Coming to or from Northern Norway or the West country fjords, you’ll pass through Oslo airport Gardermoen – OSL. Very rough weather, strikes or Icelandic ash clouds may cause your onward flight to be delayed at OSL. What to do?
In the airport
OSL is a small airport, so has nothing like the veritable shopping malls of Singapore’s Changi or Amsterdam’s Schiphol. What OSL does offer is about 20 restaurants, cafes and bars, 15 – 20 shops (including Europe’s largest tax-free shop), 3 lounges, a silent room, a small but fun play area, 16 computer terminals, wifi, as well as some interesting details you may not spot at first glance.
Have a look at the stone floor: notice the golden writing? That’s poems or quotes – meant for reflection. Now look up a bit: along the walls, you’ll spot some odd… showers? The sound showers is another installation meant to offer respite from the hustle and bustle of the airport. Stand directly beneath one, close your eyes and listen to a baby laughing happily, waves lapping against the shore, or a sexily whispered words: sun, sand, sea.
If you’re into architecture, Oslo airport is an interesting building, constructed mainly with wood, metal and glass. The roof is light and floating, held up with wooden reefers. The construction seems to bring the surrounding countryside and forest inside – it’s all very light, bright and airy.
6 hours to spare?
6 hours is heaps of time. Especially since the eco-friendly high-speed airport express train whisks you to the centre of Oslo in just 19 minutes. Once in the city centre, you have numerous options, depending on your interests. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Get off at Oslo Central Station to see the fabulous Oslo Opera House; it’s just across a covered walkway. Go for a walk on the roof for some amazing fjord views. If you’re hungry, you can have a meal at Sanguine, the opera brasserie. Then you can stroll along main street Karl Johan for some great shopping (or browsing). Shops and restaurants and cafes abound. About halfway, you’ll pass Stortinget (Parliament). Across the street is Grand hotel and the cool turn-of-the-last-century Grand Cafe, once a fave haunt of playwright Henrik Ibsen and other bohemian artists of the late 1800s. Stop for a coffee or try a delicious prawn sandwich. At the top of the street is the Royal Palace. When the flag is up, King Harald is in.
You’re now near the National Theatre. If you’ve sauntered (or shopped too much and for too long) and are running out of time, you can catch the airport express back to OSL from the National Theatre station.
2. If you still have plenty of time (or if you have just now gotten off the airport express at the National Theatre), walk to the harbour (5 minutes, tops). You have loads of options in this area:
– stroll around medieval Akershus Fortress
– have a look at Oslo City Hall (check out the venue of the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremony)
– stroll around the renovated ship yard Aker Brygge, full of cafes, restaurants and fun shops
– visit the Nobel Peace Center
– have a coffee or a meal at Pascal’s Cafe de la Paix
3. If you’re particularly interested in maritime history, specifically Vikings, exploring heroes of the Arctic and Antarctic, or modern-day sea-faring adventurers, head directly to Bygdøy. You probably have time for 1, maybe 2, of the smaller museums: the Viking Ships, the Polar ship Fram or Kon-Tiki. See this post for more info on Bygdøy. Also, check out our guide to the Bygdøy Peninsula.
Before you know it, your 6 hours have passed. Make sure you’re back at the airport in time.