Oslo brings together captivating history with modernity that appeals to voyagers of any age.
Unsurprisingly, I found oodles of things to do with kids in Oslo, without even mentioning the amazing playgrounds and delicious hot dogs. Here’s my favourite five…
1. The Viking Ship Museum
Vikings have fascinated me for as long as I can remember, bursting onto the central European scene in the 8th century. The Viking Ship Museum is the best place in the world to see the unbelievable grace and beauty of sea-going vessels created by the Vikings.
It’s not just the ships themselves. The wealth of creativity displayed in the museum includes the grave goods of a queen buried in her ship. Fragments of textiles show the clear influence of the Vikings’ passion for travel and trade.
The Viking Ship Museum is easy to get to from central Oslo by catching the number 91 ferry from the harbour to Bygdoy, where you can explore a number of other Oslo attractions on “museum island”. There is a bus running from Bygdoy jetty to the museums.
2. The Folk Museum
The other particularly child-friendly museum in Oslo is also on museum island. The open-air Oslo Folk Museum features historic buildings collected from around the country, reflecting nearly 1,000 years of Norwegian history and culture.
It is like a time travel machine, where you can emerge from a patch of forest into a 200-year-old village, before being transported to farm animals housed in a 1950s barn.
In the summer season, many activities run throughout the museum for children, such as making sweetbread over an open fire (18th century style). They really know how to bring history to life.
3. The Vigelund Sculpture Park
The Vigelund Sculpture Park provides a lesson in art rather than history. This monument to Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigelund truly shows us the power of sculpture as a medium. The heavy, physical bodies and emotive faces expressing moments of pure joy and sorrow in a way we can all appreciate.
Set in 212 hectares of gardens, lakes, fountains and parkland, there are more than 200 granite and bronze sculptures on display. The climax of the park is the Monolith Plateau, where stone human bodies of all ages are celebrated as they pile up to the heavens.
As if this beautiful, tactile, accessible sculpture park weren’t enough fun, there is also a typically-excellent Norwegian kids’ playground! Vigelund is an easy bus ride from central Oslo.
4. Take a fjord boat cruise
If you want to catch a glimpse of what the voyaging Vikings would have seen from aboard ship, spend a couple of hours cruising Oslo’s fjords.
The city is intimately connected to stunning coastal landscapes, flowing with the deep sounds of nature, and Norway’s typical wooden summer houses spotted on hundreds of islands.
A relaxed boat tour with refreshments available on board is a great way to entertain the family and save energy for those with small legs.
5. Wander over the Oslo Opera House
Not many children are particularly interested in opera but if you think about the Oslo Opera House (Operahuset in Norwegian) as more like a giant playground, it suddenly becomes a fantastic family attraction in central Oslo.
Oslo has an extensive waterfront dotted with architectural gems, not least of which is the national opera house. Situated at the head of the Oslofjord, this incredible piece of architecture seems to rise effortlessly, like a low iceberg, from the deep blue water. Carrara marble and pale granite cover the surface of the building and it gleams in both sunlight and shadow.
You can walk up and across the roof to enjoy views of Oslo. How often do you get to walk about on the roof of a building? From a distance, the people on the sweeping white structure look like ants.
Getting to Oslo
A number of airlines fly to Oslo from almost all European capitals. Norwegian Air offers nonstop flights from 10 US cities and there are often low price weekend deals available. Oslo is only a seven-hour flight from the east coast of the US, making it closer than Hawaii.
Of course, this vibrant capital city is a convenient launching point for exploring the Oslo region and the rest of Norway with its many natural wonders and pristine environment, from the fjords to mountains to forests.
Can you hear that sound? Norway is calling you.