In December I caught a flight to Norway’s capital city with two friends for a Christmas getaway. We flew from Stansted (£50 return!!) and arrived on the Friday evening then flew out again on Sunday afternoon. This gave us 48 hours to explore Oslo and it was pretty action packed.
I do enjoy visiting cold countries in Winter, especially around December when everything feels very Christmassy and festive. Oslo was no exception with plenty of lights, trees and markets to explore. If you’re looking to visit Oslo as a Christmas destination then read on for 7 ways to have a truly festive weekend. Most (but maybe not the first one…) can also be enjoyed all year round!
1. Winter Wonderland at Spikersuppa
Winter Wonderland is Oslo’s most central Christmas market located on Karl Johans Gate between the Norwegian parliament and The Royal Palace. Once we’d dropped our bags on Friday evening this is where we headed for a warming hot chocolate and a look at the market stalls. This is the busiest Christmas market and the most popular ice rink as well, but unfortunately the rain was very heavy and nobody was able to skate this evening.
Top Tip: You will probably not be surprised to hear that Oslo is an expensive city to visit! For food on a budget we visited Peppes Pizza for dinner (there are two in the city centre). A large pizza for three of us was around £20.
2. Climb the Oslo Opera House
Oslo’s Opera House is home to the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet who invite you to walk on the roof of the building. Seems unusual? But this incredible building was designed to resemble a glacier and visitors can climb up the roof for panoramic views of Oslo from the top!
Completed in 2007, the building is a stunning example of modern contemporary architecture. It’s situated on the banks of the Oslofjord and is also amazing to see from the water on a trip out into the Oslofjord (see number 4).
Top Tip: For an alternative night out, Salt is an art project on the banks of the Oslo fjord, you can spot it by its large pyramid structures. These house various art exhibitions, music gigs and..saunas! We may not have gone for a sauna session but we had a unique evening listening to some great music that we stumbled upon here! Check out their website to see what events are coming up
3. Learn about Oslo’s history at Akershus Fortress
This medieval fortress is built perched above Oslo, overlooking Aker Brygge. It’s a great place to get clued up on Oslo’s history with a number of museums dotted across the area.
4. Take a boat trip onto the Oslofjord
Oslo is situated at the Northern end of the Oslofjord and a trip out onto the fjord is a beautiful way to see the city! Admittedly, if we thought that wondering through the city was cold, a cruise on the fjord was absolutely freezing. Make sure you wrap up warm if you do plan to take a boat ride and treat yourself to hot chocolate on board!
A boat ride with Oslo Fjord Sightseeing took us along the coast of Oslo and then between several islands in the fjord where many Oslo residents have Summer huts. In December, the bathing huts were quite abandoned (unsurprising) but you can imagine how busy and noisy it could be in Summer!
Look out for the forest which Edvard Munch was walking in when he had the inspiration to paint The Scream. Did you know that Oslo’s fjord features in the painting?
5. Walk through history at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History on Bygdøy peninsula
If you take a boat tour with Oslo Fjord Sightseeing then you will be able to leave the boat at the Bygdøy peninsula which is home to a number of museums that you can explore. For a thoroughly Christmas afternoon we went to the Norwegian museum of Cultural History (around 15 minutes walk from the dock) as we were in Oslo the weekend they had their annual Christmas fair!
Keep warm because this is an open air museum with over one hundred different buildings from throughout Norway’s history. The pinnacle is the beautifully medieval gothic Gol Stave church.
For the Christmas fair, there were stalls dotted all across the museum and was perfect for picking up Norwegian gifts for family, from honey to Christmas tree decorations! If you visit Oslo when the Christmas Fair is on then make sure to add it to your list!
Top Tip: Take the number 30 bus back into Oslo city centre from the museums.
6. Visit Oslo’s prettiest street
Walking down Damstredet is like walking into a fairytale. This beautiful street will transport you back to the early 1800s with cobble stones, coloured wooden houses and even dustbins that look like milk churns!
Damstredet looks like it could be in the middle of country village but it is really just a ten minute walk from the National Gallery! Make sure to walk its whole length from top to bottom (even if it is a steep slope) to capture every angle.
7. Enjoy Østbanehallen and find the Oslo tiger
On your way back to the airport make one final stop before you board the train. Østbanehallen is a food court in Oslo Central Station that is the oldest part of the station but was reopened in 2015 to provide a trendy place to grab a bite to eat!
Look out for the tiger statue that stands guard outside the entrance to the station. The tiger was gifted to Oslo in 2000 when it celebrated its 1000th anniversary. The reason for a tiger? Oslo is also known as ‘The Tiger City’ due to a poem written by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. Who knew?!
There is so much to do in Oslo and we didn’t get a chance to fit it all in unfortunately! Next time, I would love to visit:
- The Vigeland Sculpture Park
- The National Gallery
- Holmenkollbakken ski jump tower
We had a great time visiting Oslo. Would you have a festive break there?