Oslo, Norway

Guide for the rail traveller

Information

CurrencyNorwegian Krone
Local languageNorwegian
Country Norway

Introduction

Lying on the south-eastern coast of Norway at the end of one of the country’s famous fjords lies the oldest of the Scandinavian capitals, Oslo. Since 1905 when it won independence from Denmark, Norway and more specifically Oslo has continued to grow and prosper becoming economically stronger and culturally richer through time.

Today’s Oslo reflects its people’s pride and wealth through its sturdy buildings, generous open spaces and a tangible air of respectability. Despite this, however, it is not the city itself that grabs the tourists, but the vast array of museums on offer and most importantly the fantastic natural beauty that surrounds Norway’s capital. The tranquility and serenity of the forests, fjords and islands in combination can only ever be experienced in Scandinavia.

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Things to do

After closer inspection of some of the major landmarks, one can understand that they do not detract from the Oslo’s main offerings of copious museums and natural beauty. The Domkirche dating from the seventeenth century is beautiful and unusual on the inside, thought the outside is rather ordinary. The Stortinget just outside the cathedral was once the main square but has been somewhat neglected in recent times whilst the parliament building lying just a short stroll away is rather imposing from the outside.

The vast array of museums however, more than make up for the less sparkling landmarks on offer. Amongst others, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum and the Fram Museum provide much to occupy your thoughts. All lie just a short stroll from the Bygdøynes pier, and all three center on Norway’s seafaring past including the rafts used by the explorer Thor Heyerdahl and the ship used in Polar expeditions during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Further destination options include the Norsk Folkemuseum which has recreated over one hundred and fifty houses from Norway’s past. These also include those from Lapland and often display household furniture, implements and clothing from past ages too.

As an alternative to these, avid skiers may find the Ski Museum located inside the Holmenkollen ski jump of interest. The museum displays the history of the sport dating back over two thousand five hundred years! Whilst you’re there you may like to visit the Ekeberg Park via the Holmenkollen railway for amazing views over Oslo as well of stone-age carvings. Any spare cash can be used for a sleigh ride through the woods (by torchlight if you go after dark!).

Local transport

The ‘Oslo Card’ is a great way to see the city and travel the city if you’re planning on packing in as much action as possible. It allows for unlimited travel and free admission into all museums (of which there are a lot!!) as well as other benefits. These can be obtained from the tourist offices as can other public transport tickets and transport maps.

A network of buses, trams and a limited underground system connects most of the city. Though a little slower than the buses, the trams offer a pleasant means of getting to know the sights. Most of the eight tram routes operate at very regular intervals from six in the morning until midnight.

Ferry services also operate on a regular basis and serve to link the outlying districts especially at the northern end of the Oslofjord. The Archipelagos and scattered islands provide beautiful scenery for those just wanting to take in the views.

Day trips

Fredrickstad, lying to Oslo’s eastern side is serviced by a regular train link (leaving roughly every two hours). This town is still home to comprehensive fortifications which were built in the seventeenth century whilst Norway was still under Danish rule. They were to provide protection from Denmark’s arch rivals, the Swedes. Certainly worth a look!

An alternative is to take a trip to the breathtaking views of mountains and fjords to the west of Oslo. These are an easy day’s train or bus ride away, but the forests, valleys and mountains are unique. Ask at the tourist information for travel and accommodation options.

Recommended places and events to visit in Oslo

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