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Baltic Cruises

About Oslo

Parliament Lion Statue

Oslo is the political, cultural and economic capital of Norway. Perched upon the northernmost point of the Oslofjord, the city is surrounded by rolling emerald mountains. This artistic city is full of energy, and its people treasure their connection to the natural world.

Oslo is home to many parks and open spaces. Numerous lakes, islands and forests blanket the countryside and coast. The city boasts myriad museums, cultural attractions, architectural sites and landmarks that celebrate Norway’s mastery of the sea. Its residents cherish a high quality of living, while its visitors enjoy an enlightening and enriching experience.

Oslo first emerged from history in the Norse Sagas, with its founding by King Harald Hardrade around the year 1000. It became Norway’s capital during the reign of King Haakon V, who chose to reside here. In the 1290s he ordered the Akershus Fortress built. Throughout the Middle Ages, fires destroyed the all-wooden city several times.

In 1624, King Christian IV of the dual nation of Denmark-Norway ordered a new, more fire-resistant city built around the fortress. This city was known as Christiania until 1925, when it became Oslo once more.

The city’s role as an important trading port began as early as the 18th century and led to an economic boon. Oslo’s commercial might grew throughout the 1800s, and it remains a leader in seafaring and international trade to this day.

Oslo Lifestyle and Culture

Oslo is a global city designed to give its citizens room to stretch out and enjoy the great outdoors. This makes it an ideal place for a walk. The Vigeland Sculpture Park is a wonderful place to start your explorations. All 212 sculptures in this green space were carved by beloved artist Gustav Vigeland to represent the various stages of the human condition. Its stunning centerpiece is a monolith of human figures that seem to be clamoring to the heavens.

Founded in 1842 as part of the Royal Palace, Oslo’s National Gallery was moved in 1882 into its current building, a stately structure designed by architects Heinrich Ernst and Adolf Schirmer. The museum’s fantastic collection features paintings by both regional and international masters, including pieces from Norway’s most famous painter, Edvard Munch.

The Akershus Fortress was built during the 1290s so the city could more effectively resist attacks from Norwegian nobleman Earl Alv Erlingsson. The fortress is now home to the Norwegian Resistance Museum, which honors locals who fought the Nazi occupiers during World War II.

A stroll in downtown Oslo would not be complete without a stop at the Ice Bar. The walls, shelves, chairs, bar – even the glasses – here are made entirely out of ice. It truly must be seen to be believed.

Oslo Sights and Landmarks

Oslo is home to many museums that allow visitors to explore its deep cultural history. The Viking Ship Museum houses archaeological finds from the municipalities of Tune and Sandefjord and from the Borre Mound cemetery. The museum’s main attractions include the Oseberg, Tune,and Gokstad ships – Viking vessels discovered in massive burial grounds. It is one of the largest collections of intact Viking ships in the world, with artifacts dating back over 1,000 years.

The Kon-Tiki Museum was built in 1957 to commemorate the marine expedition of the same name. Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl set out to prove that ancient peoples could travel between South America and Polynesia by raft. The museum tells his incredible story and houses Heyerdahl’s original vessel.

The Munch Museum is dedicated to Norway’s most well-known painter, Edvard Munch. It contains over 1,200 paintings, 18,000 prints and several sculptures and plates. The museum holds one of two painted versions of “The Scream.” The National Gallery, also in Oslo, holds the other.

The Oslo Opera House is a visual masterpiece and an incredible example of how contemporary Norwegian architecture continues to amaze. Completed in 2007, the white-marble exterior seems to rise from the waters of the Oslofjord. Home to the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, even the foyer of this magnificent building is a work of art.

Oslo Entertainment and Activities

North of Oslo, the Lillehammer Olympic site hosted the luge and bobsled events during the 1994 Winter Games. Its tracks stretch some 5,600 feet and include a harrowing vertical drop of 374 feet. The track is still in use today.

Situated in the hills northeast of Oslo, the Arcus Distillery is one of the most famous producers of aquavit, a Norwegian specialty spirit. Aquavit is an herb-infused spirit, most often flavored with caraway, dill, cumin or fennel. The distillery houses more than 8,000 casks in their cellars. Guests can tour the premises to learn more about this much-loved beverage.