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.
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Europe's best train journey?
We're somewhere on the Hardervigga plateau on one of the world's highest stretches of railway tracks and we appear to have stopped. I say that with no great certainty because we're in the middle of a white-out...