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Calm waters at sunrise at Aker Brygge. (Photograph by Vladislav Karapanov, My Shot)

Oslo…From Under An Umbrella

Most people associate Norway with boats, water, and stunning nature. But when I visited Oslo for two days in July, the rain just wouldn’t stop pouring down. And so, since I had forgotten my raincoat, I decided to scrap plans to visit the beautiful Oslo Fjord region and explore the city center instead.

Here’s what Norway’s capital city has to offer on a rainy summer’s day:


Bearing in mind that Norway can be costly, I picked a small but very affordable and eco-friendly three-star hotel, the Carlton Oslo Hotel Guldsmeden.

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Aker Brygge, with Onda to the right and City Hall in the background. (Photograph by Hanna Snarberg)

This centrally located hotel’s commitment to the environment can be seen in every little detail (the shampoo, soap, and body lotion they provide guests is 100% natural and their delicious breakfast buffet is organic and mostly local). And, due to its central location on Parkveien, it makes for a convenient base camp for exploring the Royal Palace and the famous cafe and restaurant area around Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen.


You simply must see Edvard Munch‘s most famous work, “The Scream” (a pastel version recently was sold for a record-setting $120 million at auction) at the Munch Museum. Also don’t miss the Historical Museum, the Viking Ship Museum, the small but very informative museum about world-renowned Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and the Mini Bottle Gallery where you can see the world’s biggest collection (53,000) of miniature bottles. Trust me, it’s cool.

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The "Angry Boy" of Vigeland Park. (Photograph by Jorgen Tharaldsen, My Shot)

If a park full of sculptures doesn’t sound exciting to you, you haven’t been here yet. This is a one-of-a-kind, fun, creative place to spend the day getting inspired and culturally enriched by Gustav Vigeland‘s hundreds of sculptures in bronze, granite, and iron. Don’t miss the “Angry Boy” (“Sinnataggen“), and the 14-meter-high monolithic column consisting of 121 human figures.

Learn more about the laureates who have been awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, and see their impressive bodies of work on display. The center is currently hosting a unique dual exhibition, “In Afghanistan,” featuring the work of prize-winning photographers Lynsey Addario (a contributing photographer for National Geographic) and the late Tim Hetherington. See the exhibition that has attracted record turn outs until September 2, 2012.

You’ll agree that this charming part of the city is tailor-made for strolling around at a leisurely pace. Make sure to check out the picturesque areas around Birkelunden and Olaf Ryes Plass. And don’t forget to stop in for a coffee or a glass of wine to take a break from ducking into shops. The Fru Hagen cafe is well worth a visit. Find it on Thorvald Meyersgate 40.

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Fru Hagen cafe in Grünerløkka. (Photograph by Hanna Snarberg)

Eating out

If seafood rules in Oslo, salmon is the master of ceremonies. Served in many forms — tartare, smoked, pan-fried, grilled — it’s offered on almost every menu you’ll encounter in this port city. In the Aker Brygge area there are several restaurants with breathtaking views of the Oslo Fjord: gourmet eatery Onda, Solsidan or Lofoten, just to name a few. But wherever you decide to eat, make sure to try the salmon!

Hanna Snarberg (a Swede) and her partner, Alex (a Ruskie), share their wanderlust on their travel blog, Sam and the Dunes (“Sam” is their lovable pooch).