What to do in Oslo, Norway

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I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to Norway. Yet I’d always avoided Oslo, not wanting to “waste time”, preferring to be in the north, thinking it must be a city not worth the effort. Well, I have to admit that was a mistake.

Oslo is a very nice city, very pleasant to visit, with of course the fjords, the very nice waterfront, tons of bloody interesting museums! So no, it’s not an imperial city like Paris or Budapest, it’s not a city that exudes history like Rome. But we’re going to have a lot of fun enjoying the city, wandering around a bit aimlessly (but there are a few must-sees, really).

I’ll tell you all about it, and off you go!

City Center Oslo flowers

How to visit Oslo – 2-day itinerary

What you can do in Oslo and how you can do it will depend on two pretty big factors: the weather and the time of year. In the middle of winter, when there isn’t much light, you won’t have much time to enjoy the waterfront or the fjord, for example. But in midsummer, the beaches of Bygdoy are yours for the taking!

Oslo, although it’s a capital city and, inevitably, things move a lot faster than in Tromso or Bergen, it’s still a small town and the pace remains Norwegian and relaxed. It’s not too stressful, it’s very cool. So I’d recommend being in the same frame of mind to avoid being surprised, but (because there is a but), you have to adapt to one big factor: the opening hours of museums and attractions, which are… let’s say restricted. They open 6 to 7 hours a day. A suggested itinerary for 2 days might be as follows:

  • Day 1 in Bygdoy (don’t forget to pack a big breakfast as there’s nothing to eat there)
    • Arrive by boat before the museums open (10 or 11 a.m., yes, yes) to take advantage of the peninsula’s tranquility.
    • Visit the FRAM museum on polar expeditions
    • visit the Kon Tiki museum on this very interesting expedition
    • Finish off with a visit to the Norwegian Folklore Museum.
    • If it’s still light out when the museums close (5 or 6 pm), you can head off to the little beaches on the other side of the peninsula.
    • If you haven’t missed it, come back by boat. Otherwise by bus (between FRAM and Kon Tiki).
  • Day 2 – City tour
    • To start with, take advantage of the city center, leaving from the Opera (nice view), head for the Cathedral and see the city’s architecture (ideally with a detour to Bankplassen and the surrounding area, which is lovely).
    • then on to Place Karl Johan, with its superb buildings
    • continue on to the Royal Palace. If it’s summer, you can visit the palace
    • then continue 15min to Vigeland Park
    • Finally, end the day in Aker Brygge, the cool new district of the city.
Oslo City Center from Opera
City Center Oslo fjord

Discover Oslo on a guided tour

You can also let yourself be guided by a local expert to discover the city in a different way, and above all (in my opinion) for the explanations and the historical side. I confess I haven’t done it (yes yes, I’m the pro at organization), but I’ve found 3 guided tours that are interesting, have good feedback and above all don’t cost an arm and a leg:

  • A 5-hour walking tour that includes the city center, the springboard and two of the main museums (Fram and Norwegian Folklore). Information and prices here.
  • Oslo can also be visited by bike! During 3 hours, discover Vigeland, the fortress and the city center. Information and prices here.
  • Finally, if you’re short on time and don’t feel like walking, this guided bus tour takes you to the city’s main attractions. Information and prices here.
City Center Business Oslo

Oslo’s different districts and places to discover

So Oslo isn’t a city where you’re going to say “woah” around every corner. But it’s still very nice.

We’ll talk about museums later, as they have a very specific place in the city. But architecturally speaking, historically speaking, the city is interesting, and some districts are very nice.

It’s by the fjord, with a very large, very pleasant waterfront (well, when the weather’s nice!). Let’s have a look!

Beautiful building Oslo City Center flowers
cathedrale oslo night

The Bygdoya peninsula

A very nice place, for many reasons. A little way from the city center, Bugdoy is first and foremost “the island of museums”.

Here you’ll find a whole host of museums, the most interesting in the city in my opinion (FRAM, Norwegian folklore, the navy, Kon Tiki…).

But Bygdoy is also a little haven of peace. Superb houses, some of them typical of the area, and no sound except for the birds and the water. And little beaches to the south and west, like Huk or the aptly named Paradisbukta.

You can come by boat, leave the same way (but the last shuttle leaves just after the museums close) or leave by bus, which is more convenient.

bygdoy oslo
Civitatis Free Tour Oslo


I call downtown the area that runs roughly from the Opera to the Palais Royal.

First of all, on the Opera side (which you can climb), you can walk right across to the quays, which offer a lovely view. You can then take the pretty streets that lead to Akershus Castle, like Radhusgata, pass through a number of squares and green spaces, like Bankplassen, and then go up to Oslo Cathedral, which is nice (open until late) without being ouhlala, but with a Nordic style.

After that, I think the most interesting part starts here. From here, you can go to Stortinget, the seat of parliament and the start of a superb square, along the beautiful buildings of Karl Johan gate, to the national theater.

Finally, from here, you can go back down to Aker Brygge and the new quays, super pleasant. Either for a bite to eat, or to take the boat to Bygdoy, for example. Or just to enjoy the lovely view!

National theatre oslo norway
Building main square Oslo City center
Old city center oslo
church old oslo spring

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace is one of the city’s main attractions. Firstly, because it’s an extension of the main square, it’s hard to miss, and secondly, because it’s so cool! The building is fairly recent, mid-19th century, and is set in a pleasant park. It’s possible to visit it, but only in summer. Otherwise, there’s a daily changing of the guard at 1:30 p.m., and every hour (I think) the guards go on a little tour.

So excluding July and August, it’ll just be outdoors and won’t take especially long

Royal palace castle Oslo Norway

Akershus fortress

I didn’t visit the interiors because I didn’t think it was crazy, but it’s a small regret. In the fortress, which was created 900 years ago, you’ll find a large, pleasant park with a great view, ideal for sunsets. The park is free, but you can visit the museums (of resistance and defense) and the castle’s historic interiors with your tickets. I hear it’s well worth it, so I’ll let you know next time I go:)

Castle akershus oslo Norway
Fortress akershus oslo norway

Vigeland Park

This too is a big regret as I didn’t visit it. Parc Vigeland is a park located 15min west of the royal palace with over 200 sculptures in a park considered the green lung of Oslo.

These sculptures are amazing! There’s a column of bodies, a grumpy baby, happy people, a “human” wheel…

The advantage of the park is that it’s free and open all the time. The museum is not free, but is included in the Oslo Pass, and if you want, you can take a guided tour!

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An essential boat trip in the Oslo fjord

So we’re not in the fjord region, we’re not in Lofoten, but Oslo’s location is still top-notch, with a very nice fjord to discover. There are plenty of options for boat tours (dinner, aperitif…), but for my part I took the simple 2-hour trip, which was very good. We sailed on a pretty wooden boat, either indoors or outdoors (there’s a risk of rain), passing Bygdoy, the island of museums, and seeing Oslo’s affluent suburbs, the beautiful houses on the water’s edge, the magnificent setting of Norwegian life. You’ll also meet fishermen, people at the beach… If it’s ever cold, they’ll give you blankets, which is cool. And there’s bound to be a bar with hot drinks and something to eat. Honestly, we’re really comfortable!

Cruise fjord oslo Norway
Cruise fjord oslo
Cruise fjord oslo opera view

Discover Oslo’s museums

In my opinion, Oslo’s great specialty is all its superb museums.

We’re not talking about the Louvre or the Hermitage, of course. But very Norwegian, very historical museums, each of which takes 1 or 2 hours to visit and has a very specific theme.

Then there are the art museums, as in any big city, but in my opinion they’re not necessarily the most important here.

I visited several of them, not all (because there are a whole bunch), mainly on the island of Bygdoy. A great thing is that with the Oslo Pass (which we’ll cover in detail below), almost all museums and transport are free.

Going to Bygdoy, for example, is included in the pass, but you’ll have to watch the opening hours. Museums aren’t open for very long. In low season, they’re open from 11am to 5pm (yes, yes!) and in high season, from 10am to 6pm.

Right here I’m putting up the timetables for the boat shuttles to Bygdoya from Oslo harbour (Nobel Centre side)

horaires bateau musées oslo

The FRAM Museum of Polar Expeditions

You know me – I’m a big fan of the Arctic. So for me, this museum is THE museum in Oslo.

It’s the museum of polar expeditions, all of which are described and documented, and some of which are highlighted, such as Amundsen’s fascinating expeditions.

It’s in chronological order, so you can see the evolution, the race being launched, the different challenges for the Arctic, the Antarctic, or the famous Franklin expedition in the Northwest Passage.

There’s a reproduction of an expedition ship, which is super interesting too. Other museums can be visited in 1 hour, but here it easily takes 2 hours or more. This is the museum that makes me want to come back to Oslo, as I really haven’t stayed here long enough

Museum Fram Oslo
Museum Fram Oslo map
Museum Fram Oslo

Kon Tiki Museum

Kon Tiki is a fascinating expedition (and Oscar-winning documentary) about the Pacific crossing from Peru to Polynesia in the 1940s.

The adventurer’s (and Norwegian superstar) aim was to show that it was possible to have encounters between Polynesians, Pascuans and pre-Columbian civilizations (Incas and others), so he rebuilt a period raft, set off from Peru with his crew and let himself be guided by the currents, encountering storms, sharks and other mischief. And he succeeded!

Confirming that these contacts were possible, as suggested by such things as the appearance of the potato in Polynesia, or an Inca-style stone on Easter Island, for example.

This museum is very interesting, with the real raft on display there – impressive!

Museum kon tiki oslo boat totora
Museum kon tiki oslo

The Nobel Peace Center

Another important Oslo museum is the Nobel Peace Center. Located on the harbor, it’s hard to miss. And yet, in my opinion, it’s missing something.

The museum is interesting, offering the history of Alfred Nobel and the prize, of course. The major highlights of the award are linked to various world events (war, in particular). With a room dedicated to all the laureates, more aesthetic than really useful, the center leaves a bit to be desired.

I did enjoy the visit, but in concrete terms, the mission of the prize, the issues at stake, or even some focus on the laureates could have been done. I found it a little fast-paced. Even if there is a room on press freedom, notably by the last two prizewinners who are journalists.

So less enthusiastic, for me, than the previous two, but still worth a visit I think!

Peace center Nobel Oslo Norway
Nobel center for peace oslo

The Norwegian Folklore Museum

I really wanted to do this one, but with the ridiculous museum opening hours in April (11am to 5pm), I didn’t have enough time.

The Norwegian Folklore Museum retraces life in the far north throughout history. There’s a reproduction of a wooden Viking church, several wooden houses (the ones with grass on them) and, above all, over 150 houses.

It’s a real village and a visit through time, the different Norwegian eras. So, in my opinion, it’s a real must for discovering and understanding Norway and the Norwegians.

Find all the info on the museum’s official website!

The Viking Ship Museum

The Vikings were great navigators. Conquest of Europe, trade to the heart of Russia, discovery of North America – there’s no doubt they knew how to handle a boat and build some pretty sturdy ships.

The good news is that several of these ships, some in excellent condition, are in this museum. Less good news, the museum is closed for renovation until 2025. Once it reopens, hop hop hop, I’ll take a look!

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Other museums

So I’m going to tell you about other, slightly different museums that are also worth a visit. Obviously I’m not going to give you the whole list, which you can easily find on the Oslo Pass page (see below). But as there are plenty I haven’t seen, here are a few others that are well worth a visit:

  • The Munch Museum: A museum with surprising architecture for a surprising artist. We’re mostly familiar with The Scream, but Edvard Munch did a lot more than that. As proof, the museum boasts several thousand works, paintings and sketches. So many, in fact, that they are displayed alternately throughout the museum.
    More information on the official website.
  • Viking Planet: a totally different, totally Norwegian experience. It’s an interactive museum with several virtual reality experiences. Take part in battles, climb aboard a Viking ship… fun and educational!
  • The Paradox Museum: a type of museum I like. Lots of optical illusions (ideal for photos), light shows, fairly interactive experiences. Great for kids and adults alike.


What if I told you it was possible, with just one card, to enjoy ALL of Oslo’s transport and museums? With the Oslo Pass, you have access to all of this, over a day or more. For example, you have access to the following museums (and much, much more):

  • FRAM
  • Kon Tiki
  • Norwegian Folk Museum
  • Munch Museum…

And on the transport front, you get access to, in zones 1 and 2 (which is already huge, as you can see here):

  • all streetcars
  • the metro
  • and even the boat to the Museum Island.

For prices:

  • 1 day: €47 per adult, €23 per child
  • 2 days: €64 per adult, €34 per child
  • 3 days: €80 per adult, €40 per child

Practical information about Oslo

How long to stay in Oslo

As we’ve seen, Oslo isn’t a city overflowing with monuments everywhere. But there are still some really interesting things to see, at least 3 museums, enjoy the fjord, stroll around a bit.

I’d say you need at least 2 days for all that. 3 isn’t bad, because you can add Vigeland, for example, and in 1 day you can do 2 museums quickly in the morning (although you’ll need a bit of time to get to the city center in the afternoon).

But it’s still a mini overview and, in my opinion, too quick. My first visit to Oslo was done in just one day, and that’s not enough.

oslo banks buildings

How to get to Oslo

It’s super easy to fly to Oslo. The main airport is Oslo Gardermoen, located to the north of the city. It’s a 2-hour flight from Paris or Brussels, for example. Flights aren’t particularly expensive: during special offers, you can often find a return ticket for under €100 with Air France, but with Norwegian it’s even more frequent.

The most important thing, as is often the case, is to compare. Compare dates, times and companies. I use Kayak and I’m very happy with it, so compare and then go to the direct airlines to see if there are any differences

Getting to Oslo by ferry

If you’re coming by car or, more likely, camping car or camper van, you can take the ferry, and there are several possible routes:

  • Kiel (in Germany) – Oslo
  • Frederikshavn (Denmark) – Oslo
  • Copenhagen (Denmark) – Oslo
  • Hirtshals (Denmark) – Larvik

The fastest and most convenient route is the latter. Hirtshals connects with Norway in less than 4 hours (compared with 10h min for the others), and Larvik is only 100km from Oslo. What’s more, it’s not particularly expensive, at $50 a trip (without a car). As there are several companies, I’d advise you to do your research and compare the different options at Direct Ferries.

oslo center beautiful buildings

Where to eat in Oslo

So the good news is that Oslo is a great place to eat. The bad news is that it costs an arm and a leg! In Aker Brygge, there are plenty of nice restaurants, but my advice would be to make reservations, especially at weekends. I was able to try the following, which I recommend:

  • The Salmon: as the name suggests, this restaurant is all about salmon, in all its forms. Raw, cooked, it’s really very good. Expensive but not too expensive.
  • Den Glade Gris: a pig specialty! And they do it very well. Pork shank in particular. It’s hearty, very well presented, with a nice dirty decor, and super-friendly staff.
  • Eataly: a more classic Italian restaurant. Correct for us, very good for Norway 😀 It’s not too expensive and it’s well located.

I also highly recommend the Paradis ice cream parlour. Really good!

den glade gris oslo

Where to stay in Oslo

It’s no secret that Oslo is an expensive city. And the same goes for accommodation. For both hotels and private accommodation, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything under €100. So it’s possible, there are a few that are functional and of very decent quality, like the SmartHotel (85€, city center), or the Citybox (98€, city center) and also apartments in the city center like this 30m².

For a little more comfort, consider the Park Inn Radisson at 130€ or the very pretty Karl Johan Gate at 170. Finally, for two wouhou! hotels and to treat yourself (foutu pour foutu considering Oslo’s prices ahah) for just over 200€ a night, I’d especially recommend

  • the Karl Johan Hotel, a magnificent hotel in the heart of the city, with superb facilities
  • the Thon Hotel, still with superb facilities, bedding and breakfast. A less sexy front than the previous hotel, but the interior is top-notch.
  • Finally, the most chic, the Grand Hotel, a little more expensive, but damn fine.

A word of advice: if you’re only in Oslo for a night or two, it may be worth your while to stay at Gardermoen airport. It’s sometimes cheaper than in the city, you don’t have to lug your luggage around, and if you’re only making a return trip to the city, it doesn’t make any difference in terms of transport.

That’s what I did last time, I stayed at the Radisson, accessible on foot (the others are accessible by bus, which is less convenient). In the following article, I show you the best hotels at Oslo Airport

4 recommended accommodations in Oslo


  • Cheap and central
  • 7.7/10 on Booking
  • From €70


  • 30 and 40m² in the center of town
  • 8.7/10 on booking
  • From €100


  • A magnificent hotel
  • 8.7/10 on Booking
  • From €160


  • Magnificent, overlooking the city
  • 8.5/10 on Booking!
  • From €125

How to get from the airport to downtown Oslo

Oslo Gardermoen airport is quite far from the city center. But the good thing is that you have several options. The bad thing is that it’s quite expensive. In the following article, I’ll show you absolutely all the options for getting from Oslo Gardermoen airport to the city center. But below, a summary that should do the trick 🙂

Let’s start with the fastest, the FLYTOGET train:

  • only 20 minutes to the city center
  • departures every 20 minutes (sometimes 10)
  • super quiet, spacious, wifi
  • but €21 each way, so €42 each way (it stings)
  • Find out more on the official website

Another option is the more classic VY regional train:

  • A little longer, 25 minutes
  • much cheaper, 12€ a way
  • it’s not a train dedicated to the airport, so potentially quite a few people and delays.
  • Find out more about timetables here.

We also have the Flybussen bus:

  • Arrives right in the city center
  • journey time approx. 45min
  • a journey costing almost €20
  • More information here

In other cities I can see the point of the bus, but I don’t see it here. The Flytoget is obviously the best option, the most practical, but the most expensive. If you’re not too busy, you can take the classic train, especially off-peak, and save a few euros.

vincent voyage instagram northern lights norway

How to get around the city

There’s a lot you can do on foot in Oslo.

The roads are pleasant, the sidewalks are wide, there’s not too much traffic or noise, and it’s easy to get around! But don’t forget that with the Oslo PASS, you get unlimited transport! So you can use the train, metro (see map here) , streetcars and buses. And the network is really not bad at all.

So I’m not going to give you the whole network here, but I’m going to recommend this journey planner which will give you all the means of transport, timetables, everything you need. It’s called Ruter.no.

But you should know that a trip costs 4€ (gloups), a day ticket costs 12€ (gloups but less).

Another possibility (I’m less of a fan myself, but it’s a very effective way of touring the city) is the multi-stop tourist bus. It’s a red bus that goes around all the tourist spots, and you can get on and off wherever you like for 24 hours, so you don’t need to hire a car.

On the other hand, Uber operates in and around Oslo, but it’s still very expensive. And cabs are even worse. The funny thing is that cabs start operating at night from… 5pm 😀

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When to come to Oslo

Oh, all year round! But November, December and January are likely to be a bit dreary.

Little light, no snow, lots of rain. So February and March might be nice, but I’m thinking mainly of April to September. Very long days, milder weather, summer is nice up there.

I really liked October, even though it was quite gray. I really liked April too, on my way back from Tromso. It was sunny, not too hot and not too many tourists

Cost of living

It’s bloody expensive! We could see that hotels weren’t cheap, that restaurants weren’t cheap, that having a drink will put a hole in your wallet.

Transportation is also expensive. In short, Oslo has to be earned! At least you save money on your plane ticket, as we’ve seen, you can find flights for less than €100 on special offers, but rarely more than €200.

In fact, along with Reykjavik, it’s the most expensive place I’ve been. So there you have it 😀


And here it is, you know just about everything about Oslo!

Frankly, it’s a pleasant city that’s well worth a visit for 3 reasons. Its entire waterfront, super pleasant in any season. With the new quays and districts, you can really make the most of it. Secondly, for its many really interesting museums, such as FRAM and Kon Tiki. Last but not least, the city’s architecture, layout, parks and wide sidewalks make it a pleasant place to be. The icing on the cake is that there are cafés that close after 5pm, which is rare in Norway 😀

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