It’s a familiar situation: You’re travelling somewhere new, hoping to take home as many impressions as possible. You can see yourself strolling down urban streets until you find that perfect little café with a table outside where you can sit for hours and watch people walk by. But when you check the weather forecast... rain.
But don’t despair; if your destination is Oslo then we have great news for you. As the capital of a country that is covered in ice and snow for large parts of the year, it should come as no surprise that the Norwegians are experts in using their cities no matter the weather. Here we present to you our top tips on how to stay dry on a rainy day while still seeing the best of Oslo, from cultural experiences to journeys back in time.
Get nautical at Bygdøy
In the Oslo Fjord east of the Oslo city center is the Bygdøy peninsula, a quaint neighbourhood and home to some of the city’s most popular museums. The Fram Museum tells the story of the wooden ship Fram and its expeditions that still hold the records for sailing both the farthest north and the farthest south. No matter the weather, many an hour can be spent inside the museum learning about Fram’s trips to the Arctic and Antarctic in the early 1900’s.
Next to the Fram Museum is the Kon-Tiki Museum, dedicated to the great Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who crossed the Pacific Ocean on his balsawood raft called the Kon-Tiki in 1947. Here you can see the raft up close and also discover many other of Thor’s numerous expeditions.
For three much older marine vessels, head over to the Viking Ship Museum, also on Bygdøy, to view the worlds best preserved Viking ship, the Gokstad, and two other ancient ships. A whole day can be spent in the museum learning about the Vikings while marvelling at the 1200-year old vessels that were dug out over a hundred years ago.
World-class musical experiences
Fans of classical music and jazz planning a visit to Oslo should check out the program for Oslo Concert Hall, as there’s a chance you can score tickets to a word class music experience. The venue is one of Norway’s top arenas for national and international music, hosting some of the world’s finest musicians. The concert hall is also home to the renowned Oslo Philharmonic symphony orchestra, and if you’re lucky you might get to hear them perform a world famous classical piece. Stay only 10 minutes away from Oslo Concert Hall at the stylish and modern Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel to enjoy great views from one of the 22 floors.
If you’re a fan of Norwegian pop music (A-ha anyone?) a visit to Popsenteret is a must. Stroll down the historical pop walk and learn about Norwegian music and pop culture from the past century in an interactive way that is great for both kids and adults. There’s a fun bonus included in the entrance fee, which is a chance to create your own hit song in the recording studio, and download it from home later!
Your dose of art and photography
At a prime location on the Tjuvholmen peninsula in central Oslo sits the Astrup Fearnley Museum, home to a collection of modern and contemporary art. The distinctive museum building, designed by Renzo Piano, is worth the visit alone. In the permanent collection and rotating exhibitions you can find works by Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons among many other internationally renowned artists.
If modern art doesn’t float your boat then maybe photography does. Fotogalleriet promotes contemporary camera-based work through rotating exhibitions, with a focus on up-and-coming artists. In the gallery bookstore you can find many interesting self-published photo books that would spruce up any coffee table.
Lastly, no visit to Oslo would be complete without visiting the Vigeland Museum of the famous sculptor Gustav Vigeland, one of the most important people in Norwegian art history. The museum was his former studio, built for him by the city council after agreeing that the studio would become a museum to host his works after his death. On a rainy day we recommend you bring a rain jacket and walk from the museum to the impressive Vigeland sculpture park, which is the world’s largest sculpture park created by one single artist.
Going back in history
Everyone visiting Oslo with a knack for history should plan a visit to Ullensaker Museum (Norwegian Only) at Gardermoen, where you can experience 250 years of military history. Through the exhibition Shots in the dark – what happened in the Trandum woods you can learn about what happened in the nearby Trandum Forest during WWII, where several hundred Norwegian, Russian and British prisoners were executed and buried. Today the area is a war memorial for those who lost their lives, and Ullensaker Museum organizes guided tours for those interested. Contact them on Facebook for more information in English.
Stay at the Radisson Blu Airport Hotel in Gardermoen for accommodation near Ullensaker Museum, and with excellent connections to Oslo city with Flytoget Airport Express train. Also check out our list of attractions for your Gardermoen stopover for more places to visit in the area.
Wining, dining & a game of flipper
There is a Norwegian expression that says “uten mat og drikke, duger helten ikke” which, when translated into English means “without food and drink, the hero won’t last.” Sayings tend to be true, so we recommend that you plot in some food breaks through the day. You’ll find that Oslo lacks nothing when it comes to restaurants and cafés. Head over to Mathallen by the Aker River for a wealth of dining options under one roof. Here you’ll find everything from Asian tapas to local seafood, Basque delicacies, French goods, Japanese bento, and even a champagneria, just to make things easy for you.
For a quirky experience, visit Tilt in Torggata 16 who specialises in flipper machines and arcade games. Apart from fun & games, their ambition is to have the largest selection of beer from Norwegian microbreweries, so this place should have you all set!
If you’re looking to try some traditional Norwegian dishes, you might as well do it at Restaurant 34 while enjoying the best views of the city from the 34th floor at Oslo Plaza. From the menu you can select dishes made from the freshest local ingredients, and if that wasn’t enough, they also do a special lobster menu paired with champagne. If the thought of soaring views of the city and the Oslo fjord tempts you, then book your stay at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, based in the same skyscraper.
As you might have understood by now, Oslo is a city with gazillion things to do, rain or shine. If you should want to brave the rain, then remember that according to the Norwegians “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær” – There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So read our blog post about the highlights of Oslo city center, grab your umbrella and your all-weather-jacket and go.