I started my most recent adventure by flying into Oslo. I had never been to Scandinavia before although it had long been on my bucket list. Oslo seemed like a fantastic starting point to travel between Norway, Sweden and Denmark due to ease of transport and it has certainly lived up to this.
Oslo is an expensive city for fresh food, but as this is due to their weather climate and lack of many fresh produce items, this is somewhat understandable. It’s location on the port however does lend itself to terrific seafood, and there’s no denying the brilliance of freshly baked Norwegian bread.
It is one of those beautiful cities that doesn’t quite compare to anywhere else I’ve ever been. A rich Scandinavian history nestled between the stark contrast of lush fjordic greenery and an industrial revolution in progress makes Oslo a city that should be on every keen travellers to-see list.
If you’re unfortunately time-poor in Oslo, my plan would be as follows:
Breakfast at Little Prince
Do not judge a book by its cover with this delightful cafe only a short walk central station. While it may look like your regular bakery, their freshly baked rolls come literally overflowing with filling. If you’re game to try things the super sized Scandic way, try the rye roll with the prawns, egg, salmon two ways, hollandaise and lettuce. Huge in size and flavour, it’s guaranteed to keep you full until well after lunchtime.
Swing by Hansens Bakery to pick up a baked snack for later – You won’t be hungry at this stage but the store is conveniently located on the same street as Little Prince, hence the suggestion. Anywhere that serves brownie in entire cake form gets a culinary nod in my books! May I suggest the princess cake though, as a Scandinavian traditional sponge cake with authentic marzipan and lingonberry jam is something we seldom find back home.
Visit the Military Museum
A short walk away from breakfast, this is a fantastic free museum that covers Norway’s involvement in various world conflicts, from, medieval to modern day. Think plenty of costumes and weapons, plus a tank, an ambulance and even a UN helicopter from the 1960s.
Visit the Ashersus Fortress
Conveniently located next to the military museum, the fortress is also a free exhibition and provides some stunning views of the fjords from the battlements. Guided tours are available and the guards will even let you have a photo with them.
Visit the Nobel Peace Museum
Again located close by, the Nobel Peace Museum is a tribute to all the previous recipients of the prize, as well as to Nobel himself (a fascinating thought that the inventor of the Peace Prize was also the inventor of dynamite). One room serves as a photo exhibition for the current winner’s cause, while the remaining rooms offer interactive displays about previous recipients as well as the general history of the prize and various aspects of international conflict (from Israeli Palestine to the rift between Norway and Sweden).
Walk along the Akker Brygge
An old shipping company turned fashionable lunch area, the pier is the perfect place to shop and people watch over the afternoon. Some of the restaurants are exorbitantly priced here but there are also some hidden gems like salad bar. I also highly recommend the tasting plate at Louise Restaurant where you can try a selection of old-school Norwegian delicacies including salmon, reindeer and whale. If you’re going to join the locals and grab an ice cream, walk down to Paradiso and see what all the fuss is about (it’s delicious!).
Do a boat tour of the fjords
If you’re short on time but want to visit the fjords, what better way than by sailboat! A company by the pier offers 2 hour sailing cruises that take you around the fjords in a majestic 30ft sailboat, with sightseeing information in English along the way. You can purchase drinks on board if you think the stunning views deserve a toast, or you can choose the dinner time cruise and enjoy a Norwegian style prawn feast on the way.
Visit the palace
A pleasant walk from the Akker Brygge, the palace gardens are open to the public, and are the only ones in Europe to do so. Even without going into the palace for a tour, the gardens are beautiful and well worth a wander.
Dinner at Elias Sat and Mat
You may not be feeling quite so hungry at this stage, but I thoroughly recommend Elias Sat and Mat (which is only 600m from the palace). A modern take on traditional Norwegian food, you can try the likes of mussels in saffron sauce and reindeer stew, and they have a reputation for their delicious side of spinach bread. They also do traditional Norwegian dessert and I suggest trying the lingonberry mouse for something a little different.