Oslo Travel Guide

Norway  
Credit

Courtesy of william87/iStock / Getty Images

Best Things To Do in Oslo

Oslo attractions are refined and laid-back. Enjoy a coffee and snack at one of the many cafes (travelers recommend Habits Coffee and Tim Wendelboe), take a stroll through the city center on a warm summer's evening, head north to go skiing in the winter or gaze at one of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" paintings, which are on display in the Munch Museum and the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design. Also be sure to get a dose of viking history at the Viking Ship Museum before catching a performance at The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet.

How we rank Things to Do
  • #1
    Oslo Fjord
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    #1 in Oslo
    Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

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  • #2
    Karl Johans gate
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    #2 in Oslo
    Cafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

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  • #3
    Vigeland Park (Vigelandsparken)
    View all Photos
    #3 in Oslo
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

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  • #4
    Bygdøy
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    #4 in Oslo
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

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  • #5
    Royal Palace (Det kongelige slott)
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    #5 in Oslo
    Castles/Palaces, Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Castles/Palaces, Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Nestled within Palace Park at the western end of Karl Johans gate, the Royal Palace draws history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, political junkies and those who enjoy learning about European royals. This grandiose structure, which was first used by King Oscar I in 1849, continues to serve as the home and office of Norway's monarchs. Most members of the royal court also work here, and foreign heads of state regularly stay on-site during official visits.

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  • #6
    Oslo Opera House (Operahuset)
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    #6 in Oslo
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

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  • #7
    National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design (Nasjonalmuseet)
    View all Photos
    #7 in Oslo
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Established in 2003, the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design is actually a merger of four formerly separate museums. Only the National Gallery, Villa Stenersen, Mellomstasjonen (the information center) and The National Museum – Architecture remain open to the public as the property works toward opening a new, larger facility in downtown's Vestbanen train station. In each of these buildings, travelers can admire extensive collections about art and architecture. Noteworthy items include Edvard Munch's "The Scream" and "Madonna" paintings.

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  • #8
    Fram Museum (Frammuseet)
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    #8 in Oslo
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Named after one of Norway's oldest vessels used for North and South Pole expeditions, the Fram Museum offers a glimpse at Norway's polar history. Inside, visitors will find exhibits about various polar explorers (think: Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen) and the Northwest Passage, but the museum's two polar ships are its highlights. Used in expeditions in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Gjøa and the Fram take up the bulk of the museum's floor space. Travelers are welcome to climb aboard and explore each vessel's decks. The Fram's cabins, lounges, cargo hold and engine room are also open to the public.

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  • #9
    Viking Ship Museum (Vikingshipshuset)
    View all Photos
    #9 in Oslo
    Museums
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you want to learn more about Norway's deep Viking roots, save time for a visit to the Viking Ship Museum. Situated on the Bygdøy peninsula within walking distance of the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and the Fram Museum, this museum is home to three preserved Viking ships – Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune – plus early weapons, coins and other ancient artifacts. All three ships displayed at the museum were used for ocean voyages before being buried with their wealthy owners and later discovered during archaeological digs.

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  • #10
    Holmenkollen Ski Museum (Holmenkollen Skimuseet)
    View all Photos
    #10 in Oslo
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Whether you love skiing or just want to temporarily escape the hustle and bustle of downtown, odds are you'll enjoy exploring the Holmenkollen Ski Museum. Located in Oslo's Holmenkollen neighborhood roughly 6 miles northwest of the city center, this museum is the world's oldest dedicated to skiing. More than 4,000 years of skiing history are explored in exhibits that display everything from skis used during polar explorations to information about how climate change is expected to impact future skiing conditions. The world's longest skis – which measure 147 inches long – and one of the oldest skis ever found – it's believed to be from around A.D. 600 – are also available for viewing.

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  • #11
    Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum)
    View all Photos
    #11 in Oslo
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    At the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, visitors can learn about traditional Norwegian architecture, early farm life and more. Several buildings are worth checking out at this open-air museum, including the 13th-century Stave Church from Gol and the medieval-style Setesdal Farmstead. Travelers will also spot reenactors in period attire participating in traditional dances, crafts and other activities every summer.

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  • #12
    Oslo City Hall (Oslo radhus)
    View all Photos
    #12 in Oslo
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

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  • #13
    Akershus Fortress (Akershus festning)
    View all Photos
    #13 in Oslo
    Castles/Palaces, Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Castles/Palaces, Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

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  • #14
    Vigeland Museum (Vigeland-museet)
    View all Photos
    #14 in Oslo
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Just south of the sprawling Vigeland Park lies the Vigeland Museum, an art museum filled with sculptures, portrait busts, sketches and more. The property is named after local artist Gustav Vigeland, whose former studio and apartment were converted into a museum following his death in 1943. The attraction's collection primarily features works made by Vigeland, including approximately 12,000 drawings, 1,600 sculptures and 420 woodcuts. The museum's standout exhibit is its room of original plaster models Vigeland used to create the 200-plus sculptures in Vigeland Park.

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  • #15
    Nobel Peace Center (Nobels Fredssenter)
    View all Photos
    #15 in Oslo
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    For an in-depth look at one of the world's most coveted awards, head to the Nobel Peace Center. This institution pays homage to the iconic Nobel Peace Prize, which is presented every year at Oslo City Hall, through various exhibits. Temporary collections touch on topics like the threat of nuclear weapons and individuals subjected to human rights abuses, while the center's permanent "Nobel Peace Prize and the Laureates" exhibit offers videos, photos, texts and animations about every Nobel Peace Prize winner's life and work. Prior award recipients include Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King Jr.

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  • Aker Brygge
    View all Photos
    Cafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

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  • Astrup Fearnley Museet
    View all Photos
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Oslo Active Tours
    View all Photos
    Hiking, Recreation, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Munch Museum (Munchmuseet)
    View all Photos
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

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