Hemmed by a ‘fjord’ and kilometres of woodland, Norway’s capital is an easy-going city with an eclectic architectural mix of old, new and just plain 1960s that is hard not to like. The perfect size for exploring on foot, the city boasts world-class museums, a lively nightlife and plenty of outdoor activities for the energetic.
Most visitors will find themselves struggling to choose between Oslo’s numerous museums, which offer something for almost every taste: a face-to-face with the haunting image of Edvard Munch’s The Scream at the National Gallery, a chance to stand in the shoes of an Olympic ski-jumper at the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, or a window into history and culture at the unforgettable Viking Ship, Polarship Fram or Folk Museums on Bygdøy. And Oslo is certainly the cosmopolitan heart of Norway, with a rapidly growing café and bar culture, top-notch restaurants, and nightlife options ranging from world-class opera and jazz to indie rock.
But many Oslo residents, being avid hikers, skiers and sailors, will fondly tell you that what they love most about their city is how easy it is to leave the city life behind. Located at the head of the Oslofjord (which actually isn’t a fjord, but is pretty anyway), Oslo is one of Europe’s largest capitals in terms of area (450 sq km) but smallest population-wise. As a result, it is the only European capital that boasts cycling, hiking, ice-skating, kayaking, sailing and skiing, all within its city limits and a short train ride away.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
Best places to stay in Oslo
Revamped: 10 neighbourhoods that have had incredible makeovers
Some neighbourhoods are effortlessly charming while others bring new meaning to the phrase 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. From gritty to glossy, these 10 neighbourhoods around the world have been completely revamped into coveted places to live, work and play. Grünerløkka cafe.
Oslo destination guides
The best Viking sites for travellers
What do hunting lodge-themed restaurants, the reckless pillaging that led to the global financial crisis and those feral hipster beards all have in common? Vikings: they did all that stuff first.
Oslo City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Explore the sunniest capital of Scandinavia with this 24-hour ticket aboard an open-top double-decker bus. See all the main sights of Oslo as you hop on and hop off at 17 conveniently located stops around the city. With great views from the top of the bus, strategically placed stops and an interesting commentary, this truly is the best way to see the main sights of Oslo.
Full Day Grand Tour of Oslo
For an excellent overview of Oslo in one day, take this 7.5-hour grand tour. You’ll explore Oslo by both coach and boat, visiting some of the city’s many museums and enjoying the picturesque fjord scenery. Plus, see the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Viking ships and the Holmenkollen Ski Jump.
Top 17 experiences in Norway
Norway is a once-in-a-lifetime destination and the essence of its appeal is remarkably simple: this is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. In this excerpt from Lonely Planet's guide to Norway we recommend the top sights and experiences for visitors.