Norway is a country with a long and fascinating history (think, Vikings), but Oslo is also one of northern Europe’s most modern cities. Many of the sights are centrally located, but those that aren’t are easily reachable using the city’s accessible metro (T-bane) or bus systems. Below are several places and sights in Norway’s capital that are wheelchair friendly and completely worth a visit.
1. National Gallery Museum. This fine art museum is filled with paintings and sculptures that range in time period from the Roman Empire to the modern era. Each room is numbered to take you on a chronological journey through their relatively small, but well-curated, collection. Visitors will be thrilled to see one of famous Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s four original versions of “The Scream” in one of the last rooms. To enter the museum, you must press a wheelchair icon button in front of a set of doors below the main entrance staircase. From there, you will be escorted to the elevators.
2. Frogner/Vigeland Park. Oslo weather is often gray and drizzly, but if you have the opportunity at all, you need to make the short trip to Oslo’s most visited spot, Frogner Park. Inside this beautiful green expanse you will find over 200 of Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland’s works. Many are centered in the sculpture garden and on a small bridge, where you can find the famous “screaming baby” piece. The ground is part paved and part packed gravel, and I had no trouble getting around in my scooter. However, the park (as is much of Oslo) is hilly, so make sure your battery is fully charged before you go.
3. The Royal Palace. Unlike many royal palaces in Europe, this one is actually functioning and inhabited by the royal family of Norwegian King Harald V. Built in the mid-1800s, it lies at one end of the busy and lovely Karl Johans Gate, the main avenue in Oslo (see below). Guided tours of many of the stunning palace rooms and chambers are available during summers only, but are fully wheelchair accessible, as are the paths through the palace gardens and grounds.
4. Oslo Opera House. I’ve had the privilege of visiting some of the world’s most beautiful opera houses, but I had never been to one where people could climb the roof! In fact, I was able to roll my scooter across the lovely carrera marble surface to the top of this opera house with ease. The inside is also wheelchair accessible, for both performances as well as the one-hour opera house tour. Here you will see the main theater, as well as the costume and prop areas and backstage.
5. Viking Ship Museum. This museum is located at Bygdøy, and it is part of the Museum of Cultural History of the University of Oslo. It houses archaeological finds from Tune, Gokstad (Sandefjord), Oseberg (Tønsberg) and the Borre mound cemetery. Additionally, the Viking Age display includes sledges, beds, a horse cart, wood carving, tent components, buckets and other grave goods. The museum is most famous for the completely whole Oseberg ship, excavated from the largest known ship burial in the world. The museum and its impressive exhibits are very wheelchair friendly.
6. Nobel Peace Center. The Nobel Peace Center is a showcase for the Nobel Peace Prize and the ideals it represents. The Center is also an arena where culture and politics merge to promote involvement, debate and reflection around topics such as war, peace and conflict resolution. The Center presents the Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their work, in addition to telling the story of Alfred Nobel and the other Nobel prizes. This is done using multimedia and interactive technology, exhibitions, meetings, debates, theater, concerts and conferences, as well as a broad educational program and regular guided tours. The center has ample spaces everywhere and is fully accessible, including the downstairs restroom.
7. City Hall. Oslo City Hall (Rådhuset) houses the city council and the administration of Oslo. The interiors of Oslo City Hall were decorated by famous Norwegian artists: Per Krohg, Axel Revold, Alf Rolfsen, Dagfin Werenskiold. It is also the place where the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is presented every year on December 10. In 2005, “Rådhuset” was dubbed Oslo’s “Structure of the Century.” The building is a storybook of Norway’s history and culture, and these historic tales unfold along the art-packed corridors leading to the main entrance. There are free guided tours during the summer, and you can visit the wheelchair friendly building for free year round.
8. Edvard Munch Museum. As the name suggests, this museum is dedicated to the life and works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. Its collection consists of works and articles by Munch, which he donated to the municipality of Oslo upon his death, and additional works donated by his sister Inger Munch, as well as various other works obtained through trades of duplicate prints, etc. The museum now has in its permanent collection well over half of the artist’s entire production of paintings and at least one copy of all his prints. This amounts to over 1,200 paintings, 18,000 prints, six sculptures, as well as 500 plates, 2,240 books, and various other items. The Munch Museum is wheelchair friendly, and can be reached by T-bane or bus.
9. Karl Johans Gate. If you’ve my past posts from European destinations, you know I’m a HUGE fan of pedestrian areas in larger cities. This “gate” (pronounced GAH-teh) is one of Oslo’s main avenues and has a large section closed off to traffic. It offers beautiful views of the Royal Palace at one end, and you can saunter past the parliament building, the neighboring park, and the path that famous Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen walked every day. It is difficult to find restaurants and stores with flat entries in Oslo, but your chances are much higher in this area.