Take a look at my top tips for exploring Norway's capital city
Oslo is a wonderful spot to visit if you’re looking for a relaxing city break slightly off the beaten track. It’s quite compact, infinitely walkable and unendingly interesting! Here are my 9 top tips for staying in Oslo.
1. Stay in a Hotel Close to Oslo Central Station
As I’ve already said, Oslo is exceptionally walkable. If you stay near Oslo Central Station (Oslo S), you have quick and easy access to trains to the airport, destinations to all over Norway and other destinations in Scandinavia! There’s also a large collection of shops in the adjoining shopping centre.
There are lots of restaurants that are less than 15 minutes walk away from this general area. The closest sight is also possibly Oslo’s most famous, the Oslo Opera House!
2. Book a Hotel that Includes Breakfast
As you may be aware, Norway, like the rest of Scandinavia, can be quite expensive. If you choose your hotel correctly you can avoid paying a small fortune on your accommodation. However, you will still need to eat, no matter where you stay. If you book a hotel with breakfast you will be able to eat your fill to ready yourself for a big day of touristing! This will also mean that you may be able to get to dinner that evening, with only a small snack to keep you going.
3. Take in a Show at the Oslo Opera House
This is a must for anyone who is interested in theatre/opera/ballet. Even if you aren’t, this place is really worth the visit! The best part is that you can walk all over the roof of this magnificent building. It’s quite a surreal experience to be able to walk directly up to the windows and look down into the foyer and see people going about their business. It’s also a great spot to get that all important Instagram photo!
If you want to read more about the Oslo Opera House and attending the opera there, click here.
4. Get Yourself an Oslo Pass
Like with the Vienna Pass (for info on that, click here), the Oslo Pass is a no brainer. You get free access to many, if not most, of the main attractions and discounts on load more. You even get discounts in some shops and restaurants which can be fantastic, as eating out can be quite pricey.
The book you get with the Oslo Pass is really clear and concise. It gives you some info on each attraction/restaurant/activity. As far as cost is concerned, it’s quite reasonable. It’s fairly on a par with similar cards for cities across Europe. Here are the prices:
24 Hour Pass:
Adult – 445 NOK (approx. € 46/£ 40/$ 51)
Child – 235 NOK (approx. €24/£ 21/$ 27)
Senior – 355 NOK (approx. €37/£ 32/$ 41)
48 Hour Pass:
Adult – 655 NOK (approx. € 68/£ 59/$ 75)
Child – 325 NOK (approx. € 34/£ 29/$ 37)
Senior – 520 NOK (approx. € 54/£ 47/$ 59)
72 Hour Pass:
Adult – 820 NOK (approx. € 85/£ 74/$ 94)
Child – 410 NOK (approx. €43/£ 37/$ 47)
Senior – 655 NOK (approx. € 68/£ 59/$ 75)
5. Go for a Fjord Cruise
Now, before I go any further, I do need to say that The Oslofjord is not the most scenic. It is however quite interesting. The one I took was with Batservice Sightseeing AS. It was on a motor sailing yacht which was delightfully quaint. The day I went, it was absolutely FREEZING! Well, at least it was for me, the Irish guy who is used to a temperate climate! Hahaha. They were well prepared for this though. They had lots and lots of blankets available for everyone! You could also get hot drinks on board, which was a definite help too!
I wasn’t alone on this cruise and I have to say we had great craic (Irish for fun)! At one point we were wrapped up like we were on an Arctic Expedition! The scenery was quite nice! It was fascinating to see all the different styles of homes on the islands, many of which are only accessible by boat. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that all this peace and quiet was only a few minutes out from Norway’s biggest city! It could’ve been a totally different world! You also get a totally unique view of the city when you’re out on the water.
6. Try the Local Cuisine
Firstly, I need to say that SOME restaurants that serve traditional Norwegian food include whale on their menu. Most places that serve it will make it clear before you take your seat by use of a sign. This allows you to find another place to eat if you feel this is morally unacceptable, or against your personal beliefs/opinions. Don’t allow this to cloud your opinion of what can be a delightfully tasteful culinary experience.
Anyway, you can try local cuisine of other types. There are a multitude of Norwegian style restaurants. Traditional dishes include fish soup and meats such as venison, beef and reindeer. Unfortunately there aren’t many options for vegetarians or vegans. This is improving throughout Norway and many places will also have these options. It might not be traditional Norwegian food though…
7. Hop up to the Holmenkollen
Hop on the metro and take to approx. 15 minute journey from the city centre up to the stunningly beautiful Ski Jump that is the Holmenkollen. This beautiful piece of architecture boasts an amazing view of Oslo, the Oslofjord and the surrounding countryside. There’s also a wonderful ski museum which is a must if you have any interest in winter sports! Better yet, access to everything is free with the Oslo Pass!
8. Visit the Huge Selection of Museums
Oslo has a hugely diverse selection of museums and galleries. There’s everything from the Norwegian Folk Museum to one about Polar Exploration! In the Folk Museum, you can explore all aspects of normal life in Norway down through the centuries with acres of exhibitions and reconstructions both indoor and outdoor.
Another really intersting one is the Viking Ship Museum which houses Viking Burial Ships that are about 1200 years old!
The Akerhus Festning is a Fortress and Royal Castle that also contains a few museums, as well as being a living museum itself. Definitely worth a look!
9. Spend Some Time Exploring the City
As I said already, Oslo is extremely walkable. You can stroll around the very compact city centre and stop off at a few great spots! My favourites were walking in and around the recent developments along the waterfront and the area surrounding the Royal Palace.
Although I didn’t get to visit when I was there due to time restrictions, there’s an amazing park a short journey on public transport away from the city centre. It’s called the Vigeland Park. It’s a huge outdoor space filled with lots of amazing sculptures. The next time I’m in Oslo, I will most definitely be paying it a visit!
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