Five Favorite Things in Oslo

Being of Norwegian descent, visiting the land of my roots was a real treat for me.  After learning about my ancestors in Selbu, Norway and experiencing the midnight sun in Tromso, my final stop was the capital, Oslo.  This was where I really felt like I got a sense of the history of the country, in large part through the many museums I visited.  Here are a few of my favorite things I discovered in Oslo.

1.  Tregaarden’s Julehus in Drøbak


Inside the Julehus in Drobak.

Okay, this isn’t really in Oslo, but it’s an easy day trip, just 35 kilometers outside of the city.  I made it there easily by bus.  If you like Christmas – really, if you like Christmas decorations – the Julehus is for you.  I spent a couple hours perusing all of the handmade ornaments, dolls, stockings, candles and other decorations and when I left, my wallet was A LOT lighter. The house itself has an interesting history as well, having first been built in 1877 as a praying house.  It was sold and opened as the Julehus in 1988.

2.  Norwegian Folkemuseum


Stave church
Wooden stave church in the Norwegian Folkemuseum.

I was initially a bit skeptical of this outdoor museum, but it quickly won me over.  With a variety of actual buildings from throughout Norway, it really gave me a good feel for how Norwegians lived a hundred years ago.  I was able to explore several homes, a school house, a barn and a famous wooden stave church. The layout of the “museum” was organized by region and it felt very authentic as I walked along dirt paths to move from one area to the next – I easily could have imagined that the buildings were still in their original environment.

3.  Holmenkollen Ski Jump


Holmenkollen ski jump
Holmenkollen Ski Jump

Again, not technically in Oslo, but a big highlight for me nonetheless.  I am a huge sports fan and have always followed the Olympics closely, so it was a thrill to actually climb to the top of the ski jump that was used in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.  The ski jump stands 60 meters tall and, if you head to the top on a clear day, you can see for miles around Oslo and the Oslofjord (unfortunately, I got a cloudy day and even got caught in a downpour while I was there!).  After climbing the ski jump towers, you can head back down and visit the Ski Museum – the oldest in the world.


4.  Vigeland Park


Vigeland Park
The Monolith in Vigeland Park.

Oslo’s version of Central Park features over 200 bronze and granite sculptures by artist Gustav Vigeland.  The most interesting and most popular is the Monolith – a massive column of intertwined bodies standing at the highest point of the park.  Surrounding the Monolith are 36 sculptures with more entangled figures – designed to convey a “Circle of Life” message. Covering eighty acres, the sculpture park is a great place to relax, take a slow stroll, and enjoy an interesting outdoor art museum.


5.  Kon-Tiki Museum


Kon-Tiki Museum
One of Thor Heyerdahl’s boats in the Kon-Tiki Museum.

This museum, devoted to Thor Heyerdahl, is one of several museums located on the Bygdøy Peninsula (the Folkemuseum is also there).  To be honest, I didn’t know much about Heyerdahl and his reed boat expeditions and I definitely didn’t recall that he was the first to lead archaeological excavations in the Galapagos Islands and on Easter Island.  Nonetheless, it was fascinating to see firsthand the original vessels he took across oceans and statues found on Easter Island. Of all of the museums on Bygdøy Peninsula, I probably learned the most at the Kon-Tiki Museum.


Have you been to Oslo?  What did you enjoy the most?


14 thoughts on “Five Favorite Things in Oslo”

  1. I was never interested in traveling to Norway until we had an exchange student last year who was from there. He had celiac disease too. When we started looking at the history and culture of the country, it went on my ‘to see’ list. One of these days I’d like to take his mom up on the offer to come visit. Loved your virtual tour.

  2. Hi Katie,

    What time of year did you go to Norway? The weather looks awesome when you were there and I was wondering if you went in Summer or not? I’d love to do a Scandinavia trip someday and will definitely use your tips 🙂

    1. I went the last 2 weeks of May. I got a fair amount of sunshine, but it was still chilly (in the 50s or so). The days were pretty long – in Oslo I think it stayed light out until around 11 p.m. or later and much further north, in Tromso, the sun really didn’t go all the way down (I have a picture from leaving a bar at 2:30 a.m. and it was still light out!).

      I highly recommend going around May 17 so you can experience Constitution Day – their big national holiday. It was incredible.

  3. Holmenkollen is actually in Oslo, technically or otherwise. Glad you enjoyed yourself here.

    1. Oops, my bad! For some reason when I was there, I was under the impression it was in a nearby suburb or just on the outskirts.

  4. Wow! That wooden church looks amazing! I wonder how it is able to last through the tough Norwegian winters…. Did they say anything about that?

  5. Is there anyone from MN that isn’t of Scandinavian descent? I spent the winter of 2005 attending Moorhead Uni and everyone I met has some Scandinavian ancestry.

    Anyway, great piece on Oslo – I just got back Copenhagen and even though it is expensive compared to other European countries the happiness and quality of life the people enjoy is second to none.

    1. Nope, we’re pretty much all Scandinavian. 🙂

      Haven’t made it to Copenhagen yet, but it’s on my list. I think all of Scandinavia is pretty pricey – Norway definitely was!

    1. Definitely do! Try to get over to the coast too (Bergen, Trondheim, etc.). It’s gorgeous!

        1. Maybe I’ll do a Five Favorite Things for Bergen at some point – that’s where I started & ended my trip. Very cute town & some good hiking in the surrounding area. Only downside is it rains a lot there!

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