If you want to overcome preconceptions about Scandinavian countries and people, Oslo is the right destination for you. The moment you arrive, you will forget the myth about reserved and aloof Scandinavians and remember those about Viking conquests and gods of the sea and wind.
Norway is a beautiful, picturesque, and mystic country, and its capital is home to nearly 1.2 million inhabitants. The northern metropolis unites traditional and urban trends, pure architecture and alternative lifestyle culture, nature and man. These different facets of Oslo, together with the view of the enchanting fjords, are what makes this somewhat unusual destination attractive to so many tourists.
The best time to visit Oslo is early autumn. That is why Air Serbia now offers daily flights on route Belgrade – Oslo, with average flight time of approximately three hours.
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Oslo – a city devastated and recreated
As odd as that may sound, in the middle of the last century, Norway was a poor country with a harsh climate. After oil was discovered on its territory, Norway entered a period of intense development, resulting in today’s European giant. Oslo has shared the fate of its country in an almost mythological manner. The capital of Norway bears its present name since 1925. Its former name was Christiania and it was the Scandinavian country’s political and financial center. Christiania was devastated by a fire in 1625, leaving the city in ruins. After this tragic event, the city assumed the name of its patron and began its slow but steady recovery. The big fire represented an important turning point in the history of the city, as there are hardly any architectural remnants from the period preceding it. The disastrous fire is the reason why the facades in the city, even those on the oldest buildings, are colored in such bright and lively hues. Today, Oslo is a blend of traditional and modern architecture. Its urban concept is ideal for tourists visiting the city for a couple of days. All the major tourist attractions are located within a radius of a few kilometers, most within walking distance or a short ride on the subway. A favorite with firstcomers is the view from the roof of the Opera, a unique building where residents of Oslo like to spend their afternoons and organize family picnics. The Opera rooftop offers a magnificent view of the fjord on which Oslo stands, while the shape of the Opera building is suggestive of a glacier, as Norway’s homage to nature that allowed them to rebuild their capital from ashes.
Oslo’s cultural gems
Norwegians cherish their Viking past and mythology, so Oslo is the ideal destination for people who like myths, fairytales, and epic works about heroes and gods. If this is the case, the Viking Ship Museum and the Fram Museum should be the first stop on a visitor’s quest to learn about Oslo’s culture. The Fram Museum houses a replica of an authentic Viking ship in ice, while the Viking Ship Museum has a large collection of folk costumes and helmets.
Mythological elements also adorn many government buildings, making the façade of the Parliament building one of the most photographed attractions in Oslo. The entire city is like an outdoor museum, with statues and conceptual art found at every step. The most popular tourist attraction is the Vigeland Park, comprising the works of Norwegian sculptor and architect, Gustav Vigeland. The park is the largest museum of many of the 1600 statues that this prolific artist made during his lifetime. All Vigeland’s statues are located in Oslo and the main attraction in the park is the Monolith, depicting 212 human figures in various phases of life. Its cultural scene makes is another aspect that makes Oslo a unique city.
Alongside the clean, neat facades and impeccably tended parks, there is an entire scene of avant-garde art and modern movements. The liveliest part of the city lies along the river Akerselva, straddled by “the fairy tale bridge”, featuring popular children’s tales, flea markets selling handicrafts, and some of the most beautiful murals in the world. This quarter is also home to many museums and galleries worth visiting at any time of the year. In addition to their exhibitions of works made by the most famous world artists, art and sculpture lovers will find in them artistic gems made by local artists. The Munch Museum, stands here, comprising his most famous work, the Scream. The Museum also has permanent exhibitions of the works of Modigliani, Picasso, and Degas.
Gastronomic tourism in Oslo – a taste of Norway’s capital
Oslo is the center of Scandinavian gastronomy and a city offering a multitude of new tastes. While weathering their cold winters and harsh natural environment, the Norwegians spent centuries perfecting their cuisine, making it healthier, more nutritious, and incredibly delicious.
If you want to try seafood prepared in a unique way, you must visit Restaurant Fjord. Their chefs make seafood dishes with fresh ingredients, creating menus that change depending on season and time of day, so you are bound to find an interesting dish to suit your taste. The Engebret Café offers a wide variety of venison, as well as Norwegian goulash made from several types of meat and vegetables. What makes this restaurant special is the traditional way of preparing food, using recipes dating back to the 19th century. Oslo also boasts a rich assortment of foreign cuisine, and visitors to the city can find Mexican, Italian, Armenian, and Chinese dishes cooked to perfection.
Likewise, it may interest you to try some of the special spirits made in local distilleries. You should taste Aquavit, a spirit made of potatoes and herbs, and honey wine most often drunk during cold winter months. Residents of Oslo like wine, cider, and beer and with colder weather, the street beer festivals begin, featuring brews made by local manufacturers. The festivals often turn into street parties, which later trickle into bars in the city center. The nightlife in Oslo is active in all the city quarters. You can find bars or nightclubs in practically every street, with music varying from light jazz to strong alternative sounds.
The fascinating area surrounding Oslo
If you are only planning to stay a few days in the Norwegian capital, you should set one aside for one of the many excursions that will take you out of the city. The area surrounding Oslo is as fascinating as the city, regardless whether you choose inland areas or the sea. There are tours of the fjords made with light passenger boats. You can take a charter flight from Oslo and spend a day in one of the nearby towns, such as Lillehammer or Bergen. If you prefer simpler modes of transport, take a tour bus to one of the gardens surrounding the city, such as the Royal Gardens or the Oslo parks. Among the most popular is the Grand Tour, which lasts eight hours and includes a boat ride, sailing, a visit to the Holmenkollen ski jumping area, an exhibition of Viking ships, a visit to the National Museum and several other attractive locations. Should you wish to rest and take it easy after several days of sightseeing, you can look for a spot on one of the beaches surrounding Oslo. The swimming season is not long but the feel of Scandinavian sand will relax your feet, at least for a little while.