Norway is an absolutely incredible country, and if you are flying into Oslo for a short break or on your way to some place else- you will definitely want to check out this capital city. While you could easily spend a week exploring Oslo’s many museums, galleries, parks, and attractions the city is compact enough that you can see a fair amount in only a day as well. I would recommend purchasing the Oslo Pass, which will save you an enormous amount of money and make your short time in (the very expensive) Oslo even more worthwhile. Here is my suggested itinerary for those who only have 24 hours in Oslo to get to know this beautiful city.
1. The Oslo Opera House
This architectural marvel is only a short stroll from Oslo’s Central Station (Oslo S). I was amazed at the way this work of art blended in so seamlessly with the water. The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet both call this amazing building home, and many performances and shows are held here when touring Norway. The exterior is build from Italian marble and white granite which makes it sparkle in the night like a modern floating iceberg of Oslo’s fjord. The coolest part of the Oslo Opera House is that visitors can walk on the roof of the building! I highly recommend doing this at night as well for a beautiful view of the city. The Oslo Pass will get you a 20% discount on a tour of the Opera House (Adult Admission: NOK 100, £10, $17), but you can climb and walk around free of charge.
2. Norwegian Folk Museum
The Norwegian Folk Museum is the place to go if you want to get a lifetime’s worth of Norwegian history and culture in and you are short on time. I learned so much about the Norwegian people on my visit, and it was definitely a highlight of my entire trip to Norway. This is the largest open-air museum in the world, and it definitely won’t disappoint. You are free to explore the grounds on your own, so you can discover incredible buildings from Norway’s past along each path you choose. The highlight is the Stave Church from Gol, a breathtaking wooden church that dates back to 1212. You can also walk around farm houses, a typical 1950’s Norwegian town, and many other regional parts of Norway that have been recreated. The indoor exhibits are definitely worth a look and feature traditional costumes and folk art- I especially recommend the exhibit on the Sami Culture. Admission is free with the Oslo Pass, otherwise NOK 110 (£11, $18) for an adult ticket.
3. The Viking Ship Museum
The Viking Ship Museum is great to combine with the Norwegian Folk Museum as it is only a five minute walk down the street. If you are into the Vikings, definitely check this place out. The main attractions are the Oseberg and Gokstad ships, both pre-dating 1000 AD. The exhibits tell you all about the life of everyday Vikings, the methods they used for ceremonial burials, and displays items such as beds and a horse cart that have been found in archaeological digs. The museum is quite small, as most of the focus is on these extraordinary ships, so it can easily be thrown in to a 24 hour itinerary. Admission is free with the Oslo Pass, otherwise an Adult entry costs NOK 60 (£6, $10).
4. Oslo City Hall
Oslo City Hall may seem like the odd one out here, but trust me- don’t miss it. Entry is absolutely free and the visit will reward you with the chance to stand in a very famous place- which happens to be incredibly beautiful as well. Every year on December 10th, Oslo City Hall holds the world famous Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. I can proudly say that I have stood in the footsteps of (and maybe used the same bathroom as, but probably not) Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and Aung San Suu Kyi as well as many, many other incredible people. I didn’t find the outside of Oslo’s City Hall to be very impressive, but the inside is full of art pieces that will stop you in your tracks. I had no idea what to expect when I walked inside and honestly just had to take a moment to really take in the beauty of the room. Admission is free.
5. The Vigeland Sculpture Park
The Vigeland Sculpture Park is a little bit quirky, but a whole lot awesome. One of the world’s largest sculpture parks done by a single artist, Vigeland features over 200 sculptures along its manicured lawns from its namesake sculptor Gustav Vigeland. The Sculpture park is actually located inside the larger Frogner Park, which is also great for a stroll or picnic in the warmer months. Admission is NOK 60 (£6, $10) or free with the Oslo Pass.
The Oslo 24 hr Pass costs 270 NOK (£27, $44) and includes public transportation and a handy map to get around. It will also get you into some of Oslo’s other famous attractions such as the Munch Museum and includes free walking tours and a minicruise.
I was provided with a complimentary Oslo Pass for the purposes of my travel to Oslo through the VisitOslo Visitors and Convention Bureau. All opinions are my own.
(Cover image credit: VisitOSLO/Rod Costa)
What is your favorite place is Oslo?