Tucked between fluffy green forests and blue fjords Oslo has a relaxed waterfront lifestyle, where winter is given over to skiing and summer is spent biking, hiking or sailing. As hardy and outdoorsy as Oslo is, the city is also a hot spot for culture and cuisine, filled with fine museums, grand architectural landmarks and trendy suburbs. Visit during summer, when the sun stays out to play until midnight, and you'll have plenty of time to see it all.
Catch a ferry from Aker Brygge across the harbour to Bygdoy Peninsula, home to half a dozen excellent museums. Wannabe Polar explorers should start at the Fram Museum (frammuseum.no), home to the nineteenth-century Polar exploration ship Fram, while Viking enthusiasts should make a beeline for the Viking Ship Museum (khm.uio.no/english). Nearby is the Kon-Tiki Museum, which houses vessels and maps from the Kon-Tiki expedition (kon-tiki.no). If museum fatigue strikes, do as the locals do and chill out on Huk or Paradisbukta beach.
Mathallen Oslo is an indoor food hall in the hip suburb of Grunerløkka with over 30 shops specialising in Norwegian small-scale producers and some special foreign imports. Stores include street food, pintxos, fresh pastries, spices, oils, cheeses, cured meats and a 50-metre bar in the basement. Part of the new Vulkan development, which aims to fuse "culture and creative industry", the riverside precinct also features food and wine related classes, courses and conferences. mathallenoslo.no
Your eyes will be on stalks at the Vigeland Sculpture Park, an open-air gallery of bare bottoms, bosoms and biceps. Representing the work of one man – Gustav Vigeland – the 212 naked bronze and granite figures run the full gamut of human expression; love, tenderness, joy, rage, fear and hope. With a bit of hair pulling, baby tossing and food stomping weirdness thrown in for good measure. The focal point is The Monolith, a tower of tumbling bodies carved out of a single block of granite. Open daily vigeland.museum.no
Edvard Munch is Oslo's pinup artist; particularly his best-known masterpiece The Scream. Between 1893 and 1910 Munch created four versions of The Scream, in a variety of media from crayon to pastel to tempera. To see the 1893 version (tempera on cardboard) head to The National Gallery (nasjonalmuseet.no), but for more detail about Munch's life and to see the body of work and articles he left to the Municipality of Oslo, don't miss the Munch Museum (munchmuseet.no).
For contemporary Scandi-cool, The Thief is hard to beat. Situated at the water's edge in Tjuvholmen (a peninsula which translates as Thief Islet) the Design Hotel promises to 'steal you away from everyday life'. With an enviable location amid chic restaurants and cafes (and next to the Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art), 118 bespoke rooms and an art collection worthy of any gallery it's worth robbing your piggy bank for a night here. thethief.com
Of all the museums in Oslo, the one that will stay with you long after your visit is the Nobel Peace Center. Housed in what was once Vestbanen railway station, the museum is dedicated to issues of peace, war and conflict resolution. nobelpeacecenter.org
The writer travelled with the assistance of Lindblad Expeditions