Fjords of Norway
I must first correct a geographical error that cruisers might make. Some of the passengers on our ship were very disappointed in Oslo, but only because they had not looked at a map of Norway or done their homework before sailing! If you are on a Baltic cruise that ports only in Oslo, do not expect to see the gorgeous deep fjords carved into the coastline that Norway is so famous for. Those fjords are on the western coast of Norway near Bergen. Many "fjord" cruises only sail the western coastline. If seeing these spectacular fjords is a "must" for you, be sure to check your cruise ship's itinerary to make sure it includes Bergen or other western Norwegian cities. Oslo does sit on the Oslofjord, which extends for about 70 miles from the North Sea to the city of Oslo, Norway.
Oslo is in the southeast corner of the country, and your ship will sail up the 70-mile-long Oslofjord for a few hours to reach Oslo. However, since there are no mountains in the area, the fjord is scenic, but not cragged and deep like in Western Norway. The Oslofjord reminded me of one of the large man-made freshwater lakes home in Georgia. It was relatively narrow, with lots of small islands dotted with cottages. Hills surround the fjord, but they are not cragged or very high.
Oslo is a modern city with touches of medieval history. The city is 1000 years old, but has been rebuilt several times because of numerous fires. Oslo was last destroyed by fire in 1824, but some remnants of ancient times remain. The city is full of parks, museums, churches and other beautiful places. It is also heavily forested, making it quite attractive to those of us who love the outdoors. Oslo is very spacious, and its 175 square mile area makes it one of the largest capital cities in the world. Cruise passengers with a day in Oslo can see much of the city on foot or take a city tour. One word of warning--Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, so if you decide to dine ashore, check the prices first!
When you are touring the city, here are some of the stops that should be included.
- The Holmenkollen Ski Jump towers over the city. The Lookout Tower near Holmenkollen offers beautiful views of Oslo and the surrounding countryside.
- The Rådhuset (City Hall) is a twin-towered, red brick building that evokes strong opinions. People either love the architecture and decor or hate it. The Rådhuset has a wonderful series of murals and wood carvings from Henrik Sørenson and Edvard Munch.
- Vigelandsparken (Vigeland Sculpture Park or Frogner Park) has over 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland scattered throughout the 75-acre park. One of the world's largest scultures is The Monolith, a massive granite sculpture of 121 colossal human figures that towers over 50 feet high.
- Slottet, the Royal Palace, is surrounded by beautiful gardens. The changing of the guard takes place each day at 1:30 in the afternoon. Visitors can easily wander through the grounds since it is open to the public.
- Akershus Castle is across the street from the cruise ship pier. It is one of the oldest buildings in Oslo, having been constructed in 1300. Akershus has been both a fortress and a royal residence through the centuries. The castle was substantially rebuilt in 1527 by Christian IV, the Danish-Norwegian builder King. Inside the Akershus is the small Resistance Museum, dedicated to Norway's World War II resistance fighters.
A short ferry or bus ride from Oslo is the Bygdøy Peninsula, home of several museums dedicated to Vikings, explorers, and Norwegian life. Page 2 of this article takes you on a tour of three of these fascinating museums.
Page 2 > > Museums of the Vikings and Norwegian Explorers > >