My trip to Oslo was short but it allowed just the right amount of time to see some of the sights and get a feel for the city. Before you arrive it’s good to know that most of Oslo’s top sights are quite spread out and that public transportation is a necessary means of getting around. While I didn’t have enough time to see everything, I did get to experience some of Oslo’s top sights and highly recommend them if you are heading to Oslo.
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Top Things to See and Do in Oslo
1. Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskiphuset)
Upon entering the museum it becomes immediately clear that the Vikings were masters at their craft. There are three very well preserved Viking ships exhibited at the museum, each in their own rooms along with other artifacts found inside the ships.
All three ships, the Oseberg, the Gokstad and the Tune ship were discovered in separate burial mounds. They had been buried to serve as vessels to aid powerful vikings in passage to the afterlife. The viking ships were discovered in their burial mounds over 100 years ago near Oslofjord in amazingly preserved states.
In the first room, the elaborate Oseberg ship dates back to 820 AD. This was used as a burial ship for a powerful Viking women and her servant in 834 AD. The ship was buried with a collection of gifts and personal belongings to aid in the afterlife. These include three sledges, a wagon, skeletons of 12 horses, five beds and five carved animal heads.
The Oseberg ship took years to be restored and reconstructed. In the end over 90% of the original wood was used. All the details etched into the wood are fine details of how elaborate the craftsmanship was when constructing these ships. The twisting spirals at each end of the bow were my favorite.
Built around 850 AD, the Gokstad ship was originally used as a ship for exploration, trade and war until it was ultimately used as a burial ship around 900 AD. Equally as well preserved as the Oseberg ship, the Gokstad ship was uncovered in 1880 where is was buried deep in the clay.
The Tune ship was the first Viking Ship to be discovered and it is on display in the museum in the same condition in which it was found. Dating back to 900 AD, the Tune ship is still one of the best preserved Viking ships in the world despite its seemingly dilapidated appearance.
Opening hours of the Viking Ship Museum are: 1 May – 30 September 09:00 – 18:00 and 1 October – 30 April 10:00 – 16:00. (Opening hours updated as of Oct 2019)
Entry Fee: The cost is 100 NOK ($10 USD) for adults. Students are 80 NOK ($8.65 USD). Children under 18 years old are free. (Fees updated as of Oct 2019)
How to Get There: Take the #30 bus from the city center to the Vikingskipene bus stop which drops you off directly outside the museum.
2. Vigeland Sculpture Park
Laid out over a 75-acre park is Norway’s own Gustav Vigeland’s unique and bizarre culmination of statue groupings each telling their own story. Over 200 statues, made of bronze, granite and wrought iron, are located within the park divided up into different locations. The Main Gate, the Bridge, the Fountain, the Monolith plateau and the Wheel of Life.
Start out by passing through the elaborate wrought iron Main Gate and make your way to the Bridge. Here you will find the two most famous sculptures: the man being attacked by babies and Sinnataggen, the little Angry Boy.
Next continue on towards the Fountain. Twenty tree of life statues surround the large center fountain that is held up by 6 giant sculptures. The trees intertwined with human sculptures symbolize the link between humanity and nature.
Pass the fountain and climb the stairs leading to the parks main attraction: the Monolith plateau. Standing 50-feet tall, the main centrepiece is a display of 121 figures carved out of the same piece of stone.
The entire park is quite impressive and it’s no wonder Gustav Vigeland is considered Norway’s greatest sculptor.
Opening Hours & Entry Fee: Vigeland Sculpture park is open 24 hours a day year round and is free to enter.
How to Get There: Take the #11 tram from Karl Johans Gate to Majorstuen and then immediately get off and jump on the #12 tram to Vigelandslarken.
3. Oslo Opera House
Rising out of the sea at the tip of Oslofjord with a glacier-like appearance is the Oslo Opera House. The construction is made up of a white sloping marble roof and floor to ceiling glass windows. The striking design allows visitors to walk on top of the roof and is worth it for the stunning views over Oslofjord and the surrounding city.
Guided tours in English of the Oslo Opera House’s auditorium and backstage area are available Monday-Friday and Sunday at 1 PM and on Saturday at noon. The guided tours last for 50 minutes.
Entry Fee: Cost is 120 NOK ($13 USD) for Adults and 70 NOK ($7.50 USD) for children and the Oslo Pass gives visitors a 20% discount. (Prices updated Oct 2019)
In addition, the Opera House also has seasonal operas, ballets and recitals that you can attend. For more information on their programs and tickets head to their website here.
4. The Old Wooden Houses on Telthusbakken and Damstredet
The distinct and colorful wooden houses are very typical of Norwegian architecture. In Oslo there are two small streets of Telthusbakken and Damstredet. They are well known for these adorable small homes.
Both streets are home to well preserved and lived-in wooden houses from the late 18th to early 19th century.
Unfortunately the streets aren’t very long so although the houses look good in pictures the area is a little lackluster in person. I would recommend checking out the houses if you have time but would try and check out some of the other sights Oslo has to offer instead.
How to Get There: If you do decide to venture out to Telthusbakken and Damstredet hop on the #30 bus towards Hausmanns Gate where you can then walk to these streets.
5. The Fram Museum (Frammuseet)
The Fram Museum, located on the Bygdøy Peninsula along with Oslo’s other museums, houses the World’s strongest 125-foot Polar Ship Fram. Built for polar research, the Fram was designed with a specific and innovative construction allowing for the ship to be able to travel father north and south than any other ship had before.
The Polar Ship Fram was used on three very important expeditions. I didn’t get a chance to visit the museum on this trip but it will be a must see for my next visit to Oslo!
Opening hours: The museum is open every day from 10AM to 5PM. You can check here for updates.
Entrance Fee: Cost is 120 NOK ($13 USD) for adults and 50 NOK ($5.40 USD) for children and students. There are additional discounts for seniors, groups, families and disabled persons. (Prices updated Oct 2019)
6. Kon-Tiki Museum (Kon-Tiki Museet)
Also on the Bygdøy Peninsula, the Kon-Tiki museum pays homage to Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002) who built the ships Kon-Tiki and the Ra II. In 1947, Heyerdahl and five others built the Kon-Tiki raft out of balsa wood using techniques and tools prior to the modernization of ship construction.
They sailed the Kon-Tiki over 4,300 miles from Peru to Polynesia proving that early South Americans, were in fact able to settle in Polynesia. Then in 1970, Heyerdahl repeated this trek with a new ship, the reed boat Ra II and a different journey. The museum houses both ships where visitors can get up close with the Kon-Tiki raft and learn all about the expeditions from the beginning stages to the voyages and learning what life was like onboard.
Opening Hours: The museum is open everyday but the times vary with the seasons.
Entrance Fee: Cost is 120 NOK ($13 USD) for adults and 50 NOK ($5.40 USD) for children. There are discounts offered as well for groups, families, seniors & students. You can find all the information here.
7. Karl Johan’s Gate and the Harbor front
From the Oslo airport we took the FlyToGet bus directly into the city center. The stop at Nationaltheatret dropped us off right at one end of the popular pedestrian only street: Karl Johan’s Gate. The wide street, ending at the Royal Palace, has with many shops, cute cafes, and busy restaurants.
Off of Karl Johan’s Gate you can walk past the fancy Parliament building and Oslo Cathedral (Domkirke) that dates back to 1697. Stroll down the entirety of Karl Johan’s Gate and find your way down to the harbor and waterfront. Perched atop the hill is the Akershus Fortress looking down upon the many boats parked in the harbor.
If you are visiting Oslo during the Spring and Summer months be sure to check out their fjord tours! The 2-hr guided Fjord sightseeing cruises/tours begin at the end of March and continue through the summer season. The boats depart from City Hall Pier 3 down by the harbor. You can purchase tickets at either the Oslo Visitor Center or at Båtservice’s ticket office located directly on the pier. Find the information about the Fjord tours here.
8. Christiania Torv
Christiania Torv is a square in Oslo’s old city center, where you can see Oslo’s first town hall from 1641 and the giant sculpture of a pointing finger.
Some of Oslo’s oldest buildings are located in Christiania Torv and the once town hall is now the Gamle Raadhus Restaurant. Positioned in the middle of the square and center of a traffic roundabout is the fountain containing the sculpture of the hand.
It is said that the statue represents the spot at which the Danish-Norwegian King Christian IV pointed to and exclaimed that the new town would be rebuilt at this location after a fire in 1624 burnt down the original town. While the pointing finger sculpture is easy to miss, the old building’s in the square are worth a quick visit.
How to Get to Oslo Gardermoen Airport (OSL)
As Norway’s capital city, Oslo is a very easily reachable city. There is an international airport located close to the city center with convenient public transit. You can check flights via skyscanner.com to find the cheapest and best flight times available. Since Oslo is a main hub you’ll be able to get great deals on many of the budget airlines around Europe.
When searching for your flights to Oslo use the airport code OSL.
How to Get From the OSL Airport to Oslo City Center
1. By Train
There are a few options of getting to the Oslo city center from the Oslo Gardermoen (OSL) Airport. The cheapest option is using the public transportation, namely the train. From the airport to Oslo Central Station (Oslo S) it will take around 23 minutes and costs 105 NOK ($11.80 USD) per person for one way.
You can either purchase your ticket online, through the app or at the airport at one of the red NSB kiosks. You will enter Oslo Lufthavn as your departure and Oslo S as your arrival. The trains run very frequently with the last one leaving at 11:43 PM (23:43).
2. By Bus
A second option would be to take the bus. The Flybussen bus service is used all over Norway and can be a great option from the airport. However, it takes around 45 minutes and the cost is around 169 NOK ($19 USD). The bus will make stops along the way so the benefit to using the bus over the train would be to get off at a different stop than at the central station.
If you want to arrive at the central satin take the bus from FB2 Oslo Lufthavn to Scandinavia Hotel via Sentrum. The buses also run frequently around every 20 minutes or so.
3. By Airport Express Train
This is the most expensive option when it comes to public transit. The airport express train is called Flytoget and has two options. Either a 19 minute direct train or a 22 minute train with one stop at Lillestrøm. The tickets cost 196 NOK ($22 USD) for one way. If you are a student you can get a discount and pay 95 NOK ($10.70). The trains run every 10 minutes and are the most comfortable option of the three. This train also ends at Oslo Central Station.
How to Get Around Oslo City Center & to the Sights
1. By Tram or the Tunnelbane
Getting around Oslo is actually quite easy as there are a lot of options for public transportation. The most popular being the buses and trams. The trams (called the tunnelbane or T-bane) run throughout the city and stop at all the main spots including Nationaltheatret, Stortinget and Jernbanetorget stations. The tickets can be bought online at the Ruter app, at certain ticket stations and kiosks, as well as on the tram. Tickets are a bit cheaper at around 35 NOK ($4 USD) per person for a single fare if you pre-purchase them.
If you want to purchase the tickets on the tram you can do so but you’ll need to have smaller bills with you. You can also buy one day or seven day unlimited passes.
2. By Using the Oslo Pass
The Oslo Pass is a great option if you are in the city for a few days and want to hit up most of the sights. The other bonus is that the pass gives you access to all public transit options in zone 1 & 2 of the city center. It also includes access to the ferries around Oslofjord.
The Oslo Pass has different price points for adults, children and seniors and has a 24 hour, 48 hour and 72 hour option. The adult rates for 24 hours is 445 NOK ($50 USD), for 48 hours is 655 NOK ($74 USD) and for 72 hours is 820 NOK ($92 USD).
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WHAT CAMERA GEAR DO I USE?
- Main Camera: Sony A7III
- Wide angle lens: Sony G Master 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom lens: Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
- Secondary Camera: Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon wide angle lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
- Underwater camera: Leica X-U
- Camera with gimbal: DJI Osmo Pocket & Underwater Housing
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro
- Camera Bag: Polar Pro Drone Trekker
- External Hard Drive: LaCie 1 TB rugged mini external hard drive