Earlier this month I went to Norway for a little holiday. But before you ask about the famous western fjords, I’ll admit that I didn’t visit them. Did your jaw just drop? I know, I know. But on this particular trip our limited time prevented us from making the journey. Don’t worry, it’s OK. Whatever you do, don’t feel bad for us because we still had a great time without the famous fjords.
How did we end up in Oslo?
It all started when we booked a Color Line kurzkreuzfahrt (German for “short cruise”) that departed from Kiel, Germany. We’d heard from a few people that this popular route was fast, affordable and scenic. Sounded perfect. So we decided to give it a try and brought along a friend (hi Justin!).
I’m happy to report that the boat exceeded all expectations and had all the bells & whistles. The amenities were abundant and included seven restaurants, a waterpark, casino, pub, tax-free shopping and a variety show. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget the large top-floor deck where you could sip cocktails and watch Danish islands float by.
The itinerary we’d planned was pretty simple. Spend 20 hours aboard the mid-sized cruise ship and wake up the next morning in the Norwegian capital. Stay another 2 nights in the city centre and then return home on the same boat.
Enjoying the natural side of Oslo
Since this was my first trip to a Scandinavian city, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Oslo. Would it be like a typical large European capital? Or would it be different in some unexpected way?
First, let’s talk about the nature. You remember that I’m from Canada, right? I like to think that I know a thing or two about mountains, lakes and natural beauty. So when I tell you that Oslo is a stunner, you should believe me. It’s clear that the locals have a passion for green spaces, parks and spending time outdoors. And who could blame them? Between the water, the trees and the adorable islands of Lindøya and Hovedøya, I couldn’t stop taking photos. And since I haven’t finished editing yet I can only cross my fingers that I’ve captured that tranquility.
…but in the event I didn’t, I’d be happy to go back and try again! Honestly, I could stare into the Oslofjord for hours just watching the boats and birds go by.
Music, museums, modern architecture – oh my!
I was happy to learn that there’s more to Oslo than just the pretty landscapes.
No doubt you’ve heard that it’s also an eco-friendly centre where the second happiest people in the world live.
But did you also know that it’s a great city for live music? Take a random visit we made to the Sosialen Bistro one a Friday night. We’d barely sipped our beer before an energetic 70’s cover band took the stage and brought the house down. No joke, they were amazing.
And it’s not just about the nightlife.
It’s also a city bursting with unique museums dedicated to bizarre historical events. For example, you can visit one about viking burials where entire ships were used as burial tombs. This was an eye-opener for me as I’d only ever heard of Norse funerals involving a pyre, arrows and fire. See? Education is fun.
And don’t forget about the cutting-edge contemporary architecture that dots the city. From an Opera House designed to look like an iceberg to experimental high rises resembling barcodes – Oslo has it all. So take your time to wander around and see how your perspective can change.
Beyond the famous fjords
There’s plenty to keep a visitor busy beyond the famous fjords. So if you’re planning a visit to Norway, consider extending your stay in Oslo. Challenge yourself to see what else the city has to offer. And if you’re looking for more ideas, the folks over at First Living Magazine have a few thoughts.
I’m happy that Oslo / Norway was our introduction into Scandinavia because it set the bar nice and high. Denmark, Sweden and Finland: you’re officially on notice.