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Your guide to Oslo
All About Oslo
Sitting right on the Oslofjord, Norway’s capital city showcases a fascinating mix of historic and modern architecture alongside stunning natural beauty. As you stand on the harbour promenade, you’ll look out across islands dotted in the bay, with pine trees lining the shore against a backdrop of rolling green hills and mountains.
The city itself boasts eye-catching buildings, including the glass-fronted Norwegian Opera and Ballet, where you can walk up white slopes onto the roof for views of the city and fjord. Spend an afternoon or two wandering around Frogner’s luxurious homes and cafes or the converted warehouses and canals of the hip Aker Brygge neighborhood. The main street running through Oslo, Karl Johans gate, is lined with shops, casual beer halls, and restaurants where you can dine on medisterkaker (pork meatballs) and fiskesuppe (creamy fish stew).
Northwest of the city centre, the sprawling landscaped Vigeland Sculpture Park boasts 200 eye-catching sculptures and a dramatic fountain at its heart. A short ferry ride from the harbour takes you to the Bygdøy peninsula, where you can wander along sandy beaches or visit the open-air Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.
The best time to stay in a holiday rental in Oslo
There’s no doubt that Oslo’s climate is Scandinavian, but its location in southern Norway moderates the weather’s extremes. In the summer, sunset only occurs at 11 p.m., and temperatures grow warm enough to go swimming in the fjord, with a few genuinely hot spells in the weeks around late June’s midsummer festivities. The shoulder seasons are a pleasant combination of mild temperatures and lower visitor numbers. While Oslo is milder than the Arctic regions of Norway, temperatures are cold over the winter months, often dipping below freezing and then some, with long, dark days and snow covering the buildings. The city comes alive at Christmas with festive decorations and a market with traditional wooden stalls. As the country’s capital city, Oslo hosts a packed programme of events, such as Norway Constitution Day on 17 May, marked by a colourful parade through the streets, and the major music festival of Øyafestivalen in August in Tøyen Park.
Top things to do in Oslo
The late-17th-century Oslo Cathedral stands in the heart of Oslo city centre and is used by the royal family of Norway. As you walk through the bronze doors, you can glimpse many of the church’s treasures, including its ceiling murals, stained-glass windows, and the original Baroque pulpit and altarpiece. The cathedral hosts choral and classical concerts throughout the year.
Changing of the Guard
The King’s Guard is always on duty at the Royal Palace. Head to Slottsplassen in front of the palace at 1.30 p.m. to witness the daily Changing of the Guard. In an elaborately choreographed ritual, the new guard marches towards the palace in ceremonial dress to relieve the old guard, who have just spent 24 hours guarding the palace. In the summer months, a military band accompanies the soldiers, and you may even see a drill practice.
The oldest scientific garden in Norway, founded in 1814, the Botanical Garden takes you on a journey through the natural world, with more than 5,500 species of plants. You can wander through a number of themed areas, including the Viking Garden, with a 33-metre model of a longship; the Victoria House, with its rainforest plants and giant Amazon water lilies; and the Aromatic Garden, full of fragrant plants and herbs that you are encouraged to sniff.