A scenic tour of the Norwegian capital
Marisa Cannon wanders the Norwegian capital, taking in stunning architecture, historic hotels and sculpture-strewn parks
1 OSLO OPERA HOUSE Perched on the edge of Oslo’s waterfront, the opera house is one of the city’s most striking landmarks, and a good place to start a tour of the Norwegian capital. A fortress of gleaming white Carrara marble and polished glass, its harsh angles and geometric shape pay homage to the country’s landscape, resembling a craggy, snow-capped mountain or an iceberg floating on the Oslo Fjord.
Built in 2008 by local architectural firm Snohetta, a number of the building’s features were designed to encourage public interest in the arts, such as the floor-to-ceiling windows along its flanks, inviting you to peer in and watch set and costume production unfold. If you have time to spare, sign up to one of the 50-minute guided tours (kr 100/£9.60), or take a packed lunch to the rooftop for views across the water and surrounding islands. Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1; operaen.no/en
2 GRAND HOTEL OSLO A 15-minute walk westward will take you to the Grand hotel, the annual host of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize banquet, which has recently undergone a major renovation. Opened in 1874, the property was a regular haunt of playwright Henrik Ibsen, who was known to dine in its Grand Café every lunch and dinnertime.
This is where Oslo-ites go to be seen, either for lunch in the café or dusk cocktails at Eight, the chic rooftop bar on the eighth floor. Decked out with smart cushioned beds and sultry artwork, it offers finger food, local beer and a range of reinvented classic cocktails, alongside lovely views of the nearby Norwegian Storting parliament and National Theatre. Try the “Nor Way” for a twist on the negroni, made with aquavit
and local bitter digestif Marka, or the “Ginger Club” – an update on the Clover Club with raspberry liqueur and a raspberry spirit, both distilled in Norway. Karl Johans Gate 31; grand.no
3 NOBEL PEACE CENTRE A ten-minute stroll towards the waterfront will take you to the Nobel Peace Centre. While all other Nobel prizes are awarded in nearby Stockholm, the Peace Prize ceremony is held in Oslo. A tribute to this tradition is the Peace Centre, which charts the work and lives of former winners through a series of compelling exhibits.
At its heart is the story of the incumbent laureate Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, whose landmark peace deal with Farc armed rebels in 2016 ended a bloody 52-year war. Running until November 26, the “Hope Over Fear”photography exhibition shows the reality of the Colombian conflict, depicting soldiers working to clear areas of landmines, Colombian coca pickers and Farc members preparing to transition to normal life. Open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm during winter (daily in summer); kr 100 (£9.60). Brynjulf Bulls Plass 1; nobelpeacecenter.org 4 NORSK FOLKEMUSEUM From the pier opposite, take a ten-minute ferry ride (these run March to October) to Bygdoy, on the western edge of the peninsula. This is one of the city’s more well-heeled neighbourhoods, with wide-set American-style avenues and grand homes. A five-minute walk from the jetty is the Norwegian Folk Museum. Its indoor and outdoor collections show how people lived before the Industrial Revolution, featuring artefacts from Norway’s indigenous Sami people and reproductions of traditional 18thand 19th-century homes, with interiors furnished as they would have been at the time.
Exhibitions include “Queering Sapmi”, a photography project about LGBT identities among the Sami, on until October 15. Open weekdays 11am-3pm, weekends 11am-4pm from September 15 to May 14 (otherwise daily 10am-6pm); kr 130 (£12.50). Museumsveien 10; norskfolkemuseum.no
5 VIGELAND PARK Parks are an important part of Oslo’s landscape, and a number feature art installations by international and local artists. A ten-minute drive from the museum, in the north-eastern suburbs, is one of the most notable, Vigeland Park, which is the world’s largest sculpture park by a single artist.
Created by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland in the 1940s, the park encompasses 32 hectares of landscaped gardens and lakes, strewn with more than 200 granite, bronze and cast-iron sculptures of human figures, portraying different stages of life. The most arresting is a monolith of stone-carved bodies, knotted and clambering over one another, toward the pillar’s highest point. It’s an intense, even unsettling sight, but it makes for a stunning photo. Free entry; Nobels Gate 32; vigeland.museum.no