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Oslo: All About the Capital City of Norway

Updated: Apr 3

When planning a trip to a foreign country that you do not know, it is quite common to add the capital city as the first stop. This is, of course, the right way of thinking. The capital cities are the showpiece of the country, the essence of what the given state has to offer. Usually, it has a rich history and plays a vital role in it. This is also the place where you can find hidden architectural pearls and museums. It is no different in the case of Oslo city in Norway. Let’s find out what is so special about Oslo and why so many tourists come here every year. In this post, you will get to know all about the capital city of Norway!

A sunset at the Oslo port in Norway

Is Oslo expensive?

In 2018, Oslo became the sixth most expensive city to live in, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey. It is unfortunately quite expensive to visit too. It is said that Oslo is even more costly to see than Sydney, for example. The most expensive things are the meals and drinks at the restaurant.

Planning a trip to a foreign country requires a budget agreement as well. We all try our best to take every possible expense into account well in advance. This way, we know what to expect and how much we shall spend or what we can afford during our holidays. That is, of course, something ordinary, and makes our trip a bit more relaxed. When traveling to Norway, the first thing to check is the currency exchange rate. Then I bet you will wonder why the Norwegian capital is so expensive to visit?

Well, that’s debatable. For some, spending around 200 USD on a pair of jeans is expensive, and for others, relatively cheap. It all depends on the financial situation of each person and should be judged by ourselves. Therefore we will not take this aspect into account.

You can, of course, try to find some cheap places where cheaper options are offered. Besides the low-cost alternative, the average cost of food per day would come to around 300 NOK (33 USD). The average meal would cost you around 100 NOK per person (11 USD). The dinner in a sit-in restaurant can even cost you around 400 NOK, which is around 70 USD. That is indeed quite expensive, I must admit. I do not have good news for the fans of beer neither. It is even more costly than the other most larger cities in the world like Singapore or New York. The most expensive option will cost you around 90 NOK, which is around 10 USD.

The cost of public transportation is also quite expensive. Getting from the airport to the city center can cost you around 300 NOK, which sometimes is almost the price of your flight ticket if coming from a European country. If you are traveling through Oslo using public transport, we recommend you get a day pass, which costs around 80 NOK when the single pass comes to 30 NOK.

As I have mentioned above, the accommodation in Oslo can help you save on your budget. You can find some cheap hostels for around 46 USD per night. Remember, though; this is in a shared room with 5-6 other people. The prices, though, should not scare you away as Oslo is a stunning and beautiful city. Do visit Oslo. It is worth every penny!

The Oslo Pass

A great idea would be to get the so-called Oslo pass, which is available in different variations, for 24 hours, 48 and 72 hours. It gives you access to over 30 various attractions and museums, excursions, and unlimited use of public transportation. It is worth it if you are planning to visit some museums and use urban buses. You can check the list of the places where the Oslo pass is accepted online so that you can plan your itinerary accordingly.

The total cost is: for the 24 hours pass 445 NOK, for the 48 hours 655 NOK and 820 NOK for the 72 hours pass. There are also discounts for children and seniors.

You can easily see most of the main tourist attractions of the Oslo city center on walking. We do recommend to get the Oslo Pass though to be able to enter most of the museums and exhibitions free of charge. This will let you save some money, especially if you are traveling on a low budget. It will also be a good option for those who are planning to visit the Oslo’s suburbs and use the boats to get to the Bygdoy peninsula too.

What not to miss in Oslo?

Oslo is, in many ways, a unique city. You will find an old town architecture style contrasting with the modern buildings in the city center. It makes the town quite diverse and has many attractions to offer to every kind of tourist. The architecture of Norway evolved significantly. Everything is changing, the economic conditions, technological advances, and all the cultural changes. Thus the architecture had to adapt to the needs of modern society.

There is something for fans of museums and culture and even something for fans of shopping. The latter will enjoy their time in the Aker Brygge neighborhood. It is located in central Oslo and is famous for shopping and dining. It is one of the most visited places in Oslo every year. If you are looking for entertainment, you should direct yourself there. The diversity of the possibilities makes Olso one of the best destinations i Norway!

The Pulpit Rock is one of the most common attractions around Oslo, the capital of Norway

Most of the people come to Oslo mainly to see the famous Pulpit Rock. No reason why it is a pretty marvelous and unforgettable place. Preikestollen cliff is located in the Lysefjorden and is said to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is 604 meters height and has a rock ledge at the top. It is quite easily accessible, so you do not need to be a super experienced hiker to get there. The views will make up for all the effort you will need to put into the hike. You will be amazed by the panoramic view from the top over the fjords and their blue waters. It makes a real impression and is a perfect background for some photos.

Apart from Pulpit Rock, there are also places in Norway’s capital that are worth seeing, like the Akershus fortress. The XVII-age-fortress proudly rises above the city, catching the eye of every tourist. Its main aim was to resist the enemy troops, but it was also used as a prison. From there, you will have a fantastic view of the Oslo fjord. Nowadays, the fortress is open for tourists, and it is a place where several exciting museums are located. Mainly: The Armed Forces Museum or the Norges Hjemmefrontmuseet. The building of the National Opera is also worth seeing due to its unique shape. It resembles an iceberg plunging into the fjords’ waters.

The mighty Akershus Fortress in Oslo, Norway

You should direct your next steps towards the most famous street in the city, Karl Johans gate, which leads towards the Royal Palace. Take your time here, have a walk on the Karl Johans street where the parliament and the cathedral are located and also the famous Grand Cafe. The Palace is, of course, the cherry on top. Since 1905, it has been the permanent seat of the royal family, until today. Some parts of the Palace are available to visitors. Not far from the Palace, you will find the famous National Gallery where hundreds of people come every year to be able to see the most famous piece of art from Edvard Munch: „The Scream” and „Madonna.” If you are a real fan of this artist, you will surely enjoy the Munch Museum, which is also located in Oslo and is entirely dedicated to the artist. The National Museum is, of course, a must-see in Oslo so please do not miss it!

If you are a big fan of museums, you will for sure enjoy a visit to the Bygdoy peninsula. We do recommend planning your visit here first, so you can use your Oslo Pass. With that one, you will be able to get to Bodo from the Akerbrygga with boat number 91. The most famous museum among all is the Viking Ship Museum, where you will be able to see the real, original Scandinavian ships from IX.

Stay in the sailing atmosphere for a while and visit the Kon Tiki Museum and the Fram Museum. This first one is dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl, the sailor who crossed the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean on ancient boats. The Fram Museum honors the Norwegian polar expeditions and tells the story of the voyages of Nansen and Amundsen. You will find there also an exhibition of some lovely photos of the fauna and flora of the polar regions.

Another fascinating point, which you should not miss while being in the neighborhood, is the Norwegian Folk Museum. It attracts many tourists every year with its rich and exciting collection. The museum gathered objects from all around the country and from different eras. You will be able to see here 155 buildings, among which there are historic houses from the former Christiania and wooden stave church from the XIII century. In the peak season, the craftsmen gather here and make performances to show how life looked like back then.

The Frogner Park is one of the most beautiful place in Oslo, the capital of Norway

The Frogner Park is listed on many „to see” guides, always on a top position. It is located away from the center, but that does not stop the people from visiting it. What is so special about this park? Mainly the fact that 212 sculptures of the Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland can be enjoyed here. The sculptures might seem a bit scary as they have twisted faces and bizarre poses, but you must see them! One of the most famous sculptures in the park is Sinnataggan, which is presenting an angry little boy, screaming and stamping his foot. The park becomes even more charming in the dark. The illuminated alleys with all those figures looking down at you can make you shiver.

Can you see the Nothern Lights in Oslo, Norway?

Almost everyone would like to experience the Northern Lights show at least once in a lifetime. If you are traveling to Norway, yes, you have a high chance of seeing the northern lights. The peak season for the Northern Lights in Norway is between September and March. This is when nights are getting darker and longer, and the possibilities of catching the lights are higher. Everything depends on the weather and whether the sky is clear enough so the human eye can spot the auroras. There are, however, some areas that are considered to be the best for seeing the Northern Lights. Between them, you will find Tromso, as Lofoten, and the area between Bodo and Svalbard.

Your chances to see the Northern Lights in Oslo are relatively low. It is also the question of the city being lightened up, and you need a place which is dark ad far from the city lights. It is better to plan your Northern Lights hunting trip and go further from Oslo. You will also find many companies which offer organized Northern Lights tour. If you do not want to count on your luck and prefer someone experienced to take care of this, you should hire one. The experienced guides will know exactly when and where you will have the most significant changes to observe the Northern Lights.

It is difficult to see the Northern Lights in Oslo in Norway, you will have more chances going to the north.

If you would rather plan the tour on your own, prepare yourself well. First, choose the right place, far from the city lights. Check the weather forecast. In case it is raining, and it is cloudy, your chances drop to zero. Online you will find many successful apps with the auroras forecasts which you can use. Remember that those are not 100 % accurate, though. Put some warm clothes on and take some hot drinks with you. Sometimes you need to wait many hours for the show to begin. Do not get discouraged if you will not be able to catch the Northern Lights for the first time and be patient!

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