What to see in Oslo in a day
Oslo has a royally grand historic center and neighborhoods I’ve only seen in future architecture magazines.
Travelers often pass through Oslo on their way to the fjords. If purposefully going to see the capital of Norway, usually not for long: three days in Oslo can cost as much as a ten-day trip to Turkey. The hotels, food and museums are expensive, but there are also free attractions such as the Vigeland Sculpture Park and the new opera house.
I’ve been to Oslo twice. On my last trip I walked 23 km for a day and after the walk I made a route to the most interesting places. It starts at Karl Johan street and ends at the Munch Museum. On the way you will see the Royal Palace, the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Astrup – Fernley Museum of Modern Art, the City Hall and the Oslo Opera House. I suggest saving the itinerary in your Tripadvisor account. Google shows that the walk will take 4 hours, but with the museums, I would budget 8 hours to see it.
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How to get from the airport and train station. Oslo has two airports. The main one is Gardermoen, where flights from major airlines arrive. Low-cost airlines “Wizzair” and “Ryanair” arrive at the airport of Sannefjord-Torp.
“Day to day” cheap options may not be available at all, but 3-4 days in advance you can buy tickets at minimal cost. The cost of travel from Sannefjord Airport can negate the savings of low-cost flights – it’s worth taking this into account when buying a ticket.
Karl Johan street is Oslo’s main pedestrian street. It starts right at the train station and ends at the Royal Palace, which I’ll tell you about next. The street is very well maintained and as if ready for the visit of the king. There are lots of flowers and the classical architecture is in perfect condition.
Many iconic historical buildings stand on Karl Johan: the cathedral, the parliament, the University of Oslo, and the National Theatre. If the cathedral is quite traditional for the north Gothic church, the parliament and the National Theater look more luxurious than many buildings in Scandinavia.
The Royal Palace. Against the background of Parliament or Theater, the Royal Palace looks monumental and restrained. You can not get inside, but you can walk around the territory. In summer, tourists and locals lie on the grass almost under the windows of the royal residence. On my first visit to Oslo a couple of years ago, my friends and I did just that. I liked the overall feeling of relaxation in this seemingly austere and status-oriented place.
At the fence of the palace there are sentries in traditional uniforms on duty. The guard changes at 1:30 p.m., but I didn’t catch the ceremony.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park is a huge park with dozens of expressive sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. It is one of the main free attractions in Oslo: there are more than 200 statues in which Vigeland depicted a huge palette of human emotions and relationships. Love, irritation, fatigue, euphoria, despair, attraction, obsession and dozens of other states and feelings can easily be read in the stone figures. There are couples in love, fathers and children, old people, strange loners. The sculptures are reminiscent of a stone epic of human passions.
The park has been created for 35 years, since 1907. In the center of the park stands an obelisk of 121 sculptures – Vigeland and his assistants carved them for 14 years. The park is impressive, and visiting it is a bit like psychotherapy: I saw myself in many of the scenes or involuntarily related them to myself. The sculptures are like a stone mirror, and the reflection may not be entirely pleasant. You look at some horrible evil man with children and think, “Oh my God, I think that’s me.
Wigeland Sculpture Park was created
I’ve been to the park twice and will probably go there every time I visit Oslo. I don’t have time to look at everything, there are so many sculptures. At the end I prefer to spend time with some kind characters, just to leave on a good note.
Many people come to the park not only to look at the art, but also to have a little picnic at the same time. Norway is an expensive country, and one way to save money is to buy food in stores and eat in the park. I’ve often seen people on benches with supermarket salads.
The Astrup – Fernley Museum of Contemporary Art is named after two Norwegian families whose charitable foundations invested in building and building the collection. People come here for works by Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman and other popular artists. In addition to the permanent exhibit, the museum holds temporary exhibitions and also hosts art discussions and tours. The schedule is on the museum’s website.
Cost of an adult ticket to the Astrup Museum of Contemporary Art – Fernley
If you’re not interested in art, I still suggest a walk to the museum: the building looks very impressive. It was designed by hi-tech creator Renzo Piano. It looks like a picture in a magazine about the architecture of the future, which was already ten years ago in Oslo. The same can be said of the Tjuvholmen quarter in which it is located.
The town hall is a stone’s throw away from Aker Brygge promenade. From afar, the two brick towers of the town hall evoked associations with Soviet monumental buildings, so I did not want to go there at first. But up close, the town hall is impressive: the brick-patterned towers resemble Gothic churches, and the facade is decorated with giant astronomical clocks, bas-reliefs and sculptures, alluding to Norwegian history. Every hour a mechanical musical instrument, the carillon, with its 49 bells, plays in the tower. If you hear a beautiful melodious ringing in the center, know this is it.
Inside the town hall there are halls painted with frescoes and a hall with paintings by Munch. You can see them for free during the fifteen-minute tour. True, the town hall is often closed to tourists due to important government meetings. I advise you to check the opening hours on the official website beforehand.
The orange building is the old town hall. You can see it on the way to the next point on the route, the opera house
The Oslo Opera House is the most beautiful building I have seen in the city. It was built five years ago, and it immediately became as much of an architectural landmark as the Astrup – Fernley Museum. Looking at it, it looks like Oslo is planning to become a European city with the most progressive architecture.
The theater is built of white Italian marble by the bay itself. In good weather it is even impossible to photograph it – it shines so brightly. The sloping roof descends directly into the water and probably merges with the ice in winter.
You can go up to the building for free and walk around on the roof. From the top you have a view of the bay and nearby neighborhoods. We came here in the evening and caught a beautiful sunset in addition to the view of the bay.
On the back side of the opera house, construction is underway – there are plans to open a new Munch Museum there in 2020. It promises to be another masterpiece of modern architecture. I’m thinking of starting to save up for a third trip to Oslo in time for the museum’s opening.
I was in Oslo in 2019, and there was construction on the back side of the opera house then. In 2020, the new Munch Museum opened there.
The Munch Museum. Talking about Oslo and not mentioning the Munch is like talking about St. Petersburg and not saying “Hermitage.” Edvard Munch is the most famous Norwegian artist. The painting “The Scream” brought him such widespread fame.
Until 2020, the Munch collection was stored in a modest old building. Munch bequeathed more than a thousand paintings to his hometown. In my opinion, there are many canvases, no less impressive than the much publicized “Scream. You can see not only heartbreaking and a little depressing paintings, but also funny graphics with piglets, for example.
The new museum offers all admirers of Munch’s work to visit virtual excursions. For example, “Oslo through the eyes of Munch” or “Interview with an artist”, which is inspired by the work of the famous countryman.
Next to the old museum there is a botanical garden, another free attraction. My friends and I didn’t have time to go there, but they say it’s interesting.
Munch has four versions of this painting. The main one hangs in the National Gallery of Oslo, which is closed until January 2020. The Munch Museum has two others on display. Source: National Gallery of Oslo
The “Oslo Pass” card is valid for 24 hours
The Oslo public transport website details where and how you can buy tickets. There you can also plan your route. The RuterBillett app makes it easy to buy tickets for all modes of transport.
You can also get around Oslo by electric scooter to save time and energy. There are scooters for rent on almost every corner. Many people ride here, I even saw a man over fifty in an expensive suit.
Norwegian Maritime Museum tells the history of the relationship between Norwegians and the sea. Museum of the ship Fram – about maritime discoveries in the 19th century. It keeps the very ship on which the Norwegian sailors discovered the South Pole, and not only.
Kon-Tiki Museum is dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl – the famous Norwegian traveler. In 1947, he crossed the Pacific Ocean on an ordinary raft of nine logs to prove that the Incas could make it across. The story looks like a myth, but in the museum you are convinced of its reality: among the exhibits – historical photos, household items of travelers and other evidence of that crazy adventure. Please note that Kon-Tiki closes at 17:00 .
Folk Museum is a large recreated Norwegian village. On several hectares of the island, surrounded by forest, there are buildings of different eras, reconstructed village streets and staged life of bygone centuries. The beauty of the museum is that it stands in the wilderness and you have to move along the forest paths and grass. I had a very realistic feeling that I fell into the past and wandered through a village two hundred years ago.
Top 8 sights in Oslo, Norway
The city of Oslo is the capital of affable Norway and one of the most populous cities in that country. It has a history of thousands of years, as it was conceived back in the days of the first settlement of the bay. Authenticity of the city, its good-natured people and beautiful nature does not put indifferent any guest.
Once a working class neighborhood, now a trendy quarter of young hippies. Nowadays the place is very lively and attractive, full of small cafes and stores.
You can enjoy a walk through the streets, visit the best cocktail bars in Oslo, taste some national food or just relax in the park.
A treasured exhibit of the Middle Ages and a very significant hysterical place. In the late 1200s the fortress was erected as a home for the royal family. Today, the walls of the castle are used by government agencies, namely the country’s Ministry of Defense. It is not uncommon for important state meetings to be held there.
The fortress displays all the greatness of the Norwegian people. To feel the history without any fuss it is recommended to visit it in the morning.
Holmenkollen Ski Jump
Holmenkollen Ski Jump
The famous ski jump is called by locals a real attraction for tourists. Each year it receives athletes from all over the world for the World Cup skiing. But that is not the only thing that attracts the guests. On its territory there are interesting exhibitions introducing the history of sports, numerous recreational facilities and ski simulator.
Norwegian National Opera
Norwegian National Opera
The Norwegian National Opera is located in the harbor harbor. Its incomparable architecture blends beautifully with the views and aptly expresses the Norwegian character. It emerges from the waters as if floating in front of the audience. Visitors have a year-round access to its roof to look out over the city.
The interior of the theater is made mostly of oak, and its hall follows the shape of a horseshoe, expressing respect for theaters of the past.
One of the most visited attractions in Oslo . The sculpture park is known for the peculiarity that all the sculptures were made by Gustav Vigeland. The park contains two hundred figures made of granite, metal and bronze. It is noteworthy that the sculptor was the designer of the entire park, which gave it its name.
Mathallen Food Hall.
A local food market that introduces the culture of Norway. It was founded to allow all the local producers to work independently. On it you can buy pastries, vegetables and wine, meat and fish delicacies, various drinks, cheese and much more .
Mathallen Food Hall.
A number of stalls offer cooking services for purchased foods, especially fish or steak meat.
Museum of Peoples Creativity
This open-air museum is the largest in all of Europe. Its arsenal includes more than 150 traditional Norwegian houses, a church from the early 1200s, antique weapons, exhibitions of handmade toys and accessories, historical finds and much more.
Folk Art Museum
The museum has an extensive entertainment program, including fairs, performances, song contests and other cultural events.
On the museum of the same name are the most representative and expensive houses in Oslo, as well as a number of museums, keeping the pieces of the Viking ships, their guns, naval artifacts and other historically important artifacts. All museums are within walking distance of each other, which is convenient when visiting and planning a trip.
An authentic city like the rest of the country, Bygdoy draws you in with its natural treasures and culture. It combines modern life with national flavor in an amazing way.