Oslo is home to some of the best preserved Viking ships, over 1200 years old, as well as the Polar expedition ship Fram.
The Fram Museum
Since we were about to embark on our own Polar journey north to Svalbard, we could not pass up visiting the ship known as the world’s strongest Polar vessel. The Fram is famous for three Polar expeditions: with Fridtjof Nansen on a drift over the Arctic Ocean from 1893-96, with Otto Sverdrup to the arctic archipelago west of Greenland (now the Nunavut region of Canada) from 1898-1902, and with Roald Amundsen to Antarctica for his South Pole expedition from 1910-12.
At the Fram, we took a journey on these three expeditions through photographs, film, and boarding the ship herself to explore! The exhibition has text in nine different languages and explains each of the three great Polar expeditions. A light effects show took us back in time to feel what it must have been like to sail under the Aurora Borealis. Descending below deck, we glimpsed what life was like on the ship in the cabins, lounge, cargo hold and engine room. Be sure to enter the Polar simulator to experience what -10° Celsius feels like!
Viking Ship Museum
The word Viking conjures up images of plunders in horned helmets sailing the seas in their wooden ships. While research has proven Vikings were much more civilized than their reputation and did not actually wear horned helmets, they were undoubtedly master ship builders and seamen. Three Viking ships, discovered over 100 years ago in an embalmed state in clay burial mounds around the Oslofjord, are on display at the Viking Ship Museum.
As we entered the museum, we were immediately drawn to the majestic and beautiful Oseberg ship. Discovered in 1904, the Oseberg dates back to around the early 800’s and is built almost entirely of oak. It is 22 meters long and 5 meters wide, with a mast of approximately 9–10 meters. The ship has 15 pairs of oar holes, which means that 30 people could row the ship. It is carved in magical detail with a swirling bow and stern and ornate patterns of Norse sagas and gods carved on its sides. The ship was a grave for a Viking Queen, who was buried with all of her belongs to aid passage into the next life.
While many of the most valuable treasures had been looted, textiles, shoes, and tools preserved from the grave are on display. Three intricately carved wooden beds and an oak cart designed to be pulled by horses are a few of the other beautiful finds from the grave.
The Gokstad, equally as well preserved as the Oseberg, dates from around 890 A.D. Not as intricate and luxurious as the Oseberg, the Gokstad was far more seaworthy. The oar holes and sides are higher; the discovery of 64 wooden shields with the ship is a good indication it was used for war. It was also used as a ceremonial burial mound for an important chieftain and was discovered with a variety of household items, harnesses for horses, sledges, and pair of small boats.
The third ship, Tune, is in an almost complete state of disrepair and was also a burial mound for another important chieftain. Despite being badly damaged, it is easy to view and appreciate the construction details of Viking times.
Opening Hours: May – September 9am – 6pm, October – April 10am – 4pm
How to Get There
Both the Fram and Viking Ship Museum are located on the Bygdøy peninsula. Bygdøy is easily reached by bus 30 or by the hop on/hop off ferry quayside from City Hall.
The Oslo Pass allows the holder free entrance to all of Oslo’s most popular museums and attractions, including both the Fram and Viking Ship Museum. In addition, it gives you free access to buses, trams, and the ferries to Bygdøy. We utilized the 72 hour Oslo Pass and highly recommend it!
495 NOK for 72 Hour Pass (approximately $85 USD per person)
About The Author
Jennifer Dombrowski is a training specialist and social media strategist in the field of higher education. Based in Italy with her husband, Tim, they have a passion for travel and love discovering the world. Follow her on twitter @jdomb or on Facebook.