What to do in Oslo?
Visiting Norway soon? Here are our insider tips for what to do in Oslo: the capital of the happiest country in the world!
Hvitserk of Norway is based in Oslo, and we love our city. We haven’t embarked on making a complete guide to Oslo, but this is a guide to some of our personal favourites – where we might bump into each other when you are on your way to your Norwegian Adventure. Oslo is an active and vibrant town waiting for you to explore it. So, here are some of the things you should do in Oslo!
ACTIVITIES in Oslo
If there is one thing you should do while staying in Oslo in the summer, it is to spend a day kayaking on the Oslofjord! Enjoy the Opera House, the fortress, Aker brygge, the Astrup Fearnley Museum, Bygdøy and the small, idyllic islands from the sea.
Hike in Nordmarka:
Oslo is surrounded by nature, the fjord on one side, and the forest on the others. The people who live in Oslo love the fact that you can go to the city centre and be in the forest in just 20 minutes. We often go hiking or skiing in Nordmarka, the forest closest to the city, where Holmenkollen is situated. The options are unlimited. Unfortunately, many of the small huts selling hot chocolate and waffles are closed in the summer, so be sure to bring some snacks and drinks.
If you like to hike for a couple of hours, we recommend that you start at the metro station at Frognerseteren. Enjoy the view 400 meters above the city, visit the traditional (but quite expensive) restaurant (also called Frognerseteren) and start on your hike towards the popular viewpoint Vettakollen. Follow the signs to Ullevålseter along the small dirt road and later you take the path towards Vettakollen. From there you either go down to the Vettakollen metro station (you can swim in the small lake Båntjern close to the station) or continue past the lake and down to Sognsvann metro station. The hike is between 5 to 8 kilometres.
This and other kayaking or hiking adventures in Oslo and other parts of Norway can be tailor-made by Hvitserk of Norway. Please contact us for [email protected] for more information.
Zipline in Holmenkollen
On the way to Frognerseteren, you could visit Holmenkollen (a short uphill walk from Holmenkollen metro station). Here you will find a ski museum and the famous ski jump. Norwegians love to boast the fact that we are born with skis on our feet, so a visit to this area is a good opportunity to get to know the Norwegian culture. It’s possible to visit the jump tower, and for those who dare, it is even possible to fly off the jump! Kollensvevet is a zip line which takes you from the very top of the Holmenkollen jump tower to the bottom as if you were jumping on skis.
Grefsenkollen (east of Holmenkollen) has an even better sunset view than Vettakollen. You get there by bus from the Storo metro station. The restaurant in the old, cosy, wooden house is among Oslo's top restaurants. Unfortunately, it is closed in the summer, but the bar (with a very tasty pizza) is open throughout the summer.
Ski in Marka:
What makes Oslo unique among other European capitals are the endless amount of different outdoor recreation possibilities you have during summer and winter. Both skilled and non-skilled skiers can enjoy more than 2600 kilometres of cross-country skiing tracks all over the forested area called Marka. Experiencing the sunset while skiing in the forest is worth a visit to Oslo alone!
Run at Bygdøy:
Bygdøy is a peninsula with a lot of museums (see below) and a forest perfect for a morning or evening run. You reach the tracks either by bus or by boat (from Aker Brygge). Is it warm and sunny? Take a swim at Paradisbukta or Huk, that’s where you will find the Oslo-people who choose to stay for the summer.
The Vigeland park:
The Vigeland Park close to Majorstuen and Frogner is the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist and is one of Norway's most popular tourist attractions. The park is free to enter at any time of the day, all year round. Know and then, especially on sunny days, the park is packed with people, but in addition to watching the beautiful sculptures – people watching is an important part of the fun.
Bike along the harbour:
“Havnepromenaden” from Sørenga to Skøyen/Bygdøy is perfect for biking – and a really scenic way to see a lot of Oslo. The easiest way to hire a bicycle in Oslo is getting a city bike subscription from Oslo Bysykkel. A subscription gives you access to over 100 bicycle stands around the city with over 1,000 bicycles, that can be borrowed for 45 minutes at a time. Oslo Visitor Centre can help you set up a subscription for a fee, or you can do it yourself in the Oslo Bysykkel app. The bikes are available from around Easter to about 1. December.
Outside Oslo, you will find a few small islands worth exploring. Some of them are packed with small summerhouses, but some of them are uninhabited. The temperature in the water is sometimes as high as 22 degrees – but normally around 19 or 20 in the summer. The boats to the islands run from Aker Brygge every hour – and it’s the same tickets as the trams/buses and metro (except the ferry to Bygdøy – that’s a different ticket). At Gressholmen, one of the islands, you can buy a typical Norwegian pick nick-bag at Gressholmen Kro and bring to the beach.
Where to eat in and drink in Oslo - FOOD:
Local food, good coffee and local beer is an important part of travelling and exploring. But, most importantly. Do not forget to visit the grocery store and get hold of a brunost (brown cheese).
This new street food/food truck-hall on the peninsula between the Opera house and the City Hall/Aker Brygge is well worth a visit. International food, good music and a good atmosphere.
Frogner is one of Oslo's most desirable areas – and the restaurant Kolonihagen is a favourite in this part of Oslo. They were among the first restaurants in Norway to focus on organic food.
Address: Frognerveien 33
One of the best sushi restaurants in Norway, a bit expensive, but it is very good, so if you want to treat yourself, this is a good alternative.
Address: Cort Adelers gate 2 and Strandpromenaden 11
If you visit the museums on Bygdøy, you can take a small detour with the charming ferry to Lille Herbern – a restaurant with good seafood and view of the boats sailing into Oslo.
Address: Herbernveien 1, Bygdøy
This restaurant at St.Hanshaugen is a local favourite – unpretentious atmosphere and really good Norwegian food. The restaurant is mentioned in the Michelin guide (Bib Gourmand) – but is not very expensive.
Address: Waldemar Thranes gate 10
Norwegian food with a continental twist. Gourmet food at a decent price located in the Youngstorget area. Here you will find several other good bars and restaurants as well.
Address: Mariboes Gate 7
Food court showcasing Norwegian cuisine – small restaurants and delis in a rebuilt industrial building. Not expensive and great atmosphere.
Address: Maridalsveien 17
The name of the restaurant means “camping stove”, something all Norwegians need when we prepare food outside. This restaurant only serves local Norwegian food, and they make all their food themselves. They make small dishes, like Norwegian tapas.
Address: Akersgata 2, Christiana Torv
One of Oslo's best seafood restaurants. It is only opened during the summer. Try seafood the Norwegian way, they only serve fresh seafood, so if there is something missing on their menu, it is because it was not possible to catch it.
Address: Akershusstranda 13, Skur 34
Fancy late evenings?
Try Grünerløkka, Torggata and the area around Youngstorget. If you manage to locate Himkok (Storgata 27), step into one of Oslo's most trendy bars. There are no big signs showing the entrance to this bar, but you might get the best drinks in town.
Take the lift, up to the sky bar Stratos (Youngstorget 2 – www.stratos.as). The bar is open during the summer months, there are a DJs in the evenings and the view of the city is beautiful.
Fuglen (The bird) has a unique interior and is a favourite by the magazine Monocle. The bar in Universitetsgata 2 is also one of our Oslo-favourites – both for the coffee during the day and the cocktails in the evening. The retro furnishings in the bar is all for sale.
Not that hungry? No fuzz, just great coffee, that's Supreme Roastwork saying, a famous micro roastery at Thorvald Meyersgate at Grünerløkka. A lot of people would tell you they have the best coffee in town.
Where to stay in Oslo - SLEEP:
Small and cosy hotels are our favourite. Oslo has several of them, and we gladly help our travellers with their accommodation in Oslo. If you like to spend a night in the outdoors, please contact us for advice on where to go camping or to put up your hammock in the trees. We often do this ourselves to get a quick nature experience close to the city.
We cooperate with this small, eco-friendly, boutique hotel in Vika – a central part of Oslo. It’s a short stroll from Aker Brygge, the main street – Karl Johans gate and the royal castle. They also serve a very good breakfast – please let us know if you want us to book your stay!
Address: Parkveien 78, Vika
Comfort Hotel Grand Central:
Although we are not very fan of the busy area around the central station and the lower part of the main street, we see that many of our guests prefer this centrally located hotel.
Address: Jernbanetorget 1 -
Centrally located – in the new Vulkan-area – and close to Mathallen and Grünerløkka. They brand themselves as “the small hotel with the great heart” – and offers work training for unemployed people so that they can get the experience they need to get a permanent job. The hotel also has a nice restaurant with great, homemade food.
Address: Maridalsveien 13
What to see in Oslo: Museums and guided tours
Guided trip to see the city centre. From May 14th until September 28th, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 17:30 pm Oslo City Hall (seaside). Ends at 19:30 pm outside the National Theatre. The walks take you to the old town, the Government area and continue up to Karl Johan towards the Royal Palace. The guided tour is 200 NOK per person, cash payment to the guide. It is free with Oslo Pass.
A guided trip on the west side of Oslo
Every Thursday from May 14th until September 13th. Start at 17:30 pm outside the Royal Palace (by the Queen Maud’s statue). Ends at 19:30 pm at the Frogner Park. The walk takes you through the picturesque streets and buildings at Frogner and leads to the beautiful Frogner Park and Gustav Vigeland’s 212 sculptures. The guided tour is 200 NOK per person, cash payment to the guide. Discount (100 NOK per person) with Oslo Pass.
Want to book a private guided tour in Oslo or for one of the attractions? Please contact us at [email protected]
The museums at Bygdøy:
We love explorers, and at Bygdøy there are museums for many of them; see the famous boats and learn about the Norwegian explorers at the Fram Museum or Kon Tiki Museum.
At the Viking museum or the Norwegian Folk Museum, you will learn about both our proud, and not so proud history. Bygdøy is easy to reach by bus, bike or boat – and could be combined with a swim at one of the beaches (see above).
Ekeberg Sculpture Park:
The Vigeland park is definitely our most famous sculpture park, but we urge you to check out the sculpture park at Ekeberg as well – for more modern art. This park is also open all the time – and free to visit. The splendid Ekebergrestauranten (Address: Kongsveien 5) close to the park has a stunning view of the Oslofjord and city.
Tjuvholmen and Astrup Fearnley Museum:
Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen is a nice and popular area, therefore there is a lot of people here on a sunny summer day. It is a good place to walk around, do some shopping and people watching. The Astrup Fearnley Museum at Tjuvholmen is a collection of modern and contemporary art counted among the most significant of its kind in Northern Europe. It is designed by the famous architect Renzo Piano. If you don’t fancy the museum, just stroll in the park between the museum and the fjord – and enjoy some ice-cream.
Sørenga, Barcode and the Opera House:
This is the newest neighbourhood in Oslo. In a few years, it will be completed – with the new Munch Museum and a large and spectacular library. The Opera House (designed by Snøhetta) has become an Oslo icon – and so has the Barcode-skyline. Sørenga who is connected with a long temporary bridge from the Opera House has restaurants and a nice saltwater pool – a perfect place to spend a sunny evening.
And of course – there is the Munch Museum, currently situated at Tøyen (Address: Tøyengata 53) – if you would like to see the work from our world known artist Edvard Munch.
Shopping in Oslo
H&M, Zara, Oasis, Bodyshop – as in the rest of the world, they are also offered in Oslo. You don’t need a guide to find them.
Chillout Travel Center
If you want to buy a map, guidebooks or travel accessories – or fancy good coffee with tasty small dishes, this is where you should go.
Address: Markveien 55, Grünerløkka (also Bogstadveien 41, but no coffee)
Another travel bookshop with a lot of travel accessories. This is probably where you will find the best range of guidebooks and maps for Norway. Just behind the Royal Castle and close to
Litteraturhuset (The House of Literature) A nice place to eat or get a drink
Norrøna Flagship Store
Forgot anything you need to join our tours in the great outdoors? Norway’s premium outdoor brand has a large flagship store in Oslo – with backpacks and clothes (for skiing, hiking and biking).
Address: Akersgata 30 (Close to Karl Johans gate)
To and from the airport
Train: From the airport, almost everyone takes the airport train (the grey one). If you buy your tickets for the local train (NSB – red automats) instead, the price is almost 50 % less – and the journey to the city centre takes only a few minutes more.
Taxi: If you take a taxi from the airport to the city, make sure you ask for the fixed price (should be around 800 NOK on a weekday between 0600 – 1700 o clock), can be up to 1000 NOK at night. If you don’t ask for the fixed price it will be at least double. PS: we prefer using the taxi companies called Oslo Taxi or Norgestaxi but the other companies should be ok as well. You can choose the taxi you want, even if it is the one last in line at the airport.
See you in Oslo, and Norway!