Nestled between the mountains and the sea, Oslo is one of Europe’s most unique and stunning cities.
Although it is the smallest of the Scandinavia capital cities (boasting a population of just over 670,000 people), Oslo has no shortage of attractions. Whether you’re interested in sports and outdoor activities or fancy a day in a museum, there’s something for everyone in Oslo – and you won’t even have to go far to find it!
Oslo’s compact city centre is easily navigated on foot, making it the perfect destination for a city break, no matter the time of year. Read on to learn how to make the most of a short stay in the Norwegian capital.
There are so many ways to travel between Stockholm and Oslo: car, bus, train, plane, sled. The method you choose will depend on your how much time you have and how much money you’re willing to spend.
Because it is still somewhat of a novelty, we decided to take the train. We booked our tickets directly through SJ, Sweden’s government-owned rail operator, selecting the time, route and seats that worked best for us. At approx. £40 ($70CAD) per person return, the train was significantly cheaper than flying.
But, as with all forms of public transportation, taking the train had both pros and cons:
The train station in Oslo is located right in the city centre. This convenience saved us from having to navigate our way to/from the airport. It also saved us having to pay for a costly cab as we were able to easily make our way on foot to our accommodation.
The journey was over five hours long, and yet, it felt so much longer.
When booking our tickets week in advance, I made sure to choose a direct trip. Unbeknownst to me when booking was that a direct trip didn’t exactly mean non-stop. Because our strain stopped A LOT. At one point, I questioned whether we were going to stop at every single town that lay between Stockholm and Oslo (it didn’t, it just felt like it did).
Couple the frequent stops with the fact that the sunset around 3 PM and that meant that most of our journey was in the dark (so much for looking out the window) and it made for a long afternoon. Next time I make the trip, I will definitely opt for the much shorter flight.
What To See & Do
There’s no better place to start the day than at the Norwegian Royal Palace. Located just outside of the city centre, the Royal Palace is both the home and office of the King and Queen of Norway and is surrounded by Palace Park, 22 acres of green space that is open to the public. The palace isn’t open for tours in the winter; you’ll have to wait until mid-June to take a peek inside.
Karl Johans Gate
After visiting the Palace, wander through the centre of Oslo on Karl Johans gate. The main road in central Oslo, Karl Johans gate is home to many of Oslo’s most famous attractions, including the Royal Palace, the National Theatre and Stortinget (Parliament).
Frogner Park and the Vigeland Installations
A short tram ride from the centre of town is the unique and interesting Vigeland Installation. Part of the 110-acre Frogner Park, the Vigeland Sculpture Park is a showcase of Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland’s work. The sculpture area covers more than 80 acres and features 212 bronze and granite sculptures by the artist.
Thanks to its wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, the park is the perfect place to spend an hour or two wandering amongst the statues.
Even if you’re not a fan of (or even familiar with) Vigeland’s work, the sculpture park is well worth a visit.
The Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House is one of the cities most iconic and interesting buildings. Located in central Oslo, just a few minutes walk from the train station, construction of the Opera House began in 2003 and was the cities first foray into the top league of modern architecture. Since its completion in 2007, the building has attracted visitors from all over the world, from fans of opera and architecture to tourists, photographers and more.
Shaped like a glacier or a ship (depending on how you look at it), the roof of the building angles down, touching the ground. This slope allows visitors the chance to walk up (in good weather conditions) and enjoy a panoramic view of Oslo from the rooftop.
Although I was a little bit of a Scaredy Kate and clutched the railing as we made our way up and down, the views of both the city and the water from the top of the Opera House were impressive. It was an amazing sight and one I’m definitely glad I didn’t miss.
Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle and fortress located a short walk from the Opera house and city centre. The stone walls surrounding the castle give the area an eerie and interesting atmosphere. Akershus Fortress also provides some amazing view of Oslo. It’s free to roam around the grounds and is a great way to experience a bit of Oslo’s history while taking in the amazing city views.
Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower
Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower is located on the west side of Oslo, just a short tram ride from the city centre. If you’re looking to get a great panoramic or bird’s eye view of the city, hop on the tram and make your way up (way up) to the observation deck.
Where to Eat & Drink
Dovrehallen is an old-style beer hall located in Oslo’s centre. This casual restaurant is the place to go if you’re looking to sample traditional Norwegian fare including reindeer, pork chops and potato dishes. The beer was cold, the food was delicious and I wouldn’t hesitate to eat there again on a future visit.
Way Down South
Fried chicken might not be the first thing you think of when you think Oslo, and it certainly wasn’t for me, that is until we had dinner at Way Down South. Located in Central Oslo, Way Down South uses locally sourced produce to prepare their authentic American-style BBQ. The food was delicious, the portions were gigantic (we had more than enough leftovers for four people to lunch the next day), and the service was fantastic. Now, thanks to my awesome experience at Way Down South, I will forever think of Oslo when I eat fried chicken.
If you find yourself feeling peckish while out and about, why not visit one of Oslo’s famous hot dog stands. These hot dogs or “pølse” as they are known locally will be just the snack you need to fuel you through a day of exploring.
If you’re visiting in December, be sure to visit the Christmas Market to sample traditional Norwegian treats and warm up by the fire with a delicious glass of glogg (the best I’ve had so far!)
Where To Stay
Because there were four adults (two couples) on this trip, we opted for an Airbnb property to make the most of our budget in this notoriously expensive city. We rented this trendy flat in the Grunerløkka area and couldn’t have been happier.
Located just a short 15-minute walk from the train station, our flat was easy to access to anything we could possibly need: groceries, restaurants, public transit and many tourist sites. Our host was amazingly helpful and easy to deal with, and the flat was well stocked with basic necessities (coffee). It was the perfect place to relax and rest our heads after a long day of winter sightseeing.
Oslo, Norway is an absolutely stunning city with so much to see, do and eat. From its access to nature, it’s modern architecture and it’s rich history, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Oslo.
With its compact city centre, two days is the perfect amount of time to spend exploring all that Oslo has to offer.
Have you been to Oslo? What do you recommend?
Save This Post For Later
Photos without snow are courtesy of Pixabay.com.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commision, at no extra cost to you. All thoughts, feelings and opinions shared on this blog and in this post are my own.