Oslo is the capital and largest city of Norway. The city’s population is small in comparison with other European capitals, but the city occupies an unusually large area. This is due to the fact that the city boundaries encompass many parks and open areas, making Oslo a very green city.
The city center is situated at the end of the 110 km long Oslo fjord and from there the residential areas sprawl uphill in all directions. Beyond the residential area lies the huge forest, home to extraordinary flora and fauna. There are 40 islands and 343 lakes within the city limits and these are a popular summer haunt.
The city itself is a cosmopolitan place with numerous cultural attractions, vibrant nightlife, café culture and chic shops. Oslo City Hall hosts the Nobel Peace Prize each year in December. The peak tourist season is between June and August when the sun never sets and the city basks in midnight sun.
The forest and the waterways are the biggest draw for the visitors of Oslo. There are many museums, music festivals, high cultural events and great nightlife that make this city a destination to suit every taste.
Oslo has a humid continental climate. Summers are mild to warm, temperatures reach 20 °C in June and July, and the days are sunny and long. Winters are dark, long and cold, with temperatures around or below zero and snow is plentiful. Rain is spread throughout the year, but the rainiest month is August. The warmest month is July and the coldest is February.
January average temperature -3 deg Celsius, 41 mm rainfall February average temperature -3 deg Celsius, 31 mm rainfall March average temperature 0.5 deg Celsius, 34 mm rainfall April average temperature 5 deg Celsius, 36 mm rainfall May average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 45 mm rainfall June average temperature 15.5 deg Celsius, 59 mm rainfall July average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 75 mm rainfall August average temperature 15.5 deg Celsius, 86 mm rainfall September average temperature 11.6 deg Celsius, 72 mm rainfall October average temperature 6.6 deg Celsius, 71 mm rainfall November average temperature 1 deg Celsius, 57 mm rainfall December average temperature -3 deg Celsius, 48 mm rainfall
Oslo international airport is Norway’s largest, located 50 km northeast of the city. The Oslo airport has good connections with Europe and North America. Travelers from elsewhere will have to catch a connecting flight. There is also an extensive domestic flight network.
The airport express train will get you to the Oslo central station in around 20 minutes. Trains depart every 10 minutes Flybussen shuttle buses depart every 20 minutes. A ride to the city takes approximately 45 minutes. Taxis can be ordered in the booth section of the terminal. Haling a cab outside is more expensive.
Torp airport near Sandefjord, 115 kilometres south of Oslo, serves the low budget airlines.
The Torpekspressen bus service connects the airport to Oslo. Local buses take you to the nearby cities of Sandefjord and Tønsberg, where you can catch a train to Oslo.
Bus services are available from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Russia.
Ferry services connect Scandinavian countries, as well as Germany and the UK. This is ideal for travelers who want to bring their own vehicles.
There are good train connections with Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg, London and other European cities.
The public transport system includes metro, trams, buses, and boats. The same tickets are valid for all modes of transport. Tickets can be bought in advance at kiosks (cheaper) or directly from the driver (more expensive). Make sure you validate the ticket before entering the subway platform, bus or tram; otherwise you may be caught by the random spot checks, resulting in a fine.
The Metro is called Oslo T Bane and has five lines that cover the entire city. The services run from 5:30 am until midnight.
The bus and tram network complement the metro, covering most of the city. The same tickets can be used. The services run from 5:00 am to midnight, some till 1:00 am. There are 8 tram lines. Trams depart every 10 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes during the night. They are an effective way of getting around the city center.
Buses cover the rest of the city; there are 50 bus lines; the ones mostly used by visitors are numbers: 31, 34, 37 and 54.
Ferries operate between April and September. The services connect the City Hall to the island of Bygdøy (where many museums are located). Ferry services to harbor islands are also available.
Taxi ranks are located near shopping centers, stations, city squares, and other areas. Taxi can also be ordered by phone, or hailed in the street.
Oslo is surrounded by forested hills and lies at the innermost part of the Oslo fjord. This unique position gives Oslo many opportunities for outdoor activities.
THE OSLO FJORD AND SURROUNDING ISLANDS
The Oslo fjord is the most popular recreational area in Norway. Only a short ferry ride away from Oslo, the fjord comes alive during the summer.
The innermost part of the fjord has many islands; each of them has a unique character and history. For example, Hovedøya, Lindøya, Nakholmen, Bleikøya, Gressholmen, and Langøyene can all be easily be reached with boats from Vippetangen.
Summer activities on the fjord include kayaking, canoeing, boating, fishing and sailing.
The coast offers many beautiful beaches: Norway’s most popular beaches Huk and Paradisbukta are located on Bygdøy.
OSLO ’S GREEN BELT
Akershus, also known as Oslo’s green belt can be quickly reached by boat, train, bus or car. The radius of 70 km around Oslo offers superb fishing locations, as well as enchanting villages, unspoiled lakes and forests with fascinating fauna.
THE JOTUNHEIMEN NATIONAL PARK
The park, located in the south-central Norway is one of Norway’s premier hiking and fishing regions. The park covers an area of 1,151 km² and is filled with soaring granite peaks, glaciers, and alpine lakes. Over 250 peaks rise above 1,900 meters. Two of Northern Europe’s highest peaks are located here: Galdhøpiggen at 2,469 metres, and Glittertind at 2,465 metres.
There are over 500 miles of hiking trails and 16 mountain lodges.
Address: Huk Aveny 35, Bygdøy Peninsula Phone: 2213 5280 Web: www.khm.uio.no/vikingskipshuset/index_eng.html Access: Bus 30 (National Theatre), ferry 91 (from Pier 3 behind the City Hall; summer only) Open: May – September: daily: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; October – April: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The museum is situated on the Bygdøy Peninsula. It houses three of Norway's most famous Viking Ships - Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, dating from the 9 th century. The ships were excavated in Southern Norway from the sacred burial grounds where they lay in clay, which preserved the ships very well. The Viking ships were once used as tombs for royalty, who were buried with many items deemed useful in the afterlife. The museum also houses other items found at the site.
Address: Bygdøynesveien 36, Bygdøy Peninsula; Phone: 2308 6767 Web: www.kon-tiki.no Access: Bus 30 (the National Theatre); ferry 91 (from Pier 3 behind the City Hall to Bygdøy - summer only) Open: June – August: daily: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm; January – March: 10:30 am – 4:0 pm, April – May & Septemebr – October: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
The museum is located on the Bygdøy Peninsula and is dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer who became famous for his 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition in which he sailed by raft 7,000 km from South America to the Tuamotu Islands. The museum features the original raft used on the journey. He embarked upon the expedition in order to prove the theory that the first Polynesian settlers sailed from Peru to Polynesia (6,923 km). Among the artifacts on display are stuffed whale shark, and many interesting things brought from the Easter Islands, Galapagos, East Polynesia and Peru.
The park is a tribute to the Norwegian sculptor Vigeland. The park is the city’s most visited attraction and is located within the larger Frogner Park. Displayed amongst the lawns, trees and ponds are 200 sculptures by the artist, many of which represent humans in various forms of interaction. In the center of the park stands the most impressive piece: a 14 meter monolith of entwined bodies that was carved from a single piece of granite. It is believed to be the largest granite sculpture in the world. The nearby Vigeland Museum features the artist’s sketches and plaster originals and yields a glimpse into the creative process of the artist.
Address: Akersgata Phone: 2309 3553 Open: Palace: daily: 6:00 am – 9:00 pm; Fortress: daily: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
The medieval fortress, built in 1300 and reconstructed several times, dominates the sea front. Originally the fortress was outside the town but after the great fire of 1624 the town was rebuilt within its walls. The upper floors boast magnificent staterooms and banqueting halls, in contrast to the dark medieval underground passages and dungeons. The complex also features the Museum of Resistance (Norges Hjemmefrontsmuseum), housing displays related to the Nazi occupation. Today the fortress hosts theatre productions and concerts performances.
Address: Radhusplassen Phone: 86-16-00 Access: tram 12 ( Rådhusplassen); bus 70 (Vika) Open to public
Dominating the Oslo harbor is the twin-towered City Hall. The building was open on May 15, 1950, marking the 900 th anniversary of the city. The modern building has a grand main hall adorned with huge murals depicting Scandinavian culture and history. Every December the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded here.
On this day in 1814 Norway achieved independence from Denmark and created its own constitution. A yearly festival celebrates the occasion. Independence Day is the biggest holiday of the year. The entire country joins in festivities celebrated with traditional dance, music, performances and costumes. There are parties and parades everywhere.
World renowned artists as well as Oslo’s top performers make this festival the musical highlight of the cultural calendar
Midsummer’s Eve is the longest day of the year. It falls on the Saturday between June 20 and June 26. It is celebrated with bonfires, a custom dating back to pagan times when people paid tribute to the sun god. The fires also represent the defeat of darkness. The festivities also include processions led by musicians.
A cross-country ski race is organized through the city.
ULTIMA, CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Date: beginning of October
The Oslo Contemporary Music Festival holds the festival in venues all over the city.
OSLO JAZZ FESTIVAL
Date: August Location: Tollbugt 28 Phone: 22/42-91-20
Jazz festivals are well represented in Norway. The Oslo Jazz Festival in early August attracts famous jazz musicians from around the world.
One of the country’s most popular rock festivals is the Öya Festival held near Oslo in the beginning of August.
Oslo abounds in nightclubs, discos, and bars. Discos and nightclubs usually have a cover charge and a minimum age requirement; you have to be 18 or over and in some places 23 or over.
Note that from 2004 on, it is prohibited to smoke in all bars, restaurants and pubs. You have to go outside to smoke, but note that it is against the law to drink outside, except on the New Year’s Eve, and the law is strictly enforced.
Generally speaking, Oslo is very expensive. There are, however, pubs where drinks are cheaper.
The most popular bars are located around the main street: Karl Johans Gate. Additionally, many pubs are to be found in the area of Grünerløkka, Aker Brygge, Solli/Frogner, and Grønland.
Theatre, Opera and classical music are also well represented in Oslo. Autumn and winter periods are best if you want to catch a cabaret, a theatre or a concert performance.
There are four cabaret and nine theatre stages in the city, along with numerous venues hosting international jazz, rock, and pop artists.
Address: Munkedamsveien 14 Phone: 23-11-31-11
Experience the Oslo Philharmonic. You can catch a performance from the fall season to spring, on Thursdays and Fridays.
Oslo was founded in 1048 by King Harald Hardråda. In the early 14 th century King Håkon V built Akershus Fortress to repel attacks by the Swedish. In 1348 the Bubonic plague hit Norway, killing around half of Oslo’s population and devastating the entire country. After the plague Norway joined forces with Denmark and between 1397 and 1624 all the country’s affairs were dealt with in Copenhagen; Oslo slowly drifted into obscurity.
Oslo suffered several fires but after the 14 th disaster in 1624 King Christian IV of Norway ordered the city be rebuilt on a new site across the bay in the vicinity of the Akershus Fortress. The town was renamed Christiania. It slowly started gaining prominence, becoming a commercial and cultural center of Norway.
In 1814 the town of Christiania once again became the capital of Norway when the union with Denmark was dissolved. In 1814 Norway united with Sweden, thus boosting its economy and political power. During the 19 th century many famous writers and artists lived in Oslo, most notably Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun. The union with Sweden dissolved in 1905. In 1925 the city reclaimed its original name of Oslo.
MODERN (20 TH CENTURY)
In the years prior to WW I Norway enjoyed economic growth. After the horrors of the war the city quickly bounced back. By 1932 life was back to normal. During WW II Norway declared neutrality but was nevertheless invaded by Germany in 1940. After the war the economy experienced a huge boost due to oilfields found in the North Sea.
Oslo has one of the highest standards of living on earth, and is one of the world’s most densely forested cities. It enjoys a rich cultural life and hosts the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize Awards.
Norway is a safe country, but travelers should be careful nevertheless. Tourists are mainly the targets of petty theft, which occurs primarily in areas frequented by tourists. Be vigilant in the central station and bus station and hotel lobbies. Also be careful in deserted suburbs and metro and railway stations at night. The highest rates of reported thefts occur around Grønland, especially along the Akerselva River, and close to the Majorstuen T-bane station.
In the winter look out for ice under your feet or your tires. Also, be ware of snow falling off the roofs.
Emergency phone numbers: Police - immediate assistance: 112 Ambulance and Medical assistance: 113 Fire, accidents and serious pollution: 110
The far north experiences the midnight sun from mid-June to mid July. Note that even during the summer temperatures can be quite chilly but in general, Oslo has higher temperatures than the rest of Scandinavia. Summer day temperatures can occasionally reach 30°C, but you are more likely to experience mild temperatures around 22°C. During the summer Oslo is full of visitors and accommodation can be hard to find. May is ideal time to visit; crowds are smaller and temperatures are already getting warmer. Winters are characterized by short, dark, and cold days. It may sound unappealing but it is an ideal time of year to ski or see the northern lights. The lowest rainfall average is recorded in March, April and May.