Oslo Travel Guide

Oslo quaint 'niceness' is perhaps the most lasting impression that most visitors take home with them.

The city promotes itself as an outdoors city where the people are friendly and the air and water are clean. It also proudly boasts that its summer climate 'outwarms' all its rivals.

Oslo is compact but not too small, it's old but not in decay, it's expensive but there are ways around it and it's welcoming without being in-your-face. If you want to see a slice of Scandinavian beauty, pack your bags, head to Oslo and enjoy.

Facts in a glance

Area: 242 sq km
Population: 500,000
Country: Norway
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1
Telephone Area Code: 47


Around 900 years ago, a young man called St Halvard saw two men in a boat on Drammen Fjord. They were attempting to drown a woman. The young farmhand went to the rescue, only to suffer the most brutal consequences. He was mortally wounded after being stabbed several times by an arrow. Despite paying the ultimate price, Halvard was immortalised. It is St Halvard who today adorns the city's coat of arms. He was canonised and later became the patron saint of Oslo.

1048: King Harald Hardråda founded Oslo and in the early 14th century King Håkon V created a military presence by building the Akershus Festning in the hope of deterring the Swedish threat from the east.

1348: Norway joined forces with Denmark after the bubonic plague devastated most of the country, the Black Death killed around 50% of Oslo's population. From 1397 to 1624, Norway's affairs were dealt with in Copenhagen and Oslo took a back seat, fading into obscurity.

1624: Oslo was destroyed by a massive fire but was rebuilt by King Christian IV, who renamed the city Christiana after himself. Oslo was rebuilt on the west side of the river, making it more defensible.

1814: Norway united with Sweden and the unification contributed to Oslo's strong economic and political growth right up until the break with the Swedes in 1905. In 1925 the city reverted to its original name, Oslo.

1914: After the split with Sweden, Oslo (and Norway) basked in a sustained period of economic growth until WWI.

1932: The grimness of war and its aftermath were tough, but events took a turn for the better and the standard of living gradually improved. Despite Norway declaring itself neutral in WWII, Germany invaded in 1940. During the war the Norwegian government continued to represent an independent Norway in exile.

Oslo benefited from postwar prosperity generated in large part by the discovery of oilfields in Norway's North Sea waters.

Today, Oslo enjoys one of the highest standards of living of any city on earth. This suburban sprawl has the advantage of gathering in the green outskirts, making the city one of the world's most densely forested. It's one of the top 10 cities in the world in area, its suburbs having spread rapidly in recent decades.

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