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The best things to do in Oslo

Updated On 27th March, 2023

If you are visiting Oslo and looking for an Oslo travel guide with all the best things to do in Oslo, you have come to the right place! 

If you’re planning a trip or daydreaming about an adventure in the capital of Norway and wondering when the best time to see the northern lights is, where to stay in Oslo, and more, leave it with me.

In this blog post, I will answer your questions and more! I will tell you exactly when and where you can see the northern lights, the best accommodation, museums and attractions, and much more.

Get your notepad and pen at the ready to start planning your Oslo travel itinerary!

The best things to do in Oslo

Why should you visit Oslo?

You will especially love Oslo if you love nature and city life combined. Oslo is filled with rich culture. Culture enthusiasts and art lovers will be in for a treat when visiting Oslo! There are endless museums, breathtaking architecture, and incredible landmarks. One of the most iconic landmarks is the Oslo Opera House. If you love architecture, you will love this place. Just around the corner, you will also find the iconic Munch Museum. The museum is dedicated to the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, the creator of the well-known painting “The Scream.” 

You should also visit Oslo for its incredible cuisine! You can discover some of Norway’s best dishes and the “New Nordic Cuisine.” Oslo’s seafood and famous Norwegian waffles are among the most traditional foods. You also can only go to Oslo if you try Oslo’s coffee! Coffee in Oslo is a big deal. Norway ranks second in the world for the most coffee consumption! So as you can imagine, the coffee culture in Oslo is essential to its people. You will find many incredible coffee shops, cafés, and espresso bars in the city.

On top of this, the city is located right next to breathtaking nature, including stunning fjords, forests, waterfalls, and lakes. There are many hiking opportunities nearby, which also makes it the perfect place to visit for nature lovers. You can also see the northern lights in Norway! The best time to visit Oslo’s northern lights is November through February. You can also try in October and March. However, if you want the best chance of seeing the northern lights, you must go much further north than Oslo. In Oslo, the possibility of seeing northern lights is close to zero. It is simply too far south. Some of Norway’s best places to see the northern lights are Tromsø, Kirkenes, The Lofoten Islands, North Cape (Nordkapp), and Svalbard. 

Where to stay in Oslo?

There are a few main areas of Oslo, which are all great places to stay in Oslo for different reasons. Where to stay in Oslo depends on what you are coming for, what your Oslo travel itinerary consists of, and if you are a first-time visitor or someone that has been to the city before! Here are the different areas and who it would suit:

  • Sentrum, Oslo 

This is the city’s centre and, thereby, the best place to stay in Oslo for first-time visitors. It is where you will find all the main attractions, museums, and restaurants in every Oslo travel guide. While it is a great place to stay for those visiting for the first time, it is also a fantastic place for those who have been before. You will find easy access to everything and everywhere. 

  • Aker Brygge 

If you love shopping, dining, and a gorgeous waterfront view, you must stay at Aker Brygge in Oslo. It is one of the best places to stay in Oslo for first-time visitors and those who have been before. It is also a slightly more affordable option than staying in the city’s centre. 

  • Gamle

If you are wondering where to stay in Oslo on a strict budget, Gamle is the answer to your question. It is more affordable than Sentrum and Aker Brygge but still close enough to the city centre. You will be within walking distance of the Botanical Gardens and the University of Oslo.

  • Grünerløkka

This is the trendiest place in Oslo. It is a great place to stay if you have been to Oslo a few times before and would like to explore the more local side of Oslo. It is further away from the attractions. However, there are still great things to see in Grünerløkka, including miles of hiking trails! Some of them even connect to Sentrum. You will get gorgeous waterfront views along the way.

Are you ready to start exploring? This is your Oslo travel guide with some of the top places to see and explore in the city!

The best things to do in Oslo

1. Walk on the roof of the Oslo Opera House

The Oslo Opera House is the most famous building in Oslo. You will find this iconic landmark in every Oslo travel guide for a good reason! When you first arrive in the city, it will be impossible to miss. It is located next to the station, making it the perfect first stop on your Oslo journey. One of the best things about the Opera House is that you can walk on the roof of this architectural masterpiece.

One of the best things to do in Oslo is to walk on the rooftop of the Opera House. You can also visit the inside and learn more about this incredible building or book a show ticket! You can find more information on the Opera House and its showings here.

The best things to do in Oslo

2. Visit Frogner Park and see the Vigeland Installation

One of the most impressive art pieces is located in Frogner Park, also known as Vigeland Park. The Vigeland is the art that was installed in the park. It consists of 212 sculptures by the artist Gustav Vigeland.

It is the biggest single-artist sculpture park in the world and one of the best things to do in Oslo for art lovers. The sculptures are stacked on top of each other, making them unique pieces of art.

The most well-known sculpture among the 212 is the “Sinnataggen,” which would directly translate to “Angry Boy.” If this many bodies stacked on each other isn’t enough to put Frogner Park on your Oslo travel itinerary, how about a naked man angrily kicking an infant while he throws off three other babies? This piece of art is sure to wake up some feelings within you.

The best things to do in Oslo

3. Visit the museums

If you love culture, art, and history, you must visit some of Oslo’s museums. You can find incredible world-famous art pieces such as “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, as well as museums that explore the Viking Age and how Norway and Oslo were a part of it. These are a few of the best museums that you will find in every Oslo travel guide:

  • Munch Museum

If you love art that awakens something within you, you will need to visit the Munch Museum. The Munch museum is filled with unique pieces of art by the world-famous artist Edvard Munch. It is one of the best museums in the world and possibly the best museum in Oslo. You will especially love this museum if you are already a fan of art. However, even if you are not an art lover, I still believe you will love visiting this museum. The most famous piece of art here is “The Scream.” 

  • The Viking Ship Museum

Oslo is home to the world’s best preserved Viking Ship, and this boat can be seen at the Viking Ship Museum. If you want to learn more about Norwegian heritage and see this incredible Viking Ship, you must visit this museum. The museum is located in Bygdøy, which is located on the west side of the city center. Besides the Viking Ship Museum, this area is also known for being home to some of the best museums in Norway, including the Kon-Tiki Museum, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, and the Fram museum. 

  • The Norwegian National Gallery

The Norwegian National Gallery is Norwayøs most famous art gallery. It was founded in 1837 and is one of the best things to do in Oslo. It holds some of the country’s most incredible collections of sculptures, drawings, and paintings. Visiting this place is a great way to spend a few hours in Oslo. Some of the highlights of this gallery are from the permanent collection and include masterpieces by Manet, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” and more.

The best things to do in Oslo

4. See the famous Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower

At Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower, you can get an incredible panoramic view of Oslo and its surrounding areas.

Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower should be on your Oslo travel itinerary because it is a significant part of Oslo. It serves as a historic landmark and embodies the skiing tradition. Inside you will find the world’s oldest ski museum, so if you are a ski enthusiast, you will fall in love with this place!

Note: The ski museum will be temporarily closed from the first of November due to remodelling. It will be closed till the end of 2023. You can find more information on the Holmenkollen Ski Museum website.

5. Explore the nature nearby

Reading every Oslo travel guide, you will quickly learn that Norway has many incredible nature sights. While Oslo may not be among the top places to visit for nature in Norway, it does have quite a few beautiful places to visit nearby! You can also find hiking trails inside Oslo, giving you incredible views over the city. Some of the best hiking trails in and near Oslo include: 

  • Vettakollen Hike
  • Fuglemyrhytta
  • Glassberget and Årvollåsen
  • Kongens Utsikt
  • Kolsåstoppen
  • Mørkgonga

If you are looking for the best time to visit Oslo for northern lights, come during the darkest winter months, November through February. However, seeing the north’s lights in Oslo is an infrequent occasion. Oslo is way too far south, and you will likely not see anything. If you want to make sure you see the northern lights, I recommend going to either of these locations: Tromsø, Kirkenes, The Lofoten Islands, North Cape (Nordkapp), and Svalbard. 

6. Enjoy a scenic cruise on Oslofjord

If you are not much for hiking but still want to experience the incredible nature and views of the fjord, I recommend going on a scenic cruise!

It is one of the best things to do in Oslo if you want to really experience the beauty of this city and its surroundings. When you go on a cruise is when you will realize just how beautiful the city and the nature around it really are. You will see the dramatic mountainous fjord that Norway is known for. It is a unique experience that must be added to your Oslo travel itinerary!

Try to go on a cruise during sunset on a clear day. The golden light hitting the islands and the city will be one of the most magical sights you will ever see!

7. Walk down Karl Johan and see the Royal Palace

If you only have a few hours in Oslo, I recommend spending your time at Karl Johan, Oslo’s main shopping street. The street is filled with shops, cafés, and restaurants. You will see the famous Royal Palace at the end of Karl Johan street.

Just a short walk from Karl Johan, you will find the main station where the central train station and bus terminal are located. It is a great way to experience the city’s main centre in a short time. It is lovely during Christmas time. The street will be covered with beautiful decorations and Christmas lights. There will be Christmas markets, music, and cosy vibes.

8. Explore the coolest area of Oslo, Grünerløkka

Grünerløkka is one of the places you may not find in every generic Oslo travel guide, but it should be mentioned more often!

If you are looking for excellent vintage shops, flea markets, design boutiques, and endless food options, you will need to visit Grünerløkka. Grünerløkka is the trendiest place in Oslo, and one of the best things to do in Oslo is to explore this area! You will not only find lots of great clothing shops and boutiques, but you will also find charming streets filled with eateries, cafés, and bars.

One of the best places to experience Oslo’s food scene is the Mathallen Food court. In Grünerløkka, you will also find places dedicated to skateboarding and some of the best theatres in Oslo, including Soria Moria and Det Andre Teatret.

This is the cultural hub of Oslo, and you should not miss it!

9. Explore the modern Aker Brygge

Aker Brygge is almost always mentioned in every Oslo travel guide, but it is not without reason! This area is known for its restaurants along the boardwalk and has plenty of wining and dining opportunities.

Visiting Aker Brygge is beautiful all year round, but it is especially fun to experience during the warmer months. You will find many lovely restaurants, cafés, and outdoor events with a gorgeous waterfront view. You can also take a stroll along the promenade, get a drink and snack from one of the many food trucks and then just enjoy the view of Oslo Fjord.

So there you have it: the best places to visit in Oslo! I hope this blog has inspired you to book a trip!

Where is your favourite place tin Oslo?

Anywhere you’d add?

Love as always and happy adventuring…

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