Museum District (Bygdoy) Walking Tour, Oslo

Museum District (Bygdoy) Walking Tour (Self Guided), Oslo

Also called Oslo's Museum District, Bygdoy is where some of the most visited museums in the city are located, displaying precious items from Norway’s past. Being one of the world’s most northerly nations, Norway has a long history of venturing into the Arctic; Norwegians were also the first to reach the South Pole. On this self-guided walk you will have a chance to learn about the nation's maritime tradition, Roald Amundsen's heroic polar expedition and more.
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Museum District (Bygdoy) Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Museum District (Bygdoy) Walking Tour
Guide Location: Norway » Oslo (See other walking tours in Oslo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: karen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Fram Museum
  • Norwegian Maritime Museum
  • Kon-Tiki Museum
  • Viking Ship Museum
  • Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
  • Gol Stave Church
  • Oscarshall Castle
Fram Museum

1) Fram Museum (must see)

The Fram Museum is found on Bygdøy peninsula, close to the Norwegian Maritime Museum and many other attractions. Opened in 1936, it is a tribute to Norway’s great tradition on polar exploration. One of the world’s most northerly nations, Norway has a long history of venturing into the Arctic, but a Norwegian was also the first to reach the South Pole – Roald Amundsen.

Amundsen, along with fellow explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Otto Sverdrup, are the main focus on the museum’s permanent collection. The museum is named after the original Norwegian exploration vessel, Fram. The ship forms the museum’s centerpiece, and visitors can go inside it and admire the preserved interior. There is also an exhibition on the Gjøa expedition, which saw Roald Amundsen and six crewmates traverse the perilous Northwest Passage into the Arctic.

Housed in an unusual triangular building, the Fram Museum has been visited by 10 million tourists since it first opened, and has grown in popularity in recent years. Opening hours vary throughout the year. The museum generally opens at 10am, except in the summer months when it opens at 9am.

Why You Should Visit:
This museum is the most comprehensive exhibit on polar exploration that you're likely to see.
The collection includes many photographs, maps, and equipment; the displays have timelines, journal entries, and historical contents.
There are also several specific rooms that simulate the conditions in the Arctic (and the Antarctic), like the one you go in freezing and windy conditions.
The facility offers lockers, snacks, and drinks so there's no need to rush out of it.

Consider buying the museum pack that gets you into the 3 museums all right next to each other: Fram, Kon-Tiki, and the Marine Museum.

Opening Hours:
Daily: (Oct-Apr): 10am-5pm; (May, Sep): 10am-6pm; (Jun-Aug): 9am-6pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Norwegian Maritime Museum

2) Norwegian Maritime Museum

The Norwegian Maritime Museum opened in 1914 and is housed in an award-winning modernist building. It contains a number of interesting exhibits charting the coastal and maritime culture and history of Norway. Two permanent video installations demonstrate life on Norway’s long, exposed coastline, whilst there are also areas of the museum devoted to the country’s maritime traditions – including shipping, fishing, ship building and marine archaeology.

The museum sits adjacent to a harbor which houses many historic boats, including the Arctic Gjoa ship captained by Roald Amundsen, and the three-masted schooner Svanen. Norway’s oldest surviving boat, the Stokkebaten, is also housed within the museum, alongside a fine collection of local maritime paintings and model boats. The museum complex also contains a library, shop, and an affordable café.

Entry is free with an Oslo Pass. The museum can be accessed from the city center via the local ferry service.

Why You Should Visit:
There aren't necessarily many dazzling things to see here, but there are a lot of smaller very intricate boat models on display.
As you climb through the floors, the museum gets better and better until you reach the top where you can enjoy the interactive sailing opportunities.
There are also many informative panels that tell you all about Norwegian maritime history, world maritime trade, and world maritime customs.

Walk about the banks of the Oslo Fjord located behind the museum.

Opening Hours:
Daily: (Oct-Apr): 11am-4pm; (May-Sep): 10am-5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Kon-Tiki Museum

3) Kon-Tiki Museum (must see)

The Kon-Tiki Museum is located on Bygdøy peninsula, close to several other museums and cultural attractions. It opened in 1949 and moved to its current location in 1957. The museum charts the history of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. Heyerdahl, born in 1914, carried out a number of Pacific Ocean expeditions in the 1940s and 1950s. His most famous trip to the South Pacific gives the museum its name.

Heyerdahl had a keen interest in the history of the Pacific Islands and firmly believed that South American indigenous tribes had colonized places like Easter Island long before Europeans arrived there. He proved it was possible to sail across the Pacific on a primitive balsa wood raft – the Kon-Tiki, named after an Incan sun god. The raft today forms the centerpiece of the museum’s collection. Other highlights include an exhibition on deep-sea creatures, including the full skeleton of a whale shark, and an extensive library on Norwegian exploration.

Why You Should Visit:
It is pretty unexpected and nice learning about something so far from Norway, but at the same time relevant to it.
The displays are interactive and well-organized and give a really good sense of the motivations and dangers behind the trip.

Make sure you visit at midday for the daily screening of the Kon-Tiki film, which gives a better picture of what Heyerdahl and his crew achieved and definitely enhances the rest of the exhibition.
Note that there is no food available in this museum – just a coffee/tea station.

Opening Hours:
Daily (Nov-Feb): 10am–4pm; (Mar-May): 10am–5pm; (Jun–Aug): 9:30am–6pm;
(Sep-Oct): 10am–5pm
Closed: Dec 24, 25, 31; Jan 1; May 17
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Viking Ship Museum

4) Viking Ship Museum (must see)

The Viking Ship Museum houses finds from the Viking age across Scandinavia. Vikings ruled the region from the 8th to 11th centuries and invaded several nations, including England and Iceland. They made it across the Atlantic to Newfoundland, and many believe they were the first Europeans to reach what is now the USA. Renowned for their fearsome nature, in recent times the Vikings have become more widely appreciated for their artistry and engineering skills.

The museum demonstrates this through an extensive collection of Viking artifacts, including beds, a horse cart, tents and sleds. Vikings are perhaps best remembered for their gargantuan ships, and a fully preserved Viking longboat, known as the Oseberg ship, is the collection's centerpiece. The museum was founded in 1913 to house this and other discovered ships. It is constructed of several large halls built between 1926 and 1957 as the museum expanded.

Why You Should Visit:
The best place to see real Viking ships in a great conservation state and other pieces of Viking history.
The building is a wonderful setting for the ships. Pretty cheap entrance ticket as well.
Outside café and pleasant sitting out area, weather permitting.

There's a locker you can use for free where you can put your bags, since they only allow small purses.
Your ticket also covers free entry to the Museum of Cultural History nearby within 48 hours.

Operation Hours:
Daily: (May-Sep) 9am-6pm; (Oct-Apr) 10am-4pm
Closed: 1 January, 6 February, 13 February
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Norwegian Museum of Cultural History

5) Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (must see)

The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History is an example of a 'skansen', a large open-air museum formed of historical buildings laid out to create a village. Skansens are a Scandinavian invention that have become popular around the world – many major European cities, including Cardiff and Stockholm, have these attractions. Oslo’s skansen is located on Bygdøy, a peninsula southwest of Oslo which houses a number of museums, including the Viking Ship and Kon-Tiki museums.

The museum was established in 1894 by Hans Aall. It currently contains over 150 buildings, drawn from all over Norway. Significant buildings housed within the site include the Gol Stave Church, the 14th-century Rauland Cabin, and an 18th century Oslo tenement building. The skansen also houses a collection of buildings and artifacts relating to the Sami, the native people of Lapland, an area covering the far north of Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

Why You Should Visit:
To get a keen insight into Norwegian life across hundreds of years.

Plan to spend at least 3-4 hours to give this skansen/museum justice.
It is worth taking the free guided tours (about 1h) for the interesting info about the buildings and cultural history.

Opening Hours:
Daily: (May 13 - Sep 14) 10am-6pm; (Sep 15 - May 14) Mon-Fri: 11am-3pm; Sat, Sun: 11am-4pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Gol Stave Church

6) Gol Stave Church

The Gol Stave Church is housed within the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, an open-air 'skansen', or living museum, which contains several ancient buildings from across the nation. The church dates back to the early 13th century. A stave church by design, it is a timber-framed, many-tiered construction. Stave churches were widespread in medieval Scandinavia, but few have survived intact. Originally built and located in the small village of Gol in Southern Norway, it was saved from demolition by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments, who bought the building outright in 1880.

Now relocated to the Museum of Cultural History, it arrived here via King Oscar II, who bought the church and moved it to his own private open-air museum. Eventually, this museum was merged with the church’s current home. One of the best-preserved timber churches in the entire country, it is one of the museum’s most notable attractions. Its popularity is such that in its original home village of Gol, a modern replica has been built as a tourist attraction. It was constructed in the 1980s, a hundred years after the church was sold off and replaced with a new building.

Why You Should Visit:
Great to start your learning about Norway's old churches in an intimate atmosphere.
Numerous runic inscriptions & carvings dated to the early Middle Ages can be seen inside!
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Oscarshall Castle

7) Oscarshall Castle

Oscarshall Castle is located on the eastern shore of Bygdøy, south west of Oslo’s city center. The first piece of land around the Oslofjord to be inhabited, Bygdøy now forms an affluent suburb of Oslo, which houses many of the city’s finest cultural attractions. The castle is owned by the Norwegian royal family, but is open to the public. It was built between 1847 and 1852. Designed by Danish architect Johan Nebelong, Oscarshall was built for Swedish king Oscar I, who lived at the castle for just five years.

One of the finest neo-Gothic works surviving in Norway, it was sold to the Norwegian state in 1863. A modest construction, Oscarshall can be seen across much of the Bygdøy peninsula, marked out by its distinctive single white tower. The castle was styled on English Romantic and neo-Gothic designs, with the interior designed and constructed entirely by Norwegian artists. The main building is surrounded by a park which stretches to the water’s edge, and an open pavilion adjacent to the fjord. The castle is open throughout the year, with guided tours available on request. The grounds can be explored free of charge as part of a day trip around Bygdøy’s many cultural attractions.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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