72 Hours In Oslo

24 Jul

Oslo Fjord

Oslo Fjord

Perhaps it’s not the first city that pops to mind when contemplating the next vacation spot. Even within Scandinavia, I’d suppose its neighbors to the south and east likely elicit more interest for one reason or another. I myself had previously checked off those aforementioned references (see my entry on Stockholm) prior to making my way to Oslo. Well, I recently spent several glorious days in this capital city and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Here are some highlights.

Getting there: Arrival is at Oslo’s main airport, OSL. Flying direct from North America out of EWR, on the regions’s flagship carrier SAS, is possible or seamless connections via European hubs, London via British Airways or Amsterdam via KLM and their respective code share partners American and Delta, respectively, are possible as well.
After clearing customs and Immigration in OSL, getting into town is fairly easy and straightforward. Your best bet is the Airport Express train which deposits you right at Oslo Central Station. The cost is roughly 30 USD (as of this writing).

Clarion Hotel

Clarion Hotel

Getting settled: Check in to your hotel at Clarion Collection Hotel Folketeateret. This hotel is right in the middle of town and very easily accessible from Oslo Central Station, an easy 5-10 minute walk. This particular Clarion (be mindful there are several locations in the city) is also a stone’s throw from lots of dinning, shopping, nightlife, and other points of interest. See my review. Alternatively, if something more in the luxury category is desirable, you may consider the top hotel in town (TripAdvisor) uber-trendy, The Thief, just off popular Akers Brygee and flanked by the beautifully designed Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art.

Day 1: Descend from your room to the breakfast hall at the Clarion for a truly spectacular spread of mouthwatering delights. The buffet features a wide range of continental selections plus much more. It’s quite an impressive offering and comes complimentary with your reservation.

Breakfast at Clarion

Breakfast at Clarion

After breakfast, the first thing I would recommend doing is securing an Oslo Pass. It offers excellent value, giving you free access to lots of sights and public transportation, plus discounts at some of the area restaurants.
Oslo Pass in hand, head out to the main pier at Rådhusplassen (Town Hall Square) which is within easy walking distance from the hotel. As you make your way out, note popular thoroughfare Karl Johannes Gate just blocks away from the square. Hop on the Fjord Sightseeing Cruise (Discount with Oslo Pass) at the embarking station right there at Pier 3 where most departures commence.The scenic trip, depending on your route of choice, covers a wide range of the city’s monuments and Fjords. I recommend the Classic Cruise (two hour duration) covering Akershus Fortress, Opera House and several Fjords with charming summer houses.
Beverage break at Lekter'n

Beverage break at Lekter’n

Once you’re back on land, you may want to break for a beverage and snack or some lunch. Lekter’n right on Aker Brygee is a decent spot to grab drinks and take in the picturesque surroundings or, for more meal options, most of the restaurants riming the Aker Brygee offer a lunch menu. Louise Restaurant and Bar is a solid choice. Once you’re properly nourished, proceed south to the beautifully Renzo Piano designed Astrup Fearnley Museum of Mordern Art (Free admission with Oslo Pass). It’s a remarkable piece of architectural genius that brilliantly adds to the picturesque landscape. Some of the museum’s collections include works by Jens Johannssen, American, Jeff Koons and British Pop art painter, David Hockney.
Astrup  Fearnley Museum

Astrup Fearnley Museum

Perhaps you’ve had enough for the day but if you’re still in form and ready for another must-see in the area, I suggest heading to nearby Akershus Castle and Fortress (Free access to the castle with your Oslo Pass). This historically significant complex dating back to the 1300s but made popular during the reign of Danish-Norwegian monarch, Christian IV (1588-1648) transports the explorer back to a time when the courts of the aforementioned monarchy held residence here. Prior to your exploration, I recommend securing one of the pre-recorded audio guides from the staff at the castle shop as you make your way in. It’s worth it and does not cost extra. As you proceed through, take note of the lower level crypt, The Royal Mausoleum, where past monarchs are interred, The Castle Church and The Hall of Christian IV.
Akershus Castle

Akershus Castle

You’re likely just about spent for the day as fatigue’s probably set in at this point. Head back to your hotel and grab a quick nap or, power through by ascending to the rooftop terrace at the Clarion for pre-dinner cocktails. Alternatively, make your way out to Etoile at the Grand Hotel where you can enjoy your beverage on their terrace with excellent views of Karl Johannes Gate. From there make your way to Café Christiania for dinner. It is a solid bet and just across the square. Afterward, cap off the evening at one of the many bars/pubs in the area.
Cafe Christiania

Cafe Christiania

Day 2: You’ve had a healthy helping of breakfast at the terrific buffet at the Clarion and you’re now ready to head off on the day’s adventures. Make your way to the Nobel Peace Center right at the corner of Rådhusplassen (Town Hall Square). Free admission with your Oslo Pass. The museum’s quite fascinating and well worth exploring. Included (with admission) are English language tours conducted at noon and 3PM but do check their website or call ahead for the latest information. The main level typically features temporary exhibits (for instance, Be Democracy, about the impact of Social Media on democracy through November 23, 2014), while the upper level features more permanent ones like the The Nobel Field, commonly referred to as the heart of The Nobel Peace Center. This hall houses the current and past recipients of the award (known as laureates). Don’t miss the establishment’s most popular Laureate, Martin Luther King Jr. who celebrates his 50th anniversary this year.

2009 Laureate, President Obama

2009 Laureate, President Obama

When you’re through, head further afield to The National Gallery which displays works by native, Edvard Munch and others by Norwegian and mostly European artists. Don’t miss Munch’s famous work, The Scream, on display here.
Next up, perhaps after a break, pick your way back through to Karl Johannes Gate and make the trek all the way to the top of the street. Here you’ll arrive at the Royal Palace and its surrounding grounds. Spend some time exploring the vicinity and if interested pick up a ticket ahead of time (at the nearby 7-Eleven) to gain entry into the palace during one of their scheduled guided tours. Please check ahead of time for the latest schedule.
Dinner at Fru K @The Thief

Dinner at Fru K @The Thief

As dusk nears head back to your hotel to freshen up and then plan on cocktails at uber-hip The Thief, at their rooftop bar. If you happen to be popping by over the weekend, don’t miss their Rooftop Sessions featuring the groovy sounds of DJ Dan Bravo and others, live. Libations sorted and you’re ready to eat, descend the elevators to Fru K, the onsite restaurant, for scrumptious fare. The restaurant’s got a chic ambiance but is decidedly relaxed, plus that staff’s quite friendly. Cap off the evening there or if you’ve got plenty of stamina to spare, head back towards your hotel and party the night away at popular trendy spot, Stratos, on the 12th floor of the Folketeateret building (same complex as the Clarion). Gay and Lesbian travelers: It’s not an overly simmering nightlife locale though popular longstanding establishments, London Pub and So (Lesbian) are decent spots for a pleasurable night out.

Vigeland Park

Vigeland Park

Day 3: It’s a day to soak up the sun in the park. Hopefully you’re traveling in the summer when the temperatures can be quite pleasant. Head to Vigeland Park (Tram 11 or 19 to Majorstuen or Tram 12 to Vigelandsparken). This is expansive ground featuring over 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland (1869 – 1943). Also check out the nearby museum (Free admission with your Oslo Pass) once you’ve had your fill of the park.
Afterward, break for lunch at popular Jacob Aall Brasserie and Bar. The Majorstuen location sits just at the top of the street Bogstadsveien close to the Majorstuen metro/tram stop and a very short walk from the park. Once lunch is sorted, get back on the tram, or if you’re feeling particularly athletic, walk back to Rådhusplassen. Hop on the ferry (91) to Viking Ship Museum. Both transfer and admission to museum is free with your Oslo Pass. The museum houses truly remarkable pieces of Norwegian history, salvaged Viking ship wreckages: The Oseberg , Gokstad and Tune, dating over a thousand years old.
You’re likely through sightseeing for the day. Head back to the hotel, rest up, and then head out to Oslo’s bohemian or likely dubbed by some, hipster, neighborhood, Grunerlokka. For an alternative to traditional Norwegian/Scandinavian fare, grab a seat at neighborhood hotspot, Delicatessen which serves up tasty cocktails and Spanish tapas with tons of charm and personality. It’s a lovely spot to end the evening.

All told, a remarkable experience and city. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and I cannot wait to return.

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2 Responses to “72 Hours In Oslo”

  1. Keisha July 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Nice!!!! I want to pack my bags and go!!

    • yappingwithyomi July 31, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

      Thank you, Keisha. Hope you get to. It’s really a delightful city.

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