My husband and I traveled to Northern Europe a few summers ago, and Oslo was our final stop before heading back to Milwaukee. We were so excited to visit, because we are both part Norwegian and we couldn’t wait to experience the culture and see the infamous Norwegian countryside.
We only stayed in Oslo for one day before we traveled to the west coast to see the fjords, but we loved every minute of it. Walking through Oslo was like walking through two completely different cities that seamless came together as one. On the waterfront side of the city, you have a crane count too high to measure, modern buildings and the stunning opera house.
But, if you venture away from the sea, you’re transported back in time, walking past cafes for people watching and through beautiful castle gardens.
We walked through the city on our way to Akershus Fortress, a medieval castle that was built in 1290. Still amazed that we were still in the same city, we wandered through the castle and listed to our personal audio recordings that told the history of the castle and ghost stories from locals. The tour was truly beautiful and haunting. (Notice the little girl peaking into the gate of the castle in the picture below? That’s a painted statue! There were several on the grounds that were chilling!)
After our tour, we took a ferry to get to Oslo’s Museum Island. It’s not really an island, it is on the tip of the Bygdøy peninsula, but taking the ferry was only about a 10 minute ride, so totally worth it instead of taking a bus. Once we got off the ferry, we headed for the Viking Ship Museum. This museum is small, but very cool! It houses the world’s best-preserved Viking ships and findings from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. If you have time to hit this museum, it is a really cool part of the countries history.
Before heading to our next stop on Museum Island, we stopped by a little outdoor stand for some ice cream (which I can never say no to on a beautiful summer day). From there, our friends went to the Fram Museum, which houses the strongest wooden ship ever built. The Fram still holds the records for sailing farthest north and farthest south.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go to all of the museums, so as our friends went to see the Fram, we went to the Norsk Folkemuseum (The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History).
We were, again, transported in time to see over 150 traditional Norwegian homes from as early has the 1500s! As we walked through the open-air museum, we saw fields of farm animals, traditional Norwegian dancing and singing, and even a demonstration on baking lefsa.
The highlight of the museum, for me, was seeing Gol Stave Church, which was originally built in 1200! It was reconstructed on the Bygdøy peninsula in 1880. The woodwork was beautiful, and we were even able to go inside. It was one of the tiniest churches I have ever been in, and it was so full of history.
After a long day of touring the city and as many museums we could, we settled down at a restaurant by the Harbor and of course got a delicious waffle on a stick! (Because, waffles.)
Looking back on our trip to Norway, Oslo was a perfect pitstop on our grand adventure. It’s the perfect city for a quick, quiet trip and filled with history and friendly locals. I hope we can make it back there again some day.
Want to see more on our trip to Norway? Check out my post on our travels through the Norwegian Countryside and to Sognefjord!