Famous Norwegian explorers from the Oslo region

Discover the Oslo region's explorers

Did you know that some of the most adventurous people in history came from the Oslo region?

The stories of the region’s explorers are full of adventure, amazing discoveries, friendships and the courage to pursue seemingly impossible goals.

Visiting the Oslo region today, you can delve into their lives and expeditions at several museums. Should you get inspired, you'll have plenty of opportunity to do some exploring yourself – in the very same surroundings that shaped these great adventurers.

Fram Museum, detail
Fram Museum. detail
Photo: VisitOSLO/Susanne A. Finnes

Nansen and Amundsen – Norway's polar heroes

Fridtjof Nansen (18611930) grew up right outside Oslo. He started his polar career by crossing Greenland on skis in 1888, and followed up with a pioneering three-year boat expedition across the Arctic Ocean.  

Roald Amundsen
(18721928) also dwelled in the Oslo region. That is, when he wasn't out navigating the Northwest Passage, leading the first expedition ever to reach the South Pole, flying to the North Pole or crossing the Arctic by airship.

The tales of Nansen and Amundsen are wonderfully told at the Fram Museum in Oslo, where the wooden ship Fram ('forward'), which they both used, is the centerpiece.  With a bit of planning ahead, you can also visit the explorers' homes in the region.

Learn more:

Polar trivia

Did you know that ...

... Fridtjof Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
Nansen's humanitarian efforts included overseeing exchanges of prisoners after WW1 and relief work during the severe famine in the Soviet Union in 1921.

... the retired explorer Adolphus Greely called Nansen's Fram expedition "an illogical scheme of self-destruction"?
Obviously, Greely was not from the Oslo region.

... Fridtjof Nansen became a polar trendsetter?
His techniques of polar travel and innovations in equipment and clothing influenced a generation of subsequent Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.

Fridtjof Nansen qoute
Fridtjof Nansen qoute
Photo: Photo: Oslo Museum/Digitaltmuseum.no

... Amundsen's equipment and talent for planning won him the race to the South Pole?
Amundsen beat his rival Robert Scott by using lighter sleds and more appropriate clothing and equipment.

... Amundsen and his men spent three weeks creating an airstrip on the North Pole?
They needed the strip to get their plane back in the air. The men shovelled 600 tons of ice while consuming only one pound of daily food rations. 


... the British writer Roald Dahl was named after Amundsen?
Other namesakes include Nobel laureate, chemist and poet Roald Hoffmann, the Amundsen Trail on Staten Island and a popular Norwegian vodka. 

 

Roald Amundsen quote
Roald Amundsen qoute
Photo: Photo: Scanpix Norge

 

... the man who built Fram, Colin Archer, also lived in the Oslo region?
The renowned naval architect and shipbuilder was based in Larvik, Vestfold. Not surprisingly, making safe and durable ships was his specialty.

Thor Heyerdahl – ethnographic adventurer


Thor Heyerdahl
(1914–2002) hailed from Larvik in Vestfold. He is best known for crossing the Pacific Ocean in a light-weight balsa raft named Kon-Tiki, which he did to prove a theory of ancient migration from South America to Polynesia.

He followed up with several other expeditions that also were designed to demonstrate that widely separated ancient people may have been in touch. 

At the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, you can see several of Heyerdahl's original vessels and up-to-date exhibits on his many expeditions. It is also possible to visit his childhood home in Larvik