City Guide Oslo. The Travel Guide for your trip to Norway.
Are you curious about the charming capital city of Norway? Oslo is a simple urban city and a hub of trade, economics, and plenty of adventurous activities. Leaving behind a rich history of the Viking Age, the town currently thrives in entertainment, tourism, and business fields alike.
The cosmopolitan hub boasts world-class infrastructure, historical locations, exquisite cuisines, and so much more! It is a marvelous blend of cutting-edge technology and fashion, buzzing energy, and an ever-growing population, all while following sustainable practices.
Sounds exciting, right? Do you want to learn in-depth about the rich culture and wonderful life in Oslo? Put your seatbelts on and get ready for the virtual trip to Norway’s economic center—Oslo!
Table of contents
Location: In the county Oslo, in Eastern Norway
Established: In 1048
Population: 709,037 (2022)
Time zone: UTC+01:00 (CET), in the summer UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Oslo was founded in the year 1048 by Harald Hardrada, who was also the then king of Norway (1046-66). The city was known as Ánslo back then and was primarily a small trading town. However, before its foundation, i.e., Oslo was a part of Viken during the Viking Age.
In the 14th century, Oslo gained considerable popularity and also became the capital of Norway. However, through the 15th to 17th century, the city lost its significance due to the union with Denmark. Moreover, massive fires in 1624 lead to the destruction of the area, with only a few remaining parts.
Following this devastating event, King Christian IV built a new city close to the Akershus Fortress. It was named Christiana, which later turned into Kristiania (1877). From 1814, Christiana came to be known as the capital of Norway for over nine decades. It functioned as a municipality during that period.
The year 1925 finally brought back the true identity of the city. Kristiania incorporated the original Oslo village, followed by merging with another municipality—Aker, in 1948. That is why the new Oslo is now spread over a large area and is a hub of several prominent activities.
Along with an exciting history of over 1000 years, the city holds some extremely prestigious titles. Currently, Oslo is the economic, political, and demographic center of Norway and the national trade, shipping, and banking hub.
It is the pilot city of useful programs and organizations like the Council of Europe and European Commission Intercultural cities. Moreover, Oslo is regarded as a world center. It has earned titles like the European Sustainability City Award, Beta World City, World’s Greenest City, and more.
Oslo stands amongst the Top Ten Cities by Lonely Planet and the 24th most livable city of the world by Monocle magazine. Are you wondering how does the city holds so many honorary recognitions? Well, you will understand once you read all about its intricate architecture, culture, mesmerizing infrastructure, and much more!
With a long history and thriving modernization at the same time, Oslo has a lot to feed your traveling soul. Almost in the shape of a horseshoe, the city is nothing less than an amphitheater.
Hills and greenery surround its central point, so you get the taste of both urbanism and nature! Following is a list of the must-visit spots in Oslo.
Do you have a knack for fairytale palaces and historic architecture? Well, who doesn’t! The Akershus Castle and Fortress was built during the reign of King Hakon V in the 1300s. With tall castle structures, well-maintained gardens, and extensive green fields by the river, the place is nothing less than a fairyland.
Time: You can visit the castle on any day of the week without any tickets.
Transport: Tram no.12 to Kontaskjaeret
If you want to take a long, soothing stroll while absorbing nature’s wonders, the Akerselva River is your best option. As you walk by the river, you will come across picturesque bridges, charming graffiti, and over twenty waterfalls.
The way includes some of the best cafes and bistros of the city to grab a bite. Overall, if you want a taste of Oslo’s life and culture, the river carries a bucket full of surprises!
Time: Round the year.
Transport: Bus No.54 to Kjelsås, Metro No.4/5 to Nydalen
The Royal Palace
If you are in for a lazy yet fun picnic day, visiting the Royal Palace is a superb idea. The residence of HM King Harald V and HM Queen Sonja was built in 1849. It is a large neoclassical building surrounded by parks and ponds for the perfect getaway.
Apart from roaming around and picnicking by the ponds, you can also attend the Palace Chapel’s Sunday service.
Time: 11:00 – 19:00 (paid entry)
Transport: Metro No. 5 or Bus No. 54 or Train No. L12 to Nationaltheatret
The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet
If you want to treat your eyes to some innovative, modern architecture, the Norwegian National Opera House is perfect. Watching the crew sing by the waters is a sight to behold, as it is located right beside the harbor.
The best part is, you can climb over its roof to enjoy the majestic view of the entire Oslo city. Every show and performance held in its hall is truly captivating!
Time: Timings and tickets depend on the respective shows.
Transport: Tram No. 19 to Bjorvika
Oslo Harbor Promenade
The heart of the city—Oslo Harbor is a favorite of the locals and tourists alike. While walking the 9-kilometer path, you can enjoy the beautiful water view during the day and night. It is a place to roam around throughout the year.
You can sun bask or adore the white blanket in the winters and enjoy the beautiful yellow leaves in the autumn. It also has multiple cafes for munching and is perfect for biking in the summer afternoons.
Time: Free of cost round the year.
Transport: Bus No. 60 to Vippetangen
Vigeland Sculpture Park
If statues and sculptures fascinate you, do not forget to include the Vigeland Sculpture Park in your itinerary. The place has over 200 divine statues by Gustav Vigeland, along with beautiful green fields all around.
Time: The park is open to all for free, round the year, 24 hours a day.
Transport: Tram no. 12 to Vigelandsparken
Ekebergparken Sculpture Park
Not merely a park, the Ekebergparken is a reflection of Oslo’s history. Here, you will find ruins of the stone age and rock carvings, centuries-old cemeteries, and other historical artifacts. Plus, it has breathtaking greenery and sculptures made by internationally renowned artists all over.
Time: The park is open round the year and is free for everyone.
Transport: Tram No.18/19 to Ekebergparken, Bus No.34/74 to Brannfjellveien
Oslo has some fantastic museums for you if you hold a strong interest in history, antiquity, and art. The best part of this city is that each of its galleries is dedicated to varying themes, allowing you to enjoy different art every day. Here is a list of some of Oslo’s multiple charming museums.
Note: Though all of these museums have a paid entry, you can enter for free if you have the Oslo Pass.
Natural History Museum
If you want to enjoy the biggest collection of natural objects in Oslo, the Natural History Museum is a must-visit. From the Zoological Museum to the Climate house and the Geological Museum to the Botanical Garden, the place has it all.
Note: It has free entry on Thursdays.
Time: Tuesday to Friday, 11:00 – 16:00; Saturday to Sunday, 10:00 – 17:00
Transport: Bus No. 31 to Sars Gate, Tram No. 17 to Lakkegata Skole, Metro No. 3 to Toyen
If you want to look into Norway’s authentic culture, the Norsk Folkemeuseum has much in store. From the daily activities like costumes, food, and architecture to the Church built in the 1200s—you can taste it all.
Time: Monday to Sunday, 11:00 – 16:00
Transport: Bus No.30 to Folkemuseet, Ferry Rådhuset (April-October) to Bygdøy
The Viking Ship Museum
Oslo descends from the Viking Age and if you want to adore the era’s ships and artifacts, get to this museum. What’s even more impressive is the Vikings Alive movie playing on the museum’s roof and walls.
Note: Currently the museum is closed because of a big renovation.
Edvard Munch is a world-renowned Norwegian painter who has left a vast array of art pieces for Oslo to keep. The Munch Museum portrays the artist’s paintings, drawings, and graphical prints that are sure to entice you.
Time: Monday to Sunday, 10:00 – 16:00
Transport: Metro No. 3 or Bus No. 93 to Toyen, Tram No. 17 to Lakkegata Skole
If you love everything about sports and ships, the Fram Museum is for you. It presents the largest wooden ship in the world—the Fram. The most amazing part is that you can get on board and watch the ship’s crew’s survival techniques.
Time: Monday to Sunday, 09:00 – 18:00
Transport: Ferry Rasdhuset (April-October), Bus No. 30 to Bygdoynes
Astrup Fearnley Museet
A collection of artworks that includes both modern and contemporary pieces, this museum portrays work from artists worldwide. These include Europe, Japan, India, Brazil, and China. Apart from the beautiful art, you will love its sail-shaped glass roof, blending with its neighboring port.
Time: Tuesday to Sunday, 13:00 – 17:00
Transport: Bus No.21 or 54 to Tjuvholmen
Is shopping your happy pill? Well, who doesn’t love shopping! Moreover, when you go on a trip, you certainly need to collect a few trinkets as a memory. Apart from that, you may also want to purchase a few souvenirs for your loved ones.
The good news is Oslo has some of the best shopping spots in the country, offering all sorts of items. So, whether you want to buy art and handicraft items or clothes and accessories, this Norwegian capital got you covered.
Oslo City Shopping Center
The Oslo City Shopping Center is not only the largest in the city but also one of the oldest ones. It was built in 1988, and ever since, it has the maximum number of visitors in the entire country. The place has over 90 shops and restaurants that are spread across 5 floors.
Whether you want to purchase an item or get a service—everything is available here. From jewelry, clothing, groceries, books, and more to tailor, medical, hairdresser, and parlor services—the shopping center covers everything. Plus, it is located right opposite the Oslo Central Station.
Karl Johans Gate
If you are looking to steal a bargain on lovely items, the Karl Johans Gate is the perfect shopping option. It is a pedestrian street featuring a multitude of big and small shops, restaurants, entertainers, and more. Overall, it is the ideal shopping as well as a fun avenue for tourists.
You can bag some aesthetic handicrafts, home décor, and other eye-pleasing items from the stores here. Additionally, the area also has some of the go-to fashion chains like H&M, Benetton, etc. So, visit this street, stretching from the Oslo Central Station to the Royal Palace.
Another excellent shopping spot in Oslo is the Byporten shopping center. It is spread across two floors, followed by the large Scandic Hotel Byporten on the top. It has over 60 shops and 12 eateries, including the largest restaurant in Norway—Egon Restaurant.
The first floor is perfect for shopping for all kinds of items, including gadgets, books, toys, and more. If you get tired of checking its multiple stores, you can hop into one of the numerous cafes. The second floor features high-end shoe and clothing stores like Lille Vinkel Sko, Day Birger, Name It, and more.
Are you one of those who love art and everything related to it? Oslo has something for everyone, whether you hold a great interest in theatre and performing arts or loud music and concerts.
The large carnivals and festivals attract crowds like bees and are always fun irrespective of the country. Oslo holds many such music festivals annually that last for days to weeks. So, if you happen to be at the Norwegian capital during these times, you are in for a treat! Here is a list of the top Oslo music festivals.
• Oslo Jazz Festival: Held in August every year, it continues for six days.
• Oya: A rock festival that lasts for four days in Toyen Park.
• Oslo International Church Music Festival: being held annually for the last 21 years.
• Norwegian Wood Rock Festival: Held in June annually.
• Oslo World Music Festival: showcasing talents from all around the world.
• Chamber Music Festival: brings global soloists and chambers to perform every year in August.
By now, you know that Oslo is vibrant in culture, and its more than 20 theatres further prove this statement. Moreover, the largest theatre of Norway, the National Theatre, is located between the Royal Palace and the parliament. It showcases beautiful pieces of plays performed by talented actors around the year.
The Oslo Opera House building mentioned above is a treat for the eyes, and its performances, soul-touching!
Now that you know about the incredible places of Oslo, are you wondering how to get around? An interesting detail about the Oslo public transport is one ticket is applicable for all modes.
You can use a bus, train, tram, metro—all with the same token. However, know that these tickets work on a zonal system. The city has multiple zones, and you can only use a ticket for one particular zone.
You can purchase these tickets at ticket kiosks and machines or from the bus/tram drivers. One ticket is usually valid for an hour, letting you travel anywhere in that zone. That said, you can also purchase 24-hour, 7-day, 30-day, and 365-day tickets.
Another way is to get a Travel Card that you will need to recharge when the credit finishes. That said, the best option is buying an Oslo Pass. It gives you free access to all the public transports, museums, and many other popular sites!
Exploring Oslo on foot is hands down the best option. Be it summer or spring, the beautiful parks, harbor side, bridges, and other trails are best for long strolls. Moreover, most of the famous sites of the city are within walking distance of each other.
If you have a knack for cycling and do not love to walk, choosing a bicycle is the next best option. You can easily rent one from the 250 bike stations in the city. You must download and subscribe to the Oslo City Bike app for the same.
Going around on a bike can let you enjoy the breathtaking waterfalls, parks, coastline, and much more. You get all of this without spending too much money and also burning some calories!
Trams and Buses
Oslo has multiple buses and trams for an easy and cheap commute. Most of them run from 5 am up to 1 am, while lines 31 and 37 runs throughout the night. Both these options are quite useful to get around Oslo as most of them go up to the city suburbs.
You can purchase a ticket depending upon your zone and duration of travel. Alternatively, you may opt for a travel card or Oslo pass.
The city has six metro lines in total, with multiple stations. You can find a T-bane (metro in Norwegian) station with a blue and white logo. It is spread all over the city, connecting the main spots with the far-off suburbs.
You can use the same ticket in a T-bane that you used for a bus, provided it is of the same zone. The same goes for travel cards, and Oslo passes. However, you must ensure the validity of your ticket or card before using it.
Boats and Ferries
These are common means for the locals and tourists to reach the nearby islands such as Bygdøy. However, you must know that ferries are only available between March to October and do not operate in winters.
If you want to hop on a ferry, the most common pers include Oslo Opera House, Fram Museum, and Oslo City Hall.
It is the most expensive option in the city, especially on weekends. However, you get what you pay for in these luxurious cars (Mercedes, Volvo, etc.). You can get a cab from the taxi rank or reserve one over the phone. Another option is calling an Uber.
A yet another way to get around in Oslo is by renting a car. However, it is the least recommended option due to the limited parking spots. Moreover, public transport is suitable enough to reach every corner of the city.
That said, you can still rent a car if you want to visit nearby towns. You will have to pay the parking fees for Monday to Saturday, between 9 am to 8 pm.
Can’t wait to visit the most beautiful places in Oslo? Well, there’s more to it. If you are one of those adventure-enthusiasts, the city has numerous options for you. Dive in!
Holmenkollen National Ski Arena
The Holmenkollen Ski Tower is built at the height of 60 meters for ski jumpers. It is a hub of skiing tournaments, including the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, World Cups, and biathlons. Moreover, the place attracts hundreds of tourists and boasts a ski museum, café, souvenir shop, and more!
The museum showcases four centuries of skiing history, polar artifacts, and other skiing and snowboarding objects, sure to bewitch you.
Island Hopping in Oslofjord
Oslofjord falls towards the South of Oslo and houses some super-refreshing islands. If you want the ideal getaway to relax on beaches or swim under the sun, go island hopping. It is a fun activity in Oslofjord for solo trips and families alike.
You can opt for one of the numerous to and fro ferries to reach these islands and back. These are the perfect spots for a day’s picnic or a relaxed weekend. Here is a list of islands to chill, explore, and feed your adventurous soul!
• Aker Brygge Wharf
• Gressholmen, Heggholmen, and Rambergoya
• Ormaya and Malmoya
Sorenga Seawater Pool
Swimming in the open seawaters is always a thrill, be it during winters or summer. The Sorenga Seawater pool features a safe swimming pool for the kids, a small beach, and a vast park. You can go there with your entire family to enjoy your weekend afternoon in the pool or soak in the sun.
The recreational area is always bustling with locals and tourists, with kids playing in the safe, shallow waters. Located beside the Habor Promenade, the place also has several cafes and restaurants!
Huk & Paradisbukta Beach
If you want to go for a day trip on a beautiful beach, the Huk & Paradisbukta is the perfect option. The place is a crowd favorite during the summer and winters, giving it a fun vibe around the year. The beach also has multiple eating spots and bars for the complete vacay-like experience.
That said, it is also an excellent option for an early morning run, cycling, and walks. Also, the beach has a volleyball net available for free. So, if you are there with your crew, do not forget to carry a ball.
Hike to Vettakollen
Oslo is surrounded by densely forested mountains, giving you multiple hiking options. Vettakollen is the peak situated at the northern edge of Oslo. Falling between the Holmenkollen and Sognsvann peaks, this place provides exceptional views of the city.
It is an easy hike at a height of 180 meters, with the one-way distance being around 1.2 kilometers. You can start walking from the Vettakollen station, and it will take you about 1-1.5 hours to complete the hike.
Here is a list of other exciting hiking spots in Oslo:
• Oyungen Lake
If you want to raise the bar, hiking to the Maridalen’s Alps will be the perfect adventure for you. The best aspect of this hiking trip is that you won’t just enjoy the destination and the journey.
Crossing through the lush green forest of Nordmarka and the Oyungen lake is sure to mesmerize you. Moreover, as you reach the top of the Mollomkollen peak, the Alps offer a breathtaking view. It is a 3-hour hike, 12.3km long (one way), and 500 meters high!
Spikescuppa Ice Skating Rink
If you happen to be in the Norwegian capital from November to March, get ready for some ice fun. The Spikescuppa Ice Skating Rink opens at 10 am every day for locals and tourists to skate their hearts out. With a giant wheel on the side, multiple stalls, and crowds surrounding the area, your experience is sure to be fun!
You can bring your ice skates along or rent a pair from the rink itself. Here is a list of some other fantastic ice-skating rinks of Oslo.
• Valle Hovin
• Ice Arena in Jevnaker
TusenFryd Amusement Park
Amusement parks are thrilling for both young and the old, and the TusenFryd Amusement park is nothing less. It has a large bunch of fun rights, waterslides and activities, trips, and much more. You can try the Ragnarok—an adventurous journey through waterways, or just relax in the warm pools.
When you are done with the rides for the day, you can enjoy tasty treats at the multiple food corners. The park also has several souvenir shops and game parlors for added fun.