Oslo, Norway

Oslo’s neighbourhoods curve around the hip harbourside of the Oslofjord inlet, and stretch out to the Christmas-card-come-to-life forest of Marka. The ‘City of Tigers’ reputation (a title bestowed by country-bred poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, who thought the city dangerous) for fund depletion and frosty weather rings true. The abundant shopping will drain your pockets, but the chill hasn’t slowed the emerging café culture in futuristic developments such as Aker Brygge. And pounding the pavement via main attractions – City Hall Square, the Royal Palace, main-street Karl Johans Gate, the Nobel Peace Centre and Akershus Fortress (all easily reached on foot) – will keep you warm. There’s a multitude of museums, the Sydney Harbour-rivalling opera house and the strange sculptures of Vigelandsparken to take in too; however, the best thing about this chic metropolis is how easy it is to escape it. Take a train to Holmenkollen’s famed ski jump, a torch-lit river walk along Akerselva or go trekking and mountain biking in the forested hills for a perfect, weekend destination for town and country mice alike.

When to go

You don't go to Oslo to top up your tan, but it’s far from grim up north. May to August are the months of the midnight sun, festivals such as Grannittrock (30–31 August, www.granittrock.no) and Norwegian Wood (13–16 June, www.norwegianwood.no). and Aker Brygge’s beach. Pack an emergency parka for cold snaps. Winter sports are best from September to February, but some tourist attractions close during these daylight-starved months, so pack some hardy outerwear and prepare for polar chills and long nights.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Oslo Lufthavn Gardermoen (www.osl.no), lies north of Oslo, a 40-minute drive from the centre.
  • Trains

    Oslo Central Station is where the express train from the airport (www.flytoget.no) terminates. From there you can travel on to the National Theatre stop to sightsee or get off and head to Jernbanetorget metro stop and explore the city using the extensive underground lines (http://ruter.no/en).
  • Automobiles

    It’s possible to drive round Oslo, but the city is conveniently compact for pedestrians and parking can be expensive, it’s best to save your wheels for exploring the mountain passes and rural routes beyond city limits and pick up a handy Oslo Pass (www.visitoslo.com) instead. This gives you free city transport (by metro, train or bus) for one to three days and free entry to some museums and attractions.