When I travel to a new city and am limited on time, I have to choose what kind of adventure I want to have. I could go with the traditional tourist route and hit all of the museums and historical sites. In Norway during the winter, that’s not a bad option because the tourists are few and far between. The other option is to just wander and absorb the atmosphere. Oslo is very conducive to wandering, as most things are relatively walkable as long as you stay in the center of town, and if walking is not your thing, there is the subway or lightrail. I’m a planner, though, and wandering for me is more directed than spontaneous — I know the major points of interest I want to cover, and I get the surprise from everything in between my planned stops. So, with just about a day’s worth of time, after reserving some time for jet lag recovery, I put on my walking shoes and headed out to do a combo of a little bit tourist path and majority finding the real Oslo.
First thing I must say about Oslo is how wonderful the people are there. When they greet you, it’s often with a smile and a “hihi,” which made me think of the rhyme – Norwegians: so nice they say “hi” twice! Did I mention I did a lot of walking with lots of thinking time this weekend?
As for lodging, I stayed in the Nationaltheatret district, which I found very convenient to everything I wanted to see. Plus, the local train from the airport (90 NOK vs. 180 NOK on the express train that isn’t that much faster) stops at Nationaltheatret right after the Central Oslo train station. The train shares a station with a T-bane (metro) stop as well.
My 24 hours officially started at the changing of the guards ceremony at the Royal Palace, every day at 1:30pm regardless of the weather. For about 40 minutes, the royal guard performs the traditional routine of relieving the on-duty guards.
My next stop was an interesting art installation that you will need to look down to find. It’s at Theatergata 9. Several of the concrete tiles have been removed and replaced with 50,000 small bronze statues of people ranging from 3-10cm. Some of the tiles have been placed back atop the people. It is a really neat display that you should seek out.
Heading uphill, en route to the Old Aker Chuch, you will have the option to climb a set of stairs that end on Damestredet. This is a perfect, picturesque place to get a feel for Oslo 150 years ago. These wooden houses date back to 1810-1860 and are examples of how many homes were once constructed, most of which have since burned down in fires. Oslo has one other street filled with historical homes, that happens to be Tethusbakken found just below the Old Aker Church.
Next, I headed downhill towards the Akers River to cross over into a great neighborhood for cafes and street art called Grünerløkka. I did some research before on the popular street art to find some of the murals that appealed to me. Behind the Mir Cafe at Toftes Gate 69, there are several pieces of wall art. The rainbows, in particular, I really wanted to find. I spent over an hour on Google Maps trying to locate the address. I finally figured out that they are all in a courtyard out of view of the Google cameras.
Making the right turn on Norde Gate, I walked back towards the river to find a giant peacock mural spanning the entire front of a building (no. 25).
The last stop of this walking tour was to Ingens Gate. Not only are there tons of street art murals to admire, but often a small street market is set up with waffles and crafts to purchase.
After exploring the Grünerløkka neighborhood, I had a few boxes to check off of my list of tourist sites. I knew I wasn’t going to go to the museums in Oslo because, if short on time, I always opt out of museums. So that left the Opera House, Akershus Fortress, and Vigeland Statue Park within Frogner Park to finish up the next morning within my 24 hour period. It was a pretty cold and dreary day, so the Opera House was not looking its best. I didn’t get near the fortress because the pathways were sheets of ice. So, that left the park. I took the T-bane to the Majorstuen stop. It was just a short walk to the park entrance. Vigeland Park was designed by Gustav Vigeland, and it is an 80 acre park within a park, filled with 212 sculptures created by Vigeland. If I were to guess, Vigeland specialized in bronze nudes. There are only so many nudes you can see before you feel like you’ve seen them all. It was a nice walk though, albeit cold. Here are some of my favorites, mostly because they made me laugh:
Everything is pretty expensive in Oslo, so be prepared for that. Otherwise, have a great time exploring, and I hope you have as much fun finding hidden treasures like I did!