Free Things To Do in Oslo
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Occupying 766 square miles, Oslo Fjord attracts Oslo residents and tourists in droves, especially during the warmer months. Water vistas are available from many parts of the city, including popular attractions like the Oslo Opera House and Akershus Fortress. You can also opt to hit the water in a canoe or kayak, but to get the full experience, consider signing up for an Oslo Fjord cruise. Sightseeing and fishing excursions are available on everything from inflatable boats (known as RIBs) to sailboats and yachts to ferries throughout the year.
Traveler-approved cruise operators include RIB Oslo and Norway Yacht Charter, but the cheapest and most popular way to explore the fjord is via a tour with Båtservice Sightseeing. Affiliated with Norway Yacht Charter, this ferry company offers several fjord tour options, such as a two-hour daytime sightseeing excursion and three-hour crab-, jazz- and blues-themed cruises. Previous visitors suggest booking the evening boat tour, which includes three hours of sailing and a highly regarded all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet. But remember to bring extra money for drinks and a jacket if you plan on sitting outside.
- #2View all PhotosfreeKarl Johans gate#2 in OsloCafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDCafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Karl Johans gate stretches between Oslo's downtown train station and Palace Park, an expansive park that surrounds the Royal Palace. Boutiques, cafes, bars, nightclubs and hotels are just some of the amenities you'll find lining this central thoroughfare. Inside the smaller Studenterlunden Park, which borders the street's western end, you can catch a performance at the late 19th-century National Theatre, go ice skating at the outdoor rink or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll. This section of the boulevard is also a block away from the National Gallery, one of four buildings that comprise the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design.
Karl Johans gate may be Oslo's most popular street, but its wide design and ample green spaces make it feel surprisingly quiet and uncrowded. To get a complete picture of the thoroughfare, a few past travelers suggest making multiple visits at varying times. Others recommend people-watching from one of the open-air cafes. Don't forget to check out the bronze tiger statue that sits at the eastern end of the boulevard. It was gifted to the city in 2000 to honor Oslo's 1,000-year anniversary.
- #3View all Photos#3 in OsloParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Vigeland Park, which resides in Ullern and Majorstuen's Frogner Park, is the world's largest sculpture park featuring works by a single artist. The park is composed of five main areas: the Main Gate, the Wheel of Life, the Fountain, the Monolith Plateau and the Bridge. Its highlight is its 200-plus bronze, granite and wrought-iron sculptures created by the park's namesake, Gustav Vigeland. People come here to sunbathe, picnic and wander the beautiful grounds.
Travelers love this park's well-maintained grounds and, of course, its world-renowned sculptures. But remember, Vigeland Park is one of Norway's most popular attractions, so it can get crowded at times. To avoid hordes of tourists, consider arriving early in the morning or late at night. Some reviewers suggest timing your visit during summer's midnight sun.
- #4View all PhotosfreeBygdøy#4 in OsloBeaches, Hiking, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Hiking, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Outdoorsy types and museum buffs should plan on spending at least one day on the Bygdøy peninsula. This region 3 miles west of central Oslo is home to some of the city's best museums, including the Fram Museum, the Viking Ship Museum and the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. The peninsula's southern tip is especially popular in the summer when locals and tourists alike flock to the area's beaches and take advantage of its walking, jogging and bike trails. Huk beach also features a sand volleyball court available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Recent visitors described this peninsula as a scenic retreat from downtown Oslo, citing its stunning architecture and superb museums as highlights. However, a few previous travelers cautioned that the area's scenery isn't as picturesque on a cold, cloudy day. For a quick commute trip to Bygdøy, reviewers suggest taking the seasonal ferry from the pier by Oslo City Hall to the Dronningen or Bygdøynes stops.
- #6View all Photos#6 in OsloEntertainment and Nightlife, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Music lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike won't want to miss a visit to this modern opera house. Located in the western part of Gamle Oslo, the Oslo Opera House features a contemporary design inspired by glaciers floating in the adjacent Oslo Fjord. Noteworthy details include floor-to-ceiling windows, wooden interior accents and an asymmetrical roof that visitors can walk on. The venue hosts performances by The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, Norway's largest music and performing arts organization, throughout the year.
Past travelers praised the Oslo Opera House's beautiful architecture and incredible city views, adding that its design is the main reason to visit. Those who watched an opera here also appreciated having access to programmable LED screens at their seats for lyric translations. If you want to see the inside without buying a performance ticket, several previous visitors recommend joining one of the property's guided tours. Each 50-minute tour includes behind-the-scenes glimpses of spaces like the main stage, a costume workshop and a scene painting room.
- #12View all Photos#12 in OsloSightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDRead More
Across the street from the ferry pier in the heart of Oslo's Sentrum neighborhood lies Oslo City Hall, a government building best known for annually hosting the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. This 20th-century building, which was designed by Norwegian architects Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson, features a brick facade and two towers, including one with a 49-bell carillon that plays hourly. Inside, visitors will find multiple works of Norwegian art that depict scenes of the country's history and culture.
Travelers have mixed feelings about Oslo City Hall. Some were less than impressed with the structure's austere exterior. However, many praised the property's interior, especially its impressive marble walls and thought-provoking murals. In fact, several visitors describe the property as a surprising must-do. For a complete overview of the building, plan a summer visit. Between June and August, free guided tours are available at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. daily.
- #13View all Photos#13 in OsloCastles/Palaces, Museums, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDCastles/Palaces, Museums, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Overlooking Oslo Fjord in downtown Oslo, Akershus Fortress – which is composed of a medieval fortress and a Renaissance castle – has been a fixture in the city for more than 700 years. For most of that time, its primary purpose was to defend the city from foreign invaders – something it did well, as no foreign military ever managed to capture it by force. The fortress also served as a prison, a church and a royal residence for a time. Now, it's home to a visitor center, government offices and two museums: the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and the Norway Resistance Museum.
Previous travelers praised the property's breathtaking water vistas and impressive architecture. Others raved about the castle's interior, which reopened in January 2019 after undergoing renovations. Keep in mind, entry to the castle costs 100 kroner (less than $12) per adult and 40 kroner (about $4.50) for each child between 6 and 18. Visitors with an Oslo Pass and kids 5 and younger get in for free. Ticket prices cover use of an English audio guide.
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