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Bygdøy, The Island of Oslo Museums

Bygdøy is one of the must-sees in Oslo, because there are some fantastic museums to check out.


Not only is it a gorgeous island with some beautiful beaches, but it has no less than six museums to immerse yourself in Norway’s maritime culture. We visited the Kon-tiki and the Viking Ship museums, but can’t wait to go back and see what some of the others hold. If you want to spend your day in Oslo museums, Bygdøy is the place for you!

There are a number of ways to get to Bygdøy, drive, take the bus, or take a ferry. We chose the ferry both ways even though we had a car. We weren’t sure if there would be adequate parking; it turns out there is, so maybe next time we will drive even though we love taking boats as much as possible.

Somehow I expected the museums to be all in one area, but they are a little spread out. If you are walking, it could take 15-30 minutes
to get between areas. The bus goes to all the areas, and all you have to do is take that between museums if you don’t feel like walking.

Museum Island Oslo.

After disembarking from the ferry at the second stop on the Bygdøy Island, we went directly to the Kon-tiki Museum. Jim has always been a Thor Heyerdahl fan, and after visiting the museum, now I am too.

What a forward-thinking guy. Trying to figure out how the Polynesians traveled across the ocean, he set out in the late 1940’s with a small crew and a reed boat to see if he could cross the Pacific Ocean. Wow!

Ferry boat that will take you to the museum island in Oslo.
The small ferry that runs to the island of Oslo museums.

The museum has a few mock-ups of his boat, retells the whole history, and has plenty of artifacts of his trip. One entire section is dedicated to Easter Island and the Polynesians that lived there. Since we’ve been to Easter Island that made the museum that much more interesting to us. There have been a few movies made of the Kon-tiki, and the latest was released in 2012. If you are going to Norway, I would highly recommend watching one of the movies first. You will get so much more out of the visit.

After the Kon-tiki, we hopped the bus and went to the Viking Museum. The Norwegians are famous for their Viking period, which curiously only lasted about 200 years. There is so much more to their history and culture, but hey, viking fans we are, so we couldn’t miss this one.

Kon Tiki Museum Oslo.

I had read a few reviews before going, and most of them were lackluster, complaining that there were only a couple of boats. I have to disagree, I found the museum well worth the visit.

The way these boats were preserved is that they were used to bury people and were found in mounds, protecting much of the contents. One of the boats was used for a very rich and influential lady, and the contents were spectacular. Most impressive to me were the three ornately carved sleds that were found in it.

Viking Museum Oslo.

I found both museums extremely interesting and spent more time there than I had anticipated. I am looking forward to the next time I visit Oslo so that I can visit one of the other four museums: the Fram Museum, the Holocaust Center, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, or the Norwegian Folk Museum.

You can also buy the Visit Oslo Pass to lessen the cost of paying for all the museums separately.

Have you been to Oslo? How about Bygdøy Island? Which museums did you visit and would you recommend them to others? Let us know in the comment section.