Oslo is a fantastic city to explore and get immersed into the Norwegian culture. Sitting at the base of the southern coast and surrounded by idyllic fjords, Oslo is famous for its gorgeous parklands, fascinating museums and sublime scenery. Having a convenient transit system and a great bicycle rental pass makes it easy to navigate the city. Although Norway is known to be one the most expensive countries in the world, it’s residents are still incredibly happy and proud to live there.
Language – Norwegian
Currency – $1 USD – 8.54 NOK (Norwegian Krone)
Population – 673,469
Transport – A convenient Metro System and City Bikes
The Oslo pass gives you a discount on most of the city’s top sights and restaurants, as well as: free entry to 30 museums, public transit, and 20% off the TusenFryd Amusement Park.
Buy the Oslo Pass HERE
How to get around
Oslo is incredibly easy to navigate. Get an Oslo Pass and use its Metro connections around the city, or rent a bicycle from its dedicated bike system with numerous pit stops around the city. Find a location, scan the barcode on your app, and off you go. If you want to take a break, wander through a park, or grab a cup of coffee, just drop the bike off at the nearest pit stop. The bicycle is a wonderful vehicle to explore the city and its surroundings.
Download the bicycle rental app HERE
Oslo – City of Music
Hosting a wide variety of festivals throughout the year, Oslo is a vibrant city that appreciates art, music and film . From jazz to metal, or folk to Opera, there are many music festivals scheduled for all seasons. The most important: ‘by:Larm,’ a 4 day festival with an exhaustive music schedule.
Check out the Festival HERE
The Norwegian National Opera house is the most iconic building in Oslo. Situated on the harbor, this architectural masterpiece blends the city with the ocean. The Opera House invites you to walk on its roof, explore its intricate crevices and admire it from every angle. This is an interactive piece of architecture that invites its guests for exploration.
The views from the roof are spectacular. One side showcases the fjords stretching out into the distance, while the other portrays the city core with its pink-hued city hall. Set against the hills and mountains that embrace the city of Oslo, the Opera House hosts a variety of events throughout the year.
In the summertime, the Opera House acts as a backdrop to the waterfront. Where many locals and tourists alike gather along the boardwalks to enjoy the Norwegian sunshine and fresh air. If you’re feeling really brave, jump into the clear and cold waters of the fjord!
The waterfront is a great spot to capture beautiful images of the fjords. If you continue exploring along the Esplanade, you will find street performers, skateboarders, and a bunch of murals painted along the strip.
The more prominent feature that resembles a giant block of ice out of the sea is called ‘She Lies’ by artist Monica Bonvicini. A permanent sculpture floating serenely on the calm waters in front of the Opera House. She Lies’ effortlessly turns with the tide and the force of the wind, creating a kaleidoscope of color reflected onto the surface of the water.
Oslo is a vibrant city that appreciates art, music and film . From jazz to metal, or folk to Opera, there are a bunch of music festivals scheduled for all seasons. The most important is: by:Larm, a festival occupying Oslo during four nights with an exhaustive music schedule.
Check out the Festival line up HERE
Oslo has a bit of an obsession with displaying its rich history and celebrated artists. There are many museums that make up the foundations of the city. Whether you like war ships or admire the work of Edvard Munch, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a short list of museums that you shouldn’t miss:
Frogner Park/ Vigeland Sculpture Park
The largest collection of sculptures ever made by a single artist is exhibited at the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Created by Gustav Vigeland, more than 200 bronze, granite, and iron sculptures dominate the park depicting humanity in rawest form. As soon as you enter the park, you will see a range of tall, naked figures staring you down or threatening to throw a small child at your feet. Stomping and screaming on his plinth, people’s favourite sculpture is the ‘angry boy.’ Over the years, visitors have held the boy’s hand to try and calm him down, so the bronze patina has rubbed off.
Every face tells a story and sparks an emotional response. Old women crouch on the steps to gather the warmth around their naked bodies, while a tall man is clutched in a fight with three flying children as he stomps onto another.
At the highest point in Frogner Park, is a giant monolith that stretches towards the skies. Upon closer inspection you will realize that it is comprised of a tower of bodies crammed together in a gruesome description of the ‘circle of life.’ The sculptures are a sublime representation of the human form, and it’s fun to wander around the park trying to copy the postures of each of them while imagining their thoughts and feelings.
Emanuel Vigeland Museum
Oslo’s best-kept secret is only frequented by a select few and is only worth a visit if you enjoyed the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Possibly the most obscure sight in Oslo. Enter through a low iron door into a vast barrel-vaulted room filled with painting and works in Vigeland’s unique style. The Vigeland Museum is actually a mausoleum, the final resting place of the famed sculptor Gustav Vigeland and his family. Vigeland’s obsession with naked bodies and unnerving erotic scenes is present in the dark cavernous halls. Once it was decided that the museum should also serve as a mausoleum, Vigeland had all the windows bricked up, turning the place into the cave-like burial chamber which produces a sense of being underground. The dense darkness and creepy echo of the place will penetrate your senses, and the more you scout about with a torchlight, the more detail of Vigeland’s paintings and frescoes will come into view. Occasionally, music performances are held inside the museum. Its unique acoustics and rare atmosphere are worth experiencing if you are visiting during these times.
The Vigeland Museum opens only for a few hours on Sundays.
Norsk Folkemuseum – Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
One of the largest and oldest open-air museums in the world, dedicated to the history of Norwegian life, the museum is a representation of how people lived from 1500 to the present. The inside exhibitions house a number of traditional craft items, costumes, weapons and toys from the Sami culture (which is represented by a series of little wooden headed dolls). The cherry on the cake is the huge Gol Stave Church, one of the five medieval buildings of the museum. It’s dark color absorbs all the light and stands as black coal against the trees in a jarring reminder of the Black Death that once ravaged the lands. Visitors are free to explore the interiors of the church and admire the unique architecture which still transpires a unique smell from its wood.
Adults – 130 NOK
Kids under 6 – FREE
Oslo Pass – FREE
The Munch museum is home to a collection of works by the expressionist artist Edvard Munch. Featuring the famous painting ‘Scream,’ and also a collection by the influential contemporary artist Marene Dumas. Her expressive figures and motifs are inspired by Munch’s work. The museum focuses on the themes of innocence, sexuality, loneliness and death represented by some of the best artists of our time.
Located on the Bygdoy peninsula with attractive views of the fjord. This oddly shaped museum with an apex roof, is the home of the impressive polar ship, Fram.
This formidable vessel is four times the height of the average person and is considered a national treasure in Norway’s collection. Hop aboard the strongest ship ever built and imagine yourself breaking through the dense ice on your adventure to discover the poles. The Northern lights experience that runs every twenty minutes will make you feel like you’ve truly arrived to the extraordinary expanse of the North.
Adults 120 NOK
Kids 50 NOK
The Mini Bottle Museum
Many museums around the world are born after a small collection that eventually grows and needs to be moved to a bigger space. The owner of The mini bottle Gallery in Norway has an obsession with miniature bottles. Over 53,000 bottles from around the world decorate the walls. Some filled with berries, some filled with mice, and others filled with their original contents of beers and liquors. If the thought of being surrounded by thousands of tiny bottles isn’t enough, there’s also a slide that slips down into the ‘horror room,’ filled with some of the worst horrors anyone can imagine – more tiny bottles.
TusenFryd Theme Park
No city is complete without a theme park, and the largest amusement park in Norway is also the most terrifying. Old favourites like the log flume and carousel are present, as well as a large bone-crunching rollercoaster that will leave you feeling like you left your head somewhere on the track. The park features attractions for all the family, including a set of creepy troll statues that jump out from the forests at the back of the park. Norway has a fascination with trolls, so even the famous rocky outcrop of Trolltunga in Roldal means ‘Troll’s Tongue.’
During the summer, the adjoining water park Badefryd is open. Its huge water slide is something you don’t want to miss.
Take bus No.500 from the city towards TusenFryd
Entrance Fee –
Adults 329 NOK
Kids 269 NOK
20% off with the OSLO Pass
Fancy a spot of skiing or snowboarding amid hopping to museums and cycling around the city? You can go to Holmenkollen, a ski recreation area with a famous ski jumping hill; where you can also get an epic panoramic view of the city. Or you can head to Oslo Vinterpark resort for a fun day of slipping and sliding in a fresh dump of snow. Both places can be easily reached through the metro.
Fjord-land Boat Cruise
Oslo is the entrance to the fjords, here you will see many boat cruises enter and leave multiple times a day from the city hall pier (which is close to the Opera House). If you are interested in catching some impressive views of the Opera House, looking at the colorful summer houses nestled along the banks, and rejoicing over the idyllic bays created by the maze of islands; then you shouldn’t miss this opportunity. Watching the world go by on the tranquil fjord with the sun sparkling over the water, is a stunning way to spend an afternoon. The air on the fjords is pretty brisk in the colder months so be sure to wear warm clothes. Additionally, some cruises will drop you off at the entrance to the Fram Museum. Cruising towards the peninsula on the deck is a great way to start your fascinating adventure learning about the old warship. You can hop on the return leg of another cruise boat when you’re finished.
Cruise Tickets can be bought on the same day, and more information about a range or cruises can be found HERE.
Feel like an impromptu dance on a Sunday night? Pop on your ballroom shoes and join the crowds at Bla. They have awesome concerts and live bands throughout the week, and can dance till the early hours on Sunday!
This place will make you feel like you’ve sunk beneath the ocean and landed on the deck of a shipwreck from the turn of the century. The ambience and design of the place is certainly unique, and the opera performances on Tuesdays and Thursdays will enhance your experience. Bring your own food and stay all night sipping on local beers!
This is a cool place where locals gather to have a drink. The small intimate bar will allow you to interact with trendy locals who are more than happy to share the love of their city with you.
A whole bunch of hidden gems adorn the city streets, so there’s always something new popping up in this vibrant city. Take a stroll around the trendy neighborhoods to discover some of Norway’s best local treats and create memories for a lifetime.
A note on alcohol
Planning a cheap night in? The easiest places to buy booze on a Friday night in Oslo are probably in France because you can’t buy alcohol after 6 pm. On Saturday’s the last call is at 3 pm, then closed till Monday. If you’re going for a long weekend and want to enjoy a few drinks in your Air BnB, plan early! The system is pretty popular and the locals prefer to keep it that way.
Where to stay
Oslo is a great place to get a sense of the Norwegian lifestyle. There are many great townhouses available on Air BnB where you can stay. Rent the entire place to yourself and discover the city, or stay for a few days with one of the many friendly locals who will show you the best parts of their beloved city.
Traveling as a couple can save you a few NOK in Oslo since a lot of hotels offer rooms for two at the same price that you would pay as a single traveler. Located a few minutes away from the harbor is the Saga Hotel Oslo, offering a hearty buffet breakfast and comfortable, contemporary lodgings.
Double room from 1,200 NOK per night.
If you have trouble finding any of these cool places please check out this map that we have marked to help you along your way. Happy travels.
This article is a contribution from one of our amazing travel writers Becky Coe on her experiences traveling Oslo. For more by Becky Coe check out her photos at https://becky-alice-coe.format.com/.