Oslo the capital of Norway, with its 700.000+ residents, sits in between the fjord and the forest.
Despite its small and compact size, this is a city that got a lot to offer, and here are some of the things that Oslo is most famous for.
Btw. are you heading to Oslo and looking for a good travel map on your phone or to plan your trip? Check out my Oslo Travel Map with 190+ marked spots of my recommendations for things to see and do.
The Nobel Peace Price
Every year on the 10th of December Oslo awards the Nobel Peace Price. The ceremony takes place inside the largest room of the Oslo City Hall.
The Nobel Peace Price was invented by the swede Alfred Nobel. For some reason that is not clear to us, he wrote in his will that he wanted Norway to give out the Peace Prize, and the other prices to be given out by Sweden.
It’s a prize that has been given out almost yearly since 1901, and has brought attention to many important issues, but it has also come with some controversy. For instance did China cut all diplomatic relations with Norway back in 2010 when the price was awarded to human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. (diplomatic relations have later been restored).
The Oslo Fjord
Oslo is a fjord city and sits at the end of the Oslo fjord. Both locals and visitors enjoy the fjord. Whether they are sailing, fishing, swimming, kayaking, heading out a a fjord cruise or taking a stroll along the shore.
It’s such a pristine part of Oslo, that you don’t want to miss out on!
Make sure to head out on a fjord cruise when you visit Oslo. Here are a few good ones.
The harbor front of Oslo is dotted with floating saunas and its become a super popular activity. Even recommended by the New York times.
The saunas are open all year around, and used by both locals and visitors, they come with a complementary swim in the Oslo fjord both in the summer, and winter. Here’s a Sauna YouTube-episode that I made.
I recommend you to book your sauna visit in advance. You can eiter book a time in a public sauna, or if you are a group of people consider getting a private sauna. Usually a two hour sauna session will be enough to enjoy both sauna and some dips in the fjord.
Oslo has a lot of Viking history, and is a great place to learn about these seafaring marauders.
Visiting the Historical Museum in Oslo, you can find a great collection of Viking artifacts such as viking swords, gold and silver hoards, a thousand years old rune stone, and you can find the only intact Viking helmet in the world.
Other options include the immersive Viking Planet exhibition, or the Viking Ship Museum set to re-open in 2025/26.
Oslo is famous for its many explorers and nautical history, and you find some really good museums about this such as the Maritime Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl, and the Fram museum.
Inside the Fram museum you find the large ice breaker ship Fram, meaning forward in Norwegian. You can walk up on deck, and inside the ship to see how the crew spent their time in the ice. How they cooked, how they slept, how they repaired their tools and see where they kept their supplies, lasting them for up to three years.
You can learn about how Fridtjof Nansen almost made it to the north-pole. And how Roald Amundsen did make it all the way to the south pole.
For more info check out these articles:
- The Fram Museum – Top Rated
- Who was Fridtjof Nansen?
- The Kon-Tiki Museum
Oslo is known for a mix of new and old architecture.
Much of the waterfront of Oslo has gotten a serious upgrade the last years. And Oslo has gotten a fame for a lot of world class modern architecture.
A couple of examples are the Astrup Fearnly Museum of Contemporary Art, the New National Museum, and the bay of Bjørvika where you find the Oslo Opera House, Munch Museum, the Barcode, and award winning residential areas.
One of the oldest buildings is The Akershus fortress, an old medieval castle sitting on a cliff stretching into the Oslo fjord. If you walk in the downtown area you can discover some Art nouveau architecture.
Oslo houses a range of impressive art. You find several sculpture gardens art museums and plenty of public art all over town.
Oslo is perhaps most famous for this sculpture park, which is named Vigelandsparken. In park you find over 200 sculptures and 700 figures by the artist Gustav Vigeland
And not to forget the famous Norwegian painting Skrik or Scream, which was painted by the artist Edvard Munch. It exists in several version, and you can find it in both the National Museum and the Munch Museum.
Did you know that the popular Norwegian chocolate Freia comes from Oslo?
Their original factory, still located in Oslo, is still making some of the finest creamy and delicious chocolate.
In any supermarket you can find Freia products, but they got a dedicated Freia shop downtown on the main pedestrian street (Karl Johans gate) where you can pick up some of this famous Norwegian chocolate.
Looking to buy some Norwegian Chocolate online? Check out Etsy & Amazon.
The Fjord City
Perhaps the largest fame of Oslo, and what attracts a lot of visitors these days is the location.
Despite the urban feel of the city center you are never far away from either the fjord or the forest. There are very few capitals in the world where you can sail in the morning and ski in the afternoon. Where you can hike and pick berries before lunch, do some shopping later in the day, and jump into the fjord after dinner.