I went on a weekend break to Oslo, Norway. This is an incredibly beautiful city and in general it is very wheelchair accessible.
Everybody always says that Norway is ridiculously expensive. I live in London and it didn’t seem vastly different to most things in London, but there was one moment I was left dumbstruck at a price. In one of the underground stations, I went into a convenience store. By the counter, there was the usual selection of chocolate bars. A chocolate bar in the UK would be £0.50 or maybe $0.50 in the US but in Norway it was over $5! That really shocked me, but like I said, that was pretty much the only time throughout the weekend that I was horrified by pricing.
I stayed at the Park Inn hotel in Oslo. This hotel was a reasonable price and reasonably centrally located. It is a Radisson hotel, and I have stayed at some of their properties before and found their accessible rooms to be good.
The adapted room was a decent size with a roll in shower. It had the 2 standard drop rails on either side of the toilet that I found to be a typical feature in Scandinavian adapted toilets. Both of them can be moved up or down so side entry is possible. However, for someone like me, who needs a vertical grab rail in order to pull themselves up from the toilet, it is not perfect!
The rest of the hotel is modern and it has lifts and level access at ground floor level to the street. I did not see any parking so perhaps it is underground.
To get around the city, I used different forms of transport. Mainly, I wheeled around and all pavements had dropped curbs. I should note, however, how surprised I was that their dropped curbs were not flush with the ground but dropped down to maybe 2 inches above the road level. I don’t think that this would ever be too much of an issue for wheelchair users but it did mean that you had to tip your wheelchair backwards to get up onto the pavement and you would bounce down slightly when descending. As I was being pushed, I had to be careful every time we crossed a road to make sure I did not fall out of my wheelchair! This is not an insurmountable problem but definitely not a smooth experience and something to which you have to quickly adapt your wheeling style.
I used the subway system and that was fine, as they had tunnels leading to the platforms. However, due to the need to ensure the incline was not too steep, some of the tunnels were quite long, and if you were wheeling yourself, I imagine they would be quite tiring! The locals had motorised wheelchairs so this wasn’t an issue for them. I did not see anybody else with a manual wheelchair.
One important thing to note is that this is a credit card country and payments in cash are not usual. On the journey from the airport, I took a taxi to the hotel and at the end of the ride, I offered the driver cash, which I had made sure to get out of the cashpoint before I left of the airport as I have learned that it is always important to get some local currency on you as soon as you arrive somewhere. The driver honestly looked at us like we were trying to hand him a dog turd! He said “don’t you have card?” That was an immediate learning experience for us! We could easily have gotten away with not getting out any cash for our visit and relying solely on card.
To get to different parts of the city, I had to travel by public boat. This was definitely problematic – there didn’t appear to be an easily accessible way to get on this boat, and I actually was left behind by one boat because I thought it would be better for me to wait until the able-bodied passengers had boarded first. The next thing I knew, the boat was pulling away and despite my and the already boarded passengers’ shouts of indignation, the boat did not do anything and I had to wait for the next boat.
I also took one the tourist trips down the fjords. Again, there wasn’t an obviously accessible boat cruise that I noticed but I managed to get on and off the boat in my wheelchair. Not sure what you would do in a motorised wheelchair that is too heavy to lift on and off. I’m sure there is a way, I just didn’t see it.
In much better news, the museums that I visited were very accessible. They all had accessible toilets and as far as I was aware there was level access throughout. Where there were different floors, there were reasonable size lifts between floors.
In the main part of the city, the outdoor Viking Fortress is not accessible due to the terrain being very hilly and having a couple of steps. However, the Viking boat Museum is completely accessible and has a disabled toilet.
The Edward Munch Art Museum is totally accessible and has a disabled toilet. It is set in a park which has concrete pathways throughout and seems very accessible.
I also visited the Arctic Explorer Museum which was accessible and had a disabled toilet. There was just one interactive exhibit which wasn’t accessible, as it had a moving floor and a step up to board it.
All of the museums were interesting, but I would say that my favourite was definitely the Viking Museum that had different types of Viking boats on display. It is very much up to the individual to visit the museums that have things in which they are interested. I didn’t find any of the museums boring but definitely it would depend on your level of interest. I got round all of the museums easily in one day!
One of the principal areas for restaurant dining seemed to be the area around the harbour. The restaurant called Louise and other nearby restaurants by the water’s edge don’t have their own individual adapted bathrooms, but they share a disabled bathroom and all the restaurants have level access. On jetties overlooking the water are various restaurants, and I went to a restaurant called something like “Ska,” which had a beautiful view out over the fjord. It had a disabled toilet, an outdoor seating area, and level access. I shared the seafood platter with my husband. We have eaten seafood around the world, but this was really exceptional – so fresh and tasty!
Overall, I had a great time in Oslo. I visited in September and it was so lovely and sunny that I spent some of the time in just a strappy top! The sky was totally clear and the air felt really clean. Oslo is definitely a good place to visit whether or not you are in a wheelchair!