Situated deep in the Oslo fjord and surrounded by gentle hills, this beautiful city greets you like an old friend.  Despite the cold and dark winters, the warm nature of Norwegians and cozy cafes in this quiet town will make you come back for more. Summers are fun with sidewalk cafes and parks filled with people who love to see the sun shine. Whether watching the boats at the pier or visiting one of the several museums, you will create fond memories for the future. Oslo is a big city with a small town atmosphere.  Vigeland’s statue park, Munch’s museum and the Folk Museum at Bygdoy will give you a generous taste of Norwegian way of life (past and present) not only in Oslo but for the rest of Norway. But you must venture to the hills and deep forests to truly appreciate the natural beauty of the surrounding areas of the city, and enjoy the extraordinarily long days of summer.

Official webpage here.

Oslo is the capital of Norway and home to most national institutions, as well as a range of major business firms. The city is also the transport hub for Norway, many travellers will pass through the city or the airport en route to other parts of Norway (all rail lines converge at Oslo central station). Oslo is also the population centre of Norway with a core of 600.000 inhabitants plus at least 500.000 in greater Oslo. About 1/3 of Norway's population live on the shores of the great Oslofjord, whereas the Oslofjord region plus its hinterland (eastern valleys) is home to about 50% of Norway's populations. Oslo is an increasingly cosmopolitan city with a significant proportion of the population originating from other parts of Norway and all parts of the world. 

Although greater Oslo is unmatched by other Norwegian cities today, it was not until the 19th century that Oslo overtook Bergen as the largest and most important city. Oslo then grew rapidly  leaving large parts of central Oslo with a 19th century face. The heavy industry that once dominated the city has largely been replaced by services, public administration and big business management.

After the devastating fire in 1624, king Christian ordered that a new city should be built behind the protecting Akershus fortress, while the old site was largely abandoned. To avoid future fires houses within the new city borders should be in brick or stone (unlike other cities in Norway, Oslo now has only isolated pockets of wooden houses). Streets were built generously wide. According to the style of the time, streets are straight and orthogonal producing regular blocks. Because of this characteristic grid plan, the area of old Christiania is called "Kvadraturen" (the square area).

In some ways, Oslo is not really typical for Norway: Its ever increasing size (complete with metro, traffic jams, complex road systems, long-distance commuting), monumental masonry buildings, highrises in the central business district, well-kept parks, cosmopolitan feel and wide selection of art institutions, entertainment, restaurants and bars; hills are gentle and the fjord is not spectacular. In other ways, Oslo is also typical for the Norwegian experience: Being close to water, forrest and hills; monumental buildings and high-rises are modest; the calmness and safety of a small-town.

Sightseeing highlights (culture/history/architecture):