Take Oslo by storm like the Vikings did 700 years ago. Stepping off a Norway cruise line, voyagers can admire the Norwegian capital that's known as a hot spot for culture and history-rich museums. The city, which is located innermost in the 62-mile-long Oslofjord, has no shortage of ground-breaking attractions.
If you're considering what to wear, take note that Oslo's climate is more moderate than its latitude might suggest. Summer temperatures are often on par with those of cities farther south, yet the winters are cold enough to make the city a great skiing destination.
Visit the Akershus Fortress
Let the history reel roll at the Akershus Fortress, a medieval castle built in the 14th century under king Håkon V. Thanks to the citadel's strategic location at the very end of the headland (now located in the city center by the Oslofjord), Akershus survived a number of sieges throughout the ages. You can take a guided tour of the fortress to learn about its gritty past, such as when King Christian IV had the castle modernized and converted into a Renaissance castle and royal residence in the 1600s. Entrance is free!
Meet fossil 'Ida' at the Natural History Museum
From fierce, fossilized dinosaurs to gossamer, fragrant flowers, the Natural History Museum boasts a well-rounded wealth of attractions. NHM is Norway's most comprehensive natural history collection, where visitors can stroll through the building's several museums as well as the Botanical Garden and greenhouses, a haven for serenity seekers looking to escape busy city life. Animal lovers will enjoy the Zoological Museum that hosts fauna from across the world. Last but not least, don't miss Norway's only dinosaur museum, home of the famous fossil known as "Ida," the oldest-known primate fossil and most complete fossil of an early primate.
Catch a performance at the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet
The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet is Norway's largest performing arts institution. Though its doors just opened in 2008, the Opera House situated in the old harbor of Bjørvika has already become a city landmark. Grab tickets for a show at one of its three stages: the Main House, Second House and Studio. The Opera Roof is also used for concerts - by the way, this is the first opera house in the world to let visitors walk on the roof.
Dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant
Cap the day off with an ambrosaic meal at one of Oslo's five Michelin-winning restaurants. Statholdergaarden offers a six-course feast that includes fish, meat, cheese and dessert. Chefs Bent Stiansen and Torbjørn Forster pride themselves on using Norwegian produce. Another hot spot is Maaemo, the first restaurant in Scandinavia to receive two stars in the Michelin Guide on its first rating. Tasty it is, but diners beware: The nine-course menu, complemented by a dazzling wine list, comes with the steepest of bills.
See a real Viking ship
Start your second day at the Viking Ship Museum, where the first things you'll probably notice are the giant, wooden Viking ships, preserved from the 9th century. This museum presents Viking discoveries from Tune, Gokstad, Oseberg as well as other finds from Viking tombs around the Oslofjord. It's a great opportunity for Norwegian cruise vacationers to learn more about the Scandinavian Vikings and their culture.
Behold artwork at National Gallery
Your creative side may be drooling at the National Gallery. Established in 1837, the National Gallery houses the country's largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. One of the main attractions is Edvard Munch's "The Scream," which ranks among the most celebrated and recognized images in art history. The permanent exhibitions showcase natural icons from the romantic period until the mid 1900s, but you can also dive into the past with the gallery's emphasis on older pieces from Norwegian artists.
Explore the Norwegian Museum of Science & Technology
Curious minds gather at the Norwegian Museum of Science & Technology. The museum has more than 20 permanent and temporary exhibitions about energy, medicine, airplanes, industry, oil, cars and planes. The National Museum of Medicine illustrates how people's lives have changed over the last 150 years, thanks to improvements in technology and public health. The Robot Centre and The Planetarium are both found here. If you're exploring with kids on your cruise travel, this is a fun place to visit.
Eat like the locals
After spending a grip on dinner last night, you might want to scale back with more cost-friendly, local-loving food options. At Cafe Elias mat & sånt, you'll find an informal atmosphere with homemade Norwegian food, including everything from moose stew to mussels to Norwegian beer. The 1820s-built Justisen Bar and Restaurant is preserved by the Cultural Heritage Management Office and has a tasty menu. Meat, pizza, fish and casseroles all make the list.
After 48 hours of exploring Oslo, voyagers on Norwegian cruises will have a well-rounded taste of Norway's capital.