Arriving in Oslo at the Central Train Station at 3:00PM, we made our way to our hotel. It was just across the road from the station, only a few minutes’ walk. Very handy, as we were departing by train too. The train station is very large and modern. We found it easy to find our way around.
The Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania check in was quick and easy and we liked the rooms. Nice and comfortable and importantly warm.
After dropping our bags off and having a quick freshen up, we headed out to find the local Tourist Information Bureau. It is located outside the train station and is well sign posted and easy to find. The staff were very friendly and helpful. As the bus and tram public transport system is very efficient, we asked about getting passes for the next two days. They sell the passes there and showed us the best places to catch buses and which numbers to get for the places we intended going to.
Outside the Visitor Centre and the Train Station is a large open public space. We took pictures of the Tiger Statue and Thor’s Hammer that are located there. During our visit the latest Star Wars movie was being released, so there was a life-sized model of a crashed Tie Fighter as well. We were very lucky and got some good photos while there were not too many crowds around.
Opposite the train station is Karl Johans Gate, the main shopping street in Oslo. Most of the street is a pedestrian mall, except for the cross roads, so be careful when you cross. The road goes past the cathedral and the parliament building, but we only had a quick look, as we planned to have a better look in two days’ time.
There were large crowds at the Grand Hotel, as the Nobel Peace Prize was being awarded. The security was visible but not over the top. The one thing that we found really disturbing was the number of people begging on the streets. This would be the same in other cities we were to visit as well.
On the first full day in Oslo, we caught a number 30 bus to the Bygdøy Peninsular. Some of Oslo’s best museums are located here and we planned to see several of them if time permitted. We started at the Viking Ship Museum. The bus stopped right outside, and we arrived just before opening time. This enabled us to see all the exhibits without crowds. The three 9th century ships on display are magnificent and the museum really should be a must see for anyone interested in Viking history.
A short walk back up the road is the huge open air Norwegian Folk Museum. Buildings of historical importance from all over Norway have been located here for preservation. We loved the stave church and the farming village, all set out as they used to be. It would be possible to spend a whole day here if you wanted to see everything that is available, but we were time limited, so stuck to the plan to see the attractions that interested us the most. Then we headed in from the cold and had a hot chocolate in the café.
We caught the bus outside the museum to the Fram Museum a bit further along the road. Also located here are the Kon-Tiki and Maritime Museums. If you buy multi-entry tickets, you get a 10% discount. We started with the Kon-Tiki. It gives a full history of Thor Heyerdahl’s adventures and has many artefacts from Thor Heyerdahl’s life, most importantly the Kon-Tiki.
Moving on to the main reason for our visit to the ship museums were went in the amazing Fram Polar Exploration Ship Museum. The Fram herself is located within one of the buildings along with the Gjøa. Norway’s proud Polar exploration history is all on display here, from the ships to other artefacts and well laid out displays. Anyone interested in exploration and what these adventurers went through would love this museum.
The Fram able to be boarded and you can wander the decks and interior to get a feel for what it was like on board.
After visiting the Fram Museum, the Maritime Museum seems quite dull. The displays are all good quality and the museum is well laid out and run, but we did not spend long there and caught the bus back to central Oslo.
On our second day, we took a tram out to the The Vigeland Park (Vigelandsparken). It is full of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, mostly depicting the various stages of human existence. A very nice park and relaxing to walk around. Early in the morning, we almost had it to ourselves.
On the way back into town, we stopped at the Royal Palace and took a few photos of the building itself and of the guards that were wandering around.
Walking back we went past the Akershus Fortress and Franklin D Roosevelt Statue. The statue is only of interest if you’re passing, but the fortress is impressive. The fortress itself was closed, but you can still wander around the extensive grounds and visit the military museum contained in it. It has a large collection, of military hardware on display. Worth a look if you are into your military history.
We called into the Opera House and walked up onto the roof. Yu can get some great views of the city from there, but it was very windy.
The afternoon was spent at the Historical Museum (another tram ride). There is a nice display of Viking artefacts, which we were interested in seeing. As a tourist, the rest of the museum was interesting, but not unique, with display from around the world, but really the sort of things any other capital city museum would have.
Nearby is the National Gallery of Norway. Of interest here is The Scream by Edward Munch. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped to look at the parliament building, but is was obscured by Christmas decorations (a large wooden building – not that we are complaining, the Christmas decorations were very nice).
So what did we think of Oslo? Apart from the beggars, we loved it. There was plenty to see and do. The public transport is efficient and very easy to use. The people were friendly and helpful. What more could you want?