Norway’s capital city is not your typical tourist destination–it is cold, it’s inaccessible by road from much of Europe, and it does not have an iconic attraction such as the Eiffel Tower or the Acropolis. But in recent years, Oslo has come onto the radar of the savvy traveller and built a reputation as one of Europe’s most interesting cities. It is a modern metropolis with an artistic vibe and thousand years of history. Visit the 700-year-old Akershus Fortress for a first-hand glimpse at Oslo’s past, then brush up on your Viking knowledge at the Oslo City Museum.
Location: In the south of the North
Norway reaches right into the Arctic Circle, with large swathes of the country’s north remaining under ice and snow for most of the year. Oslo sits in the south of the country, and although its winters are undeniably cold and snowy, the summers are temperate and bright. The city has been an important maritime hub for centuries, and is easily accessed by boat. Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, serves most of Europe, and is used by a number of low-cost airlines, making travel to and from the city both easy and economical.
Business: Green tech reigns supreme
Norway has some of the largest oil reserves in Europe, but it uses the proceeds from oil exports to fund sustainable energy solutions. As such, it is one of the greenest cities in Europe, and environmental experts flock to Oslo for conferences and research seminars. Oslo has a maritime tradition, which continues to this day–freighters and fishing boats share the harbour, and contribute greatly to the local economy.
Culture: Pushing the boundaries of art
Oslo was the hometown of the famous painter Edvard Munch. Art fans can view different versions of his iconic paintings in The Scream series–one at Oslo’s National Gallery and one at The Munch Museum. For something a bit more modern, the borough of Tjuvholmen is dedicated to contemporary art and the alternative traditions, and frequently hosts cultural events and activities.
Activities: Traverse the fjords like a Viking
The Norwegian fjords are magical sites–impossibly still and set deep into the mountains. Spend at least one day on the water to make the most of this awe-inspiring sight. Athletic types can even hire a canoe for the day, and row Viking-style around the lakes and fjords. Ski season never ends in Oslo, as there will always be a snowy slope within a 50 km radius of the city. Advanced skiers can go off-piste through the famous Norwegian forests.