By Rachael Funk
Once an often-overlooked city, Oslo is quickly becoming Norway’s next big tourist destination. Their burgeoning modern art scene is already a huge pull for travelers as well as the hip culture that created a place for thriving vintage shops, flea markets, cool cafes, and several micro-breweries. When you only have a short time to visit, here are a few ways to make the most of the capital.
Photo by Instagram user @domi_rozsypalova
Grab a 24-hour Oslo Pass
Before you do anything, purchase an Oslo Pass in the city center. This pass gives you free entry to most museums and attractions in the city, as well as allowing you to use all of Oslo’s public transit for no extra charge. The city is easy to navigate on foot, bike, or by public transportation, but an Oslo Pass also grants you 24 hours of free parking as well as free entry for walking tours, swimming pools, and discounts for a bunch of things. You don’t want to skip the Oslo Pass!
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Have an extravagant breakfast sandwich at Prince Lunchbar
Don’t be fooled by the name – Prince Lunchbar is open for breakfast and ready to blow you away. One of the oldest and most popular lunchbars in the city, you can look forward to homemade bread as well as giant portions for reasonable prices.
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Enjoy a free walking tour
Get to The Tiger outside the Jernbanetorget metro station by 10am sharp to join a free walking tour in English, courtesy of Free Tour Oslo. The tour runs about an hour and a half and highlights Oslo attractions such as the Oslo Opera House, Oslo City Hall, National Theatre, Karl Johans gate, and the Storting building. This is a great way to learn a little about the city, get your bearings, and make a game plan for what you want to hit later in the day.
Photo by Instagram user @holmenkollen_skijump
Walk through the Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Ski Jump
Head over to one of Oslo’s top attractions to take in the 360-degree views from the top of the ski jump. The 10-minute uphill walk has plenty of signs to follow and the observation deck at the top of the jump tower will give you an unmatched opportunity for photos.
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Grab lunch at Den Glade Gris
Renowned for their pork knuckles, knowledgeable beer pairings, and great atmosphere, The Happy Pig in Oslo is a great stop for lunch. Be sure to have a good meal and bundle up to stay warm for your next adventure!
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See the sights on a fjord cruise
Get a peek into Norway’s maritime culture on a two hour boat cruise over the scenic Oslofjord. Travel through the narrow sounds, beautiful bays, and weave through the nearby islands to see the capital from the water. Fjord Tours leave from City Hall pier 3 and depart several times a day.
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Pop into a museum or two
If you can, budget at least an hour per museum so you don’t have to speed past the best exhibits. Some of Oslo’s most popular spots are the Viking Ship Museum, Oscarsborg Fortress, Fram Polar Ship Museum, and the Vigeland Museum. Be strategic about your choices, chances are good that once you’re there, you won’t want to leave!
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Take a stroll through a public park (weather permitting)
If you’re traveling in the winter, the sun will set pretty early (likely around 4:30 pm in the winter) and makes it a bit tougher to get a feel for the grandeur of Oslo’s public parks. If you are traveling in mid-summer, you’ll have sunlight until about 11 pm, so take advantage while you can! See Gustav Vigeland’s 600 sculptures at the Vigeland Park or take a serene journey through the Scent Garden at the Botanical Garden.
Photo by Instagram user @sentralenmat
Enjoy a late dinner at Sentralen
Located inside a remodeled bank building, this restaurant offers informal dining from four celebrated Norwegian chefs who create seasonal menus. Each dish uses locally sourced ingredients and are super easy to share. Make a reservation before you go; the restaurant is very popular and fills up fast. After dinner, explore the rest of this “house of culture” which has plenty to see and do on each floor.
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Indulge in a unique bar experience
Magic Ice is part bar, part art gallery. Your welcome drink will be served in an ice glass as you peruse frozen masterpieces from Norway’s most popular artists. You can linger here for the rest of the night, or…
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Wrap up the night with live music at Blå
Located on the banks of the Akerselva River, what started as a jazz club in the late 90s has evolved into a social hotspot. Enjoy converts, clubs, outdoor seating (during the summer) and a variety of beer. Soak in the great atmosphere and discover your new favorite musicians while the night unfolds. Follow the graffiti to the front door and get ready to party with the locals.