Enclosed by green rolling hills, beautiful fjords and thick forests, Oslo, or the Viking city, located in the southern part of Norway, is undoubtedly a Scandinavian gem. Being one of the fastest- growing European capitals, not only does it boast a rich history and impressive popular landmarks, but it also offers a number outdoor activities as well as vibrant city life, enabling travelers to marvel at the unique landscape and make the most out of their trip.
Norway is often associated with the Vikings, and visiting Oslo offers a great opportunity to discover more about their culture. Paying a visit to the Viking Ship Museum will introduce visitors to the world of the Vikings, by offering information about the great Viking boat discoveries and featuring a display of well-preserved ships used for burial purposes, excavated from Tune, Gokstad and Osenberg. The collection also features a range of grave goods as well as a horse cart, all tokens of intricate and unique Viking woodcraft.
Arkeshus Fortress is another unmissable sight, playing an integral part in Oslo’s history for almost 700 years. Built in 1299 under King Haakon V, it has served as a royal residence, a fortress which withstood a number of sieges and a renaissance castle. Nowadays it continues to be intertwined with the city’s history and current affairs, serving as a place for government and state functions, and additionally as a popular venue for cultural events, such as concerts and ceremonies. Visitors can spend an enjoyable time observing the exhibits of the Armed Forces Museum, the Castle Church and even visiting the gloomy dungeons, all found at the Fortress.
Oslo offers a choice of high quality restaurants and accommodation, which cater for visitors’ needs, but at the same time aim to limit harm to the environment
A Visit to Oslo would not be complete without visitors becoming familiar with the distinctive traditional Norwegian architecture. About 160 traditional Norwegian houses and a medieval stave church are all featured in the Norwegian Folk Museum, one of the largest and oldest open air-museums in Europe.
The traditional houses depict the different architectural characteristics between houses from different regions, time periods and even social classes, while the museum also features a large indoor exhibition, giving an insight into daily Norwegian life from the 16th century onwards, including traditional folk costumes, artifacts and toys. During summer, numerous interactive activities, such as horse riding, traditional dances and baking can guarantee an even more enjoyable and interesting visit.
Elsewhere, the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet is one of the most advanced theatre houses in the world, as well as an excellent example of contemporary Norwegian architecture. The angular, multi-award-winning building is located on the waterfront, in a way that it gives the impression that it has just emerged out of the water. Pedestrians can get a glimpse of the rehearsals and workshops, thanks to the huge windows placed at street level, emphasizing the idea of openness and accessibility which permeates through the entire building. The visitors can climb to the roof of the building to enjoy the view of Oslo, watch a performance or enjoy a guided tour, to admire the artistic interior and also see what goes on behind the scenes.
If you are visiting Oslo from May to August and you’re keen to venture out of the city to discover iconic fjords and unique land formations, you should definitely book a fjord cruise. Christian Radich, a three mast ship, also used for training sailors, is a well- known cruise ship taking visitors on arranged excursions to Oslofjord. The cruise ship has a good reputation for delicious dishes and satisfying staff service.
Environmental protection is a main concern for Norwegian citizens, therefore the notion of ‘green’ is embedded in Norwegian culture. Oslo offers a choice of high quality restaurants and accommodation, which cater for visitors’ needs, but at the same time aim to limit harm to the environment.
Energy preservation and waste management are taken into consideration by hotels; in Kolonihagen Fronger you can try traditional Norwegian delicacies from freshly prepared ingredients without any additives or preservatives, and in Lysebu you can enjoy your stay at a hotel which has an eco-certification. Meanwhile the extended and reliable network of public transport, and availability of public bicycles, makes it easy to move around the city without damaging the environment.
Oslo is a beautiful, vibrant city which combines tradition and historical heritage with modern culture. This unique contrast is bound to make the traveler want to experience its northern beauty and discover its well-hidden secrets.
Images courtesy of William and Mary photos, Jean-Pierre Dalbera, Miguel Mendez and Ulf Bodin via Flickr
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