The ideal way to arrive in Oslo is by boat, for then you get the most complete picture (though arriving by car from the south along the Mosseveien also offers some impressive views).
The view from the fjord is dominated by the City Hall, a large brick building topped by two square towers which overlooks the busy harbor. The imposing Modernistic structure took 20 years to build – it was begun in the 1930s, but with the interruption of war, wasn’t completed until the 1950s.
The cavernous main hall is decorated with murals of Norwegian history and mythology, and the courtyard is adorned with bronze statues, a fine carved wooden frieze and the swan fountain.
Related: Oslo – the Nordic City of Light
Every year on 10 December City Hall hosts the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony.
On Rådhusplassen is the Nobel Peace Center (Nobels Fredssenter), which opened in 2005 on the site of the Vestbane building, a former railway station. Exhibitions staged here focus on former Peace Prize laureates and topics such as war, peace and conflict resolution.
Just north of the Nobel Peace Center, the Konserthus (Concert Hall), home of the Oslo Philharmonic, holds concerts most Thursday and Friday nights, except in July.
Related: At the Edge in Oslo
The last remnant of Oslo’s heavy industry, the Aker Shipyard, closed in 1982. In its place on the western side of the harbor are Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen, vibrant complexes of shops, offices a hotel (The Thief) and apartments overlooking the fjord.
Tjuvholmen is one of Oslo’s newest boroughs. The area is characterized by an intriguing architectural diversity and unique outdoor areas. It plays host to several galleries and art installations, including the Astrup Fearnley Museum, designed by Renzo Piano, flanked by a sculpture park and a beach.
The seafront boardwalk lined with cafés and restaurants is one of Oslo’s most popular meeting places and teems with people in the summer months.
Waterfront Oslo, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Tjuvholmen