norway

Norway: 5 Things To Do In Oslo

Walk on the roof of the Opera House

The Norwegians have an open door policy to exploring nature and climbing mountains, so when the Oslo Opera House was unveiled in 2008 the same concept was to be applied.  Visitors are encouraged to step onto the roof of the building, exploring the various angles, levels and views of the city it has to offer.  The building is modern and slick, finished with a stunning white marble roof that gleams in the daylight.  On sunny days you can sit out on the roof and enjoy a drink, you may even be lucky to see one of the scheduled outdoor plays and concerts that are scattered across the Summer months.  Inside is a performance hall for internationally renowned ballet and opera, you can find out all details of upcoming shows on their website.....

www.operaen.no

The Oslo Opera House

 

Explore the Ekebergenparken

This stunning sculpture garden is situated up in the forest about half an hours walk from the city centre.  From there you can see panaramic views of Oslo, and there is plenty of green space to get lost in for hours.  The individual sculptures are dotted around the park, and are mostly contemporary in style by world renowned artists. Expect to see work from Damian Hirst, Salvador Dali, Sarah Lucas and James Turrell.  Entry is free and the park is open day and night.  This is a perfect place to have a picnic, go for a run or just to relax in on a summers day.  We only saw a very small amount of the park on our visit to Oslo but it's somewhere we would like to come back to if we are ever in Oslo again.  If you are into contemporary sculpture rather than classic then we would recommend this park over the Vigepark.

www.ekebergparken.com

 
Ekebergparken Sculpture Park
 

 

Get Immersed in Contemporary Art 

Overlooking the Fjord, the Astrup Fearnley Museet is a private contemporary art gallery designed by world renowned architect Renzo Piano (the guy who designed the Shard).  The gallery is complete with a modern sculpture garden, indoor/outdoor cafe, trendy shop and it makes a lovely setting for a read on a sunny afternoon.  There are two parts to the building; the permanent collection which specialises in art from 1960s to the present day including European and American pop art, post-modern appropriation art from 1980s and contemporary international art, and the temporary collection which changes every couple of months.  We saw the 'Chinese Summer' exhibition on our visit which was work from the first generation of Chinese artists in the 1980s who rejected traditional formal appoaches to making art.  There were definitely some interesting pieces in there which were thought provoking, and so we would recommend coming here to check out one of the shows.  Both the permanent and temporary galleries are included in the ticket price, and discount is offered to students with a valid ID card.  The gallery is closed on Mondays.

www.afmuseet.no

Zhang Ding in the Chinese Summer Exhibition

Zhang Ding in the Chinese Summer Exhibition

 

Get Nobel at the Peace Centre

A visit to the Nobel Peace Centre is a couple of hours well spent.  The museum is home to the internationally renowned Nobel Peace prize awardees and their work, and it tells the story of Alfred Nobel who founded the peace prize.  The centre aims to foster engagement and thought on challenging topics such as war, peace and conflict through a series of permanent and temporary exhibitions.  The shows are extremely well curated and interactively displayed which makes for a thought-provoking experience.  We were lucky enough to see a show on this years Nobel Peace prize winner President Juan Manuel Santos and the Colombian people, and 'Detours' which is a temporary exhibition showing the stories of people displaced by war.  Students get a good discount, as do families and seniors.  Children under 16 go free. Visit the website here for more details....

www.nobelpeacecenter.org

 

Admire the Barcode

Those who love modern architecture will be blown away by the slick geometric design of the Barcode Project by the Bjørvika waterfront in central Oslo.  The Barcode consists of 12 high-rise buildings which are differently proportioned in width and height, giving the illusion of a Barcode from afar.  The space in between each building has been cleverly curated for public use and includes gardens, bike lock-ups, seating and outdoor restaurants, and importantly allows in light to the street behind.  Each building has been designed by a different architectural firm, making each one have its own individual character and quirks.  Walk along Dronning Eufemias Gate to admire them up close, nipping into each side street as you go, and then cross over Nylandsvien bridge to admire them from the front.

www.barcodeoslo.no

 
The Barcode Project
 

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Norway - 5 Things To Do In Oslo, by Studio Mali
 

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Norway Video

We spent the two weeks travelling around Norway by coach, train and foot. See our adventures through the Jotunheimen National park, the Western Fjords, the Nigardsbreen Glacier and the capital, Oslo.

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Norway: Sculpture in Oslo

In one of the most design-led cities in the world, there is sculpture to be found on every corner and the best thing about it is that it's free to see.  Just walk around, open your eyes and enjoy what the city has to offer.  Make sure you check out around the Astrup Fernley Museum of Modern Art, the Vigeland Sculpture Park, in between the buildings of the Barcode area and the Ekebergparken Sculpture Park.

Take a look at some of the sculpture in the city.....

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Norway: Eplet - Paradise on the Fjord

 

Our visit to Eplet came from a dear friends recommendation, so we already knew a little about this hidden treasure before arriving. We travelled from Lom via local bus (this took around 3 hours) waiting patiently until we heard the call for Galden. From here a downward 3km walk was required to find the hostel nestled in the beautiful fjordside town of Solvorn. Boasting above average temperatures and microclimate that makes it perfect for growing produce; Solvorn is a little paradise.

 
 

Eplet has space for around 15 averagely sized tents with ample facilities for all the camper's needs at 110 Nok / £11 per person per night. Whilst over in the main building there are over eight rooms for those in need of hard walls and warm beds. For those that require a little hybrid of B&B and camping, two yurts are available with bedding supplied. The site is beautiful, we woke every morning to the misty summit across the fjord, the mountain changed hourly as the weather see-sawed between wind, rain and shine. 

Solvorn from a tent

Agnethe and Trond were great hosts; super friendly and full of great tips for making the most of local area. We stayed for 5 days and we only scratched the surface of what the Sognefjord has to offer.  What we found really inspiring is how they ran both an eco hostel and a successful fruit juice business at the same time. Supporting them were a team of teenagers from across Europe who tended to the groves; picking fruit for the Eplet juices 8 - 5 everyday. Victorian, maybe, but it was great to see young people in and around nature and loving it.  

 
 

Eplet grow much of their own produce. A really neat touch was their 'weeding for free vege' idea. Guests were able to take a some organically grown vegetables from their grow boxes in return for five minutes weeding. We took a courgette and lettuce and popped it into out nightly pasta dinner, the fresh vegetables was greatly appreciated! Running relatively wild were four 'happy' sheep, free range chickens supplying eggs and acres of raspberries, apples & pears grown to make the juice, they press 15,000 litres of the stuff each year. We tried the raspberry juice and it was delicious, an energy boost that can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Weed for feed

Weed for feed

There are many activities to get involved in and around the Sognefjord. The first day we chilled in Solvorn and took two coastal walks in the morning and evening, the fjord almost looked tropical in the evening sun (see photo).

Sognefjord

 

The next day we upped the ante and cycled towards the tallest mountain in the area, Molden. To get there we had to endure an hours uphill cycle, poor Ali's little unprepared legs were suffering, as you can see from the speed of her manoeuvres in the video.

The top of Molden provided some excellent views and meant we had a downhill cycle most of the way home. This allowed us to try out our first bit of off road mountain biking down a muddy rocky track, exciting and scary.  We also voyaged out on the bikes the next day, by ferry across the fjord to the Unesco site of Urnes. Here we found Norway's oldest Stave church, an epic wooden structure built in the 13th century. This church is special for defining the rise in Stave architecture which can now be found all over Norway's churches. 

 
 

Further along the Sognefjord, the second longest waterfall can be found. Although we misfired and stopped at a smaller sibling waterfall (stopping 5km too early!). We heard from the other guests that it was pretty special, I think we'll have pop back one day to see it ;-). Here is a photo of us by the smaller one. LOL!

Lastly a trip to the Nigardsbreen Glacier is a worthy excursion, billed as the mostly accessible glacier in the world it offers walking routes, boat journeys and actual trips onto the ice with crampons etc. We got rained on pretty heavily but seeing the huge mass of a glacier is something everyone needs to see.

 
 

Surrounded by beautiful scenery it was very easy chilling in the hostels relaxed spaces; cue Skandi furniture, ambient jazz and a steady internet connection from which to write this piece.

 
 

As with everywhere in Norway, getting places takes time and includes many buses but Eplet was definitely worth the journey.  If you would like more detailed information then you can visit their website here.

 

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Norway - Eplet - Paradise On The Fjord, by Studio Mali
 

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Norway: 5 Ways To Cut Costs For The Budget Traveller

Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world, making it very difficult to budget for as a traveller.  Local buses can be as expensive as £20 for an hours ride, and a few of these a week can completely blow the budget.  

Here are some top tips for reducing costs when travelling to one of the most expensive places in the world:

Happy savers in Norway

Happy savers in Norway

1. Camp

It is legal to wild camp in any of the countryside, woodlands or mountains in Norway for free due to the legal right to roam 'allemannsretten'. It is a traditional right from ancient times and it's purpose is to encourage everyone to experience nature, even on privately owned lands.  You just need to make sure that you pitch up your tent no closer than 150m to the nearest inhabited house or cabin. There are other things to bear in mind if you want to wild camp, including actual bears! All info can be found here

www.miljodirektoratet.no

There are hundreds of campsites across Norway that have fantastic facilities, and compared to other outgoings come up very cheap.  Our first campsite in Otta was only 75 Nok (£7.50) per person per night and compared to a block of Norweigian cheese at 90 Nok £9, I think this is a great deal!  Campsites can be found online here:

www.norcamp.de

 

2. Eat On The Cheap

Eating out in Norway can be extortionate and is not really suitable for anyone travelling on a budget.  We would recommend taking a lot of your own food into the country for the best way of saving money, and just topping it up along the way.  Because we knew we would be camping, we pre-portioned off porridge for breakfast every morning - a combination of rolled oats, milk powder, cinnamon and sugar.  We brought pasta in sauce and flavoured noodles for dinner, and then lots of protein bars, nuts, dried fruit and chocolate for the bits in between.  Every now and again we have needed to pick up a few groceries in local convenience stores, but on the whole we haven't spent very much money on food.

We cooked this on our little gas stove; pasta, toms, onion, garlic, courgette & parmesan 

We cooked this on our little gas stove; pasta, toms, onion, garlic, courgette & parmesan 

 

3. Plan Your Transport

It is best to book transport in advance as it can be very expensive booking on the day.  Norway is extremely well connected, and it is possible to travel to lots of places by train, coach, bus, ferry and bike.  Just assess all options online first to find the cheapest route.  Bus fares are cheaper for students so if you are lucky enough to have a youthful face then you should be able to request a student ticket on boarding, which could save you a third of the price.  A bit sneaky, but worth the saving.

For train fares and timetables, follow the below link:

www.nsb.no

There are lots of companies that run bus services in Norway, follow the links below for the two most established companies for long distance travel:

www.unibuss.no

www.nor-way.no

Local buses are pay on board, so unfortunately you won't be able to make much of a saving there, unless you opt for a student ticket.

 

4. Walk Over Ride

In the National Parks, there are lots of connecting buses and ferrys to take you to the start of the trekking routes.  If you get yourself a good map and a strong set of legs, then there is no reason why you can't walk from one part to the next without the need for public transport.  You could arrange to do a small circuit and wild camp, or if you need a few more amenities then check into a campsite or dorm.  Just be aware of the difficulty level of the route you are planning to take as some are unsuitable for large rucksacks especially if the weather is bad. 

 

5. Slow Down

Norway is a country best enjoyed at a leisurely pace to really get into the Norweigian way of life.  Rushing around from one place to the next is going to prove to be tiring and expensive.  Norway is a huge country, approximately three times the length of the UK, and so planning on going from North to South and East to West all in a couple of weeks really isn't going to be feasible.  Just chill out, pick one or two areas of interest, and explore what's going on around them in a local scale.  A couple of hours spent wondering through the woods is relaxing and won't cost you anything, or a bike ride through some of the stunning landscapes will leave you feeling exhilarated and energised without breaking the bank. The fewer long distance coach journeys the more money in your pocket, so just think on a smaller scale.  The Norwegians aren't the happiest people on the earth because they are rushing around all the time!

We hope you find these tips helpful on your adventure to Norway!  If you have any more suggestions then we would love to hear them.

 

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Norway - 5 Ways To Cut Costs For The Budget Traveller, by Studio Mali
 

 

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