Oslo is a magnificent place. Modern buildings are perfectly entwined with the facades of 19th century architecture and the gleaming white Opera house is just as imposing as Sydneys, the shore of the Oslofjord actually lapping at the base of the sloping roof. Although bright and modern, Oslo’s surrounding 360 views to distance hills and fjords never allow you to forget the dramatic scenery that Norway is famed for.
CURRENCY | Norwegian Krone
Duration of train journey | About 6 hours
Time needed in Oslo | 2-3 days
SEASONS & WEATHER | COLD IN WINTER, with beautiful snow scenes. Mild in Spring and Autumn, and warm/hot in summer.
LANGUAGES | NORWEGIAN, BUT ENGLISH IS WIDELY SPOKEN
HOW TO SAY HELLO | HALLO
HOW TO SAY THANK YOU | TAKK
TRANSPORT IN OSLO | PUBLIC TRANSPORT, BICYCLE AND WALKING ARE BEST! (For transport tickets visit Ruter‘s)
NEAREST AIRPORT | Oslo Airport (OSL)
NEAREST TRAIN STATION | Oslo Central Station
THINGS TO VISIT, PLACES TO SEE
Compact and easy to walk around Oslo is the perfect city to explore on foot, and by boat…
Like many cities a ‘tourist pass’ is offered in Oslo (The Oslo Pass at 445 NOK), which can offer a great discount on ferries and sites, depending on how many you’re including in your visit.
The Opera House | Free | Possibly one of the only Operas houses of the world where you are actively encouraged to walk on the roof. It’s free to wander across these incredibly modern, sloping roofs and also to enter inside to peer at the impressive interior design.
Holmenkollen Ski Jump & Ski Museum | 150 NOK or free with the Oslo Pass | Norway is famed for its ski culture, and the Holmenkollen Ski jump and Museum did not disappoint. It’s located in Oslo’s outer suburbs, which gives you time to explore outside of the city centre.
The Royal Palace | 135 NOK | Set at the end of Karl Johan’s Gate, Oslo’s Royal Palace sits amongst a range of public gardens and stands before Slottsplassen, which is a wide courtyard usually held for public and national events. The Palace Park is a beautiful place to wander through or to stop with a picnic.
Vigeland Sculpture Park | free | I think Vigeland Sculpture Park is a must do on any visit to Oslo, whether you have an interest in art and sculpture or not. Holding a collection of over 200 sculptures by artist Gustav Vigeland, who also designed the medal for the Nobel Peace Prize.
When we think of typical sculptures in parks or along streets we imagine, stoic Greek faces, or Royal or military figures. Vigeland’s sculptures show the struggle of humanity, the unity of family, often in a surreal and comical way. Each figure is naked, drawing all attention away from clothing and status, and focusing only on facial expression and posture.
Nobel Peace Center | 120 NOK or free with the Oslo Pass | Oslo is dotted with insightful and important museums, however the prestige and worldwide importance of the Nobel Peace Prize makes this center particularly meaningful.
Karl Johan’s Gate | The main shopping thoroughfare of Oslo, lined with beautiful 19th century building facades and planters of seasonal flowers. It leads straight from the train station to the Royal Palace and is full of great cafes and restaurants. The small park next to the National Theatre is home to an ice rink, Spikersuppa skøytebane, from November to March, free if you have your own skates, or 150 NOK for a rental pair!
Norsk Folkemuseum (The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History) | 160 NOK or free with the Oslo Pass | Located on the Bygdøy peninsula, this museum offers a glimpse into the rich history of Norwegian life, through replica housing, folk tales and unique experiences.
The Viking Ship Museum | 120 NOK | One of the most enticing museums in Oslo, Viking history has always intrigued and inspired, so with a chance to glimpse real life artefacts and the iconic boats from this time period it really is an incredible experience.
Munch Museum | 120 NOK or free with the Oslo Pass | One of Norways most esteemed artists, the Munch museum is dedicated to Edvard Munch and his works. If you’re curious to see his famous ‘Scream’ painting, head over to the National Museum (opening in 2021), which will hold this incredibly famous but slightly unsettling piece.
Island hopping in the Oslofjord | free with the Oslo Pass | The Oslo pass includes the trip to the Bygdøy peninsula which is home to a number of popular museums, but there is plenty more to explore in the Oslofjord.
PLACES TO EAT
Norway is well known as being one of the most expensive European countries, but if you’re travelling here on a budget there are still plenty of amazing options. If you’re staying in any firm of self catering accommodation, you might want to check out the Mathallen food hall. At a fairly short distance north of the train station, you can browse and buy local Norwegian produce.
For Coffee | Tim Wendelboe (££-£££), Baker Hansen (££) and Erlik Coffee (£) a cafe which also greatly supports their staff under a social entrepreneurship.
Backstube | £ | A small but stylish bakery full of affordable pastries and breakfast options, catering for vegetarians and vegans too.
Kaffebrenneriet | ££ – £££ | A Norwegian chain, great for breakfast or lunch. There are plenty dotted around the city so it should be easy to get to!
Freddy Fuego Burrito Bar Tjuvholmen | £ | Delicious and filling, as Mexican cuisine always is. This is a great budget option located in the new stylish Aker Brygge Harbour area.
Nordvegan | ££-£££ | In a great central location, this small restaurant offers up a buffet style selection of vegan dishes for you to choose from.
Elias Mat & Sant | ££-£££ | Hearty, local food served up as beautiful dishes. Local meats like reindeer are a popular choice here, however they also have great vegan options too.
Fjord Restaurant | ££££ | For something exquisite, try Fjord Restaurant. Specialising in seafood and local cuisine, the dishes and interior are both beautifully styled.
PLACES TO STAY
BUDGET | £
Citybox Oslo | A small chain of hotels (also located in Bergen and Tallin) It has self-service checking in and out, and minimalistic but well designed rooms. Plus it’s very close to the train station!
Anker Hotel | Another good budget option close to the scenic Akerselva river, lively Grünerløkka district and also the botanical garden, which is a perfect place to explore during the summer.
MID-RANGE | ££
The Sweet by The APARTMENTS Company | The stylish rooms of this hotel come equipped with a small kitchenette which is perfect for cooking your own simple meals to keep costs down. Also… what a name!
Thon Hotel Astoria | In a great central location, Thon Hotel is a really nice option for solo travellers. The breakfast buffet is also very highly rated!
Hotell Bondeheimen | Another perfectly located hotel, with rooms decorated in a cosy, and rustically modern, Scandinavian style.
LUXURY/SPECIAL OCCASION | £££
Karl Johan Hotel | Set within a beautiful 19th century building at the centre of Karl Johan’s gate, the modern interior has muted natural tones and textures that emulate the Nordic wilderness.
Amerikalinjen | An exquisitely decorated boutique hotel, located next to the train station and steps away from Karl Johan’s gate. It harbours a sauna as well as top-rated bars and restaurants.
I spent 2 nights here in Oslo, wandering along Karl Johans Gate, hopping into shops, restaurants, cafes; soaking up the sights and the last of the early autumn sun, before finally catching a flight back to London. Like Stockholm, I think Oslo is one of those places you have to explore by boat and in different seasons, to really do it justice. Next time…