which are not normally open to the public.