Bergen was my favorite city in Norway. It was small, historic, beautiful, and filled with great seafood. Being a university town, there is a very vibrant energy to the city too (plus this city had the most cheap food options I saw and in a country as expensive as Norway, that’s pretty important.) The only downside to the city is that it rains most of the rain so you rarely see sun. But don’t let that deter you – the city here is spectacular and so good, I would even consider moving there, something I don’t say about most cities.
- Hostel Prices:Hostels in Oslo cost between $35-50 USD per night for a dorm room.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Hotels in Oslo cost between $75-120 USD per night. If you want a budget hotel, stick to something local. All the major chains charge around $200 USD per night or more.
- Average Cost of Food: Eating out is expensive, with fast food starting from $10 USD and sit-down meals in a decent restaurant nearly always topping $35 or more. McDonald’s or Burger King are around $15 USD. If you are going buy your own food, expect to spend about $55 USD per week. To keep costs down, avoid fresh vegetables and chick fillets.
- Transportation Costs: In Oslo, buses/trams cost $5 USD (single-adult, pre-bought), $7.50 USD (single-adult, bus-side purchase), $37 USD (8 flexible rides), $13 USD (24hour pass), $40 USD (7 day pass). If you get an Oslo tourist card, transportation is included.
Top Things to Do
- The National Gallery – This popular museum holds Norway’s largest public collection of drawings, paintings, and sculptures; an excellent place to see older and local pieces. It is within walking distance of Karl Johans gate—the main street of the city of Oslo.
- Blomqvist Auction House Gallery – Over 130 years old, Blomqvist is one of the oldest and largest auction houses in Norway. Located within the city centre, it is an excellent place to stop by for traditional Norwegian art and antiques—such as: glass, silver, china, furniture, carpets, and even jewelry.
- The Viking Ship Museum – Norway is widely known for the Vikings of the past—so what better place to visit in Oslo, than the Viking Ship Museum?! Home of the world’s best preserved Viking ships, dating back to the 9th century, an array of boats, and carts; all with stunning ornamentation. This museum is located in Bygdøy, East of Oslo’s city center.
- The Emanuel Vigeland Museum – Considered one of Oslo’s most underrated attractions, the Emanual Vigeland museum is host to a large display of paintings, clergy portraits, sculptures. Originally set up as a museum in 1926, but later transformed into a tomb, the main attraction is a ‘dark, barrel vaulted room,’ dramatically covered with frescoes.
- Aker Brygge wharf – Perfect for an afternoon stroll and host to the largest concentration of restaurants in Oslo, Aker Brygge is located south-east Oslo’s city centre. Enjoy a wide array of foods, ranging from French cuisine to traditional Nordic dishes or a simple day of window shopping and architectural admiration. The wharf has something for everyone.
- The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet – Norway’s largest performing arts institution, which offers three stages and exemplary architectural design. Located in Bygdøy, East of Oslo’s city centre, it is also home of the worlds’ first opera house roof top, accessible to visitors and set up for concerts.
- Outdoor swimming in Oslo – Oslo has many outdoor places that are ideal for swimming, from rivers to lakes in the woods. Akerselva is along the river between Maridalsvannet and city centre, Huk is east of the Oslo city centre, in Bygdøy, and Lutvann is in the forest area of Oslo.
- The Kampen ecological children’s farm – Located in Eastern Oslo, the Kampen farm is an urban ecological farm, set up for children to learn about vegetables, herbs, and even animals. On weekends, homemade coffee, lemonade, and waffles are available. Great for a laid back, kid friendly afternoon.
- Shopping in Grünerløkka – Located slightly North of Oslo’s city centre, Grünerløkka is ideal for an afternoon of perusing through small, independent shops. You can expect to find hand-crafted goods, clothing, pottery, and various other trinkets of Norwegian influence, in addition to record shops and second-hand bookstores.
- Arkershus Fortress – Located on the Fjord, in the city center, the Arkershus Fortree is a medieval fortress, riddled with historical discoveries. Originally built in 1299, with restorations from 1899 to the present, guided tours are now offered to the public, during the summer.
- The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History – One of Europe’s largest open-air museums, this museum offers over 150 traditional houses from all over Norway, as well as an indoor exhibit. Activities range from horse and carriage rides and lefse backing to folk dancing, exhibitions, and arts and crafts. Located in Bygdøy, East of Oslo’s city center.
- Norwegian Museum of Magic – A quirky Norwegian pitstop, the Museum of Magic has been steadily growing since 1997. What started as a simple collection of posters, photos, and newspaper clippings is now a fascinating exhibition on Norwegian magicians. The museum offers a collection of props, costumes, and other traditional equipment and is complete with a gift shop. Located in Oslo’s city centre.
- Nordmarka wilderness area – A nice change in pace from traditional city attractions, the Nordmarka wilderness area, in the northern forest region of Oslo, offers everything from bicycle tours and lakes ideal for swimming in the summer to ski trails in the winter. Huts are also available for overnight stays.
- The Botanical Garden – The perfect place to refresh your senses, the Botanical Garden is a beautiful place with over 1800 different plants. Largely set up as an Arboretum, the Botanical Garden also offers two greenhouses of exotic plants and a “Scent Garden”.
- Korketrekkeren: Toboggan run! – Faster than the metro, the toboggan run is an exciting way to take part in a traditional Norweigan winter activity. Sleds are available for rental and helmets are free with the ride! Stop in at the restaurant for a bite to eat and take as many rides as you like.
- The Oslo Reptile Park – Home of more than 100 animals, this park offers a spectacular range of snakes, lizards, crocodiles, fish, and even various spiders. A great walk through experience or afternoon plan for the family, the Oslo Reptile Park is conveniently located within the city center.
- Vigeland Sculpture Park – A unique park, dedicated to the life work of sculptor Gustav Vigeland—A delightful way to spend a few hours walking outside, through more than 200 sculptures. “A monumental artistic creation with a human message that is well worth seeing,” the design, architectural outline, and everything within it can be accredited to Vigeland alone. Located within Oslo’s city center.
- Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony – If you happen to be in Oslo on December 10th, be sure to catch the torch parade honoring the winner of the Nobel Peace prize. While the ceremony is invitation only, many gather for the parade that runs from Karl Johans gate to the Grand Hotel.
- The Oslo Book Festival – Held annually, this festival is Norway’s largest, promoting books and reading. Host to world renowned authors and varying literature based events, this festival runs from September 17th to the 19th and is free and open to everyone. Runs from Karl Johans gate, the Opera house, and the House of Literature.
- Arts & Crafts fair – Held every August, from the 19th to the 21st, this fair offers more than 100 vendors. A great opportunity to check out locally made textiles, ceramics, metal and wood works, glass, and more.
Money Saving Tips
- Cook your own food - Food is very, very expensive in Norway so the best thing you can do is it simply make your own meals. Go grocery shopping but skip buying lots of fresh vegetables such as peppers or whole chicken fillets as they are very expensive. Minced chicken is cheaper. Avoid eating out!!!
- Eat cheap - If you do decide to eat out, your cheapest options will be shwarma and pizza. These meals usually cost around $10 USD.
- Couchsurf - The best way to avoid expensive hostels is to not stay there. Couchsurf (i.e. staying with locals for free) so you can save your money. Request couches far in advance as locals get lots of requests.
- Camp - Because of free public camping laws, as long as you have your own tent, you can camp in the parks and public lands for free. The are many camp sites on the islands out in the harbor that provide cheap accommodation and can greatly lower your costs.
- Get a tourism card - Attractions in Oslo can get very expensive, especially since the exchange rate is so bad. The best way to afford all the attractions is to get a city tourism card so you can get free entry into all the attractions as well as free transportation.