My second full day in Oslo was all about the outskirts. Oslo may be Norway’s biggest city, but comparatively to the rest of the world it is quite small! As our first 24 hours in Oslo were very full with seeing every major sight, I was looking forward to some more unusual and hard to reach attractions on the second day. Luckily I had my lovely friend Kristina, who grew up in Oslo, to show me around, and drive!
Our first stop of the day was Holmenkollen, a famous all steel ski jump up in the mountains/forest area of northern Oslo. The views are good and we even tested the ski jump simulator! I think I will stick to simulators rather than the real thing.
Spoiler but I think this was one of my absolute favorite things we saw in Oslo. It’s super under the radar and I never would’ve heard of it without Kristina – basically, in the middle of Oslo there is this little colony of tiny cottages surrounded by gardens. They are only open in the warmer months (water is turned off in winter) and mostly belong to older Norwegians. This is partially because the wait list is so long that people are older by the time they get a cottage – Kristina’s uncle was on the wait list for 40 years!! Anyway, it’s a very quaint and cute garden colony, in the middle of Norway’s biggest city, and so fun to wander through.
Not that far from Oslo’s garden colony is the park called Songnsvann – surrounded by forest and field with the view of the lake and distant mountains it doesn’t much feel like you’re still in Oslo! There is a path around the lake that all Oslo high schoolers must run (very quickly) to pass gym…as you may imagine Kristina’s memories of it were not fond so we opted for the field path that leads back toward the city. On the way we ran into some chefs picking herbs on the side of the path. In Oslo, I repeat! Only in Norway.
Bygdøy is a little peninsula on the western side of Oslo’s bay into the fjord. It’s full of great beaches (including a nudist beach we accidentally happened upon…), huge houses, some top museums such as the folk museum and Viking ship museum, and another of the king’s houses and his farm! It’s a quite posh area of Oslo that the residents have tried to make private – to no avail. Visitors and residents of Oslo continue to trickle in, especially during the summer months to have barbecues on the beaches or swim! Luckily, there’s a bus that goes straight to the Bygdøy beach from central Oslo.
Oscarshall is a castle actually on Bygdøy, but deserves its own bullet point 1) because it’s isolated from the rest of Bygdøy and 2) because it’s so dang beautiful!! Oscarshall is Norway’s greatest piece of neo-gothic architecture with absolutely beautiful grounds, views of Oslo, and mid 1800’s art. The website lists a price for entry…but we literally just happened upon Oscarshall after walking through the woods along the shoreline and didn’t have to pay a penny. It was pretty empty, secluded, and peaceful, and we sat by the fountains overlooking Oslo to eat lunch. A few staff walked by us but nobody asked us to pay, and we didn’t have to pay at the exit, so it seems that maybe you just have to pay for the guided tour!
This is a beautiful road along the coast leading out the east side of Oslo. We drove up the coastal hills, with lots of stops along the way for viewpoints! It’s great if you have a car, as you get a bit out of the busy city, and the views of the fjord are unbelievable.
This is a cute little park on Oslo’s west side that we spent some time wandering. It’s not as big as Bygdoy but it’s a bit more remote – there is swimming and hiking and lots of beaches to relax on!
After our day driving around the outskirts of Oslo, I said goodbye to my wonderful tour guide, Kristina, and boarded the overnight train to Stavanger…more on Stavanger soon!
I had a great time in Oslo, though. It’s definitely an underrated European city and even though Norway is one of Europe’s most expensive cities, I hardly spent any money other than food! Have you ever been to Oslo? What are your recommendations?
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