In recent years this sprawling city of 475,000 inhabitants has taken off: Shops are open late; pubs, cafés, and restaurants are crowded at all hours; and theaters play to full houses every night. Even without nightlife, Oslo has a lot to offer--parks, water, trees, hiking and skiing trails, and, above all, spectacular views. Starting at the docks, the city sprawls up the sides of the mountains that surround it, providing panoramic views from almost any vantage point but no definable downtown skyline. A recent building spree has added a number of modern towers, particularly in the area around the Central Railway Station, which clash painfully with the neoclassical architecture in the rest of the the city.
Beyond the city, Oslo Fjord teems with activity, from summer sailors and shrimpers to merchant ships and ferries heading for Denmark and Germany.