If you’re visiting Norway from abroad there is a good chance that you’ll be flying into Oslo. Many tourists, when thinking of Norway, imagine the wild fjords and mountains found in much of the country. Oslo, however, offers a different type of Norway. Its landscape is more concrete than vegetation. While it may not offer the stunning views one imagines when picturing Norway, it is a vibrant city with so much to see and do. And Oslo in the summertime, can’t be beat. We’ve put together what we consider to be the best things to do in Oslo during the summer months.
The Oslo Opera House is the home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet and is the national opera theater in Norway. Even if ballet and opera aren’t your thing, it’s worth paying a visit to the opera house. Designed to look like an iceberg, the building’s roof is intended to be walked on and enjoyed. The unique architecture of the Opera House provides different angles and views of the city to experience and photograph. Throughout the year, the Oslo Opera House hosts a large variety of outdoor plays, concerts, and other events. It is situated on the waterfront and is the perfect place to sit, relax, and watch the bustling city. For more information on events at the Opera House visit their website.
While Oslo may not be home to the famous Norwegian fjords of the west coast, it does have its own fjord, the aptly named Oslo fjord. The city can get quite warm during the summer months and a sightseeing trip on a boat offers the perfect way to cool off. Board the ship and take in the sights, while you enjoy the breeze as the boat moves through the fjord waters. Another popular way to enjoy the fjords in Norway is by kayaking in them. And if boats aren’t of interest to you, you can always partake in the Scandinavian ritual of going to a sauna followed by a dip in the fjord at KOK, a floating sauna with a view of the Opera House.
Salt is perhaps not on everyone’s radar when planning their trip to Oslo, but it should be. It is a moving art project consisting of wooden pyramid structures based on traditional construction methods. These architectural elements pay homage to the ancient coastal fishing cultures of Norway. Salt was designed to be a unique place where people can gather to experience art. It’s an art village, with saunas, food stalls, and art installations, all overlooking the harbor and the Opera House. Originally intended as a nomadic art project, it has now been approved to extend its stay for several more years, with the hopes of becoming a permanent fixture for the city. For more information visit Salt’s website.
Right next to the harbor is the next spot on our list, the Akershus Fortress. This spot is a great place to discover Oslo’s history and enjoy the day. The fortress was commissioned in 1299 under King Håkon V. This medieval castle, which was finished in the 1300s, is now a museum. It also offers fantastic views of the city and waterfront and is always a popular spot for families on summer days. Guided tours of the fortress are available in the summer and start at the Akershus visitor center. If all of the history works up your appetite, we highly recommend heading to the nearby, and trendy, Vippa food hall for a bite to eat. This upscale food court, located on the waterfront, offers quality, tasty, and innovative bites to eat. For more information of food offerings visit the Vippa website.
Aker Brygge is a part of Oslo known for its pier area filled with eateries along the boardwalk. There are many places to enjoy al fresco dining, people-watch, and bask in the warm summer sun. Here you can find food from upscale Nordic and French cuisine to more casual fare like burgers and fries. There is also a popular summer-time boat bar moored nearby. Aker Brygge is also home to a wide selection of clothing shops, should you want to supplement your wardrobe. You can also catch a ferry here, visit the Nobel Peace Center, as well as the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. In the summer, the pier is brimming with activity. We recommend walking along the pier, grabbing an ice-cream, and breathing in the fresh sea air. For these reasons, Aker Brygge makes our list of the best things to do on a summer day in Oslo.
Another must on our best things to do in Oslo in the summer is a visit to the Royal Palace. Start by walking up the shopping street, Karl Johans gate, and check out the wide variety of shops and restaurants. Continue on this street up to the palace. The Royal Palace is one of the country’s most important buildings, and a symbol of the course of Norwegian history since 1814. The foundation of the building was laid by King Karl Johan in 1825 and became officially used in July of 1849 by King Oscar I. The Royal Palace is owned by the state and is where the daily work of the monarchy is conducted and is home to the King and Queen. The Royal Palace is open to the public during the summer season. Something that you might notice about this palace compared to those in other countries is its lack of fencing – you can walk right up to the door!
Frogner Park and Vigeland Sculpture Park
Rounding out our list of the best things to do in Oslo in the summer, has to be Frogner Park and Vigeland Sculpture Park. Frogner is the largest park in Oslo covering 45 hectares. The sculpture park, located within Frogner, is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist. Frogner Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway, with between 1 and 2 million visitors each year. It is open to the public at all times and is a fantastic way to enjoy the sunny weather while in Oslo. During nice weather the park is full of people: running, walking, picnicking, barbecuing, or just enjoying the sunshine. The park has a café and a restaurant as well as Norway’s biggest playground, located near the main entrance.
We hope that you enjoyed reading our picks for the best things to do in Oslo in the summer. Of course, we’ve only just scratched the surface. Oslo is home to many wonderful museums, shops, restaurants, and sights. We’ll be back to explore more of what this great city has to offer in a future blog post. Stay tuned!