One of the best features of Oslo, Norway, is its setting. Located at the base of the Oslo Fjord, the city extends up the mountains that surround it on three sides. The city's cultural center is downtown, right on the water. Oslo is easy to navigate and so compact that you can walk almost everywhere.

Oslo was once considered the sleepy cousin of Stockholm and Copenhagen, but it has finally come into its own, with cultural and entertainment possibilities that rival those of cities many times its size. An opera house has opened on reclaimed land in the fjord, and Oslo's Philharmonic Orchestra is world-class. A giant sports stadium was built to replace the original stadium at Bislett, where dozens of speed-skating and track records were set.

For those who love the outdoors, Oslo has more than 1,550 mi/2,500 km of hiking and skiing trails within the city limits, and there's a good view at almost every turn. Don't let the climate scare you: It's not as cold as you might expect. Norway's coast is bathed in warm water thanks to the Gulf Stream. Although winter temperatures can be chilly, summers bring pleasantly warm days (up to 75 degrees F/24 degrees C), cool evenings and a sun that doesn't set until around 11 pmā€”giving visitors even more time to spend outdoors.

According to the United Nations, Oslo enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world, partly because of the discovery of substantial oil and gas deposits in the late 1960s. The United Nations has consistently named Norway the best place in the world to live. The capital city's public transport, clean water, access to nature, low crime rate and superb medical service in no small way contribute to this. Oslo also regularly tops the list of the most expensive cities in the world.

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