Osloâa city in the countryside. If that sounds confusing, consider that Oslo is one of Europeâs largest capitals in terms of the area it covers (450 square kilometers/280 square miles), but with one of the smallest populations (1.5 million). So, when you get sick of the excellent galleries, cafes, bars and shops, itâs easy to hop on a bicycle or train, into a yacht or kayak, or onto skis or ice skates and venture into the great outdoorsâall without leaving the city limits.
Day 1: Oslo by Land
Oslo was founded around 1048, burnt to the ground in 1624 and was rebuilt as Christiania. It became Oslo again in 1925, and these days it is a wonderful mix of old and new architecture and culture. This is the city that inspired playwright Henrik Ibsen (have coffee at Grand CafÃ© where he sipped), and Edvard Munch, painter of the famous The Scream (in the National Gallery). Begin your stay by getting a feel for this diverse and cultural city on a sightseeing tour taking in Viking history, folk museums and art galleries, including the wonderful Vigeland Sculpture Park.
Day 2: Oslo by Sea
The city is situated at the head of the Oslofjordânot actually a fjord but so beautiful you will forgive it. Take a boat tour and marvel at the gorgeous scenery â islands, inlets, and the ancient Akershus fortress that once protected the city. If you want to combine sea and land, take the boat/bus tour which includes the maritime museum, although the Vikings are long gone. And if time is of the essence and you want to get a look at everythingâfjords, museums, Kon-Tiki Raft and the Holemnkollen Ski Jumpâgo for the Oslo experience: city, fjord, and countryside all in one go.
Day 3: Oslo in Detail
Modern-day Oslo has plenty to offer if you have time to just wander and take in the sights. Climb aboard a hop-on hop-off bus tour and explore the cafes and shops of this cosmopolitan, if expensive, city. Get into the Viking mindset at the Viking Ship Museum, see Norwayâs most famous painter at the Munch Museum, and remember world-honored achievements at the Nobel Peace Centre. The Oslo Pass gets you into 33 museums and attractions around town for free plus lots of other discounts. In the evening, take a relaxing cruise on a traditional wooden ship as the sun sets.