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The capital of Norway is beautifully situated: at the end of the hundred-kilometer long Oslofjord and surrounded by forested hills. It is a modern, spacious city. This is because Oslo didn't experience a rapid growth until in the nineteenth century. From the old Oslo (formerly Christiania) only a few wooden buildings are left over. However, there are (newer) wooden houses in the city, especially in the districts Kampen, Vålerenga and Rodeløkka. In the seventies there were plans to tear down these houses to build roads, but luckily those plans were called off.
On the east side of the harbor is the futuristic Opera house. It is an impressive piece of architecture with an exterior of marble and glass. It looks rather 'cold', but once inside you will notice that the architect has added 'warm' elements: beautiful wooden galleries and an impressive chandelier. The roof of the Opera house slants towards the water. The residents of Oslo make good use of it on sunny days, just as the architect intended.
One of the main attractions is the Frogner Sculpture Park, also referred to as Vigeland. Here are more than 200 lively cast and granite statues of naked people. The artist Gustav Vigeland wanted to portray the life of man this way, with all the benefits and burdens that come with it. Gems are the seventeen meter-high monolith and the fountain in the middle of the park.
Just like the other Scandinavian capitals Helsinki and Copenhagen, Oslo is an expensive city. These cities make the Top 20 of most expensive cities in the world nearly every year. A dinner quickly will cost you an arm and a leg. However, there are cheaper eateries in Oslo too, for example, in the multicultural district of Grønland. In the streets behind the station you will find foreign eateries with prices that are significantly lower than elsewhere in the Norwegian capital. Slightly more expensive but still affordable are the cafes and restaurants in Grünerlokka, a bit further north. A lot of young people and students live in this area, which makes it a lively entertainment district.
The former shipyard Aker Brygge is now a cozy shopping and entertainment area. Along the waters of the Oslofjord runs a promenade and from the terraces you have a beautiful view of the Akershus Slott.
This Akershus Slott is composed of the original castle, built in 1299, and a fortress of a later date. It was a good defense against external attacks for centuries, but Nazi Germany found no problems overtaking it in 1940. During the German occupation many Norwegians were executed; so you can also find a Resistance museum inside the Fjord.
Edvard Munch is Norway's biggest artist. After his death he left his entire oeuvre to the city of Oslo, which established a special museum for it. There are temporary exhibitions, but the masterpieces - including The Scream - are permanently on display in the Munch Museum. The Nasjonalgalleriet is another must for art lovers. The museum has a large collection of romantic Norwegian paintings, but there are also statues by Rodin and Maillol.
Located to the west of the city center is the peninsula Bygdøy. In the summer the residents of Oslo go here 'en masse', to enjoy the sun and sea on one of the beaches. But that is certainly not the only thing to do on this peninsula. Bygdøy has five museums. In the Vikingskipshuset you can see old Viking ships, including an ancient one from the ninth century. The Frammuseet is dedicated to the North Pole expeditions of Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen with the ship Fram. Old ships are also on display in the Maritime Museum. Traditional houses and distinctive stave churches from all over Norway are on view in the Folk Museum. The Kon-Tiki Museum is dedicated to the controversial Thor Heyerdahl, who did an expedition on a raft called Kon-Tiki from Peru to Polynesia.
In the immediate area of Oslo you can enjoy the beautiful Norwegian nature. For example in Nordmarka, where the Olympic ski jump Holmenkollen is. The ramp can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. In a simulator, you can try to descend the ramp unscathed. The Ski Museum is here too, where 4000 years of ski history comes alive. Of course there is more to do than just ski in this area in the winter, like cross-country skiing or snowboarding. In the summer you can enjoy beautiful walking or cycling routes.
Oslo is situated at a magnificent fjord and you should see it from the water. There are several options: a short one hour ride, to boat trips that take up the whole day. Most tours start from the Rådhusbrygge, at the town hall.
Large conferences and exhibitions are held often in Oslo. It can get very busy in the city and accommodation can be hard to find. Also in the week that the Nobel Prizes are awarded, there are hardly any free rooms. To be sure of a hotel room, we recommend you book your accommodation in Oslo well in advance.
In the center of Oslo you have to pay for street parking (Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 17:00, Saturdays from 09:00 to 15:00). Also outside the center there are some streets where you can only park your car for a fee. There are free parking spaces in the center for holders of the Oslo Pass. Which is also valid in municipal parking garages, but not in the private parking lots.
The Oslo airport is quite far from the city center: fifty kilometers to the north. Oslo Airport is easily accessible by rental car. On the highway E6, follow the signs 'Gardermoen'. From the E6, the highway 174 runs directly to the airport.