5 Things to do and see in Oslo on a budget

posted in: Norway | 16

Oslo: One word comes to mind when people start talking about the Norwegian capital, ‘Oslo’, and that word is ‘money’. Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world to visit and when visitors do come here, it isn’t for long. Maybe a few days in the north for the northern lights, a few days in the west to see the fjords whilst doing a cruise along the Atlantic coastline or here, the capital, one of the main gateways to the Arctic.

Oslofjord – as seen from the Opera House
Oslo – looking westwards from the Opera House
Beautiful sculptures as seen on street corners in the city

The City Hall

Oslo is a very small city compared to others in Europe but is still worth checking out and can be done on a budget. With more and more no-frills airlines flying into the main airport ‘Gardermoen’ and the expansion of Norwegian, the second biggest airline in the region after SAS, flying to Oslo is not a problem. With its fast connections by train from the airport to the central station (which if booked in advance is not as expensive as one may think), the city is waiting to be explored. Even having a day here as a layover, most of Oslo can be visited.

The tail wing of an Norwegian aircraft

Flying is affordable to Oslo but now it’s the case of trying to keep the price down and not leave suffering with open wallet surgery. Just before leaving the central station, make sure to have a street map or a guide book or have something on the smartphone to guide you.

The central station in Oslo

Sights to see

Oslo Opera House (Operahuset Oslo)

Just south of the central station and next to the harbour is the Opera House. Buying a ticket to seen an event will be a bit pricey (but worth seeing) but if looking to do something for free, then take a walk on the roof of this amazing modern building. The roof of the Opera House angles down to the ground level and because of the width of the building, the final design has created a large plaza. Pedestrians can walk up this and hang around for free but also enjoy one of the best panoramic views of the city.

Oslo Opera House – on top of the roof
Oslo Opera House
Walking up Oslo’s Opera House rooftop

The grounds of Akershus Festning

Heading west from the Opera House along the waterfront, the grounds of the Akershus Festning (Fortress) can be explored. Built as a castle originally in the medieval times, it has since served as a prison and a palace. The fortress since it was built has not really been used in any sort of conflict until as recently as the Second World War when Nazi Germany invaded. During those years, several people were executed in the grounds by the Nazis but even as the war ended in 1945, the fortress still saw the executions of eight Norwegian traitors who had been tried for war crimes. One of them was Vidkun Quisling who was the Prime Minister of Norway before the war and assisted the Nazi-Germans during the war years. He was killed for treason against his own people and the country of Norway. Since then, no more killings and the fortress overlooks the fjord, all peaceful. A great place to stand and take a view from the walls looking at the calm water of the fjord and looking north towards the city skyline.

Akershus Festning
Akershus Festning

Karl Johans Gate

The main street through the centre is Karl Johans Gate which has a range of shops, department stores, cafes, restaurants, theatres which runs from the main train station to Det kongelige Slott (The Royal Palace). The view looking east from the palace is one to be had and a walk in the grounds shouldn’t go a miss.

The Royal Palace

Frognerparken (Frogner Park)

A short tram ride away from the Royal Palace (tram no.12 – buy tickets from a newsagent if none already brought) is the Frognerparken. This park is the largest in the city and has to be explored, anytime of the year. The reason most visitors come here is because of the permanent sculpture display created by Gustav Vigeland, which contains sculptures as well as bridges and fountains dotted around the centre of the Frognerparken, and is also the world’s largest outdoor sculpture collection done by one single artist. (Note: a lot of visitors call this park Vigeland Park, that’s because there’s a lot of works here by Vigeland. However, when looking for the park, look for Frognerparken as that is the official name for the park).

Danik standing in the centre of Frognerparken

This is certainly a place to take a stroll and look at all these marvellous pieces of art but of course, in the winter months, make sure the winter clothing is wore to keep warm but if coming here in the summer months, then take a picnic. A few hours in the park can be had.

Woman running and lifting a child
Two boys looking upwards,
Man and woman
Man throwing woman over his head
Man holding little child in his arms,
The bridge where most of Vigland’s bronze statues are located
Man chasing four geniuses
Dancing young woman
Man lifting woman infront of himself
Man and woman inside ring

Nobels Fredssenter (Nobel Peace Centre)

One of the famous buildings in the city which is known worldwide is the Nobel Peace Centre near Aker Brygge. This former railway station building hosts the Nobel Peace Prize every December to honour those during the previous twelve months in various subjects of the world like Science. There is a small charge to check out the museum here but as it’s the only Nobel Peace Centre in the world, it’s worth a visit.

Nobel Peace Centre

Of course there are plenty of other things to see and do in Oslo which are worth checking out but it does come with a price. There are places where cheap eats and drinks can be had (for Norwegian standard) but it’s a case of looking in the side streets and hoping for the best. We are not saying you shouldn’t visit Oslo because visitors may return home bankrupt, no way, Oslo is one of those cities which is pleasant to walk around, enjoy the local culture and cuisine and has some charm to the place. It is one of the most peaceful cities in Europe we have come across and locals are always willing to give a smile and a warm welcome. If you have the chance to visit, then go. Even if it is a day trip.

Frognerparken – Vigland Sculpture

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16 Responses

  1. We have yet to explore Oslo, though my husband did visit for a short work trip a few years back. Really like the old stones and buildings like the Akershus Festning. But the statues of the Frogner Park are quite impressive! These make for an interesting walk for sure!

  2. It does look like a very peaceful city. I love the colourful buildings and the views you get from the opera house roof. The statue lined path in Frogner Park would be the first place I’d go to – statues for me and plenty of space for my kids to run riot.

  3. Carol Colborn

    We went to these very same 5 places. And for the first time we stayed in a hostel. That’s how expensive Oslo is!

  4. Oslo, Bergen, and Stockholm are next on our lists. Everyone had said the same thing about Copenhagen (that it was expensive) but I think coming from one of the more expensive cities in the US prepared us for it. I think it might be the same for Norway. Either way, looks lovely!

  5. All five of these added to my list for when we visit Stockholm, especially the sculpture park, which really appeals to me.

  6. I only spent a couple of hours in Oslo (to change airports!) so didn’t do much. The statues look very impressive

  7. Oslo looks really charming. I like the modern and futuristic design of the Opera House building. But the sculptures of Vigland are really mesmerizing and stand as a silent testimony to the sculptors creative genius. Another notable sight for me would be the Nobel Peace Centre.

  8. Great guide of Oslo for first time visitors. Reading your first paragraph I have to admit I was thinking the same. Flying is actually the cheapest thing you can do in Oslo considering there are airlines with less than 10 euro flights to that destinations. That is basically cheaper than a meal there which I find really funny.
    Anyways, I would love to visit Norway not only Oslo one day and maybe explore a bit of the countryside as well.

  9. It’s so true about Norway in general – it’s not a cheap destination and Oslo is certainly the most expensive but well worth the visit. Luckily it’s small so easy to walk around. We saw all of these sights while we were there and really loved Akershus Festning too. Thanks for the tips.

  10. Probably won’t make it to Norway on this trip, but good to see one can do Oslo without going broke … great post!

  11. Norway sure is expensive! I remember even the price of McDonalds seemed so exhorbitant the first time I visited. I won’t be going to Oslo this trip coming up but another time for sure.

  12. I love all those statues! It’s great to hear that Oslo can be visited on a budget as Scandinavia in general does have a reputation for being expensive. Thanks for the guide, hugely informative!

  13. My favorite thing to see in Oslo is the Viking Ship Museum. I learned so much about Norwegian culture there- not just ships. Did you know Vikings had women in power, even so long ago? So cool!

  14. That’s an interesting list of things to do in Oslo. Thanks for sharing such an informative post. Will definitely visit Oslo next time. The pictures are amazing.

  15. The city looks beautiful and I always want to see the fjords. But how expensive is it? Can you tell the average to spend for a day (all inclusive)?

  16. Amazing tips! ? would be glad to use this as a future reference?? I hope i can visit here someday!

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