Roald Amundsen’s home – Uranienborg

Roald Amundsen’s home – Uranienborg

Many people are fascinated by all aspects of Roald Amundsen’s life.  Norway’s great polar explorer is celebrated at several places around Oslo – for example at the amazing Fram museum on the Oslo Bygdøy peninsula.  However for a less well known destination, you might like to visit Uranienborg in Svartskog.  This was Amundsen’s home from 1908 and 1928 and you will realize immediately on arrival that this was a man who valued privacy and of course proximity to the sea in his daily life at home.  The house is open at times announced on the website, or by booking for a private visit, during May to September. Click here for opening hours.

Amundsen’s house is now a museum containing the explorer’s own collection, giving a unique insight into the life of one of the greatest polar explorers in history.

On a quiet day, I found it memorable to walk along Amundsen’s path by the fjord to a favourite viewpoint.

You can drive from Vollen south via the Oslo fjord tunnel, or by setting out north and driving via Oslo along the E18 motorway.   For a more scenic route, you could drive south via Slemmestad, Nærsnes, Åros and Sætre and then into the tunnel across to Drøbak and continue on the E134.  There are pleasant cafés in Sætre, Drøbak and along the road down to Uranienborg.

Drammen Spiral tunnel (Spiralen Drammen)

Drammen Spiral tunnel (Spiralen Drammen)

The spiral tunnel in the city of Drammen is a unique experience and in fact has been ranged by CNN Travel as one of the world’s most special tunnels.  You enter from the town and drive up 1650 meters in six and a half spirals , to emerge at Skansen. Here, apart from the magnificent view over the city, the river, and far away across the valley to the snow topped mountains of Blefjell, you will find a restaurant, outdoor folk museum and lovely paths for walking or skiing.  A dense network of these paths is lit in the winter for evening skiing.

The tunnel was excavated in 1953 when stone was needed for road and harbour building in the city.  It starts 50 meters above sea level and comes out at the top at 213 meters over sea level. The tunnel is in the shape of a helix and the car driver will soon find that he can set the driving wheel in one position to take the vehicle all the way up to the top.  Pedestrians may not use the tunnel and instead there is a zigzag track up the hillside.

In the photos above you see the Spiral Troll who stands guard half way up the tunnel.  If you decide to take the 2 km walk (please see the map below, from the car park, through the folk park where there are houses, a shop, a cabin and several Norwegian style farm store-houses (stabbur) then you’ll pass these and more.  The old style shop is open all the Sundays in May, June, August and September from noon to 3 p.m.  They sell pancakes, coffee, icecream, lemonade and candies.   Along the last 500 meters of the walk, there are magnificent views over the Drammen river and to the mountains beyond.  And pleasant benches to rest while enjoying it.  I especially recommend Hans Hansen’s viewpoint!  You end back at the restaurant, where there is a canon, pointing over the city below, to fascinate children.

Oscarshall – The Royal Summer Palace

Oscarshall – The Royal Summer Palace

Oscarshall, the Royal “summer palace” in Oslo, is a magical place, not very much visited by tourists. This is a small, beautifully maintained palace on the peninsula of Bygdøy in Oslo.  During opening hours you are welcome to wander in the grounds, from the palace right down to the sea and you will find lunch or a snack at the Queen Josephine café.  However joining a guided tour is a very special experience for the palace transports visitors back to the mid 1800’s.

Oscarshall is open from 1st June to 30th August, from Wednesday to Sunday.   From 31st August to 9th September the palace is only open at weekends Friday – Sunday.
Opening hours are from 11:00 – 17:00.

Visit a Lighthouse

Visit a Lighthouse

A pleasant drive of about three quarters of an hour takes you to Filtvet lighthouse (Filtvet fyr). It is also possible to take the 250 bus going south from Vollen and change to the 85 bus.  This bus trip takes about an hour but check on the bus planner.  Filtvet is an important lighthouse at the entrance to the narrowest part of the Oslo fjord.  The restaurant, Villa Malla, is right beside the lighthouse and commands an amazing view of the fjord and the passing ships and boats of all sizes.  Visitors can enjoy Mediterranean style lunch or dinner buffets or just buy icecream. At lunch time, you can have a sustaining bowl of soup of the day while watching for some of the world’s largest cruise ships to pass by – or just a few sailboats.  If planning on having dinner, check http://villamalla.no/info/ to ensure that the restaurant is not closed for a special event such as a wedding.
Right beside the restaurant you might like to visit the art gallery, Galleri Malla, sunbathe on the sandy beach or have a swim in the fjord. The most adventurous might like to book a water scooter for speed on the fjord

After visiting Filtvet, you might like to return to Sheeps Inn by driving up the west side of the peninsula, perhaps visiting the picturesque village of Holmsbu.  Alternatively you could return along the Oslo fjord coast, through the villages of Sætre, Båtstø, Nærsnes and Slemmestad.

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter / Art Exhibition Centre

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter / Art Exhibition Centre

The Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK) is located in the beautiful park and recreation area of Høvikodden on the Oslo fjord peninsula, surrounded by public trails, wharfs and shorelines.  The statues outdoors in the park are well worth looking at.  The exhibitions change several times a year.  For example from 15th February to 19th May in connection with the 50 year anniversary of the first human being moon landing, the Henie Onstad Centre hosted the fascinating multi culture MOON EXHIBITION, made in cooperation with the Louisiana Museum for Modern Art.  Included were paintings, installations, film, sculptures, literature and items associated with the moon landing. 

The museum ticket is NOK 120,-, students NOK 70,-  with free entrance for children and youths below 18 years.
Opening hours:
Monday: closed
Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 – 17:00
The centre is closed on 1st, 17th and 30th May; 21st December – 26th December and on December 31st and January 1st.

The photos shown below are from the permanent Yayoi Kusama installation – Hymn of Life (on the left hand side), and the Moon Exhibition

Sonja Henie was one of Norway’s most famous women, winning three Olympic gold medals, six European Championships and ten World Championships in figure skating and, after 1936, becoming a very successful film actress in Hollywood.  Sonja and her husband Niels Onstad donated all her awards, films and documentation as well as their art collection to the Exhibition Centre at Høvik in Bærum.
Today the Henie Onstad Art Centre is well known for its modern art exhibitions, sculpture park and events.

Henie Onstad kunstsenter Sonja Henies vei 31, 1311 Høvikodden, Norway

Mini cruise round the Oslo fjord islands

Mini cruise round the Oslo fjord islands

Drive from Vollen to Sandvika and walk down to the river landing stage at Kadettangen.  There the boats “M/S Rigmor” and “M/S Rigfar” leave for a 90 minute ferry boat trip with great views of the coastlines, lighthouses and islands.  The ferry leaves at weekends from 18th May – 2nd September and daily except Mondays from 23rd June to 12th August at the following times: 10:30, 13:30 and 15:45.  Unlike the 12:00 Mini-cruise which does not make any stops, the regular ferries stop at a number of islands to let off and fetch passengers.

12:00 Mini-cruise – Recommended for sightseeing. Does NOT stop at the islands.

Sails every Saturday and Sunday from 18. May to 2. September. Also sails on Whit Monday.
Sails daily (except Mondays) from 23rd June to 12th August.

Enjoy the Oslo fjord for an hour and a half sailing to idyllic places not visited by ordinary ferries. The captain tells something of history and facts of current interest. Beginning at Sandvika, you sail past the Nesøya island through the sound, along the Holmen fjord, through “Dinner bay” out between Gåsøya & Ostøya islands where you can see the whole inner fjord into Oslo.  Then back to Sandvika about 13:30.

Ferry and Minicruise: Arrival times at the islands are approximate.  Be at the landing stage at least 5 minutes early.

The ferry takes passengers to the islands but you can take the boat as a sight-seeing trip.  However the Mini-cruise is recommended as this is a guided trip and does not stop at the islands.  These tours take 90 minutes.

For more information about the ferry and mini-cruise departure times, consult side 2 i “Rigmor tidende”: http://www.rigmor.no/?page=16

10:30 Ferry

Sails every Saturday and Sunday from mid May to the beginning of September. Also sails on Whit Monday

Sails every day except Monday from 23rd June to 12th August: Leaves Sandvika 10.30, Borøya 10.45, Brønnøya Nord & Ostøya 10.50, Brønnøya Øst 10.55, Langåra & Brønnøya Syd 11.10, Hareholmen & Høyerholmen 11.20, Brønnøya Øst & Ostøya 11.35,
Brønnøya Nord & Borøya 11.45, arrival Sandvika 12.00

13:30  Ferry.

Sails every Saturday and Sunday  from mid May to the beginning of September. Also sails on Whit Monday

Sails every day except Monday from 23rd June to 12th August

Leaves Sandvika 13.30, Borøya 13.45, Brønnøya Nord and Ostøya 13.50, Brønnøya Øst 13.55, Langåra og Brønnøya Syd 14.10, Hareholmen and Høyerholmen 14.20, Brønnøya Øst and Ostøya 14.40,
Brønnøya Nord and Borøya 14.45, arrival Sandvika 15.00

15:30 Ferry

Sails every Friday and Sunday from mid May to early September

Sails every day except Monday from 23rd June to 12th August

Leaves Sandvika 15.30, Borøya 15.45, Brønnøya Nord & Ostøya 15.50, Brønnøya Øst 15.55, Langåra & Brønnøya Syd 16.10, Hareholmen & Høyerholmen 16.20, Brønnøya Øst & Ostøya 16.35,
Brønnøya Nord & Borøya 16.45, arrival Sandvika 17.00