One of the nicest, cheapest and most cosy things to do is to visit one of Oslo’s many beautiful city parks. The best-known and largest of these is Vigelandsparken (also known as Frognerparken) in eastern Oslo. The Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland produced a huge amount of sculptures, and most of them are now here – so play, fall in love and ponder the meaning of life in what is considered the world’s largest sculpture park. Though some of the statues are rather gloomy, the park is a beautiful place for a stroll all year round and when the weather is good, you’ll see Oslowegians frolicking in the sun with barbecues, dogs and loved ones.
Other great parks include the Botanic Gardens in Sofienberg and the hill at Sankt Hanshaugen, where you can catch the beautiful sunset over Oslo if you time it right. The elevated Ekeberg Park includes an elegant fine dining restaurant, Ekebergrestauranten, with beautiful views of the fjords and decent prices. Speaking of views, going on a trip or hike to the Holmenkollen or Vettakollen mountains (20 minutes on the metro) will give you some of the most spectacular views of Oslo and Oslo Fjord you’ll find anywhere.
During the summer, Oslo Fjord comes alive with activity. Boats and ships of all sizes offer mini cruises and sightseeing trips to suit every need and price tag. The cheapest way to discover the fjord is to take the little white ferries that make up part of Oslo’s public transport (i.e. free with a Ruter ticket) and go island hopping on the little islands Hovedøya, Lindøya, Nakholmen and Gressholmen just outside of the city centre. These islands are popular destinations for a day out during good weather, but they still feel very private and have a lovely mix of beaches, forests and historical buildings (not least the old abbey ruins on Hovedøya).
While Hovedøya has a little catering during the summer, all of these are ideal places for bringing a picnic and chilling out on the beach. If you’re looking for a more maritime merry time, meanwhile, plenty of companies offer fjord tours of varying lengths aboard beautiful old vessels, and you can even indulge in live music or a prawn buffet on some of them.
Oslo has a lot of great museums and galleries to explore once you know where to find them; look out for special events and exhibitions in places like the Munch Museum and the National Gallery. You’ll also find a lot of cute smaller cafés, restaurants and bars, some of which offer live music on certain nights, such as Bare Jazz and Cafe Sør. Finally, while performances at most of Oslo’s theatres, such as Nationaltheatret, Folketeatret and Det norske teatret, are usually in Norwegian, the beautiful Oslo Opera has a varied array of orchestral, operatic and ballet performances on offer – which usually do not require knowledge of Norwegian to be enjoyed to their fullest. During the (summer) day, you can spend a lazy hour at the top of the building, soaking in the sun and finding out where to head next.
Featured image by Jørn Eriksson.