Off the Beaten Path in Oslo

Kid Friendly, Things to Do, What's New — By Anne-Sophie Redisch on August 5, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Many people come to Norway to experience nature at its best and Oslo is no exception. The Oslo Fjord is in the city, the forest and hills are never more than 15 minutes away.

The spots below offer much more than natural beauty and are good examples of nature intersecting with culture. Yet, they don’t seem to be on the tourist radar.

1. Hovedøya

Tourists in Oslo usually see the major sights in or near the city centre. Some venture out in the forest and some even take a sailing excursion on the Oslo Fjord. Oddly, many visitors aren’t aware of the Oslo Fjord islands. But the locals know: the islands are a paradise for anyone who love frolicking on the beach and in the waves on a hot Norwegian summer day (and no, that’s not an oxymoron).

At Hovedøya you get much more than sun and sand. The island is a protected wildlife reserve, which means you can’t pick the rare flowers or disturb the birds. The free-roaming sheep and goats don’t mind being touched, though. Also, playing among the ruins of the 12th century Cistercian monastery is a hands-on – and fun – lesson in medieval history.

Who wouldn’t like it? Anyone who dislikes the outdoors.

2. The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum complex – consisting of two museums (the Geological Museum and the Zoological Museum) – is not on everyone’s list of things to see and do in Oslo. Until last year, at least. In May 2009, Ida was introduced to the world and she has quickly become a favourite among local kids of all ages. 47 million years old, Ida is the world’s oldest fossil primate, the one linking us all together. She’s your great great great … grandma. And mine.

Who wouldn’t like it? Die-hard creationists.

3. The Botanical Gardens

The Natural History Museum is surrounded by the Botanical Gardens. From 1814, this is an urban oasis in the busy Tøyen neighbourhood. Some of the old plants kept alive here are no longer available commercially.

Who wouldn’t like it? Anyone with severe grass and flower allergies.

4. Medieval Oslo

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of a major highway system is Medieval Oslo. Somewhat overshadowed by the new (admittedly fabulous) Oslo Opera House, the 1000-year-old ruins are a bit anonymous. Quite exciting, though, to walk where Vikings once lived.

Once a year, during a weekend in June, the area comes alive during the Medieval Festival.

Who wouldn’t like it? Hm… tough one. People who don’t like rambling among ruins.

5. Ekeberg

Above Medieval Oslo loom the Ekeberg hills. Just a short tram ride from the city centre, Ekeberg seem to evade visitors, yet is a fave among locals. This is another spot where nature meets culture. Whether you prefer a vigorous bike ride up the steep hills or just a leisurely amble, do stop and have a look at the 5000-year-old Stone Age rock carvings along the way.

Who wouldn’t like it? Again, it would have to be anyone allergic – one way or another – to being outdoors.

See more hidden gems in this Oslo off the beaten path guide.

Do you have other Oslo favourites? Let us know in the comments below :)

Photo credits: d0ppler, Anne-Sophie Ofrim, kong niffe, Anne-Sophie Ofrim and Lars T, all on flickr’s Creative Commons

Tags: Botanisal Gardens, Ekeberg, gems, Hovedøya, Ida, Kid Friendly, Medieval Oslo, Natural History Museum, Norway, off the beaten path, Oslo, primate fossil, Scandinavia

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