Oslo’s Royal Palace was designed by architect Hans Linstow and built in the early 19th century for King Charles III, who reigned over a united Norway and Sweden. He died before work was completed on the vast Neo-classical edifice and it was his son Oscar I who finally moved into the palace in 1849. Today it is the official city residence of King Harald V and his wife Queen Sonja, and is open during the summer for guided tours of parts of its 173 palatial rooms.
A dozen of the palace’s ornate staterooms are included on the tour, including the Council Chamber, King Haakon VII Suite, Bird Room — delicately decorated with 40 species of bird — the Mirror Hall, Great Hall — where lavish balls still take place under dripping crystal chandeliers — and the Banqueting Hall.
The colorful Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place outside the palace daily at 1.30pm; it’s short in winter but in summer takes a full 40 minutes of pageantry, with the King’s Guards on horseback, bands, square bashing and parades along Karl Johans Gate.
The Royal Palace is surrounded by the manicured gardens of Slottsparken, also laid out by Hans Linstow. As well as lakes, leafy promenades and picnic spots, the park is dotted with statues of Norway’s great and good, including King Carl Johan and Queen Maud, mathematician Nils Henrik Abel and women’s rights defender Camilla Collett — the latter two both by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, whose lifework can also be seen in Oslo’s Vigeland Park.
Slottsplassen 1, Oslo. Open daily 11am–5pm from mid June to late August for guided tours only. There are four English-language tours per day, at 12pm, 2pm, 2.30pm and 4pm. Tickets adult NOK 135; seniors, students & children younger than 13 NOK 105; family ticket NOK 330. Slottsparken is open daily free of charge. The palace is a 10-minute walk from Central Station.