Scandinavia Series: Oslo, Norway Travel Guide

NOTE: Photos will be added within 1 week. 🙂

Scandinavia is not a cheap travel destination and Oslo, the capital city of Norway, is no exception. Nevertheless, it was well worth the visit. I see it as a spectacular destination with nature-related activities, modern architecture, reliable public transportation and so much more.

Norway can be enjoyed on a budget if you plan ahead. If cutting on costs would not be feasible, at least you can research and plan ahead to make the most out of your stay.

ENTRY TO OSLO

We chose to cruise the North Sea and took the Copenhagen to Oslo route. Read more about it here: Copenhagen to Oslo Cruise via DFDS.

You can take a plane and arrive at Oslo Airport which is the main international airport serving Oslo. You can also arrive here by train from several European cities.

CURRENCY

The Norwegian currency is Norwegian Kroner (NOK).  Coins are circulated in the following denominations: 1 krone, 5 kroner, 10 kroner and 20 kroner. Notes are circulated in the following denominations: 50 kroner, 100 kroner, 200 kroner, 500 kroner and 1000 kroner.

As of this writing, here are the conversion rates:

1 USD = 8.64 NOK / 1 Euro = 9.76 NOK / 1 GBP = 11.14 NOK

GETTING AROUND OSLO USING THE OSLO PASS

The Oslo Pass was launched in 1984 and is one of the very first city cards in Europe. It is the best way to visit the city. It includes access to public transport in Zones 1 and 2 (train, tram, bus) and free entrance to museums and sights. The Oslo Pass will save you time (from queueing to buy tickets) and money and will allow you to discover the different parts of the city.

You can purchase the Oslo Pass at the Oslo Visitor Centre inside Ostbanehallen, by the Oslo Central Station. You may also preorder online then  pick up your pass. The Visitor Centre is open all year round.

The rates have already changed (and I meant increased) from our visit in October to it is best to check the rates on the Visit Oslo Website. Depending on the length of your stay, you may choose from different ticket validities: 24 hours, 48 hours and 72 hours.

ATTRACTIONS TO VISIT USING THE OSLO PASS

The Oslo Pass allows you to visit museums at no extra cost. I have listed below some of the museums that we were able to visit.

  1. Akershus Castle. This is a medieval castle from around 1300AD. Unfortunately, the actual castle is closed for visitors due to maintenance until further notice. We were still able to go around the fortress.
  2. Holmenkollen. From the top of the Holmenkollen ski jump you can experience a 360 degree panoramic view of the city and fjords. This is hands down the best spot to see Oslo. Our jaws dropped upon reaching the top.  The views were spectacular!! Don’t worry, they have an elevator that brings you to the top. You will also find the world’s oldest ski museum, shops, cafe and a ski simulator. The ski simulator requires and extra cost but you can get a discounted rate using the Oslo Pass).DSCF8157
  3. The Kon-Tiki Museum. Thor Heyerdahl gained worldwide fame when he crossed the Pacific Ocean  with the balsa raft Kon-Tiki in 1947. He followed this up with spectacular expeditions. Guests can experience original vessels and up-to-date exhibits on Heyerdahl’s expeditions. Moana vibes!!DSCF8046
  4. Nobel Peace Center. The Nobel Peace Center presents Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Peace Prize, the laureates and their work, as well as exhibitions on topics related to war, peace and conflicts resolution.
  5. Norsk Fokemuseum. This is the largest cultural-historical center in Norway. It houses the largest open-air museum which features the Gol Stave Church from 1200, other buildings and environments that show the culture and history of Norway’s many regions and cities, both then and now. There are more activities in summer including costume-clad guides, folk dancing, music and domestic animals.
  6. Norway’s Resistance Museum. This is located atop the Akershus Fortress. It is the foremost institution  for learning about the Nazi occupation of Norway.
  7. Oslo City Hall. The city’s political and administrative leadership is based here and the municipal presentation occurs with many events.
  8. The Polar ship Fram Museum. Featured in this museum are the Fram and Gjoa which are the world’s most famous polar exploration ships. You can come aboard these historic vessels and get the slightest feel of the polar experience. This museum is also very much suitable for kids.DSCF8139
  9. Viking Ship Museum. See the world’s best-preserved Viking ships and unique burial artefacts from boat graves around the Oslo Fjord.
  10. Natural History Museum. This consists of Botanical Garden and the geological and zoological exhibitions. You can see dinosaurs, moon rocks, silver crystals, etc.

Here’s a list of other museums that you can visit at no extra cost. It’s such a shame that we were unable to visit these due to limited time. Some were also closed during the dates of our trip!

  1. Astrup Fearnley Museet
  2. Ekerbergparken
  3. Henie Onstad Kunstsenter
  4. Historical Museum
  5. Holocaust Center
  6. The Ibsen Museum
  7. Intercultural Museum
  8. The International Museum of Children’s Art
  9. The Labour Museum
  10. The Munch Museum
  11. The Museum of Architecture
  12. The National Gallery
  13. Museum of Oslo
  14. The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum
  15. Oslo Jewish Museum
  16. Oslo Reptile Park
  17. Oslo Transport Museum
  18. Popsenteret – Museum and Experience Center
  19. Norsk Teknisk Museum
  20. Norwegian Maritime Museum
  21. Vigeland Museum

OTHER ATTRACTIONS YOU SHOULDN’T MISS

  1. Vigeland Sculpture Park. This is the largest sculpture park created by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. The Oslo Pass allows you to visit the Vigeland Museum at no extra cost.
  2. Oslo Opera House. This impressive structure has a grand 1,100 rooms and is the home of Norwegian National Opera and Ballet and the National Opera Theater. You can enjoy the beautiful architectural elements that the Oslo Opera House showcases free of charge.
  3. Oslo Cathedral. This is one of the most significant historical and cultural landmarks in Oslo. The cathedral has been used as a site for public events organized and hosted by the Government of Norway and the Royal Family.
  4. Royal Palace of Oslo. This is a monument that has served as the official residence of the country’s current ruler, King Harald V. This is where the king carries out his official duties. The entry to the palace is not included on the Oslo Pass so you would need to pay extra if you would like visit. Otherwise, you may view the palace from the outside and it is free of charge.
  5. Aker Brygge. This is the cool neighborhood in Oslo located at the waterfront. This area is popular in terms of shopping, dining and entertainment. What we liked most about it is you can just grab a seat, chill and marvel at the lovely sights.

ISLAND HOPPING IN OSLO

What we consider as the highlight and best part of this trip is the opportunity to see the Oslo Fjords. The Oslo Fjord is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oslo. Located just off the mainland, the fjord consists of hundreds of small islands easily accessible by boat. We are so glad that we did this! I got the idea from Oslo Pro Channel on Youtube.

You can visit the fjords by taking a ferry which departs from Aker Brygge several times per hour. With an Oslo pass, you can easily get on and off any of the ferries. Plan ahead by checking the ferry times and scheduleWe were able to visit Hovedoya, Bleikoya, Gressholmen, Lindoya Ost and Lindoya vest.

5 THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT OSLO

  1. Nature. The city is so close to nature. Just imagine the fjords, the lakes, the parks. There are plenty of open spaces.
  2. Modernity. The city is also for the architecturally curious because the skyline is so beautiful. The buildings are jaw-dropping.
  3. Cleanliness. It’s so amazing how a major city like Oslo is so clean. You would hardly see any rubbish/trash on the street. The air is also very fresh.
  4. Communication. Similar to Copenhagen and Stockholm, almost everyone speaks good English. Checking in at the hotel, ordering food from a restaurant, buying from a convenience store, asking for directions, all these have been a breeze because they are also fluent with the English language.
  5. Transportation. It was so easy to go around the city whether by bus, tram or train. It’s easy to navigate and the instructions are pretty straightforward. The train even went up the mountain! We were so amazed, I almost cried because of admiration!

OTHER TIPS

  1. City Map. Hotels usually provide this free of charge. The maps usually highlight the popular and major attractions. This way you can identify which ones are near one another and so you can properly plan your day.
  2. Holiday dates. An important thing to consider before booking your trips in general is on which season you are visiting. Check out the opening times of the attractions that you would like to visit so you do not get disappointed.
  3. Opening times. Some of the museums close at an earlier time during autumn and winter. Keep this in mind when plotting them on your itinerary.
  4. On Rainy Days. Even if you create a very detailed itinerary, the weather could still ruin your plans. On the days where rain is in the forecast, try to rearrange your schedule and visit museums instead.

Hope this post helps you plan your trip to Norway and Scandinavia in general. 🙂

READ MORE

Scandinavia Travel: Copenhagen, Denmark 2018

Copenhagen to Oslo Cruise via DFDS

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