by Catherine Kelly
There are a host of things to see and do in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Here you can visit ancient viking ships, explore a host of museums, relax in the city’s parks and wander along Karl Johan’s gate. These are our top picks for your stay.
1. The Viking Ship Museum
One of the ships on display, the Oseberg ship was excavated in 1904. It was a burial ship for two women of note, though their exact details are unknown. The fabric fragments found along with the burial gifts of shoes, sledges, wagons and livestock, indicated that these were prominent people within their community. The ship itself has beautiful animal carvings along the keel and the bow post.
The museum is also home to artefacts from the Gokstad and Tune viking ships.
2. Vigeland Park
Completed in the decade between 1939 and 1949, Vigeland Park is a sculpture installation in the centre of Oslo’s Frogner Park. Gustav Vigeland created more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron and the installation is the largest sculpture ‘park’ made by a single artist. It is also one of Norway’s most visited attractions.
The Vigeland Museum can be found a short distance from the park. It was purpose built by the Oslo City Council for the sculptor in the 1920s on the proviso that Vigeland would bequeath all of his works to the city. The museum has an extensive collection of sculptures (approximately 1,600!) and drawings (12,000) along with a collection of notebooks, letters, photos and woodcuts.
3. Holmenkollen Ski Jump
The Holmenkollen Ski Jump has been home to annual ski jump competitions since 1892 when the first jump was built from branches and covered in snow. That year the longest jump was recorded at 21.5 metres. Today the current record is set at a whopping 139 metres.
Beneath the jump lies the fascinating Holmenkollen Ski Museum, opened in 1923 and covering Norway’s 4000 year old ski history. Skis have been depicted in prehistoric rock carvings and the oldest ski in the museum dates from 600AD!
4. Karl Johan’s Gate
Karl Johan’s gate is Oslo’s main street connecting the Central Station to the Norwegian Royal Palace. You’ll find plenty of cafes along the 1 kilometre stretch, providing great spots from which to watch locals go about their business.
The street is comprised of several older streets, the east section is part of Christian IV’s original city. Here the ancient city ramparts were removed to make way for the Oslo Cathedral. The western section was built during the 1840s connecting the newly-built Royal Palace to the rest of the city. The street was named in 1852 after the country’s deceased King Charles III John.
5. Oslo Opera House
The final site to make our top 5 is the monumental Oslo Opera House constructed in 2007. This impressive piece of modern architecture is home to the Norwegian Opera and Ballet.
The horizontal and sloping surfaces of the building’s roof, clad in white marble, afford some fantastic viewing platforms from which to take in Oslo and its surrounding fjord.