My visit to Oslo and Bergen was in summer 2014 in June which is the best season. Sunshine is available until 10 pm and even 11 pm it is not completely dark yet. I could enjoy the day outside very comfortable. Norway is very expensive for me, more expensive than US or Tokyo, 2x the price at least, or similar to Switzerland. A bottle of water costed me about US$5 at any convenient store, and a hot dog and small size soft drink set costed me US$10 at Seven Eleven store. A meal at a restaurant for dinner costed me around US$50 at minimum. However, I could not resist the Scandinavia nature such as the fjords, waterfalls and mountains and was eager to see it once. I spent about 3 days in Oslo for my trip which my schedule permitted me beside other destinations in Norway. When I was there, it was during the world cup soccer game in 2014 and every bar was crowded at night for watching the soccer games.
Museum is a must go on my list in every country. The National Gallery is just located on the sidewalk of Karl Johans Gate, the main street for shopping and dinning. National Gallery is founded in 1837, and houses Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. The museum emphasis on art from Norway. Beside Norwegian art, works by international painters and sculptors are also displayed. My main attractions was Edvard Munch’s The Scream and Madonna. Other Munch’s famous work like Moonlight, Ashes, Self Portrait with Cigarette, Puberty are displayed too. The National Gallery and Munch museum holds different versions of those 2 famous paintings. Edward Munch was a well known Norwegian artist born in 1863, You can take pictures in the Royal Gallery except in the section of the Edward Munch. I visited there on Sunday and the admission is free on Sun so check again the website to see if it is still free. A few painting of Picasso are also displayed there.
Beside the National Gallery, I visited the Munch museum also which is about few stations from main station Oslo. Edvard Munch (1863-1944 ) was one of Modernism’s most significant artists. and made his debut in the 1880s. Large of collections of his work were donated to Oslo city after he passed away. Today the Munch Museum houses more than half of Edvard Munch’s paintings, ( originally ~1100 pairings ) and most of print motifs. Two other versions of the “Scream” paintings are displayed there ( 1910 version and 1893 patel version ) and the also one version of the famous Madonna painting. The scream chocolate cake served in the cafe was yummy. Check out the cake and the paintings in the gallery page.
Oslo City Hall
The city hall has lot of wall paintings to see and is built in 1931. To me, it is not just a government office but more like a museum of art and painting also. It is free to visit and free guided tour is available also. There are paintings in every single meeting room on the ceiling or the wall. BTW, the Nobel Peace prize ceremony is also taken place there, and US president Obama was there as you can see in the pictures inside the city hall.
The Akershus Fortress is just in the city center next to the Oslo City Hall. It is free to walk within the premises of the Fortress. I can enjoy the good view of the sea front , city view, and the pier from the premises. There is a nice open terrace cafe just below the fortress where I can enjoy the view with my coffee. The Nobel museum was just a few minutes away from the fortress.
Here is a short introduction from the Akershus Fortress website. Akershus Fortress consists of two parts – the inner and outer fortress.
Akershus Castle is the most important building in the inner fortress. The buildings is dated back to the Middle Ages, but were developed in many different stages before the whole site was restored in the 20th century. Both the medieval fortress and the Renaissance castle can be seen, which is representative of 17th century architecture. In the inner fortress area, there are also several buildings dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries, including several buildings that were originally used as depot buildings, but that have been converted and now house an educational centre, as well as buildings that originally served as a prison and prison church. The inner fortress is surrounded by a bastion fortress with outworks, which was mostly planned by Steenwinckel and on which building work started in 1592.
In the outer fortress there are fortifications and buildings from the second half of the 18th century and the 19th century. There is a drill ground, school buildings, the Commandant’s Quarters and arsenal buildings. Today, the buildings also house government offices and the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum.
I also visited the Royal Palace. It is located at the end of the Karl Johans Gate, and no personal walk-in is allowed and only thru guided tour the Palace can be visited. The tour can be booked at any convenient stores in advance and purchase the ticket there. If schedule is tight, you may want to check out availability at the earliest possible. Picture is not allowed inside but outside in the garden is fine. The Royal Palace was built as a residence for King Carl Johan from 1827. On 26 July 1849 it was formally inaugurated in the presence of the whole Royal Family. Enjoy the view of Karl Johans Gate from the Palace which is uphill.
Vigeland Sculpture Park
It is a park with lots of sculptures. According to the park info, Vigeland Park is the world’s largest sculpture park created from 1 single artist. The park consists of Gustav Vigeland’s lifework with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron. The design and architectural layout of the park is also from Vigeland himself. The park was completed between 1939 and 1949. I walked there from the Royal Palace, like 1 hour or less and I am able to see the Norwegian family houses and residential area on my way. I prefer walking than buses as I can discover more local shops on the way, like interior design shops, florist, grocery, etc. Of course I got lost but I was able to find my way by asking the local which was very friendly for help. The bronze statue of the little Angry Boy, Wheel of Life, Monolith are among the most famous sculptures in the park. Be sure to allow about 1-2 hours there. Too much to see in the park. It is quite hugh and lots lots of sculptures in the park to check out. The Angry Boy’s hand is gold due to the touching by tourists and the bronze is faded.
Fram Museum displays the Polar Ship Fram and the detail history of exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic region by the Norwegians explorers. Fram is the strongest wooden ship ever built for sailing farthest north and farthest south of the earth. You can board the ship in the museum and feel the lives of the sailors during the exploration. I found the Fram museum is more interesting than the Viking ship museum. The history of Arctic and Antarctic explorations is well explained and you can feel the challenges the team faced. Dog Sledge was the transportation the exploration teams used to reach the farther north.
Travel tips for Norway
As travel in Norway is quite expensive, I found a few ways to save and reduce some cost of transportation and food.
- Always buy bus ticket in advance in convenient stores. Purchase ticket directly on the bus will cost more ~20% extra than in advance.
- Find a supermarket and stock snack or drink/water as much as you as buying them at stations or covenient stores will cost more
- Consider getting the Norway Railway Pass if you visit other destinations such as Bergen, Trondheim, etc. It may save transportation cost if multiple cities are visited.