Oslo, Norway’s city of a thousand lakes
Norway’s capital city was founded in 1048 and is not only Europe’s fastest-growing city but also the most expensive city in the world. Its 1.4m inhabitants enjoy a very green environment: there are actually “only” 343 lakes and two-thirds of the city is preserved as parkland or for waterways. Oslo has become a magnet for incomers, with 26% of its population having arrived from countries such as Pakistan, Somalia, Sweden and Sri Lanka. Destroyed by fire in 1624, it was re-built with a new name, Kristiania and didn’t become Oslo again until 1925. Its thriving modern economy is based on North Sea oil revenues and its huge maritime industry. One of the few European countries not to have joined the European Union, Norway still operates its ancient currency, the Kroner.
Oslo offers a unique combination of a Viking heritage and a modern, multicultural experience. It is home to the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize and to Edvard Munch’s iconic painting, “The Scream”. You can explore wooden housing areas, buy fresh shrimps at the waterfront or tour the majestic fjords by boat.
When to go?
Oslo has a humid continental climate; its northerly location means that, whilst you can enjoy 18 hours of daylight on Midsummer’s Day, midwinter can only offer 6 hours a day. Summer temperatures can rise to 22°C and in winter it can drop to -7°C. There is a lot of snow between November and April. The wide variation in temperatures means that you can choose between skiing during the winter and fjord-swimming during summer.
How to get there?
Oslo Airport (OSL), 45 km northeast of the city, is a very busy international hub. A 20-minute train-ride will take you into the city centre. Low cost airlines mostly use two other airports: Sandafjord (TRF) is 115 km from the city and 1 hr 50 mins by train. Moss (RYG) is 65 km away (50 mins by train). Oslo is also accessible by ferry from Kiel, Copenhagen and many other ports.
Different versions of the painting, “The Scream”, can be admired at the Munch Museum and at the impressive National Gallery. Oslo City Hall is the venue for Nobel Peace Prize presentations; for a fuller understanding, visit the Nobel Peace Centre. Take a ferry to the Bygdow Peninsula to tour a treasure-trove of museums dedicated to Viking Ships, to the Holocaust and to Norway’s maritime history. Other “must-sees” include the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, the Royal Palace and the stunning Opera House; shaped like a ship, it seems to float in the Bjorvika inlet.