A curated and honest guide to the best things to do in Oslo: museums, attractions, best tours and places to eat and stay! You’ll find the best tips from the locals so you can explore Oslo just like a local!
Oslo is a vibrant city full of interesting attractions: top-notch museums, one of the most important artistic and architectural scenes in Europe, a remarkable gastronomic heritage and a pleasant, relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Oslo is increasingly establishing itself as one of the trendiest cities in Northern Europe and is a perfect destination for a few days’ stay, enough time to explore its most popular attractions.
Here you will find the best tips from the locals on the best things to do in Oslo: museums, attractions, places to stay and eat, the best tours and useful tips to save on tickets and public transport!
What you’ll find in this guide to the best things to do in Oslo:
- Best Things to Do in Oslo
- How to Save on Tickets for Oslo Museums and Attractions
- Top 3 Best Tours and Activities to Do in Oslo
- Things to Know Before Visiting Oslo
- Getting to and Getting Around in Oslo
Best Things to Do in Oslo
Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House (Operahuset Oslo) is located near Oslo Central Station and is home to the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. It is one of the most prestigious theaters in Europe and can accommodate over 1300 spectators.
The building, an eclectic example of contemporary architecture, was built entirely of white granite and Italian Carrara marble and its external shape resembles a huge iceberg rising over the fjord. Its interiors are decorated in precious oak wood, which creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The theater hosts many theatrical and musical performances, not only of classical but also more modern works, featuring shows by internationally renowned artists from all over the world. You will be able to attend ballets, concerts, classical plays and opera performances.
The modern and iconic Oslo Opera House can be visited on a guided tour that includes a visit to the backstage and scenography workshops. Tours are held daily in Norwegian and English (on Saturdays also in German), last 50 minutes and tickets can be purchased on site. Ticket prices from 120 NOK. From the rooftop of the Oslo Opera House, which can be visited for free, you will have a nice view of the fjord and the city center.
Munch Museum (MUNCH)
Arguably the most famous museum in Oslo, the MUNCH Museum is a brand new museum entirely dedicated to the most famous Norwegian artist: Edvard Munch.
This museum – which is now the main place to see Munch’s works – is located in Bjørvika, one step away from the Oslo Opera House. Previously, the artist’s works were located in the Norwegian National Museum in Tøyen (Old Munch Museum), near the Botanical Garden. Since October 2021 the Munch Museum has been moved to this new modern venue, entirely dedicated to his history and his works.
The MUNCH Museum is surprisingly huge: 13 floors and 11 exhibition halls. Many spaces are for events and temporary exhibitions, while the top 4 floors are a sort of observation deck over the city. You will be able to see thousands of works by Munch and other famous contemporary European artists. The collection of the MUNCH Museum in Oslo boasts over 26,000 works, including paintings, drawings, lithographs and sculptures, but also photographs and an exhibition on the artist’s life, with a reconstruction of his studio.
You will be able to see some of Munch’s most famous masterpieces, such as “The Scream” and “Madonna”, but also “Night in Nice”, “Puberty” and “Ashes” and many more.
Seeing “The Scream” is a bit tricky: the museum exhibits the three most famous versions of the painting, but these are covered by a black protective panel. This is due to the fact that these paintings are extremely fragile and are damaged by the light. The three works are exhibited in rotation: every hour you can see one, but there is no schedule. This is a bit crazy: the paintings are unveiled randomly, so you’ll have to run around the museum for at least three hours to see them all.
However, MUNCH Museum is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Oslo, and can be visited for free with the Oslo Pass City Card. Otherwise, ticket prices start from 160 NOK.
Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle located near the port and is one of the main attractions of the city. It was built in 1300 by King Håkon V, when Olso became the capital of Norway. Its purpose was to protect Oslo from attacks by sea and was part of a complex system of mighty fortifications located around the harbor.
The fortress became even more important after the fire of 1624, when Oslo was rebuilt entirely within the defensive walls. Over the centuries, their function ceased and the walls and external bastions were demolished to allow the expansion of the city. Akershus Fortress then became a prison and then a military base. It currently houses several government offices, is the official seat of the Norwegian Prime Minister’s offices and has several venues for concerts and shows.
It has kept its medieval appearance almost intact, while its interiors have beautiful Renaissance decorations. You will visit the royal halls, the castle chapel, the royal crypts with the tombs of King Håkon VII and Olav V and the interesting Norges Hjemmefront Museet, a museum dedicated to the Norwegian Resistance during WWII. Here are exhibited objects, newspapers and photographs that tell the story of the Nazi occupation of Norway.
Among the artifacts on display are several devices used by spies and partisans to smuggle information. I was impressed by a denture that belonged to a Norwegian prisoner of war: inside it hid a mechanism used to receive radio transmissions!
You can walk around the ramparts and gardens of the fortress for free. It is open from 6.00 AM to 9.00 PM. Tickets for visiting the interior of Akershus Castle start at NOK 100. Free entry with the Oslo Pass City Card.
OSLO Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is located on the top of Bellevue Hill, at the end of Karl Johans, Oslo’s main street. This fabulous palace dates back to the 1800s and in 1849 became the official residence of King Oscar I. Even today this is the official residence of the Norwegian royal family, where King Harald V and Queen Sonja live. It is also the seat of the King’s office, where he holds hearings and official banquets and where the meetings of the Council of State are held.
Set in a lush garden, the Royal Palace boasts 173 rooms. Its fabulous rooms can be visited on a guided tour held daily in summer, from from late June until the middle of August. You will be able to visit some of the most beautiful rooms, such as the White Parlor, the Hall of Mirrors where royalty usually take afternoon tea, the Great Hall used for special occasions as a ballroom and the Banqueting Hall. You can also admire some of the private bedrooms for guests, such as the beautiful King Haakon VII Suite.
Tickets start at NOK 175 and tour times (which are also held in English) vary from year to year. Timetables and tickets on the official website of the Royal Palace. There are no tours in winter. The palace gardens are open to the public all year round and at 1.30 PM you can watch the exciting changing of the guard ceremony.
Oslo overlooks the picturesque Oslofjord, a peaceful fjord bordered by green grasslands, forests and villages dotted with traditional colorful wooden houses. You can go up to the rooftop of the Oslo Opera House for a nice view of the fjord.
But one of the best things to do in Oslo is undoubtedly an unforgettable cruise through Oslo’s fjords, which allows you to see the sensational surrounding landscape characterized by bays, narrow sounds and a maze of islands dotted with picturesque summer homes.
From the Oslofjord you will have amazing views over the city and its most iconic sites, such as the Opera House, the Dyna Lighthouse, the Bygdøy peninsula and the ships of the Maritime Museum. From the Aker Brygge pier there are connections to neighboring islands, such as Hovedøya and Gressholmen, which in summer are the ideal place for swimming, picnicking on the beach or hiking.
One of the best things to do in Oslo is a stroll along the beautiful Bygdøy peninsula, located west of the city center. This was once one of the quietest and most exclusive places in the city and still today you can see two of the most beautiful royal residences in Norway here.
The Bygdøy neighborhood is covered in forests, gardens, parks and paths where locals go for a jog. There are many opportunities for nature walks, as well as some beautiful beaches, such as Huk, which is very popular with locals in the summer.
However, Bygdøy is famous for being Oslo’s museums’s island, because here there are 5 of the most famous museums in Oslo: the Kon-Tiki Museum, the Fram Museum and the Viking Ship Museum, the Norsk Folkemuseum and the Norsk Maritimt Museum. Below you will find a detail of each of them. There is also an interesting museum on the history of the Holocaust housed in a large noble villa, called Villa Grande.
You can also visit two fabulous royal residences: the Oscarshall, which can be visited with guided tours only in the summer, and the Bygdø Kongsgård which includes the large royal dairy farm, a good place to walk and see farm animals, recommended for families. There is also a café and shop where you can try the excellent locally produced organic cheese.
To go to Bygdøy you can take the public ferry which leaves from Pier 3 of Aker Brygge, in front of the Town Hall. Or you can go there by bus no. 30, which stops in front of the National Theater (Nationaltheatret). Or you could go on foot or by bicycle, from Oslo Central Station it is about 6 km, or 1.5 hours walk (one way).
Norwegian Folk Museum
One of the best things to do in Oslo is a visit to the Norwegian Folk Museum (Norsk Folkemuseum), the perfect place to learn more about the local culture. Far from being a boring museum, this is a family-friendly place as well, as it is a large open-air museum of traditional Norwegian culture, art and architecture. Over 160 authentic historic buildings are preserved here.
Located on the Bygdøy peninsula, the Norwegian Folk Museum allows visitors to stroll through centuries-old old houses, including the stunning Gol Stave Church, built in the 12th century and moved to the museum in 1884. You can visit the interiors of each building. so as to find out more about its history and different aspects of the local culture. Inside the buildings there are some exhibitions on Norwegian folk art and traditional costumes. The exhibits on the history of medicine, local crafts and Sami culture are also very interesting.
In summer, the Norwegian Folk Museum is one of the best things to do in Oslo with kids, as there are plenty of activities for children, such as feeding farm animals, horseback riding, seeing figures in traditional costumes and learn how to cook the famous Norwegian potato flatbread called Lefse.
Here you are also in the heart of the royal summer residence and you can visit Bygdø Kongsgård, the dairy farm that produces excellent organic cheeses. You will be able to take a look at the farm with its many animals: cows, sheep, ponies and rabbits. Here you can also see some rare native breeds, such as the Old Norse Spælsau sheep, the Fjord Horse and the cuddly Trønder Rabbit. In the heart of the farm there is also a small restaurant, Kongsgården Gardening, which serves good local specialties made with locally grown ingredients.
The Norsk Folkemuseum is undoubtedly one of the must-do in Oslo. Ticket prices start at NOK 180. Admission is free with the Oslo Pass City Card.
One of Oslo’s most famous attractions is the Fram Museum, located on the Bygdøy peninsula. This museum tells the compelling history of polar exploration and provides an insight into the life of 20th century explorers. An unmissable destination for arctic lovers.
Here you can admire the Fram, which is the authentic ship used by explorers Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen for their Arctic and Antarctic expeditions between 1893 and 1912. The Fram boasts an incredible history: it is the wooden ship that has sailed further north and south than any other. Her hull was made to be wide, but with a shallow draft, so that she floated on the ice.
You will be able to visit the ship and learn about life on board and polar exploration. The Fram Museum also houses another ship, called Gjøa, with which Roald Amundsen sailed for the very first time through the Northwest Passage. Tickets start at NOK 140. Admission is free with the Oslo Pass City Card.
Norsk Maritimt Museum
The Norsk Maritimt Museum is another popular museum in Bygdøy and is located right next to the more famous Fram Museum. The museum is dedicated to Norway’s maritime heritage. Here you can learn more about local culture, fishing and maritime trade. You’ll also see an exhibition of historic ships ranging from ancient Stokkebåten to more modern steamboats and boats, as well as temporary exhibits on the sea and navigation. Ticket prices start at NOK 180. Admission is free with the Oslo Pass City Card.
A popular thing to do in Oslo is a visit to the Kon-Tiki Museum, also located on the Bygdøy peninsula. This is a small museum – you can visit it in less than an hour – dedicated to the history and life of Thor Heyerdahl, an explorer who crossed the Pacific Ocean in 1947 on a balsa-wood raft called Kon-Tiki.
His incredible adventure is narrated through photos and objects from the exotic islands visited by the explorer. You will be able to see the authentic raft, as well as other boats and artifacts. Every day at noon you can watch the screening of the famous film “Kon-Tiki” which tells the story of the expedition and which won an Oscar in 1950. Ticket prices start at NOK 180. Admission is free with the Oslo Pass City Card.
Viking Ship Museum and Viking Era Museum in Oslo
A famous attraction in Oslo was its Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset), located on the Bygdøy peninsula. This museum exhibited three perfectly preserved authentic Viking ships. The most famous is the 9th century Oseberg ship, which is 21 meters long. In addition to the ships, the museum also housed an exhibition of artifacts and archaeological finds that once were inside the ships, including chariots, sculptures, furnishings and even skeletons.
The Viking Ship Museum is now permanently closed. In its place will be the new and larger Viking Era Museum, scheduled to open in 2026.
Oslo City Hall
Oslo City Hall (Rådhuset) is one of the most famous buildings in the city, known for being the venue for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Dating back to 1950, this building with an impressive and austere facade – an excellent example of the Scandinavian functionalist style – still houses the City Council and the city administration.
It is located in the heart of Oslo, in the district called Sentrum, right in front of the public ferry pier. Its red brick facade is dominated by two towers, from which a carillon with 49 bells plays every hour from 7.00 AM to midnight. Don’t be fooled by the stern exterior though: its interior is fabulous, and well worth a visit! This by the way is one of the best things to do in Oslo for free, so just go in and take a look!
There are also affordable Oslo walking tours that allow you to visit Oslo City Hall, as well as other popular city attractions, with an English-speaking local guide. It is a great way to explore the city and learn more about its culture, history and eclectic architecture.
Aker Brygge is one of the most popular and vibrant areas in Oslo. It is located next to the harbor and is where most of the ferries leave for Bygdøy and other destinations in the fjord. Once there were old disused shipyards here, but recently it has become one of the trendiest areas of the city.
This is the ideal place for shopping and nightlife lovers. Along the Aker Brygge promenade there are hundreds of shops, as well as dozens of good restaurants and bars. In the summer there are outdoor terraces to eat or drink, while in the winter there is a magical atmosphere here – especially around Christmas time – and it’s a good place to relax and warm up.
This is a place that locals love, bustling with families, couples and groups of friends in every season. This is the place where you often meet with friends and go out for a drink. Plus, here are some of Oslo’s best seafood restaurants.
Karl Johans Gate
Karl Johans Gate is Oslo’s main street, named after King Charles III John of Norway. This is the real heart of the city: following it you can see most of the main attractions, from the University to the Historical Museum, up to the Stortinget, the large building that houses the Norwegian parliament, and the Royal Palace with its gardens. The boulevard is lined with shops, restaurants and cafes.
Oslo Cathedral is located in the heart of the city, near the Karl Johans Gate which is one of Oslo’s main streets. Dating back to 1627 it was heavily damaged during WWII and rebuilt soon after. The facade features a mighty bell tower and richly decorated bronze doors. The interiors are richly frescoed, with works by Hugo Lous Mohr and a beautiful altar and Baroque stained glass windows by Emanuel Vigeland. The Cathedral is the place where the official royal ceremonies take place and also hosts classical music concerts.
Gamle Aker Kirke
Located in the north of the city center, the Gamle Aker Kirke is the oldest building in Oslo, dating back to 1150. This is the only medieval church in the city that has survived practically intact to the present day and looks like an austere building in stone with three naves in Romanesque style. The oldest part is the churchyard, while over the centuries the baptismal font, the baroque pulpit (1715) and the bell tower (1861) have been added.
Damstredet and Telthusbakken
In the surroundings of Gamle Aker Kirke there are two other districts whose visit deserves to be included among the best things to do in Oslo. Indeed Damstredet and Telthusbakken are among the oldest districts of the city and keep their old charm intact, with their traditional wooden houses dating back to 1700-1800.
You could start your walk from Fredensborgveien, which is just a 15-minute walk from the city center. From here you will take Damstredet, where you can see its quaint wooden houses. You will continue on Akersbakken to Gamle Aker Kirke. Along the way you will pass the Vår Frelsers Gravlund Cemetery, where you can see the graves of numerous Norwegian artists, including Edvard Munch and playwright and theater director Henrik Ibsen.
Tjuvholmen and Astrup Fearnley Museum
Tjuvholmen is one of the most modern, exclusive and glamorous neighborhoods in Oslo. This is the place for art lovers, as it is teeming with art galleries and art installations. You will enjoy a calm stroll along its streets, gardens and beaches overlooking the fjord. It will be like walking into an open-air art gallery.
The heart of this eclectic neighborhood is the contemporary building by the famous architect Renzo Piano, which houses the Astrup Fearnley Museum. This is the most important contemporary art museum in Oslo and one of the most important in Europe.
It exhibits works by leading artists such as Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Sigmar Polke, Janine Antoni, Jeff Koons, Sherrie Levine, Damien Hirst, Bruce Naumann and Olafur Eliasson. It can be reached with a short walk from Aker Brygge. Ticket prices start at NOK 140. Admission is free with the Oslo Pass City Card.
Frogner Park and Vigeland Park
Frogner Park, located in the district of the same name, is the largest and one of the most important parks in Oslo. In the 19th century the park was bought by the German industrial entrepreneur Benjamin Wegner, who had several buildings and monuments built, as well as some large sculptures.
In the southern part there are several mansions and manor buildings, which now house the Oslo City Museum (Oslo Bymuseum). The heart of the park is Vigeland Park, where a series of sculptures by local artist Gustav Vigeland, dating back to the 1900s, are exhibited. There are over 212 works in bronze and granite, including a granite bridge with statues of men, women and a child – who is nicknamed Angry Boy. Also noteworthy is the bronze fountain, the 17-meter high monolith decorated with 121 human figures and the Wheel of Life. Either way, this is a good place for a quiet stroll. Admission is free.
Grünerløkka is another vibrant district of Oslo, located north east of the city center. This was a decadent working-class neighborhood in the 19th century, built around large factories. This is where Munch spent his childhood and walking through the streets you will see many traces of what inspired his works.
Although at first glance the graffiti-covered alleys might make you think this is a dodgy neighborhood, Grünerløkka has recently become one of Oslo’s trendiest neighborhoods and one of its hottest nightlife spots. This area is full of restaurants and bars and is very popular with students. It is also a popular area for alternative lifestyle and shopping, filled with stalls and shops selling vintage and second-hand items.
The large building located at the edge of Karl Johans Gate avenue is called Stortinget and houses the seat of the Norwegian parliament. Built in 1866, the Stortinget features a yellow brick and red granite facade, a mixture of Norwegian and Italian architecture.
The large amphitheater hall where the assemblies of Parliament are held hosts 165 members and features a large painting located behind the President’s seat. This, created at the end of the 19th century by Oscar Wergeland, depicts the constituent assembly of Eidsvoll, held in 1814. In summer, some guided tours are held in English, which depart at 10.00 AM from the rear entrance in Akersgata.
This small museum is located in the former home of Henrik Ibsen, a famous Norwegian playwright and theater recorder, near the Royal Palace. Here Ibsen lived for 11 years until his death, and today the museum tells his life and his works through a collection of objects that belonged to him, photographs and documents. You’ll see his perfectly preserved studio where he wrote some of his most famous plays: John Gabriel Borkman and When We Dead Awaken.
Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology
The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology is located in the suburb of Kjelsås, easily reachable in just 10 minutes by train from Central Station. It is the largest museum of technology and science in Norway, with an interesting section dedicated to natural sciences and medicine.
It boasts dozens of permanent and temporary exhibitions, also suitable for families with kids. Its interesting interactive installations will allow you to learn many curious and interesting things. You will be able to see an electron microscope and test your skills in building electronic devices and machines. One of my favorite attractions is the National Museum of Medicine, which displays an interesting collection of medical instruments and tells the history and development of medicine from 1850 to the present day.
Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo
Located in the Tøyen district, the Natural History Museum is the most important in the country and boasts an interesting Geological Museum, a Zoological Museum and the large University Botanical Garden. It boasts a valuable collection of minerals and meteorites, as well as an interesting section dedicated to fossils and dinosaurs, including Stan: a huge life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The Zoological Museum offers an interesting overview of Norwegian and polar fauna, while the Botanical Garden boasts over 35,000 plants including thousands of rare species. It was founded in 1814 and is the oldest botanical garden in Norway. Among its historic pavilions stand out two greenhouses dating back to the mid-19th century, the Palm House built in 1868 and the Victoria House in 1876. The last one houses a pond with wonderful Victoria water lilies. Do not miss the Scents Garden, an olfactory path among fragrant plants and flowers, designed for visually impaired visitors.
Mathallen Food Hall
The Mathallen Food Hall is a large food hall, which is the perfect place for foodies. Here you will find over 30 restaurants and bars, as well as several shops selling local specialties. Several cooking classes are also held here, just in case you want to learn some local recipes.
Housed in an old industrial building from 1908, built in red brick and iron, Mathallen Food Hall is the heart of the vibrant Vulkan district in the northern part of the city center. This is a popular neighborhood among young couples and families. There are dozens of great restaurants, street food stalls and you can find the best of international cuisine, especially Asian and American. There are also several good restaurants serving local cuisine, such as the 1-Michelin Star Restaurant Kontrast, which serves interesting gourmet tasting menus.
Another famous, albeit tiny, food hall in Oslo is Vippa. It is located in what used to be an old port warehouse, with the facade covered with graffiti, right next to the Akershus Fortress. It houses several street food stalls and food trucks ranging from local cuisine to the best of exotic cuisine. You will be able to taste a wide choice of Asian, Middle Eastern and American specialties.
It closes early, 9.00 PM, but is a good place for a drink or meal. It is very popular with locals: here you will find some of the best tacos, spring rolls, Chinese dumplings and Norwegian seafood. A journey through the flavors and cultures of the world! There are shared tables inside, but many prefer to enjoy their meal or drink while enjoying the peaceful fjord views.
Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower
Just 10 km from Oslo the landscape becomes mountainous and features forests and lakes. In summer this is a pleasant place to relax and take long nature walks, while in winter it is one of Norway’s most popular ski resorts.
The Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower is located right on top of Holmenkollen Hill in the Nordmarka region, just below the famous olympic ski jump. This museum is dedicated to the history of the Norwegian national sport: skiing! Through an extensive collection, which boasts over 2,500 pairs of skis that belonged to the best Norwegian skiers and members of the royal family, this museum collects over 4000 years of skiing history.
An interesting section is dedicated to polar expeditions, with skis and other equipment belonging to Nansen and Amundsen. There is also an interesting exhibition on snowboarding and modern skiing. From the museum an elevator takes you to the top of the ski jump, from where there is an observation deck with a view that sweeps across the valley, the city and the fjord.
The region north of Oslo is called Nordmarka and is a fabulous area covered with forests, lakes and grasslands. It is a fantastic place to visit in any season and offers plenty of opportunities for nature walks, mountain biking and views of scenic lakes and mountains.
Here is also one of the most popular ski destinations around Oslo, the Tryvann Vinterpark, which boasts 14 slopes and six ski lifts. In the surroundings of the tall Tryvannstårnet television tower there are many paths and from here you have a beautiful view of the surrounding valley.
You could also hire a car and travel northwest to the picturesque village of Noresund, overlooking the mountains and a peaceful lake. Here you could stay overnight at the fabulous Norefjellhytta Restaurant & Overnatting, a Nordic-style log cabin offering quaint accommodations and a restaurant serving delicious regional cuisine.
The place that inspired Munch’s “The Scream” is located at Ekebergparken, although it won’t be easy to recognize at first glance. This park is located just east of Gamle Oslo and can be reached within a 30-minute walk. Today it is a place where locals like to stroll leisurely, there are several sculptures, including some by Salvador Dali and Damien Hirst. The entrance to the park is free and from here you also have a nice view over the city.
Deichman Bjørvika Library
Deichman Bjørvika is Oslo’s new public library and is located between Central Station and the Opera House. It is housed in a beautiful contemporary building featuring six entirely transparent floors. The walls are made of glass and let in the light, creating a sense of union between the inside and the outside. It is a modern library, with large spaces dedicated to cultural events. It boast a collection of over 450,000 volumes and large reading rooms, as well as a cinema, an auditorium, recording studios and a restaurant.
The Historical Museum of Oslo (Historisk Museum) offers a good overview of local and Northern European history and boasts interesting sections dedicated to the Viking Era and local folklore. Surprisingly, you will also find extensive collections dedicated to the history of Ancient Egypt and the native peoples of Latin America.
KOK Floating Sauna
An unusual thing to do in Oslo is KOK’s floating saunas. Located right on the Oslofjord, these saunas are a kind of floating barge with a small wooden house on top that houses a changing room, a sauna and a terrace from which you can dive into the cold waters of the fjord. Each floating sauna can accommodate 10 to 14 people and you can book it all for yourself and your friends, or join a shared experience. They are located near the Aker Brygge and Langkaia Pier, next to the Oslo Opera House.
Norway’s largest and most popular amusement park is located about 20km south of Oslo in the village of Vinterbro, easily accessible by car or train. The Tusenfryd only opens from April to October and boasts over 30 family-friendly rides and attractions. There are six roller coasters and other adrenaline-pumping rides, as well as children’s rides such as toy trains, bumper cars and the like. It might seem rather modest when compared to other mega amusement parks in the world, but for locals this is the best! In summer there is also a water park with water slides and swimming pools.
How to Save on Tickets for Oslo Museums and Attractions
There are tons of things to do in Oslo: medieval forts, parks and top-notch museums, which are among the best in Europe. The city is easily explored on foot and with the excellent public transport system, so in a few days you can easily visit all the best attractions.
To make the most of your visit to Oslo you will need to explore at least the most famous museums, which offer an interesting insight into local life, culture and history, Arctic exploration and the Viking Age. You will visit several museums per day, as many can be visited in less than an hour.
This means that if you visit at least 5 of the best things to do in Oslo in one day, you will spend a lot of money on tickets. At an average rate of NOK 150 for each museum, you will spend at least NOK 750, which means € 75! Plus the cost of tickets for buses, ferries, trams, etc.
This is why most travelers opt for the affordable Oslo Pass City Card, the official pass that allows you to visit all the main attractions of the city at its best and includes:
- FREE admission to ALL Oslo’s Best Museums and Attractions
- FREE admission to over 30 attractions in Oslo (including the ones you read in this guide!)
- UNLIMITED FREE TRIPS on Public Transport (Bus, Trams …)
- UNLIMITED FREE TRIPS on Ferries to and from Bygdøy
Plus: OSLO FREE WALKING TOUR with Official English Speaking Guide from Oslo Guidebureau
You can choose an Oslo Pass City Card that is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours from the time of first use. Prices start at NOK 273 per day (for the 72-hour Oslo Pass City Card) or NOK 445 (for the 24-hour card).
Discounted passes are available for children 6-17 (under 6 is free), students (up to 30, with valid student ID) and seniors (over 67). The child pass starts at NOK 136 per day (for the 72-hour Oslo Pass City Card) or NOK 235 (for the 24-hour one), which is pretty cheap! On average, travelers to Oslo visit at least 15 attractions during a short stay (1-3 days), so the Oslo Pass City Card will save you a lot – you’ll spend less than half the price of the tickets!
Top 3 Best Tours and Activities to Do in Oslo
Sightseeing Cruise through Oslo’s Fjords
This is undoubtedly the most popular thing to do in Oslo: a cruise on the calm waters of Oslo’s Fjords, from which you can get a nice view of the city, its harbor and main attractions. You will explore the coast around the city, with its coves and scenic bays and even a fabulous lonely lighthouse. You will pass through a maze of islands, dotted with picturesque colorful wooden houses, and you will be able to see the many seabirds that populate the fjord, such as the white-tailed sea eagle. This tour is very popular and in demand, so it’s best to book in advance.
For a few extra bucks you could join an evening cruise, which includes a good and hearty dinner buffet of delicious Norwegian shrimps.
Guided tours of the city by bus, bicycle or on foot
There are so many things to do in Oslo and a good way to catch the city’s highlights and learn more about its compelling history, stunning buildings, contemporary art and architecture is to join a guided tour.
If you are short on time, an excellent solution could be a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour: the big red buses pass through the most beautiful places in the city, connecting all the main attractions and museums. Buses run frequently and at each stop you can simply get off, visit, take photos and spend as long as you want there, then take the next bus and continue to the next stop. The ticket is valid for 24 hours and includes an audio guide available in several languages.
A very pleasant alternative could be an Oslo Bike Tour: you will explore the most beautiful corners and the most hidden gems of the city, led by an expert local guide. You will enjoy the city just like a local, riding your bike. The rental of a comfortable hybrid bike and all the necessary equipment is included in the price.
Otherwise you could book a Private Oslo Walking Tour which in just 2 or 4 hours allow you to discover the best of the city, see the main monuments and learn more about its history. The tour can be a good way to see the most beautiful corners of Oslo, and then maybe explore the museums you want to visit at a more leisurely pace.
Kayak tour in the Oslofjord
One of the best things to do in Oslo for outdoor enthusiasts is a kayaking tour of the beautiful fjord. This activity lasts 3 hours and is also suitable for beginners: you will be accompanied by a professional instructor, who will guide you through some of the most scenic bays of the fjord with a beautiful view over the city. During the tour you will be able to see some of Oslo’s most famous sights from a rather unusual perspective. It is a good way to get in touch with the adventurous local culture!
Things to Know Before Visiting Oslo
Oslo is Norway’s bustling capital city and sits nestled in the scenic Oslofjord, a fjord located in southeastern Norway, not far from the Swedish border. Surrounded by forests and mountains renowned for winter sports, Olso is Norway’s largest and most populous city, as well as being its main cultural, financial, economic, political and scientific hub.
With a population of just 630,000, Oslo is a modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan city. It is full of great trendy hotels, restaurants and bars. It also has a pleasant nightlife, which is quite rare in Norway. Unsurprisingly, there are tons of things to do in Oslo – you’ll discover the city’s most scenic corners, fabulous fjord views and interesting museums, which are among the best in Europe.
Oslo boasts a thousand-year history: its name until a few years ago was Kristiania or Christiania. Do you know why? Oslo was founded in 1050 by King Harald Hardraade, along the banks of the Akerselva River, where today there is the district of Gamle Oslo, which means Old Oslo. This was a calm bay, called Bjørvika, protected by the nearby hills of Ekeberg, and there was an old Viking port. In 1624 a fire completely destroyed Oslo and King Christian IV decided to rebuild it just a few kilometers to the west, where the Sentrum district is now located. He then changed its name to Christiania, from his name.
In the following years, Norway was merged with the Kingdom of Sweden and in 1877 the name of the city began to be written as Kristiania, this until the independence of Norway in the early 1900s. Only in 1925 the Norwegians decided to return to the old name and the city was once again called Oslo.
After the Second World War, Oslo developed and expanded rapidly, incorporating the surrounding villages. In 2000 it was classified as Europe’s fastest growing city, and still is today. Plus, it’s recognized as one of the best cities to live in, thanks to its good quality of life, decent wages, great public transport, and a relatively compact size.
Getting to and Getting Around in Oslo
Oslo is one of the major capital cities in Northern Europe and is well connected with all major European cities and many international destinations. It has two international airports: Gardermoen and Torp.
Gardermoen is located 50 km north of Oslo, while Torp is 120 km south. Both are connected by bus and Gardermoen is also easily accessible by train.
Getting to Oslo by Cruise or Ship
Many tourists arrive in Oslo on one of the large cruise ships that sail along Norway’s southern fjords. The pier is located near the Town Hall and Akershus Fortress in the city center. Cruise passengers have little time to visit the city, so it is advisable to book one of the convenient (and inexpensive, especially when compared to the overpriced tours sold on the cruises) tours of the city.
In Oslo there are ferry connections to and from Kiel (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Frederikshavn (Denmark). These are large car ferries and take between 19 and 22 hours. it could be a good option for those coming to Oslo by car.
Getting to Oslo by Train
Oslo Central Station is located right in the city center and has international connections to Sweden. It is a popular stop for those taking an Interrail trip to Scandinavia or Norway. The famous Oslo-Bergen railway departs from here, crossing stunning mountainous landscapes and connecting Norway’s two major cities. There are also some connections to Trondheim and Stavanger.
Getting around Oslo is quite easy: public transport covers all the main attractions and districts of the city, it is efficient and punctual. There are several buses and trams and the main ones run through Oslo Central Station. Anyway, the city is compact and can be easily explored on foot or by bicycle.
Other Helpful Tips for Your Trip to Oslo (From a Local!)
Are you planning a trip to Oslo? Then you might want to take a look at our guide on Oslo Airport Hotels, which could come in handy if you have an early morning departure or a late evening arrival. If you’re traveling on a tight budget and looking for an affordable, clean, and comfortable place to stay in the heart of Oslo, you should check out our guide to the best Hostels in Oslo.