Oslo is without question the cosmopolitan hub of Norwegian activity and likewise synonymous with Viking heritage, Nordic skiing, cod and salmon. Packed to the brim with museums and cultural attractions, it dazzles with daytime energy and buzzes with a pulsing nightlife. If your cruise ship makes a call on the city consider yourself fortunate, but if you have the time to schedule an extended pre or post cruise interlude you will have hit the jackpot.
For the DIY traveler, Visit Norway is an ingenious tool box for planning an engaging itinerary with a treasure trove of information on activities, museums as well as dining alternatives.
Museums of Oslo
Passionate lovers of art will find painted paradise in the National Gallery and Munch Museum and if your appetite is whet by sculpted art, feast your eyes on priceless creations in the Vigeland Museum and view over 200 of the master’s finest sculptures in his namesake park, a tribute to his revered genius.
The grandeur of Norwegian royalty is evidenced by the Royal Palace and the country’s love of the arts is on full display at the National Theater and the geometrical designed National Opera and Ballet complex. An educational primer on Norwegian history can be found in the Historical Museum and the Viking Ship Museum.
Across the bay and near the main train station is the nomadic art project of SALT. This bohemian venue features street food vendors, bars, musical concerts and craft shops and houses one of the world’s largest saunas proffering an opportunity to fully immerse in the warmth of Norway’s personality.
The Viking Planet
For a truly interactive experience a visit to the newly opened The Viking Planet is a must. This engrossing, high tech attraction utilizes the latest advances in VR with 4D chairs that virtually transport you back one thousand years aboard a Viking longship. Cinematic storytelling is creatively captured in the immersive Sagascope, 270 degree theater and for futuristic fantasy, human size holograms come to life in the Hologram Theater. In the Selfie Zone, visitors can project and integrate themselves into a Viking battle or choose other authentic backgrounds for immediate Facebook or Instagram gratification.
One tip to declutter travel logistics is to purchase an Oslo Pass. These passes help to facilitate the experience with free unlimited public transportation, free entry to 30 museums, discounts on sightseeing and leisure activities, as well as special offers in select restaurants.
The Telemark Canal
It’s easy to put Oslo aside for a few days, flee the city and delve into the unspoiled serenity of the Norwegian countryside. The Scandinavian travel experts at 50 Degrees North offer a nostalgic journey aboard a duo of vintage vessel on the historic Telemark Canal.
Fueled and rejuvenated by a hearty breakfast, step aboard the “queen of the canal”, the M/S Victoria for the first segment of the day’s cruise. She has cruised the Telemark since her construction in 1882 and competently treats guests to a morning of majestic cruising through placid lakes, narrow canals and a series of fascinating locks. Mid-day, guests are transferred to the MS Henrik Ibsen for the afternoon segment of the cruise.
This historic vessel built in 1907 was completely refurbished in 2010 yet retains the ambiance of the canal’s glory days. Working in tandem, both vessels sail the Telemark region on memorable journeys through one of the world’s most beautiful and unspoiled inland waterways, a slice of Norwegian paradise carved out of rock over 100 years ago. In the late afternoon after weaving through forested fjords, the day’s journey culminates at the historic Dalen Hotel.
Originally built as a luxury hotel for the rich and famous in 1894, the property has been meticulously preserved offering an authentic glimpse into its richly deserved legacy. The seclusion, the fairytale architecture, period furnishings and countrified hospitality work together to cast a spell of pure magic. Following dinner in the hotel’s beautifully adorned dining room, choosing to unwind in the privacy and warmth of the new Soria Moria Sauna, ideally positioned directly on the adjacent lake, caps off a perfect day. Before returning to Oslo, spending an additional day in Dalen provides hiking or bicycling opportunities, fishing in the lake or simply relaxing with an engrossing book in the hotel’s manicured gardens.
Norway offers superb cruise itineraries but scheduling extra time for Oslo and off the radar points inland is a wise investment of your holiday time. The entire Telemark experience is one of those best kept secrets you only hear about from locals. Obviously, it’s far too beautiful to keep to themselves. It’s that good!