Nestled between evergreen hills and a sweeping fjord, Oslo is a blend of Scandinavian nature and culture that’s unlike any other European capital.
This city is noticeably well-oiled; with a zippy transport system and pedestrian-friendly centre that make it easy to pack a smorgasbord of art, architecture, fresh seafood and Viking heritage into just a few days.
Central activities: Take the metro downtown to the National Theatre stop and you’ll see some noteworthy landmarks amid the fountains and flora. Look out for the Royal Palace, Norwegian Parliament, National Gallery of Norway and Museum of Cultural History.
The star of Oslo’s ‘Sentrum’ district is the fjord front. Lined with boutiques, yachts and gelato shops (stop at BellaBua for a dollop of liquorice icecream) the ‘Stranden’ promenade offers a hearty buggy walk ending at the Museum of Modern Art. This cultural hub is complimentary for under 18s and also has its own pebble beach.
More free fun can be found in Vigeland Park; a lush garden on Oslo’s west side that hosts the life’s work of it’s namesake, sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Focused on human variety (age, sex and emotion) the artist’s work will appeal to everyone. Look out for his grumpy toddler.
Don’t miss: Go between June and October 2013 to catch the 150-year celebration of ‘Scream’ painter Edvard Munch. Also make time to visit Oslo’s Opera House, the city’s architectural jewel.
Historic activities: Founded by Viking King Harald Hardrada in 1048, Oslo has emerged from the mists of time as a chic metropolis. Thankfully, there are still plenty of ways to dip into Norwegian history, starting with 800-year-old Akershus Fortress. Built as a castle, used as a prison and occupied by the Germans in WW2, Akerhus’s cobbled vantage holds a well of stories and a great view.
If, however, you want to fully embrace your inner-Viking it’s best to take a trip across the fjord. Oslo has many sea-faring options, including a swashbuckling pirate children’s cruise, but we made the economical choice and hopped on the Bygdoy ferry.
A gorgeous peninsula reminiscent of the Hamptons (think white wooden houses) Bygdoy is also home to the Folk Museum and Viking Ship Museum. Kids will particularly like the Folk Museum; its open-air park has reconstructed villages, period actors and livestock. Next door, the Viking Ship Museum is a must for history buffs; housing three excavated Viking ships.
Top tip: As mostly all of Oslo’s attractions have outdoor tables it’s easy to save money by packing a picnic, particularly for pricey Bygdoy. Oslo has lots of supermarkets to rustle up your own sandwich or pick one up at a deli, our favourite is Deli de Luca.
Travel time: A flight from London to Oslo takes 2 hours 10 minutes.
How to get there: Fly with British Airways from £112 return.
Best time to go: Visit in the summer months for pleasant temperatures and long hours of daylight.