There are so many things to do in Oslo that you will be spoilt for choice. Oslo, in Norway, is a European capital you can easily visit in 3 days. Here you can enjoy nature, culture, design, entertainment at the same time. There are many parks and green spaces (which are the best thing I love about Oslo) and also interesting attractions. The location is great: Oslo is located between the Oslo fjord and hills of green woods. In 2007, Oslo was named the second most eco-friendly city in the world by the “Reader’s Digest’s” magazine.
Among the top things you can do in Oslo in 3 days what I like most is the chance to enjoy the great outdoors so dear to the Norwegians. I confess that Oslo is not my favorite Nordic Capital (I’m in love with Stockholm) because of its modernity. Oslo is also a very expensive city (then it depends on what you are looking for) like other northern cities (Copenhagen is one of them), so choose only the best things do if you have only 3 days to visit it!
Oslo’s main attractions are all within walking distance, otherwise get buses, trams or trains especially if you want to treat yourself to a getaway. They are very efficient and you will reach your destination in a short time. You can also rely on a “Norway in a Nutshell Tour”. I didn’t need Oslo pass to visit the city, then it depend on what attractions you want to visit. Check out the list of Oslo’s attractions.
TIP: You cannot use Euro in Norway but Norwegian kroner. My advice is to make the change before the departure.
I’ve stayed in some hotels in Oslo. Citybox Oslo and Thon Hotel Opera are some of my favourite hotels. Citybox Oslo has small rooms, but it is very central and the quality/price ratio is good, considering that Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. It is less than a minute walk from Karl Johans Gate and Central station. Thon Hotel Opera has a wonderful view towards Opera House.
DAY 1. VIGELAND PARK – OSLO OPERA HOUSE – OSLO CENTRE – NATIONAL GALLERY – FRAM MUSEUM – VIKING MUSEUM – AKER BRYGGE
Head to Vigeland Park, by far my favorite attraction in Oslo together with Fram Museum. It is an amazing open-air museum (I’m very attracted by open-air museums like the one in Stockholm: Skansen Museum), where art and nature come together in a single thing. Here you can admire works by the artist Gustav Vigeland, which are symbol of every human being’s lifetime.
NOTE: you can get to Vigeland Park by a tram in front of the City Hall or from Aker Brygge (direction Majorstuen).
Oslo Opera House is your next stop. What I like about Oslo Opera House is the harbor views from its roof, where you can walk whenever you want, from day to night, to admire both the Oslofjord and the city. Opera House is the Oslo’s cultural place where concerts, ballets and exhibitions are held. It opened in 2008 and it is home of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. It is only five-minute walk from Central Station and it is open with free admission seven days a week. Opera House’s exterior is made of white marble while the interior is made of wood. Travelers also sunbathe in the summertime, so if you are visiting Oslo now don’t miss this place!
From the Opera House it is only a few minutes walk to Karl Johaus Gate Road where there are the main city’s tourist attractions. This is a lovely street where you can admire many monuments but also you can find most of the high street shops like Zara and H&M and some of Oslo’s biggest shopping centers such as Paleet and Byporten. If you want to buy luxury gifts Akersgata is a very exclusive shopping street. If you prefer malls don’t miss Christiania Glasmagasin and Steen & Strøm.)
NOTE: When you go shopping look for stores displaying Global Blue Tax Free Shopping signage in the window. Here you can receive a form for the VAT refund when you leave the country. If the signal is not in the window ask the shop staff for a Tax Free Form, because some of the affiliated stores may not have posted the Tax Free logo.
Here are the top things you can do in Oslo centre:
- Look at the Grand Hotel, the building is really breathtaking;
- Admire Stortinget Parliament. It was built in 1814 and what attracts travelers the most is the typical ocher-yellow color of the building. You can visited it only buying a ticket and the entrance is allowed only with a guide. I didn’t visit its interior.
- Visit Oslo Cathedral. It resides at Stortorvet and it is known for its beautiful stained glass window that is located inside it, a stunning work by Emanuel Vigeland (Gustav Vigeland’s brother). Many concerts take place within it. In summer, however, there are typical markets in the back. Admission is free.
- Have a look at the Royal Palace is still the residence of the Norwegian real. It was built in the first half of 800 and is located within the Slottsparken Park. Admission is allowed between the end of June and in the middle of August. There are guided tours everyday at 12, 14, 14,20 and 16. Admission ticket is NOK 85.
- Be enchanted by Nobels Fredssenter Hall. The Oslo City Hall, a red brick building, is famous around the world for being the location of delivery of the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December of each year and now it is the seat of the city council. Admission is free and it is open every day of the week.
NOTE: Just 5 minutes from the Opera House there is Fiskeriet Youngstorget at Oungstorget 2b. This is a lovely seafood restaurant, where there is a fish market and a bar restaurant. Here you can taste fish and chips and also Norwegian tastings. The restaurant is only open until 19:30.
Now, I have some advice about my favourite things to do in Oslo.
* If you love art you could visit National Museum or the Munch Museum. National Museum‘s admission free for all on Thursdays. Otherwise you have to pay NOK 50. I visited it only to admire The Scream by Munch. Munch museum is away from the centre of the city and I didn’t like it too much because there are not so many paintings by Much. It is a very small museum. So, my advice is to visit National gallery.
* If you want to experience something really different go to Fram Museum. It is located at Bygdøy (it is the museum island and it is only a 10 minute ferry ride away from City Hall quayside, NOK 40 one way, NOK 60 return or you can get to it by bus from the centre of the city). It is close to Viking Ship Museum, only 15 minutes walk. Fram is all about the Norwegian explorations in search of the passage to the North West. Fram ship was built to resist the grip of ice and it is really touching to see it so closely.
Viking ship is another museum you cannot miss where you can admire Viking ship discoveries from Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune and also finds from Viking tombs.
NOTE: There are several sightseeing trips, by boat or bus, from Rådhuskaia.
When I traveled to Oslo I visited Vigeland park, the city centre, and Fram Museum within the morning. Then I had lunch at Restaurant Fauna where I tasted excellent food. I visited National gallery on Thursday to have free admission and to see The Scream by Munch.
In the afternoon, you can visit Viking ships museum and from there, I would recommend that you head towards the harbor, Aker Brygge. Here you will find numerous shopping centers, local bars, restaurants, theaters, and even a few spas. In the summertime Aker Brygge is always bustling with life. The Aker Brygge area was an old shipyard turned into a fab place where you can go shopping (ceramics, clothing, music, art), enjoying nightlife, dining and meeting amazing people. Stroll along the main streets Thorvald Meyers gate and Markveien and visit shops like Probat, Shoe Lounge, Granit, Velouria Vintage or Robot.
Another amazing place to enjoy nightlife is Aker Brygge’s neighborhood, Grünerløkka, which is filled with vintage shops, quirky cafes and trendy bars.
NOTE: House of Oslo Norway’s is the largest department store specializing in interior design and it is close to Aker Brygge! This area is very interesting. City Hall square, during Christmas time, is filled with concerts, Christmas trees and decorations, and also traditional Norwegian food. There is an amazing atmosphere thanks to Akershus fortress, AkerBrygge harbor and the Oslo fjord.
* If you prefer enjoying the nature don’t miss Oslo forest which is only 15 minutes away from the city’s water front. Here you can go hiking. There are signposted hiking trails that will help you find your way and most of the trails are accessible for Mountain biking. If in winter you could go to Holmenkollen Ski jump.
DAY 2. TRAIN FROM OSLO TO BERGEN
I think you cannot leave Norway without experiencing something truly unique such as the tour of Norway in a Nutshell. This is one of the most exciting things to do in Oslo and it is the easiest way to experience Norway. It takes you from Oslo to Bergen or vice-versa. In Norway distances to visit fjords and experience nature are long and it is something you couldn’t do in 3 days. These tours allow you to travel by train, bus or cruise to enjoy nature to the fullest: the mountains, forests and especially the fjords of Norway. The “tour” is not guided, but it is a mix of transportation.
The train leaves early in the morning from the central station. My advice is to book your hotel near the central station if you want to experience this tour. you can also combine your tour with the famous Sognefjord in a nutshell round trip. Or you can choose to leave by train booking your trip from here.
DAY 3. BERGEN
A day trip to Bergen is, maybe, the best things you can do in Oslo. Bergen is one of my favourite places in the world. I love it! You can visit in one day but I think that it is so relaxing to stay here for more than one day. Picturesque narrow streets, traditional restaurants and lovely shops: this is Bergen. It is known for the colorful waterfront Bryggen, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
My favourite hotels in Bergen are Clarion Hotel Admiral, or Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret. Then, the best things you can do here is enjoying the funicular Fløibanen in Bergen. It takes you to Mt Fløyen where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city of Bergen in 5 minutes. You can easily get to the funicular station walking from the center of town.
NOTE: if you want to taste good wine go to Altona Wine Bar which is Augustin’s hotel bar and it is 400 year old.
To me these are the best things you can do in Oslo in 3 days. Then remember taht if you are not curious to explore fjords there is another solution: an Oslo cruise (Cruise vessels dock below the Akershus Fortress.) or visiting Drobak, a very nice and ancient village where Santa Claus lives 😉
I visited Norway 3 times but I always find something interesting to do in Oslo. What did you enjoy most about Oslo?