Oslo, Norway

When we were kids, we never realized that “Oslo paper” was named after one of the best cities in the world in which a person could live. And that’s not an exaggeration! The Norwegian capital boasts of one of the highest standards of living in any European city. As a plus, it boasts of a rich cultural streak that permeates every level of life.

Oslo is among the largest capitals of the world, but unlike most the city does not exploit nature. In fact, the urbanized area is only roughly 20% of its land — the rest are devoted to protected areas. That means you have lots of parks, forests, and hills to check out. And lakes… Oslo has hundreds of lakes. You can literally strike out in any direction and chance upon a beautiful patch of nature you can spend the day in!

The city, in contrast, needs a wee bit of guidance if you are to find the best spots. Oslo Cathedral is a must-see, with its iconic architecture and ceiling paintings. Speaking of architecture, there’s the Aker Brygge which is stunning in its own right. This is the literal heart of the city, never ceasing to beat! There are shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, and a boardwalk where you can just stroll and enjoy the beauty of the sea. The marble-and-granite Opera House is also a great place, but be careful not to slip out to the water!

If you are a fan of art, the National Museum of Art has some great treats for you. What’s really cool here is that the exhibits are not just confined to within the museum building — be prepared to head over to many of its annexes dedicated to various artistic branches. It’s worth your time if just for the sheer beauty of the exhibits.

For a really royal treat, there’s the Royal Palace and its impressive size. You can’t enter, but you can stroll the grounds of this structure with almost 200 rooms. Then there’s the City Hall, the Akershus Fortress… and lots more!

Seems like a lot for a city with only 20% of its land developed, doesn’t it?

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