Aathira Gissy Jose recommends Oslo, Norway
From the busy thoroughfare of Karl Johan’s Gate to the calm and serene-looking sculptures of Vigeland Park, Oslo is full of surprises. During my first visit (I now live there with my husband, having moved from Kerala, India), I was told that Oslo was both a county and a municipality; very confusing indeed.
The city sits on Norway’s southern coast at the head of the Oslofjord, an archipelago made up of some really enchanting inlets, waterways and little islands.Oslo was founded in 1040 but in 1624 was destroyed by fire, and moved closer to the Akershus Castle (still here), a fortress built to protect the city from foreign invaders.
Thousands of tourists visit the capital’s world-class museums, galleries and artistic treasures every year (this is the home of Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch, after all). Oslo was ranked first for quality of life among large European cities in 2012 but is also one of the world’s most expensive. It is surrounded by greenery and due to its topography, gets close to 18 hours of daylight in the summer and never gets completely dark. In the winter, it’s the reverse. This is a city of extremes. Temperatures range from -1 to -3 degrees in winter to the mid-20s in summer.
My favourite place
Some of the delightful little islands that make up the scenic gem that is the Oslofjord. They are perfect places to relax and have picnics, take boat rides and above all, release stress.
Sheer proximity to wonderful green spaces, and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors without having to go too far afield. There are a number of parks within the city such as the Frogner Park (which contains Vigeland Park) and St. Hanshaugen Park. Holmenkollen offers beautiful scenery, an iconic ski jump, and plenty of opportunities for hiking and trips in summer or winter. It is also only half an hour from the city centre on the city’s metro system.
For such a compact, walkable city, the array of historical and cultural attractions is quite outstanding: Akershus Castle, the Storting (parliament) building, the Oslo Opera House, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Royal Palace, the Ibsen Museum and many more. Aker Brygge (the waterfront area) is replete with shops, cafes, bars and restaurants for you to refuel.
Oslo is very expensive. That is reflected in the prices of groceries, clothing, housing and entertainment. Also, sub-zero temperatures and the lack of daylight in the winter can be frustrating, to say the least.
The experience has to be the best souvenir you can have in Oslo. However, if you are looking for something to grab, you could buy a Dale of Norway sweater. But beware of fakes in tourist shops. Berry picking is also common in the parks and forests; grab a handful of berries for your loved ones, maybe?
Where to stay
Most of the international hotel chains are represented here. But you may find the city centre a little noisy at weekends and might prefer to stay in affluent Frogner or fashionable Grunerlokka, both of which are about five to 10 minutes away (by tram, taxi or bus) from the centre. The Cochs Pensjonat, at Parkveien is a great place to stay on a budget. Its proximity to the town centre and excellent service makes it a niche package.
Picture Courtesy: Neha Kotwal
1. Take a trip around the Oslofjord
2. Go shopping around Aker Brygge
3. Walk on the roof of the Oslo Opera House
4. Visit the Viking Ship Museum
5. Go to Frogner Park and have a picnic