Oslo will always have a special place in my heart. Oslo is beautiful, full of Norwegian culture, and is the first European city that I ever touched ground in! I also have some Norwegian heritage and “famous” ancestors that I was determined to find on this trip. The day I arrived in Oslo I was ecstatic – it was the beginning of my first European vacation, which I rave about here. After debarking from a 9 hour transatlantic flight, the rush of excitement and crisp Norwegian air was breathing life into my sleep-deprived self.
Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, so proceed with caution if you are on a budget. Thanks to research and help from others who had visited before us, there were some few key spots we knew we wanted to explore. Our first stop was the Viking Ship Museum. The Viking Ship Museum price is 100 NOK which is around 13 USD, the discounted museum price for students is 80 NOK or 10 USD.
Bonus tip: If you are traveling around Europe and have a student ID bring it. So many museums, art galleries, and attractions offer discounts to students.
The Viking Ship Museum was extremely impressive. A close-up look at these huge wooden boats that are almost perfectly preserved provided us a glimpse into the past. To imagine that the Vikings sailed the North Atlantic in topless wooden boats is mind blowing. Scandinavian Vikings have always been a fascinating mystery to me, so I loved browsing the collection of artifacts that were also found on these viking ships.
The next destination we trekked off to was another museum, and a personal favorite of mine. The Open Air Museum – Norsk Folkemuseum is a museum of Norwegian cultural history. It is an entire town constructed from old buildings that you can walk around and explore, with buildings and churches as old as the middle ages.
I loved the old wooden houses with grass and moss growing on top of the roofs. Peeking in the windows, it was fun to imagine what kind of life the Scandinavians lived in the 1500-1800s, especially in the brutal winters.
It was a cold and drizzly day, so we were thrilled when we peeked our heads into one of the houses and there were women preparing traditional Norwegian Lefse bread, a potato flatbread. That bread was warm and delicious, and we felt transported to a different era, it was such a magical experience.
Lastly, but perhaps the best part of the Norsk Folkemuseum was the Gol Stave church. A Stave Church is a medieval wooden Christian church. Norway is known for having the most Stave Churches remaining. The Gol Stave Church is from the 1200s and is enchanting inside and out.
After walking around outside for awhile we were freezing (and this was in May), so we hopped into a cafe to warm up and rest before our next stop.
After the cafe we walked around Frogner Park and The Vigeland Park – parks with beautiful landscapes and “unique” sculptures. The Vigeland Park is the largest sculpture park in the world that is created by only one artist, and it is one of Oslo’s top attractions. The park is surrounded by bike paths, lakes, and fountains, so it is the perfect place to walk around and enjoy the scenery.
Walking around all day sure made us hungry! Oslo is extremely expensive so our diet mainly consisted of hot dogs (Norwegians love their hot dogs and sausages, so these are everywhere) and the amazing salmon and mashed potatoes our lovely host made for us.
We ended our day walking around the Oslo Harbour and Fjord. Here you can find many famous buildings such as the Nobel Peace Prize Center and the National Theater. Like I mentioned earlier, I was on a mission to find some ancestors, and research had led me to the National Theater. I circled around reading the names of statues until I found my ancestor: Per Aabel – COOL! Apparently he was a somewhat famous Norwegian actor and comedian in the mid 1900s.
We wandered around the rest of the harbor taking in the beautiful scenery (which is pretty much everywhere you turn in Norway) before finally heading to our ship that would soon whisk us around the fjord and off the Copenhagen.
Oslo set the bar high as the first city I ever visited in Europe. It did help that I had a blood connection to the city and felt like I was somewhat exploring my roots and my own heritage down the line. Now more than ever I want to explore even more of Scandinavia and Norway, because I know I barely scratched the surface of its culture and beauty. It is so intriguing to think that my own ancestors lived here, and now I get to explore their home after traveling for thousands of miles. Until next time Oslo! Ha det!