Destination Information - Oslo, Norway
Sandwiched between the sea and fjords on one side and mountains and forests on the other, Oslo is in many ways just what you'd expect from a Scandinavian city: remarkably clean with efficient public transport and friendly people.
There's much more to Oslo than just a wholesome atmosphere and fresh air, though. A fairly small conurbation, nonetheless Oslo offers a surprising array of museums and art galleries to compete with any international capital. One of the most impressive of these is the Munch Museum, an enormous collection of the Norwegian painter's work displayed in a large, open plan exhibition space. Equally outstanding and unique to Oslo is the Viking Ship Museum housing the most beautifully preserved wooden Viking ships in the world.
You don't have to spend your day in museums to enjoy the city, however. The historic city centre makes Oslo an ideal place for simply walking around and soaking up the atmosphere. In the summer especially, you'll find that Aker Brygge, the former dock now converted into a modern coastal promenade, draws hundreds of people to its shops, restaurants and bars. Across the bay, the medieval castle and its park offer a chunk of history combined with green open spaces and panoramic vistas over the Oslo fjord.
Founded in 1048 by King Harald Hardrada, Oslo was growing in strength until bubonic plague wiped out almost half the population in the 14th century. Copenhagen took over Norway's affairs for the ensuing two centuries, relinquishing the reins of power in 1624 to King Christian IV, who renamed the city Christiania. Unification with Sweden from 1814 to 1905 bolstered Norway's prominence and wealth and Christiania reverted to its original name of Oslo in 1925.
Surviving ups and downs during the early 20th century, Oslo has emerged as one of the wealthiest cities in the world, with a cosmopolitan populace and wide variety of entertainment from the culture of the National Theatre and National Gallery to the ski slopes of Holmenkollen and the trendy bar scene of Grünerløkka. Oslo is truly a city with something for everyone.