When the pilot announced we had started our descent I kept the book I was reading aside and looked out of the window to get my first glimpse of Oslo, the starting point of our two-week vacation in Norway and Sweden. I was expecting to see the suburbs of a big city but my first sight of Oslo was a complete surprise and something that grew to be so familiar with every place we visited in Norway – hilly landscapes, meandering water bodies, lush green fields and colorful houses.
My flight landed at the Oslo International Airport in Gardermoen and I took a NSB train to Oslo Central Station to join my travelling companions KJ and KK (they had flown into Oslo directly from Dubai and had landed a day earlier than me).
On this trip we wanted to see more of the Norwegian countryside and hence had planned to leave from Oslo early next day morning. This just left me with half a day here and since the weather was really nice and sunny, we decided to take it easy and spend the day just walking around.
We had heard a lot about how good coffee is in Oslo and started our day with a cup at Kaffebrenneriet. And just with our first cup here we fell in love with the coffee. Norwegians drink a lot of coffee and have a wide variety of beans, flavors etc. Norway is also home to some of the world’s best, most innovative coffee experts, brewers and World Barista Champions.
We took our cups and sat in the sun outside. There was some kind of event happening here and there were pink decorations all around. There were loads of families enjoying around and we realized that Norwegians are really friendly people. We then walked around the Karl Johans gate, the main street in central Oslo, and saw many of the local important buildings such as the Parliament, the National Gallery, the Royal Palace etc.
Oslo was quite a surprise as it’s unlike any other city I have been in. Despite being a city it gives you an impression of a big cool town with loads of open and green spaces, no high rises and a beautiful mix of old and new architecture.
We kept randomly walking and reached an old part of the city. There was a huge old cemetery alongside which were early Oslo wooden houses. This was one of the most beautiful lanes we saw in Oslo with its own unique character and atmosphere. The houses were really old but colorful and beautifully maintained. There was also beautiful detailing around its windows, doors or some old relics in the courtyards. There were no tourists around and we loved having the whole place to ourselves.
Walking down this lane we came to a park and decided to walk through it. We had just entered it when we heard a funny sound and decided to investigate what it was. And imagine our surprise when it turned out to be a quite a sizeable waterfall. Here again we met a bunch a really friendly free huggers and got many free hugs.
We spent some time just sitting around and enjoying the greenery and solitude. But after a while we realized that we had not had lunch and were quite hungry. So we decided to walk towards the town hall to eat at a vegetarian restaurant.
Walking back we noticed that there are loads of electrical charging stations all around for electrical cars. And street lights hang in the centre of the streets.
We had lunch at The Fragrance of the Heart at Fritjof Nansens Plass (at town hall plaza) and recommend it to all Indians and vegetarians. We had the salad and lentil soup of the day. The food was really healthy, filling, a little spicy (not bland) and super yum.
We then walked to one of my favorite places in Oslo, Akershus Castle and Fortress, a medieval castle originally built to protect the city. It houses the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and Norway’s Resistance Museum, a historic church and is still used as a Norwegian Military Headquarters. However when we visited everything was closed. But we loved we walking around and enjoyed the nice quiet area and the beautiful views of the city from the ramparts.
It was nearing the end of the day by now and after an all-night flight (the previous night) I was quite tired. Hence we decided to go back to the hotel but on the walk back we saw many public art installations all around and in the later days realized that this is common across Norwegian cities.
In my limited time here, I missed many of the must see and do’s but will definitely visit again to see them especially some of its famous museums and the Vigiland Sculpture Park.
Tips for the trip –
1. Oslo is an expensive city, so budget accordingly. Eating out is the most expensive part, hence consider booking an accommodation with a kitchen and cook at least one meal.
2. There are two train options for taking a train from Oslo airport to the city – Flytoget and NSB but I recommend you take the NSB. Flytoget, takes 19 minutes and costs NOK 180 each way. Whereas Norges Statsbaner (NSB), takes 23 minutes and costs NOK 92 each way.
3. I love Use-it maps in Europe and they have a really good map with various options for Oslo too. You can download the same for your trip here.
4. If you are in Olso for a few days you can check out the Oslo Pass. This gets you free or discounted admission to many attractions all around the city, free walking tours, discounts on fjord cruises, bike tours and free rides on all public transport.