What’s Doing in Oslo

Norway, as seen from the air.

By Jonathan Spira on 6 July 2016
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Oslo, one of the smallest yet most expensive capitals in Europe with a population of 650,000, welcomes visitors with 900 years of history and with a number of new museums and structures.

Located at the end of a beautiful fjord, Oslo is the largest city in Norway and has served as the nation’s capital since the dissolution of the union with Denmark in 1814. While the city has history going back 900 years (the Norse sagas tell us that Oslo was founded around 1049 by King Harald Hardråde), it has only been called Oslo in modern times since 1925 after having been renamed in 1624, following a fire that completely destroyed it, Christiania after King Christian IV.

The city is surrounded by green hills and mountains, and there are 40 islands and 343 lakes within the city limits. Oslo residents are very proud of their drinking water, which largely comes from Maridalsvannet, the largest lake in the city.

Visitors at the National Gallery in Oslo

Visitors at the National Gallery in Oslo

Thanks to its northern latitude, Oslo enjoys over 18 hours of daylight in midsummer – indeed it never gets completely dark at night – to a mere six hours of daylight in midwinter. Summers are cool, with highs in the high 60s F (roughly 20° C) while winters are moderate, with lows averaging around 20° F (-6.6° C).


Oslo is a wonderful city to walk around in and boasts of an excellent public transportation system as well, with efficient streetcars and subways. The Oslo Pass (335 kroner or $39.57 for 24 hours) includes travel on all public transportation, free parking in municipal car parks, entry to over 30 museums, free walking tours, and more.

Start with the stunning Oslo Opera House, which opened in 2008, situated at the head of the Oslofjord across from the city’s Central Station, or Oslo sentralstasjon, where you’ll find visitors are invited to walk on its beautiful marble-covered roof. Designed by Snohetta, the hot Norwegian and U.S. architectural firm, it’s become a draw for visitors as well as an adult playground. Watch hundreds of locals and tourists scramble across the gently sloped roof to the plaza-like top, join them and take in the unique views of the city from the roof or simply sit down on the cool marble and relax. In addition to opera, the facility hosts a variety of outdoor plays, concerts, and other events and is a major part of the city’s waterfront.

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