If you are visiting Norway, Oslo will be probably your first destination. If you have visited Copenhagen or Stockholm, Oslo may not surprise you. These three cities are very similar to each other. However, among these three cities, I enjoyed being a tourist most in Oslo. After thinking a little bit, I found the answer for this. It was is a more modern city! Before continuing about how to reach and what to do, let me tell how I arranged my Oslo visit.
Buying roundtrip tickets cost most of the time less than buying two separate tickets (flying to Oslo, returning back from Bergen). Oslo has frequent flight connections to everywhere. After making some calculation flying to and from Oslo seemed to be the best option for me. So, I stayed one night on my first day and one night on my last day. This gave me in total of 2.5 days to visit Oslo. Was it enough to visit Oslo? If you are not planning to visit all museums, 2.5 days is really ideal for visiting Oslo.
I really enjoyed the system at the hotel I stayed in. This is valid in most of the hotels in Oslo. They don’t have reception. When you book the hotel, they only send you a code. When you arrive to hotel, you just enter that code and system searches whether there are free rooms even you arrive before your check-in time. They serve as first come take the key first. Although I arrived at 7 AM early in the morning on my last day, I was able to take a key. If you are interested, I stayed in Comfort Hotel Xpress Youngstorget on my first night and in Citybox Oslo on my last night.
How to reach
It is again one of the easiest airports offering easy access to city center. Once you have many options for reaching city center, it may be hard to decide among many alternatives. If you skip car and taxi options, the most convenient options are by bus or by train.
If there is not too much price difference among alternatives, I mostly prefer train and metro options wherever I am. In Oslo, if you prefer to go by train, you have two options. You can either use FlytoGet Airport Express Train or standard NSB train options. If you are student, price is same (90 NOK). If you are buying adult ticket, you may prefer to use NSB options which cost half of the price compared to FlytoGet Airport Express train. Your other option is by bus. Interestingly, this option cost higher than NSB option, but if you are interested in your target keyword is Flybussen.
Travelling around in Oslo is very easy. You may need only few times to use metro or tram, because everywhere is close in city center. On my first day, I have not used any transportation but on my second day for visiting some museums, it was a must for me to use ferry, bus and boat.
Single ticket costs only 33 NOK and 24-hour ticket costs 90 NOK. So, if you plan to use more than 3 tickets, buying a 24 hour ticket may be better. Be aware that you can not use this tickets for travelling from or to airport.
My recommendation for you to buy is Oslo Pass for 24 hours. If you think 24 hours is not enough for you can also consider buying the one with 48 hours option. Prices were 395 NOK and 595 NOK. These tickets allow you have to free transportation plus a ferry ride to Bygdoy (which is not included in any of the tickets normally) for visiting museums. Almost all museums are free to enter with the Oslo Pass. If you are under 30 years old and a student, you will have 20% discount when buying the ticket. In below sections, I will give my comments about the museums I have visited in Oslo. If visiting these places sound good for you, check whether it is included in Oslo Pass in official page.
What to do
After arriving my hotel, I started to put my plan which I have made during flight. My first stop was Oslo Opera House (Operahuset Oslo). It was not for attending an opera event. The building itself is really interesting and you have a chance to visit inside. It is not a natural place with trees, but it is really nice to enjoy some time with your friends. The region is called Barcode and I find it as a really good example how modern structures can built in a city.
My next stop was Akershus Festning. It takes aroun 15 minutes to reach there from Oslo Opera House. It is a free are where some concerts and major events take place. The castle itself is from 1300s, so it’s one of the unique places to discover Oslo’s history.
I have heard some good recommendations from locals that I should spend my early evening in Aker Brygge area. It is probably the most modern area in Oslo. I immediately decided to spend my dinner time here, but I was not that much hungry, so I continued exploring other places nearby. Oslo City Hall (Radhuset), National Theatre, Oslo Concert Hall and Nobels Peace Center are just the few places available nearby.
In Aker Brygge area, I saw there are many ferry departures to islands. They were small ferries which schedules were frequent at that time. In Aker Brygge, there are some galleries and museums such as Astrup Fearnle Museum of Modern Art, but more than this the ambiance is really nice. The area is a strip of restaurants where people enjoy the time when the sun goes down. The building you see in the area are mostly apartment houses where local people live.
If you are interested and you have time left, you may end the day visiting the gardens of The Royal Palace. If you are more into nightlife, continue your day in Aker Brygge and leave visiting Royal Palace on your second day.
On my first night, I made little research about which museums to visit on my second day. As a person who loves skiing, my top priority was Holmenkollen museum, but it was better to leave visiting Holmenkollen at the end of the day. Most of the other museums are located in Bygdøy where you can go there either by bus or ferry. If you have the Oslo Pass, using ferry right in front of City Hall will be your best option. There are five museums you should go for and they are all included in the Oslo Pass.
The small ferry stops at two piers. It depends on where you want to start your day. One of the stops is for Kon Tiki, Fram and Norsk Maritimt Museum and other stop is for Norsk Folkemuseum and Vikingsipshuset. In Fram museum, you will see the strongest wooden ship built and you will experience and learn how people survived in their polar journey. In Kon-Tiki museum, you will learn everything about how Thor Heyerdahl crossed Pacific Ocean in 40s. The third one Norwegian Maritime Museum is from my point of view optional. It is related mostly with marine archeology and you will see some old boats, paintings and models.
Other two museums are located also on Bygdøy, but they are little far away (1.5 km away). Viking Ship Museum has one of the best protected Viking ships in the world. This museum is also a very small museum like the other three. If I didn’t have the Oslo Pass, probably I would not visit them all. If you are not interested in any of the museums I mentioned above, maybe Norwegian Folk Museum can be in your interest. It reminded my days in Sweden, because it was very similar to Skagen open air museum in Stockholm. Here, instead of Swedish culture, I had a chance to explore Nordic culture by exploring more than 150 traditional houses. However, the most important attraction in this museum or maybe in entire Oslo is the stave church from 12th century.
Below is a list of museums located in Bygdøy. If you want to visit them all, definitely buy Oslo Pass. The prices are from November, 2017; but it may give you an idea about why you should buy Oslo Pass.
- Fram Museum –100 NOK for adults, 40 NOK for students
- Kon Tiki Museum –100 NOK for adults, 60 NOK for students
- Norsk Maritimt Museum –100 NOK for adults, 75 NOK for students
- Viking Ship Museum –100 NOK for adults, 80 NOK for students
- Norwegian Folk Museum – 130 NOK for adults, 100 NOK for students
After exploring museums in Bygdøy, I took a bus (bus no: 30) and with tram (tram no: 1) I arrived Holmenkollen Ski Museum area. Inside the museum, you can learn many thing about the skiing history, but learning is just the one part. The unique experience here is the ski jump area. Exploring the area is included in the price, but having a zipline experience is extra. Here, you will probably see the most expensive zipline experience compared to its length. It will take only 1 minute and will cost you 600 NOK for jumping. You will feel how jumping on a ski jump area feels like.
The day is not finished yet. You should visit one of the most interesting parks in the world. Gustav Vigeland’s more than 200 sculptures are located inside this park. Visiting Vigeland Sculpture Park is free and it is the best option to end your day after visiting many museums. It may sound like a museum day, but each museum offers you interesting things. Maybe museum lovers gonna hate me, but it is not like visiting five different art galleries on a single day. You can then return back to city center via tram no 12.
You may wish the day is not ended, because once you arrive to city center probably you will have no time left for visiting shops and buying some gifts. I was lucky to have one more day for shopping. Karl Johans Gate is the main street where shops are located. Oslo City is a small shopping mall located close to central train station. So, it is another option for you. On your last day, you may try eating some burgers at Munchies Torggata.
- FlytoGet Airport – http://www.flytoget.no/flytoget_eng/Travel-information/Tickets-and-fares
- NSB – https://www.nsb.no/en/our-destinations/airport-by-train
- Flybussen – https://www.nor-way.no/en-US/ticketinfo/ticket-categories
- Oslo City Pass – https://www.visitoslo.com/en/activities-and-attractions/oslo-pass/
- Oslo Zone Map – https://ruter.no/en/buying-tickets/zones/
- Ruter AS – https://ruter.no
Places to see
- Opera House – https://operaen.no/
- Akershus Fortress – https://www.forsvarsbygg.no/no/festningene/finn-din-festning/akershus-festning/english/
- Nobel Peace Center – https://www.nobelpeacecenter.org/en/
- Aker Brygge Restaurants – https://www.visitoslo.com/en/activities-and-attractions/boroughs/aker-brygge-tjuvholmen/cafes-restaurants/
- Royal Palace – http://www.royalcourt.no/seksjon.html?tid=80428&sek=80422
- Kon Tiki – http://www.kon-tiki.no/
- Fram – http://frammuseum.no/
- Norsk Maritimt Museum – https://marmuseum.no/
- Viking Ship Museum – http://www.khm.uio.no/english/
- Norwegian Folk Museum – https://norskfolkemuseum.no/
- Holmenkollen Ski Museum – https://www.skiforeningen.no/holmenkollen