The oldest of the Scandinavian capitals, Oslo boasts one of the most fabled maritime and cultural histories in the entire world: it was the homeland of the seafaring Vikings.
The dramatic beauty of the city's setting is understandably inspiring. One need only look out upon the breathtaking Oslofjord, glistening lakes and enchanting woodlands to see why a people might want to discover more beauty.
VIGELAND SCULPTURE PARK
A must-see is the famed park that features over 650 statues by sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Works of all sizes in granite, bronze and wrought iron depict the many stages and episodes of human life, and it's the perfect place to either philosophize about the human condition or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll.
A SHIP LOAD OF MUSEUMS
Not surprisingly, Oslo's many museums are devoted to the nation's maritime heritage, and chief among them is the fascinating Viking Ship Museum, where you'll be mesmerized by three oaken longships from the 9th century in a remarkable state of preservation. Equally fascinating is the Kon-Tiki Museum, in which the raft of balsa logs that Thor Hyerdahl sailed on in 1947 is on display. At the Fram Museum, see the exploration ship Fram that was specially built in 1892 to withstand the crushing force of the polar icecap. It's two major sailings, first to the North Pole and later for the discovery of the South Pole in 1911, made it world-famous.
OPEN-AIR FOLK MUSEUM
Set in a beautiful wooded area of Bygdoy Peninsula, the open-air museum gives the feeling of being transported into the countryside. A superb group of old buildings have been gathered from all over Norway to represent the true essence, history and culture of the country. A highlight of the museum is the Gol Stave Church whose architecture is unique and captivating, with steep, pointed stepped-roofs decorated with intricate wood carvings.
To appreciate the sweeping majesty of the Oslofjord -- from the towering ledges to the glistening waters below, take in the view from the heights of the Holmenkollen, the famed ski jump site of the 1952 Winter Olympics