London Stansted to OsloOne of the fastest-growing cities in Europe, Oslo is the proud capital of Norway. Built on a fjord, Oslo is surrounded by green hills, and numbers no less than 40 islands within its municipal boundaries. Though most non-Norwegians probably think of it as barren and snowbound, in fact Oslo has a remarkably versatile climate, with summer temperatures often climbing to 35 degrees centigrade.
Capital of the country since 1300, Oslo was a significant town long before then: in the year 2000, it celebrated its millennium. Razed to the ground by a disastrous fire in 1624, the city was rebuilt and given the name Christiania, which it retained until the 20th century. The 19th century was a time of cultural activity in Norway, with the great dramatist Henrik Ibsen and the painter Edvard Munch both creatively busy in Oslo at that time.
Visitors to the city can benefit from the purchase of the Oslo Card, available from tourist information offices for either a 24, 48 or 72-hour period. The card entitles holders to free travel on public transport and free admission to many tourist attractions.
There are two airlines which operate flights from London Stansted to Oslo: Ryanair fly into Oslo Torp Airport, around 125km (80 miles) from the centre of Oslo, while Norwegian Air Shuttle fly to Oslo Gardermoen Airport, 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.
Oslo Gardermoen to the city centre: An express train service runs every 10 minutes from the airport to Oslo city centre. The journey takes about 20 minutes. SAS run a bus service from the airport to Oslo bus terminal and various city centre hotels. The buses run every 20 minutes and take around 40 minutes.
Oslo Torp to the city centre: An express bus service runs in connection with Ryanair flights. The journey time is about 2 hours. Alternatively there are trains into Oslo city centre from Sandefjord railway station which can be reached by either taxi or bus. For more information and timetables visit www.nsb.no/.
Places of interest in Oslo include:
- National Art Gallery. The gallery houses a large collection of Norwegian paintings, with Munch being given pride of place. Other European artists such as Monet, Gaugin and Picasso are also represented.
- Vigelandpark (also known as Frognerpark). This is a beautiful green space, with attractive restaurants and a very popular open-air swimming pool. The park is named after the outstanding Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland - nearly 200 of his life-sized statues line the central walkway. Next to the park is the Vigelund Museum.
- Akershus. On high ground beside the city’s fjord rises the castle that has dominated Oslo’s skyline since the 1300’s. The castle’s grounds offer fantastic views over Oslo and are the location for numerous summer concerts and theatrical productions. Akerhus also houses the Resistance Museum which provides detailed accounts of Norway’s struggle against German occupation during the Second World War.
- Viking Ship Museum. Norway’s long love affair with the sea is celebrated in this museum which houses three Viking ships, each more than 1100 years old. It was by means of these remarkable vessels that the earliest Norwegians conquered lands as far away as France and Italy – and may well have reached America!