Karl Johan’s gate
Oslo’s great main street is called “Karl Johan’s gate” (Karl Johan’s street) and is one kilometer long and named in honor of King Karl Johan III. The street is situated perfectly, just a few minutes from the rail and bus stations, which are side by side. Therefore, it is easy to find the center from those locations.
Many things make Karl Johan’s gate impressive, but mostly it is because of changes in ground level which have the effect of raising and lowering the street so when you reach the highest point in the street you will see the Royal Palace in the distance. Besides the Palace Park and the Royal Palace which are situated on this street there are great architectural monuments like the Norwegian Parliament, the National Theatre, and the famous Grand hotel. At the same time, there are also many places where you can have a meal or a drink or go shopping. You can spend an entire day walking the length of Karl Johan’s gate and feeling the vibe of the city’s main thoroughfare, typically crowded with people who are either walking or sitting on benches but also lying on the grass and chatting, listening to music, studying, or just sunbathing alone or with friends.
This – the Norwegian royal family’s primary residence – is located at the top of Karl Johan’s gate surrounded by Palace Park. The palace does not look like a castle from the fairy-tales, it was built in neo-classical style and finished in 1849. Norwegians respect their royal family, and they are very grateful for having a king and queen on their country’s throne. They are proud of their nation, and the Palace is one of the main symbols in Oslo. You can spend some time around the Palace, enjoying the surrounding Palace Park, but it’s good to know you can also take a guided tour of the Palace, albeit only in the summer. The tour lasts approximately one hour and will take you through the building’s most beautiful rooms, but if you don’t have too much time it is also interesting to catch the changing of the guard each day at 1.30pm. If you are not able to visit the Palace interior, it is good to at least see this video, which covers all the most beautiful features of the Royal Palace.
Vigelandsparken (Vigelands Park) is the world’s largest sculpture park and one of the most famous and impressive fine arts destinations in Oslo with more than 200 unique sculptures of bronze, granite, and cast iron on the grounds. The park is around 1 kilometer long, and statistics indicate that more than one million people per year visit this attraction. The park was supplied with statuary by sculptor Gustav Vigeland, who died in 1943. You can see the park for free, and it is open all year, but the best time to go there is in the summer or spring because of the green areas. The park is always full of tourists and joggers because many Norwegians use it as a recreational area. There is also a sculpture museum, which is located in Gustav Vigeland’s home, only six minutes from the park by foot. There you will find not just art works but also portraits and also plastic models of the sculptures in Vigeland’s Park. On the third floor of the museum is Gustav Vigeland’s restored apartment, and it is interesting to note that he designed his apartment himself. The museum costs 60 kroners (around 7 Euros) for adults and 30 kroners for children, seniors, and students (around 3 Euros).
Oslo Opera House
Oslo’s astonishing Opera House was built in 2008 and designed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta. It is fascinating building, frequently compared to Australia’s Sidney Opera House because of its unique design. It is in the epicenter of Oslo, and a place where Norwegians spend leisure hours both during the day and also during the night. It is an attraction on the inside and the outside, and it is the place where you can attend ceremonies, events, outdoor plays, concerts, etc. The opera house is also a place where students study, and where tourists take walks on the marble covered roof and enjoy the view of magical Oslo. And the best view is during the night, when the whole city is shining. There are guided tours of the building which offer further information about the architecture and fascinating facts about the Opera House. Tour tickets cost 100 kroners for adults (which is around 11 Euros) and 60 kroners for children and students (around 7 Euros).
Once you have seen the main attractions of the city, felt the vibe of the Norwegians, and have some time to spare it is recommended that you visit the museums at Bygdøy. For that adventure, however, you must carve out some more additional time because, for starters, you can go there only by boat. Once in Bygdøy you can explore the museums, art, nature, the beach at Huk, and many other attractions. Among the best museums are The Norwegian Folk Museum, The Viking Ship Museum, The Kon-Tiki Museum (if you watched the famous movie about the Kon-Tiki expedition and the Norwegian sailors who carried it out, you will love this museum) and many others. At Bygdøy you will find plenty of alternatives, and you will also find places for hiking or riding a bike. Check this site to see how everything works there.
Festivals in Oslo
There is a belief that all Norwegians are in love with death metal music, but there are plenty of music festivals in Oslo covering a broad spectrum of music, and most of them are during the summer months. During that time you can visit places with jazz, blues, experimental music, and many others. The two biggest festivals in this city are called Norwegian Wood and The Øya festival. The Norwegian Wood festival is famous not because of black metal music but because of artists from the golden age of rock and pop, so there you can find the amazing Mark Knopfler or Neil Young singing! On the other hand, The Øya festival is meant for younger people and features indie, hip hop, and electronic music.
Also visit and walk by:
Aker Brygge wharf
This area is very popular with tourists and is Oslo’s upscale neighborhood by the sea, facing the harbor. There is a wharf for boats which are sailing to various parts of Norway. The buildings in this part of the city are in modern architectural style; and there are many restaurants, apartments, and offices. There are always people sitting outside in the cafes, drinking, eating, and enjoying the view of the sea day and night, no matter if it is cold or not. When the sun is shining it is hard to find a place to sit outdoors, because the Norwegians are quick to lay claim to places to relax with sea views.
Akershus Fortress is situated in the center of Oslo, by the Opera House. It is a great place to take a walk through the historical part of Oslo, and there you can join guided tours in the summer or you can walk on your own because there is no entrance fee. Many of Oslo’s concerts, celebrations, and ceremonies take place in Akershus.
The Ibsen Museum, which is only a five minute walk from the Royal Palace, is a fascinating place to visit if you are interested in the life of one of Norway’s most significant figures. Henrik Ibsen was a famous Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet who is called the “father of realism”. He was one of the founders of Modernism in theatre, and in the museum you can find artifacts from Ibsen’s career as a playwright but also his private home, which has been restored with the original décor and furniture. You can take a tour for 60 to 100 kroners for adults (7-11 Euros) and students and seniors for 60 and 75 kroners (7-8 Euros).
Nobel Peace Prize museum offers a look into Alfred Nobel’s life and work, but also the lives of Peace Prize laureates, and of course there is a gift shop. The price is 100 kroners for adults (11 Euros) and 65 kroners (7 Euros) for students.