Oslo is the capital of Norway and one of the most expensive cities in the world. Nevertheless, it’s also a fascinating place to visit and a great starting point for your trip to Norway. Here are the best things to do in Oslo, Norway.
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Welcome to Oslo: the Diverse Capital of Norway
With a population of around 1 million in its metropolitan area, Oslo is by far the most populous city in Norway.
Founded as a trading post by Vikings in the 11th century, Oslo is today the country’s economic and cultural hub.
Its population has steadily grown, and immigration plays a major part in its development. The city has a strong international flair, and you’ll find lots of communities from all over the world.
As such, it’s a diverse and multifaceted city and the perfect place to start your Norwegian adventure. Here are the top attractions and best things to do in Oslo, Norway.
The Best Things to do in Oslo, Norway
Oslo Opera House is an excellent place to start your visit as it’s located right in the heart of the city.
Oslo Opera House
Oslo’s uber-modern opera house opened in 2008 and has become one of the symbols of the city. It’s situated right on the water and shaped like an iceberg.
Apart from the shows, the Opera House’s rooftop terrace is freely accessible and offers great views over the city and the Inner Oslofjord.
Oslo Botanical Garden is a large recreational area in the center of Oslo with over 1,800 plants. The park is free to visit and is also home to the Natural History Museum.
As such, a visit to the Botanical Garden is one of the best things to do in Oslo on a sunny day.
Akershus Fortress has been a military complex since 1290. Today, the medieval structure is still used by the military. But it is open to the public during the summer months.
The castle holds several museums as well as the Norwegian Ministry of Defence.
The Best Museums in Oslo
Oslo has various top-notch museums that are well worth a visit.
The Munch Museum exhibits pieces of Norway’s most well-known artist, Edvard Munch.
His work is also on display at the National Museum, where you can see Munch’s The Scream, as well as paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, and many other Norwegian and international painters.
The best museums in Oslo also include the Viking Ship Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum, the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, the Museum of Cultural History, the Fram Polar Exploration Museum, and the Vigeland Museum.
Located around 15 minutes by metro from the center of Oslo, Vigeland Park is a vast green space where you’ll find a quirky monolith as well as lots of statues.
The statues depict naked men and women of different ages, and their significance isn’t 100% clear.
Oslo’s town hall is open to the public and features stunning murals in its entrance halls.
Constructed in 1931, it’s the place where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every December.
The Royal Palace sits at one end of Karl Johans Gate, Oslo’s main pedestrian zone. It’s where the monarchy conducts its daily business and is open to the public during the summer months.
If you are in town between May and September, the Royal Palace is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Oslo.
Inner Oslofjord Islands
The islands that are scattered around the Inner Oslofjord offer hiking trails, beaches, as well as several museums and historic locations.
You can take the ferry at Aker Brygge and do a round trip. The closest island to the city center is Hovedøya, home to several beaches and hiking paths.
Other islands that are worth a stop are Lindøya and Rambergøya.
Oslo Winter Park
If you are visiting the city during the colder months, skiing at Winter Park is one of the best things to do in Oslo.
It’s a popular spot for the city’s residents and tourists alike. You can get there by public transportation and rent everything from skis, sticks, and winter coats.
The experience won’t be cheap, but it’s one of the few skiing stations in Europe that is located in the vicinity of a capital city.
Where to Stay in Oslo
For short-term visitors, the city center is the best place to stay.
Alternatively, the area of Gronland (behind the train station) is more budget-friendly and well-connected. You’ll also find lots of multicultural shops, restaurants, and bars here.
Find more places to stay in Oslo here.
Best Things to do in Oslo: Know Before You Go
To complete our guide on the top attractions in Oslo, here are some FAQs.
How to Get Around Oslo
Oslo has an excellent public transit network – consisting of buses, trams, metros, and boats. You can buy a day ticket for around €12 and use all the modes of public transportation. Taxis will set you back a fortune, so it’s more of a last-resort option.
How Expensive is Oslo?
Make no mistake, Oslo is a properly expensive place.
Due to the decrease of the Norwegian currency, however, it’s not as expensive as it used to be. You still pay around €10 for a small beer, €30 for a meal in a restaurant, and well over €100/night for a hotel room. Right now, prices are similar to London or New York.
Bottom Line: Is Oslo Worth Visiting?
Oslo is undoubtedly worth a visit. If you visit in winter, it’s a great place to start your trip in Norway and soak in some culture or go skiing.
In the summer, Oslo is an excellent base to head to the islands or the other parts of Norway.
Overall, I wouldn’t go to Norway just for Oslo, but as a gateway to the rest of the country, it works perfectly.