2 (and a half) Winter Days in Oslo

Rachel recently came to visit me in Lübeck for a while after Christmas. We decided that since she has seen most of the things there are to see in Lübeck, we should maybe try to do a little trip over New Year's. Our first idea was to go to Munich, as neither of us has really been there before, but then Rachel emailed me to say she had found cheap plane tickets to Oslo from Hamburg. We immediately jumped on that idea, bought our tickets, and started planning our trip to Oslo. Here's a short 2 1/2 day Itinerary based on our experiences. Do keep in mind that we were not only there in winter, when things have limited opening hours and some things are closed for the season, but also right after the New Year. This means that we were somewhat limited in what places we could visit and where we could eat. A summer itinerary would likely include a few additional things.

Day 1/2

Your trip begins when you arrive in Oslo Gardermoen Airport. You'll need to take a train from there into the city. Our Airbnb host gave us the handy tip that we should take the regular train, not the Flytoget Airport Express Train. This was great advice, as the regular train costs significantly less than the express train, and only takes about five minutes longer to get to the central train station.

Spend your first afternoon in Oslo wandering through the Vigeland Park, the world's largest sculpture park created by a single artist. The park contains over 200 sculptures made of bronze, granite, and wrought iron, all from artist Gustav Vigeland. It was fascinating and beautiful, and if it hadn't been quite so cold, we probably could have spent many more hours there. If you're there in the winter, it will already be getting dark, but the park is well lit and you can still see all of the sculptures.

After the park, head over to the trendy Grünerløkka area for dinner. Get dinner at Mucho Mas for tasty (and shockingly reasonably priced) Mexican food. I can especially recommend the nachos topped with beef tinga. Their margaritas were also some of the best I've had in Europe!

Day 1

Get up (not so) bright and early and walk down to the Oslo Opera House. This incredible building had me immediately wishing I could audition for the opera orchestra in Oslo, as it would be a beautiful place to go to work every day. Sadly, it doesn't look like they currently have any open viola spots! The Opera House was completed quite recently in 2008. The coolest part of this building is how anyone can walk up onto the roof. The views from the roof of the water and the city are pretty spectacular. As we walked around taking in the views from every angle, Rachel commented on how nice it would be if more buildings had publicly accessible roofs!

Once you're done checking out the views from the Opera House, walk over to Oslo's City Hall. We all agreed that this was the coolest city hall we had ever been to. Every room was decorated in a different style and featured artwork from Norwegian artists that showed Norwegian history and culture. There were many incredible artistic details throughout the whole building! Even the bathrooms were pretty.

Next, walk over to the Astrup Fearnley Museum, the modern art museum in Oslo. The special exhibit while we were there was called "Good Morning America" and it focused on American artists in the late 1970s and 1980s who started the "appropriation art" movement. It was a fantastic exhibit and I especially loved the works by Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman! The permanent collection was not my favourite overall, but it looks like they always have an interesting special exhibit!

Walk down the street from Astrup Fearnley and head to the Nobel Peace Center. This museum had a variety of interesting exhibits on war and peace, as well as permanent exhibitions where you can walk through and see the information on all of the nobel peace prize winners over the years, as well as information on the history of the prize itself.

Get a late lunch at Bistro Brocante, a  cute french style bistro with a great lunch menu of sandwiches, salads, and soups. 

After lunch, stroll around the cute Grünerløkka area and check out of the shops! Be sure and stop by the Acne Archives store!

For dinner, look into Rice Bowl for some delicious thai food, or Illegal Burger for one of Oslo's best burgers.

Get drinks at the super cute and super hip Himkok bar. They have delicious cocktails on tap, aka taptails, as well as some great beer and cider options! They also have a fun photobooth!

Day 2

Today it's time to step into a real winter wonderland. Take the Tunnelbane (subway) up to Frognerseteren and be amazed by the fact that in Oslo, you can take the subway to go skiing. We did not go skiing, but we saw a lot of skiers and it looked like a lot of fun. Also, we saw people taking up sleds and sledding down a sledding run called "the corkscrew." It starts at the Frognerseteren metro stop and takes you down 2 km of supposedly "hair-raising" turns before ending at the Midstuen metro stop. It looked like so much fun and we were pretty sad that we weren't doing it. Next time, I'm definitely bringing ski pants so that I can go sledding!

In addition to skiing and sledding, you can also walk down to the Holmenkollen national ski arena. We were confused as to how exactly to get there and ended up walking along a ski path before finally finding our way there. The surprise benefit of getting somewhat lost was that we got to see some people doing jumps on one of the ski jumps. It was so cool! If you do walk to Holmenkollen from Frognerseteren, the most direct way is to follow the road. At Holmenkollen, you can admire the huge ski jump as well as the ski arena around it. Inside of the ski jump is a very cute and surprisingly interesting little museum on the history of skiing in Norway, which I would highly recommend. There's also a viewing tower at the top of the jump, but sadly it was closed while we were there. 

Once you are done at the museum, take the subway back down into the city and get lunch at the Mathallen, a cool food hall with a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars inside. You'll want to spend the whole afternoon there eating and drinking, but if you're limited on time like we were, you'll need to tear yourself away and take the bus over to the Fram Museum. Sadly, we only got there an hour before it closed, so we kind of had to rush through. I definitely recommend setting aside a more solid amount of time for this museum if you can. It houses the world's most famous polar ship, the Fram, and tells the story of polar exploration. It was full of fascinating information, and you can also go on the boat, which is still perfectly preserved as it was.

After getting your fill of fascinating polar exploration, take the bus back into the city and stop at Akershus Fortress. If you're there in the summer, you might actually be able to go into the fortress. If you're there in the winter like we were, you'll have to settle for walking around the grounds, although I'd hardly call that settling, as the grounds are crazy beautiful. It felt a bit like we had been transported back to an earlier time as we walked around the empty, dark, and snow-covered grounds of the fortress.

For dinner head to Olivia (where they also have delicious gluten free options, for those of you can't eat gluten), or Lofoten Fiskrestaurant, where they do a two course dinner every Sunday night. Before or after dinner, grab a beer at Beer Palace!

This brings your almost 3 day long adventure to a close!


All images in this post belong to www.baytobaltic.com.