Exploring the fjords and glaciers. Embracing the midnight sun. 360° of breathtaking scenery by day and the Northern Lights by night. A vibrant sauna culture. Yes, Norway is known for a lot of things. Although the country is not known for its one-of-a-kind museums, eccentric artists and lust for liquor….but perhaps it should be 😉 It is these offbeat Oslo sights and activities that make the city such a joy to explore.
But first a gift for all you Pinterest addicts
Oslo is home to the world’s largest collection of miniature bottles, the world famous museum of magic, and some of the world’s most interesting sculptures of humans — like the naked man kicking babies, an instant classic. The next time you find yourself in Norway’s capital city, do yourself a favor make sure to check out at least one of the following unique and offbeat Oslo destinations:
The Mini Bottle Gallery
When you think of a glass bottle collection, do you think or of ships and other miniatures inside of bottles? Regardless of which answer you picked, this is the place for you! Welcome to The Mini Bottle Gallery, the only museum of its kind in the world. It is home to over 50,000 bottles of all shapes, sizes and designs.
The owner is a fourth generation descendant of the Ringnes brewery founders and one of Norway’s most affluent businessmen. His love of bottles started as a kid upon receiving a half bottle of gin as a gift and has grown over the years into a massive collection.
In spring of 2000, Ringnes purchased a building in the heart of Oslo, and three years later the museum opened. Most bottles are full of alcohol but others have fruits, berries, even animals. Public hours are limited to between noon and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays only, however private visits for large groups can be scheduled in advance for alternative days.
Official Mini Bottle Gallery Web Site
All those beer and liquor bottles have you craving a drink? Head on over to Torggata, specifically the blocks in between Youngs Gate and Hausmanns Gate. 6-7 years ago this was a seedy street full of trash, graffiti and drug dealers. Now it is full of trendy new restaurants and bars, and street art has replaced graffiti. Yes, Torggata has quickly become one of the hippest parts of Oslo.
Cobblestone streets. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Outdoor diners enjoying the day. And a strong emerging nightlife. This is Torggata, where McDonald’s struggles and exotic foreign cuisine flourishes. Jaime Pesaque, the renowned Peruvian chef with restaurants in Lima, Dubai and Milano (just to name a few), now has one in Torggata as well: Piscoteket
The entire area is full of restaurants serving different cuisines from around the world, and most of these also serve alcohol as well. However there are plenty of dedicated bars to. Just go for a stroll and stop in whatever place catches your eye. Guarantee you’ll have fun!
Norwegian Museum of Magic
Traditional museums have a tendency to be boring, it’s okay, we can all agree here. That’s why it is our duty as travelers to support all those strange, quirky and one-of-a-kind museums scattered around the world. My rule is this: if the museum name makes you think “WTF” then you’re obligated to go inside.
Over the last two decades more and more professional magicians are worrying that their trade is dying. Some magicians are revealing the secrets behind popular tricks, to inspire a new younger generation to follow in their footsteps. Others are devising newer and more elaborate stunts with the help of modern technology. Meanwhile in Norway a group of magicians began collecting magician memorabilia to tell their story.
By 2001 this collection of posters, props, photographs and gear had grown so large it needed to be moved to its own apartment (exterior pictured above). Thus Norsk Tryllemuseum, the Norway Museum of Magic, was officially born.
The museum is only open on Sundays from 1pm-4pm with a magic show at 2pm. Ideally, you are supposed to go for the show and enjoy the museum as a “free bonus” — check out the official web site for more information.
Oslo’s Growing Street Art Scene
The street art scene in Norway’s capital is captivating, colorful and quickly growing. All the popular Norwegian street artists have painted murals here, including Dolk, Riddler, Pastel and many others, as well as countless international artists from every continent except for Africa.
Unlike the street art of Toronto and Kuala Lumpur, where everything tends to be clustered in one single area, Oslo’s urban artwork is scattered throughout the city — and constantly changing as new murals are painted. For an up-to-date street art map check here.
Vigeland Installation at Frogner Park
Gustav Vigeland was one of Norway’s most esteemed sculptors and nowadays is known throughout the world. His easily recognizable work are those iconic statues of human beings doing, well, human things. Vigeland was also the designer of the Nobel Peace Prize medal.
Vigeland also created the infamous statute of the naked man kicking babies, my personal favorite. What do you think inspired this sculpture?
In a deal with the Oslo government, Vigeland agreed to donate all his future works to the city. By the time he passed away in 1943 this was over 200 sculptures. Together they cover a sprawling 80 acres and comprise the largest sculpture park in the world created by a single artist. The pinnacle of all this artwork is a 14-metre tall monstrosity known as The Monolith. Carved entirely out of granite, 121 writhing bodies for a human totem pole obelisk.
The park is open 24 hours a day and entrance is free, however it is quite popular with both locals and tourists, so try to avoid visiting at peak hours. For more information check the official web site.
Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum
That’s right, Gustav Vigeland had several brothers, one of which became a famous artist: Emanuel Vigeland. Although he never attained the same level of fame as his older brother, he was nonetheless an accomplished sculptor, painter and stained glass artist.
The mausoleum itself is an intriguing homage to life, death and sex, all rolled into one. It was originally intended to be a museum but halfway through Emanuel changed his mind and decided to combine mausoleum and museum into one. Shaped like a small church with bricked up windows, the acoustics of the building are so powerful that speaking loudly is simply not possible.
When Emanuel passed away 1948 he was cremated and ashes placed within a low-hanging niche above the entry. The end result is that every guest of the mausoleum has to bow down to Emanuel on their way out. For more information, check out the museum’s official web site.
Of course this is only the tip of the glacier of things to do in Oslo.