Oslo is really a treat and a great place to visit with children. A long weekend in the middle of summer is the ideal time to get a good look at the whole city and get to some of its great museums and attractions. Oslo might not be top of the list for shopping and great places to eat but it makes up for it with museums and attractions. Many of the museums and sites are engaging for both adults and children of all ages and there are great little spots for some downtime and swimming.
Oslo isn’t going to be top on your list for shopping. They don’t have as many of the stylish design shops as places like Denmark and Finland but they have a few worth a look. The Danish-based Scandinavian chain Illums Bolighus is probably the best. They carry brands from all over Scandinavia – check the basement level for the best selection.
The best souvenir shop is the Norway Shop on the backside of the Oslo Cathedral on the way to the train station. They seem to have a wider selection than other stores (even of the same name) and carry a wide range of Scandinavian brands.
There is so much to do in Oslo. You can access most things either by walking or public transport. It is a simple trip from town to the Bygdøy Peninsula with no changes required.
The Bygdøy Peninsula has a few great museums that you can visit in one day. The Viking Ship Museum houses three Viking era burial ships that were found as part of archaeological finds from Tune, Gokstad, Oseberg and the Borre mound cemetery. It is small but fascinating and definitely worth a stop off on the way to some of the other attraction on the peninsula.
If you have older children with you the Fram Museum is a great place to visit. It has a history of polar expeditions and includes the world´s strongest wooden ship, the polar ship Fram, which you can go inside and explore all the nooks and crannies. Don’t forget to walk through the polar room! Across the road is the Kon-Tiki Museum which has the original balsa wood Kon-Tiki inside along with a fascinating history of Thor Heyerdahl’s exploring exploits. Again a great museum for kids.
If you are travelling with younger children the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History is a great place to visit. Once again it is also on the Bygdøy Peninsula and easy to get to by bus. The museum focuses on the time period from 1500 until the present time and has both outdoor and indoor exhibitions.
I don’t think a trip to Oslo would be complete without a visit to the Nobel Peace Center. It has an exhibition dedicated to the current Nobel Peace Prize Laureates that obviously changes yearly. There is also information on how the Nobel Peace Prize came into being and the low down on all the past recipients.
If you are in Oslo in the summer you can’t not visit the saltwater pools. There are two close to town – the Sørenga pools and the Tjuvholmen City Beach. The most popular seems to be the Sørenga pools that is open to the public all year round. In winter cold water swimming and then jumping in the sauna is a popular activity. Even in summer, the water is pretty chilly!
We recommend staying around the train station area. It is close to everything including public transport to get to the outer areas including the Bygdøy Peninsula if you want to visit some of the museums out there. Scandic Hotels are basic, clean and easy but can be a little tight for a whole family if it is more than a night or two.
Rachel Nelson is a New Zealand expat who has lived and worked in the US, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the UAE, Qatar and Germany.