How to Spend One Day in Oslo

By Alex Kallimanis: Awhile back I had the chance to spend one day in Oslo, which was fantastic. I’d previously been staying with extended family in Sweden and needed to get back to Amsterdam, where we were living at the time. So I bought a one-way ticket a couple weeks ahead of time on a discount airline, Norwegian Airlines and bought a bus ticket from Gothenburg, Sweden to reach Oslo. Before embarking on this endeavor I emailed our Norwegian friend who graciously wrote me a long list of options on how to spend one day in Oslo.

ships in Oslo, DFDS Seaways

DSC03644
The May Saturday I arrived in Oslo was a gorgeous sunny day and Norwegians were lounging along the beautiful harbour, enjoying drinks among sailboats and the beautiful surrounding islands that dot the bay. Since I only spent one day in Oslo myself, here’s the wonderful advice our friend, originally from Oslo, wrote to me. In bold I discuss my opinions on what I personally experienced.

Norwegian Airlines can get you to Oslo, Norway very cheap...good luck once you're there though!
Thumbs up to Oslo’s gorgeous harbour

Local Tips for Visiting Oslo

  • Scandinavia on the cheap is not easy, though there are some things that are free. For you, I guess alcohol prices are the most shocking part….Yes, indeed alcohol prices in Norway are shocking. If you get a cheap plane ticket to Oslo, buy alcohol from duty-free beforehand! 
  • The area around Oslo Central Station, ie, lower Karl Johansgate (where the buses arrive, too) is most likely the first area you will see, but there is no reason to spend time there. It is one of the least charming parts of the city….Also, a confirmed yes and this was surprising for a wealthy country that has a reputation for taking good care of its citizens (though the drug addicts are mostly harmless).
  • Grunerløkka is a pretty cool, though a heavily gentrified area, a few kilometers out of the centre, but definitely worth going to if you want to check out the bar scene. Go for the area around Olaf Ryes plass, on the streets either side of it you’ll find lots of bars, restaurants and cafes. Beware of staggering, hammered locals, though.
  • Vigelandsparken (a part of the bigger Frognerparken) is a must, it’s a sculpture park, which may sound boring, but it is stunning and somewhere we would always take guests. And it is free! The locals love to run/play soccer/snog/have picnics/BBQ there…I absolutely loved this place! A big thumbs up to Vigelandsparken when the weather is nice, as the sculptures are beautiful and unique, and I found it a great place to relax and people watch. 
The unique sculptures of Oslo's Vigelandsparken
The unique sculptures of Oslo’s Vigelandsparken

penis statue in Oslo park
Vigelandsparken sculpture park in Oslo

  • Holmenkollen ski jump is pretty cool. It’s new, and I always found the old one fascinating as well…I’m a huge Olympics fan and enjoyed the scenic public transport ride up the mountain. Witnessing all the beautiful Norwegian cottages, and vista of Oslo and the nearby islands and surrounding forests was stunning. And the Holmenkollen ski jumping venue is definitely unique if you’ve never seen one before. It was a first for me.
Holmenkollen ski jumping venue, Oslo
Imagine this ski jumping venue covered with snow and athletes flying in the air among throngs of cheering fans.

Holmenkollen ski jumping venue in Oslo

  • Grønland is an area close to the centre that does not get too many tourists, but we like it. It is not as gentrified as Grunerløkka. You can get cheap Indian food at two restaurants in Grønlandsleiret (you will see them if you walk down Grønlandsleiret street) and Dattera til Hagen on the same street is a nice cafe, also, though a bit more expensive, still with a cool outdoors area. Our favourite bar is also at Grønland – Oslo Mekaniskeverksted.
  • If the weather is nice, I would really recommend taking a boat ride from Vippetangen to the archipelago right outside of Oslo. The ticket price is the same as a tram ticket, and all the islands are lovely. I kick myself for not island hopping the archipelago as it would have been beautiful and it’s pretty convenient. For more info on island hopping check out Visit Norway.
Oslo's Royal Palace is definitely worth a stroll and conveniently located in the city.
Oslo’s Royal Palace is definitely worth a stroll and conveniently located in the city.

Generally, you can get around to most places around the city centre by tram and underground. It might be worth it to buy a day card or two – have a look at the ticket prices at one of the metro stations. If you buy tickets on the trams, it is more expensive.

If you are into that sort of thing, the Viking museum at Bygdøy is pretty cool. The area around is also pretty. You can catch a boat there from Oslo city centre. Update: The Viking Ship Museum is now closed for rebuilding. We will reopen as the Museum of the Viking Age in 2026.

And finally, if you are into art in a strange setting, one of my favourites is Emanuel Vigeland.

Norwegian traditional dress
View of Oslo archipelago

By Alex Kallimanis: Awhile back I had the chance to spend one day in Oslo, which was fantastic. I’d previously been staying with extended family in Sweden and needed to get back to Amsterdam, where we were living at the time. So I bought a one-way ticket a couple weeks ahead of time on a discount airline, Norwegian Airlines and bought a bus ticket from Gothenburg, Sweden to reach Oslo. Before embarking on this endeavor I emailed our Norwegian friend who graciously wrote me a long list of options on how to spend one day in Oslo.

ships in Oslo, DFDS Seaways

DSC03644
The May Saturday I arrived in Oslo was a gorgeous sunny day and Norwegians were lounging along the beautiful harbour, enjoying drinks among sailboats and the beautiful surrounding islands that dot the bay. Since I only spent one day in Oslo myself, here’s the wonderful advice our friend, originally from Oslo, wrote to me. In bold I discuss my opinions on what I personally experienced.

Norwegian Airlines can get you to Oslo, Norway very cheap...good luck once you're there though!
Thumbs up to Oslo’s gorgeous harbour

Local Tips

  • Scandinavia on the cheap is not easy, though there are some things that are free. For you, I guess alcohol prices are the most shocking part….Yes, indeed alcohol prices in Norway are shocking. If you get a cheap plane ticket to Oslo, buy alcohol from duty-free beforehand! 
  • The area around Oslo Central Station, ie, lower Karl Johansgate (where the buses arrive, too) is most likely the first area you will see, but there is no reason to spend time there. It is one of the least charming parts of the city….Also, a confirmed yes and this was surprising for a wealthy country that has a reputation for taking good care of its citizens (though the drug addicts are mostly harmless).
  • Grunerløkka is a pretty cool, though a heavily gentrified area, a few kilometers out of the centre, but definitely worth going to if you want to check out the bar scene. Go for the area around Olaf Ryes plass, on the streets either side of it you’ll find lots of bars, restaurants and cafes. Beware of staggering, hammered locals, though.
  • Vigelandsparken (a part of the bigger Frognerparken) is a must, it’s a sculpture park, which may sound boring, but it is stunning and somewhere we would always take guests. And it is free! The locals love to run/play soccer/snog/have picnics/BBQ there…I absolutely loved this place! A big thumbs up to Vigelandsparken when the weather is nice, as the sculptures are beautiful and unique, and I found it a great place to relax and people watch. 
The unique sculptures of Oslo's Vigelandsparken
The unique sculptures of Oslo’s Vigelandsparken

penis statue in Oslo park
Vigelandsparken sculpture park in Oslo

  • Holmenkollen ski jump is pretty cool. It’s new, and I always found the old one fascinating as well…I’m a huge Olympics fan and enjoyed the scenic public transport ride up the mountain. Witnessing all the beautiful Norwegian cottages, and vista of Oslo and the nearby islands and surrounding forests was stunning. And the Holmenkollen ski jumping venue is definitely unique if you’ve never seen one before. It was a first for me.
Holmenkollen ski jumping venue, Oslo
Imagine this ski jumping venue covered with snow and athletes flying in the air among throngs of cheering fans.

Holmenkollen ski jumping venue in Oslo

  • Grønland is an area close to the centre that does not get too many tourists, but we like it. It is not as gentrified as Grunerløkka. You can get cheap Indian food at two restaurants in Grønlandsleiret (you will see them if you walk down Grønlandsleiret street) and Dattera til Hagen on the same street is a nice cafe, also, though a bit more expensive, still with a cool outdoors area. Our favourite bar is also at Grønland – Oslo Mekaniskeverksted.
  • If the weather is nice, I would really recommend taking a boat ride from Vippetangen to the archipelago right outside of Oslo. The ticket price is the same as a tram ticket, and all the islands are lovely. I kick myself for not island hopping the archipelago as it would have been beautiful and it’s pretty convenient. For more info on island hopping check out Visit Norway.
Oslo's Royal Palace is definitely worth a stroll and conveniently located in the city.
Oslo’s Royal Palace is definitely worth a stroll and conveniently located in the city.

Generally, you can get around to most places around the city centre by tram and underground. It might be worth it to buy a day card or two – have a look at the ticket prices at one of the metro stations. If you buy tickets on the trams, it is more expensive.

If you are into that sort of thing, the Viking museum at Bygdøy is pretty cool. The area around is also pretty. You can catch a boat there from Oslo city centre. Update: The Viking Ship Museum is now closed for rebuilding. We will reopen as the Museum of the Viking Age in 2026.

And finally, if you are into art in a strange setting, one of my favourites is Emanuel Vigeland.

Norwegian traditional dress
View of Oslo archipelago

For a few laughs (maybe), check out my post on Funny photos of Oslo! Have you visited Oslo or are you planning a trip? Where else would you recommend if you only had one day in Oslo?

Author

  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

    View all posts

5 thoughts on “How to Spend One Day in Oslo

  1. Great post. I’m actually going to be there for a day or two at the end of August so now I have some things to see:)

  2. Norway is one of our top contenders for a trip next year! Being of Norwegian descent myself, it has always been a place that I’d love to go. If we do it, it will probably be a trip that includes Sweden and Finland as well. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Greg. Being of Norwegian decent you should definitely check it out at some point. It’s beautiful and it’s always great to connect with your roots! Happy travels!

    1. Hi Ang! Thank you for the compliment, the witty on this site is 95% Alex! I do what I can on the odd occasion!

      But we’re really glad you got some insight for your trip, where are you planning to visit?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.