Norway See And Do
Tel: 47 22 93 60 60
Behind the huge steel doors of this bi-level space, you'll find subdued concrete walls, barren sandstone floors, and unembellished steel-and-smoked-wood stairways. In other words, there's nothing to detract from the art displayed. And with good reason: The museum's excellent postwar collection includes works by Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Felix Gonzales-Torres, and Jeff Koons. If you speak the native tongue, guided tours are available in Norwegian every Sunday at 1 pm; otherwise a tour in English can be booked for $165 (call at least three days in advance). Admission is free.
Open Tuesdays through Fridays 11 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 11 am to 7 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 12 to 5 pm.
25 Edvard Munchsgate
Tel: 47 33 08 21 31
In 1897, Edvard Munch bought this quaint fisherman's cottage in the seaside village of Aasgårdstrand to use as both home and studio. The restless bohemian artist inhabited many places during his life, but noted in his diary that this was "the only pleasant house that I have lived in." Today, Munch's former studio has been renovated and is used as a gallery for a number of his works, including Girls on the Jetty, The Dance of Life, Melancholy, and The Fairy Tale Forest.
Open Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to 6 pm May through September; Tuesdays through Sundays 11 am to 6 pm June through August.
Only 20 minutes from Oslo's city center, Holmenkollen is an outdoor-sports mecca with downhill skiing, snowboarding, cycling, fishing, hiking, and miles of magnificent cross-country trails in and around the Marka Forest. The main attraction, however, isn't natural: It's the 197-foot ski jump. Visitors come year-round to explore the ski museum, experience the sensation of hurtling down and off the ramp in the ski simulator, and take in the spectacular view from the jump's tower. That stunning vista, of the city and the fjord, can also be had from a table at the Holmenkollen Restaurant (119 Holmenkollenveien; 47-22-13-92-00; www.holmenkollen-restaurant.oslo.no).
Note: The Holmenkollen ski jump will be torn down in summer 2008 and replaced by a new launch in time for the World Championship tryouts in 2010.
When the weather gets hot in July and August, rent a car and escape to this Oslofjords island for sunning and swimming with the locals. Once inhabited by monks, Hovedøya is home to the ruins of a 12th-century Cistercian monastery, which burned down in 1532. In summertime, you might catch a medieval music performance beside the ruins. Be sure to take a leisurely walk inland to see the abundance of rare plants and flowers in this protected area; the flora includes mountain clover, wind flower, and blackthorn and barberry bushes.
Tel: 47 23 49 35 00
Upon his death in 1944, Edvard Munch left his remaining artwork to the city of Oslo, and this museum was built in 1963 to house his 1,100 paintings, 4,500 drawings, and 18,000 prints. The collection includes all of Munch's most famous paintings, including The Scream, Vampire, Madonna, and The Sick Child, as well as woodcuts, lithographs, and photographs. The gift shop offers all the Munch souvenirs you could imagine—from alarm clocks and bars of soap emblazoned with The Scream to cuff links featuring the Madonna motif. In July and August, public guided tours are held in English daily at 1 pm; private tours can be arranged by calling 47-23-49-35-00 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open Tuesdays through Fridays 10 am to 4 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to 5 pm, September through May; daily 10 am to 6 pm June through August.
Tel: 47 48 30 10 00
Just around the corner from the Rådhus (city hall) where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year, the Nobel Peace Center offers info on Peace Laureates and their work as well as fascinating temporary exhibitions that shed light on world conditions. The first floor is home to the revolving installations, like a group of photos showing refugees from around the world. Head upstairs to view the permanent exhibitions, including a walk-through display of the past Nobel Peace Prize winners' contributions to humanity. The gift shop, on your way out, is stocked with books on globalization topics and by Nobel winners, as well as fair-trade jewelry. And few visitors know that just a short stroll away you can pop into the Rådhus to see the elaborately painted room where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year.—Terry Ward
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 am to 6 pm September 1 to May 16. Open daily 10 am to 6 pm May 18 to August 31.
1 Kirsten Flagstads Plass
Tel: 47 21 42 21 00
When Oslo's new opera house opened in 2008 at the edge of the fjord, just a short walk from the city center, the city finally had a new landmark. And the design accolades have not stopped pouring in for Snøhetta, the Norwegian architects behind the space. Angular with stark silvery and white surfaces and the cold blue glow of glass reflecting the midnight or low-winter sun, the opera house was meant to conjure the country's stark icescapes and fjords. Guided tours are offered in English on weekends, and they take you backstage and into some of the performance halls. But if you want to save your kroner, you can still wander into the main entry halls most anytime to enjoy the structure's beautiful bones free of charge and pause for a meal at Sanguine Brasserie, in the atrium, or the more formal restaurant Argent (good for pre- or post-theater). Performances here range from the massive and mainstream (The Nutcracker) to offbeat small-troupe ballets and diverse folk shows from India. During the summer months, crowds set up picnics on the Opera House's sloping rooftop to enjoy free outdoor concerts.—Terry Ward
Tel: 47 23 35 68 90
For a boat ride that's both practical and scenic, take this traditional wooden schooner for stops at popular Oslo sites including the Opera House, City Hall, and the museums peninsula called Bygdøy. There are a few tables inside, but even in the winter chill most passengers opt to sit outside to watch the sights along the Oslo Fjord pass by (there are piles of fleece blankets as well as hot chocolate and coffee from the bar to keep you toasty). A recorded voice shares info about the fjord's bird and marine life and points out the sights, including the small, rocky islands dotted with simple wooden shacks painted in bright colors where many an Oslo city dweller escapes to during the summer months. The entire loop through this end of the fjord takes an hour and a half. Tickets are good for a 24-hour period, though, so you can use the scenic ride to hop between the museums, city center, and opera house throughout the day.—Terry Ward
Open daily 9:45 am to 3:45 pm. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
32 Nobels Gate
Tel: 47 23 49 37 00
A dusting of snow on bronze makes for as appealing a visual feast as a full blast of summer sun on marble at Oslo's most celebrated park. Opened in 1949, the garden is home to more than 200 works by Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland. You could easily spend hours with your head cocked in admiration, taking in the precision of the works spread across 80 acres. But most visitors beeline it to The Monolith at the highest point in the park. Wrought from a single piece of granite, Vigeland's most famed work depicts 121 entwined figures reaching skyward. The sculpture park is part of the larger Frogner Park, one of Oslo's prettiest green spaces. It's particularly appealing to visit here during the extended daylight of the summer months, when families and friends gather for sunbathing, picnics, and impromptu acoustic concerts seemingly every hour of the day.—Terry Ward
35 Huk Aveny
Tel: 47 22 13 52 80
The highlights of this streamlined museum include three Viking ships, at once graceful and fierce, that once stormed the seas but were later used as burial ships for chieftains and prominent women. Artifacts found in the burial plots—or at least those that weren't pilfered by grave robbers—are also on display. Nearby, there are a number of cafés, a cluster of beaches, and other museums, such as the the Norwegian Folk Museum (10 Museumsveien; 47-22-12-37-00; www.norskfolkemuseum.no), the Maritime Museum (37 Bygdøynesveien; 47-24-11-41-50; www.norsk-sjofartsmuseum.no), and the Fram Museum, with boats and artifacts from the polar explorers (36 Bygdøynesveien; 47-23-28-29-50; www.fram.museum.no/en).
Open daily 11 am to 4 pm October through April; 9 am to 6 pm May through September.