Start your Oslo short break on the waterfront to see the Opera, a huge block of white marble and glass emerging from the fjord’s water like an iceberg, before heading for Karl Johans gate, Oslo’s main street. Here you can indulge in a bit of clothes or souvenir shopping or watch street performers entertain the crowd. Then take it right into Universitetsgata, where you’ll find the National Gallery – with over 3,500 works by local artists, it’s the perfect place for an introduction to Norwegian art.
Nearest T-bane: Oslo S.
Catch the changing of the guard in front of the Royal Palace at 1.30pm, then hop onto the metro to Vigelandsparken. Allow a couple of hours to wander around the park. It contains over 200 sculptures by Norway’s most famous sculptor, and represent the various stages in the cycle of life. Rejoin the Metro line 1, direction Frognerseteren, to Holmenkollen, Oslo’s famous ski jump, to learn more about Norway’s ski heritage.
Start: Royal Palace
Nearest T-bane: Nationaltheateret.
Head back to Oslo S and get the lift to the top floor of the Radisson Plaza Hotel for a pre-dinner drink at the Skybar. The hotel is the tallest in Scandinavia, and the view of the city from the 34th floor is impressive. You can then grab a quick bite in one of nearby Grønland’s many ethnic restaurants before seeing a concert (Norwegian band a-ha or Röyksopp maybe?) at Oslo Spektrum.
Nearest T-bane: Holmenkollen.
Start your day exploring the Kvadraturen area. Christiania torv is where the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV decided to rebuild the city after the big fire of 1624. The Akershus Fortress and Castle are nearby. Period tapestries and paintings still adorn the walls of this former royal residence, but gloomy dungeons and dark hallways also await. As lunchtime nears, make your way down towards City Hall (its two red brick towers have been a distinctive feature on the Oslo skyline since the 1950s) and then on to Aker Brygge, where you can take your pick among dozens of restaurants on the quayside.
Start: Akerhus Fortress
Nearest T-bane: Oslo S.
After lunch hop on a ferry for the short crossing to Bygdøy, home to many of Oslo’s best museums. You can see three of the ships that were excavated around the Oslofjord on display at the Viking Ship Museum, or traditions from rural Norway kept alive at the Folk Museum next door. Then make for one of the beaches for a spot of sunbathing or a dip in the fjord – Paradisbukta and Huk are both popular, but be warned that the latter is reserved for nudists.
Start: Aker Brygge
Nearest Ferry from City Hall pier 3
End your short break in Oslo’s up-and-coming neighborhood, Grünerløkka. Alternative bars and laid-back pubs abound in the area, attracting a young and trendy crowd. Come diner time you’ll be spoilt for choice along Markveien and Thorvald Meyers gate, two streets packed with small restaurants and cafes. If you have any energy left, Blå is one of the capital’s most popular venues for clubbing, live jazz music, or just a drink at the terrace overlooking the Aker River.
Start: Olaf Ryes plass
Nearest Tram 11, 12 and 13.