Are you ready to embark on a journey to the spellbinding city of Oslo? Nestled in the heart of Scandinavia, this captivating location is a treasure trove of natural wonders, rich heritage, and vibrant culture.
Norway’s largest city and busiest seaport, Oslo is a place that seamlessly blends modernity with nature. With its stunning fjords, lush green spaces, and picturesque landscapes, you'll be surrounded by breath-taking beauty at every turn. This stylish capital city is also a hub of cultural and artistic expression, boasting world-class museums, galleries, and theatres. Whether you're interested in history, art, or music, Oslo has something to offer everyone. And let's not forget about the delicious Norwegian cuisine, which ranges from traditional dishes to innovative culinary creations. So, if you're looking for a truly unique and unforgettable Scandinavian experience, Oslo is the place to be!
In this 3-day itinerary, we will cover all of the must-see attractions, experiences and unique options for tourists in the city. With so much to see, sample and do, we will provide you with the best pieces of information and advice so that you don’t miss out. We'll also share tips on choosing the right time to visit, guidance for currency and travel options, as well as where to stay.
Know Before You Go
There are direct flights to Norway from many cities around the world. There’s also the option of travelling by ship, train, bus, or car, with excellent connections to Scandinavia, Europe, and the rest of the world. Oslo Airport is Norway's main hub, with scheduled flights to and from more than 100 international destinations. You can reach Norway by bus from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Russia. There are also regular ferry routes to Norway from Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Oslo has a very efficient public transport system! Consider purchasing an Oslo Pass for discounted access to attractions and public transportation. From Oslo Airport, you can reach the city centre in 20 minutes with the Flytoget Airport Express train. Public transport also extends to the fjord islands.
Summers in Oslo are comfortable and partly cloudy, so at this time you can take advantage of the long daylight hours and mild temperatures to enjoy outdoor activities. Winters are long, very cold and mostly cloudy- but if you enjoy a winter wonderland, it’s the perfect time to go! Experience the beauty of the city covered in snow and take part in winter sports during this period. Lastly, Spring and Autumn offer stunning natural colours as Oslo transitions between seasons.
The warm season, May to September, has an average daily high temperature above 17°C. The hottest month of the year in Oslo is July, with an average high of 21°C and low of 12°C. The cold season lasts from November to March, with an average daily high temperature below 3°C. The coldest month of the year in Oslo is January, with an average low of -7°C and high of -1°C.
The currency used in Norway is the Norwegian kroner (NOK). 10 NOK is currently around 1 Euro or 1 US Dollar, which is a pretty easy conversion rate to remember! It can be quite an expensive country however, especially in the capital, so make sure you have access to plenty of money and keep in mind that bank opening hours here are quite short and may be different than in your own country of residence. Also, although it’s in Europe, the Euro is not legal tender and can therefore not be accepted as payment in most places in Norway.
Day 1: Central Oslo
For your first 24 hours in Oslo we’re staying central, taking into the fresh sights and sounds of a new location. Begin your day with a walk through the main street and bear witness to the traditional changing of the guard at the Royal Palace. Take a leisurely stroll through the charming streets of Gamlebyen, Oslo's old town, soaking in the historical ambience, before diving deeper into Norway's cultural heritage at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design. Don’t forget to indulge in the delectable culinary offerings of the area, with a stop by the Vippa street food stands! We will then continue our adventure with a stroll into the Gamle Oslo district, stopping at various attractions such as the Oslo Opera House, Munch Museum and the Ekeburg Sculpture Park. Your day is then made complete with a visit to the iconic district of Grünerløkka. If you’d like to make all of this travelling around quick and easy, consider purchasing a ticket for this 24 or 48 Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus.
Karl Johans Gate
Starting off strong with Oslo's main street, this bustling stretch is a hub of activity both during the day and at night. As you leisurely explore this iconic place, you'll be surrounded by a vibrant atmosphere with shops, restaurants, cafés, and landmarks lining the way.
Visitors can expect to find Karl Johans Gate alive with street performers, live music, and the energy of the city. It's the ideal first location to soak in the sights, sounds, and flavours of Oslo.
Next up is a visit to the iconic Royal Palace, the official residence of the Norwegian monarch. Here you can take a stroll around the beautiful palace grounds and admire the architecture of the regal structure. If you enjoy cycling, this 3 hour bike tour features a downhill ride through the Royal Palace Gardens- as well as numerous other stops and sights.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the opportunity to witness the Changing of the Guard! This symbolic event happens every day at 13:30pm and reflects Norway’s rich history as a monarchy.
National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design
The National Museum houses an extensive collection of artworks including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints. It features works by renowned Norwegian artists such as Edvard Munch, Harald Sohlberg, and Nikolai Astrup, as well as international artists like Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet. It also showcases various architectural styles and periods, ranging from traditional Norwegian wooden buildings to contemporary structures. The design section highlights Norwegian design history and showcases furniture, textiles, ceramics, and other objects.
This extensive museum was established in 2003 through the merger of several existing museums: the National Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, and the Museum of Architecture. This merger allowed for a more comprehensive and cohesive presentation of Norway's artistic and cultural heritage.
The Oslo Cathedral, also known as the Oslo Domkirke or the Cathedral of St. Hallvard, is the main church in Oslo, Norway. It is located in the city centre, near the Royal Palace and the Norwegian Parliament. The cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Oslo and is considered one of the most important religious buildings in Norway. Built in the 11th century, the Cathedral has undergone several renovations and expansions over the years. The current building dates back to the 17th century and features a mix of architectural styles, including Gothic and Baroque elements.
Inside the cathedral, you can find beautiful stained glass windows, intricate woodwork, and a stunning altar. The cathedral also houses several important works of art, including paintings and sculptures.
Akershus Fortress is an unmissable stop for those who want to take in some truly magnificent views of the city and the Oslo Fjord. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the rich history of the fortress, learning about its significant role in Norwegian heritage, as they are granted the opportunity to explore the fortress grounds. These include the castle walls, towers, and museums.
Throughout the year, the fortress hosts a variety of events and performances, making each visit a unique experience. Make sure not to miss the chance to take a guided tour, where you'll uncover the secrets and stories of this iconic landmark.
While at first glance Vippa may seem like a simple hall of food stands, it’s actually a social enterprise that uses street food as a means to integrate immigrants and promote aspiring entrepreneurs within the local community. The giant outdoor murals make it super easy to spot from the water and the tall orange towers lining the promenade will help guide you there.
To reach Vippa on foot from Akershus Fortress, follow the waterfront path South down the peninsula. It should take the average pedestrian approximately 10 minutes.
Nobel Peace Center
The Nobel Peace Center is dedicated to the promotion of peace, as well as the showcasing of Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their work. The centre features interactive exhibits, multimedia presentations and temporary exhibitions that explore various aspects of peace and conflict resolution. It also hosts events, lectures, and discussions on peace-related topics.
Be sure to check the Nobel Peace Center for a unique insight into the illustrious Nobel Peace Prize and its exceptional recipients.
Oslo Fjord Sauna
Now this is definitely one of the most special and unique experiences you can enjoy during your trip to Norway. The Oslo Fjord Sauna grants visitors the chance to take a dip into the waters in either very cold or hot weather- if you’re feeling brave you can even take an exhilarating leap straight into the fjord!
There are 4 floating saunas at this site and both bookings and drop-in are available. You can join in during public opening hours, or arrange a private session in the evening. A trip to Oslo simply isn’t complete without participating in this awesome tradition so be sure not to miss out. Visitors generally spend 1-2 hours here, but it’s so relaxing that no one will blame you if you end up staying for longer!
Deichman Bjorvika (library)
A stop at this charming library marks the start of our stroll into Gamle Oslo. This area is technically its own separate district but fear not! It’s right on the borderline with Sentrum, so not far to go at all. We’re still staying central for our first day.
The library itself is part of the Deichman Library system, the largest public library network in Norway. The Deichman Bjørvika is modern, features an innovative library and offers a wide range of services and resources to the public. It has a large collection of books, magazines, and other materials- as well as digital resources and multimedia facilities. The library also hosts various events, workshops, and exhibitions to promote literacy, learning, and cultural engagement.
Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House stands as a breath-taking architectural masterpiece, constructed with white Italian marble. Inside, visitors have the opportunity to explore the auditorium and backstage areas, gaining insight into the inner workings of this famous building. It is the opera house's rooftop terrace however that truly steals the show, offering stunning views of Oslo's waterfront and skyline.
Whether attending a performance or simply taking a leisurely stroll along its sloping roof, the Oslo Opera House immerses visitors in Norway's rich cultural heritage and its unwavering commitment to the arts.
Ekeburg Sculpture Park
Situated on a hill overlooking the city, this popular tourist attraction offers panoramic views of Oslo and the Fjord beyond. The park is large, with various woodland trails, and features a high quality collection of contemporary sculptures which represent European art history over the past 130 years. Included are works by renowned artists such as Salvador Dalí and Auguste Rodin.
With the combination of Ekeberg’s long history, beautiful scenery and marvellous sculptures, everything is set up for a wonderful experience for the whole family. Visitors generally spend around 1-2 hours here.
Explore the life and artistic journey of renowned Norwegian artist Edvard Munch at the Munch Museum. Housing the largest collection of Munch's paintings, including the iconic The Scream, this attraction is a haven for art lovers and enthusiasts of Norwegian cultural heritage. You can really immerse yourself in the vivid exhibits and temporary installations that showcase Munch's artistic evolution.
The museum offers guided tours and educational programs for a deeper understanding of Munch's art. Don't miss the opportunity to dive into the world of this celebrated artist and gain a unique perspective on his work.
The Botanical Garden
Located in Tøyen, just a smidge northeast of the Sentrum district, lies the astounding Oslo Botanical Garden. Established in 1814, it’s part of the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo and is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Norway.
The grounds cover an area of about 75 acres and feature a wide variety of plants, including both native and exotic species. The tranquil environment is perfect for exploring and enjoying nature in bloom.
Grünerløkka is a trendy neighbourhood with an atmosphere often compared to that of Brooklyn, NYC! It’s interesting that two places so far apart could manage to share the same, hip vibe- but with its chic shops, cafés, street art and vibrant nightlife scene, Grünerløkka is a key cultural hotspot that you simply cannot afford to miss.
If hunger strikes while you’re exploring this area, Mathallen Oslo is the place to go! Offering both local and imported delicacies, this food hall features over 30 specialty shops, cafés, and restaurants, where visitors can find everything from fresh produce and seafood to artisanal cheeses and baked goods. Mathallen Oslo also hosts events and workshops related to food and cooking, making it a vibrant and dynamic place to visit.
The Akerselva River runs right through the centre of Oslo, from Maridalsvannet to the Oslo Fjord. The riverbank stretches for eight kilometres and is a popular recreation area with a vibrant history. It flows within various waterfalls, swimming spots, fishing grounds and passes by many forested areas full of buzzing wildlife.
The most spectacular point along the river is debatable, but the waterfall at Mølla (Nedre og Øvre Vøyen Foss), located next to the picturesque Hønse-Lovisa's house and the Beier Bridge in Sagene, is one we’d definitely recommend. It’s in Grünerløkka too!
Where to Stay
Budget - Citybox Oslo
This budget hotel is 250 metres from Oslo Central Station and 150 metres from Karl Johans Gate. It offers brightly decorated rooms with free WiFi access. All rooms have a work desk, an armchair and a private bathroom with a shower. Some include a seating area.
Mid Range - Radisson RED Oslo Okern
Located within 4.5 km of Oslo Central Station, Radisson RED Oslo Okern features a bar and free WiFi throughout the property. At this 4-star hotel, each room is fitted with a desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen and towels. Every room comes with a safety deposit box, while selected rooms are equipped with a terrace.
Luxury - Maya Apartments
Set in the prime location of Grünerløkka, Maya Apartments is located 1.7 km from Oslo Central Station and provides a lift. All units comprise a seating area with a sofa, a dining area, and a fully equipped kitchen with various cooking facilities, including a dishwasher, an oven, a fridge and a stovetop. All units include a kettle, a private bathroom and free WiFi, while some rooms will provide you with a balcony and some have inner courtyard views.
Day 2: From Frogner to the Bygdøy Peninsula
We’ll be starting off our second day in Oslo with a trip to Frogner Park. Here, you will have the opportunity to see the famous Vigeland sculptures and the Oslo City Museum. Enjoy a leisurely meander through the park and marvel at the hundreds of unique artistic pieces, before immersing yourself in history and culture at the stately Frogner Manor. We will then move onto the Bygdøy area, taking a walk through history at the various fantastic museums which line the peninsula. Finally, we will end our schedule with a trip to the lively waterfront district of Aker Brygge. Here you can relax, dine, stroll- and even opt for a relaxing cruising adventure.
Vigeland Park was created by Gustav Vigeland and is the largest sculpture park in the whole world! It covers an area of 80 acres and features over 200 bronze and granite sculptures. His works depict various human emotions and experiences and are arranged in a series of interconnected sections. The centrepiece of the park is the iconic Monolith, a towering sculpture carved from a single block of granite.
A visit to Vigeland Park provides a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in art and nature. The park is a popular tourist attraction and a favourite spot for locals to exercise and picnic.
Oslo City Museum
The Oslo City Museum is located in Frogner Park, within the splendid walls of Frogner Manor. The museum was first founded in 1905 and moved into its current residence in 1909. It was a private association until the end of 2005, when it merged with the Intercultural Museum and the Theatre Museum to become what it is today!
Through exciting exhibitions, city tours and other events, you can get a compelling insight into the city’s history and current social issues. Top tip: Visit on a Thursday for free admission!
The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum)
From this point on we move onto the Bygdøy Peninsula, a separate district yet one which is very close to your previous stops as it still falls within the borough of Frogner! Bygdøy is accessible by bus, with the Oslo Public Transport Administration's bus line number 30 running every 10 minutes from Nydalen via Sentrum and Nationaltheatret. Between April and October, Bygdøy can also be reached by the local public ferry departing from Aker Brygge every 30 minutes.
Back to the museum though, this open-air attraction showcases the cultural history of Norway from the Middle Ages to the present day. It features over 150 traditional buildings from different regions of Norway, including farmhouses, stave churches, and rural homes. Visitors can explore the buildings and learn about traditional Norwegian crafts, folk costumes, and daily life in the past. The museum also hosts various events and exhibitions throughout the year, so there’s always something fresh to discover.
Viking Ship Museum
The Viking Ship Museum houses three magnificent Viking ships: the Oseberg, the Gokstad, and the Tune. These ships were excavated from burial mounds in the Oslo Fjord region and are considered to be some of the best-preserved Viking ships in the world.
The museum also displays various artefacts and exhibits related to Viking culture and history. It offers visitors an insight into this era that you probably won’t find anywhere else in the world.
This next museum showcases the history of polar exploration and the expeditions undertaken by famous explorers. It houses the famous polar ship, Fram, which was used by Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. It’s actually the strongest wooden ship ever built and still holds the records for sailing farthest north and farthest south.
The Fram Museum has exhibits on the wildlife and environment of the polar regions, as well as a polar simulator. Here, you can close your eyes and feel what conditions were really like during polar expeditions over 100 years ago.
Dedicated to the famous Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his expeditions, the Kon-Tiki Museum houses the original Kon-Tiki raft, which Heyerdahl used to sail across the Pacific Ocean in 1947. The museum also displays other artefacts and exhibits related to his journeys, including the Ra II and Tigris rafts.
At each of these museums you can buy discounted tickets that include entry to two or three of them. It’s a great way to save money and to get a varied experience; all offer something truly unique.
Moving away from the Bygdøy Peninsula back towards the western side of the city centre, the district of Aker Brygge is known for its vibrant atmosphere and serene views of the Oslo Fjord. Once an industrial area, it has since been transformed into a bustling hub of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. It’s a popular hangout for both tourists and locals, offering a wide range of dining options- from casual cafés to upscale restaurants. The area also features a marina where you can find boats and yachts, as well as a promenade where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the waterfront.
Why not enjoy the stunning views of Aker Brygge with a cruise? On this silent, hybrid-electric boat, admire the fjord through the large panoramic windows on the sides of the vessel, and pass iconic sights of the Oslofjord like Dyna Fyr, Heggholmen fyrstasjon, the Opera House, Akershus Fortress and the Oslo Fjord Sauna. During the tour, your guide will also share interesting facts about nature and wildlife that lives in and around the city.
Where to Stay
Budget - Cochs Pensjonat
Housed in an early 1900s building, Cochs Pensjonat offers free Wi-Fi and rooms with private bathrooms and kitchenettes. Karl Johans Gate shopping street is a 10-minute walk away. All rooms feature wooden floors and guests can choose between private or shared bathrooms.
Mid-Range - Central Studio, Majorstuen
Located less than 1km from Frogner Park, this apartment comes with 1 separate bedroom and includes a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, oven and dining area. Towels and bed linen are included. For added privacy, the accommodation features a private entrance.
Luxury - Sommerro
This 5-star hotel provides air-conditioned rooms, a fitness centre, bar and terrace, as well as offering room service and a 24-hour front desk. With a private bathroom equipped with a shower and free toiletries, certain rooms at Sommerro also offer a city view. Each room includes bed linen and towels and contains a wardrobe.
Day 3: Day Trip to Oslo's Islands
For your third and final day in the Norwegian capital, you simply must see the incredible sights just waiting to be discovered on Oslo’s islands. From the historical landmarks of Hovedøya and the lively wildlife found on Gressholmen, to the peaceful residences of Lindøya and tranquil shores of Langøyene, these four island retreats are the perfect locations to appreciate Oslo’s natural surroundings, and to escape the hustle bustle of the mainland.
Why not start your journey by embarking on a cruise? Set off from central Oslo on a silent electric boat and enjoy the picturesque scenery as you listen to audio commentary on your phone. Take advantage of the spacious lounge with panoramic windows or feel the wind in your hair on the large, fully-accessible deck.
Hovedøya is a small island located in the Oslo Fjord and known for its beautiful natural and historical landmarks. The island is easily accessible by ferry from the city centre and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Hovedøya is home to Hovedøya Abbey, a medieval monastery that dates back to the 12th century. The island also offers scenic hiking trails, beaches, and picnic areas, making it a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Lindøya has a small population and is mainly residential, with many charming cottages and houses scattered across the island. It’s the closest island to the mainland, just 15-20 minutes from Oslo city centre, yet it’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the central area. The island is car-free, which makes it a perfect place for walking and biking. It’s also a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing during the summer months. If you want to enjoy a tranquil day in nature, Lindøya is certainly the place to go.
Wildlife lovers, this one’s for you! The island of Gressholmen is a popular destination for birdwatching, due to the abundance of creatures that call it home. A hike, stroll or picnic here is a great way to relax and see the various species of native fowl such as Wryneck, Osprey and Pygmy Owl. There’s also various things to do, as Gressholmen also boasts several historic buildings including a lighthouse and a former military fort. The island can be reached by ferry from the city centre of Oslo, making it easily accessible for visitors.
Ready for a trip to the seaside? Langøyene is famous for its beautiful beaches and recreational areas. The island is a popular hangout spot for both locals and tourists, as it’s a fantastic place for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Wild camping is also permitted. Just be aware of the local nudist colony! They inhabit their own part of the shore, so just check out the signs around you if you want to either join in, or avoid, these parts. As with all of these islands, Langøyene is accessible by ferry and offers stunning views of the surrounding fjord.