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Things to do in Oslo

Things to do in  Oslo

Welcome to Oslo

The urban heart of Norway, Oslo is packed with world-class art museums, cozy cafes, and head-turning architecture. Walking tours, guided bike rides, and hop-on hop-off buses are among the best ways to explore the Norwegian capital’s cultural highlights, which include Vigeland Museum, Aker Brygge shipyard, Akershus Fortress, and the Viking Ship Museum. Another popular way to explore Oslo is through its food; the burgeoning culinary scene draws foodies from the world over. The city’s proximity to nature also makes it a popular jumping-off point for cruises around Norway’s fjords and forays to Bergen and Tromso.

Top 10 attractions in Oslo

#1
Oslofjord

Oslofjord

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Norway’s cosmopolitan capital lies at the head of Oslofjord, a narrow body of water 68 miles (107 kilometers) in length that leads out to the strait of Skagerrak and eventually to the Baltic and North Seas. The fjord’s islets are its main attraction, home to sandy beaches, cycling and hiking routes, and historic lighthouses.More
#2
Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset)

Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset)

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Set on Oslo’s Bygdoy Peninsula, the Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset) houses an extensive collection of Viking-era artifacts discovered around Oslo Fjord. The museum is best known for its Viking ships, which have been painstakingly reconstructed and elegantly displayed in pristine white galleries.More
#3
Karl Johans Gate

Karl Johans Gate

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Stretching from Oslo Central Station to the Royal Palace, Karl Johans gate is Oslo’s main thoroughfare. Named after King Charles III John (Karl Johan), the street is home to many of thecity’s top attractions, including the Royal Palace, Stortinget, National Theatre and Central Station.During Oslo’s short summer, residents flock to the beer gardens lining the street for al fresco drinks. Come winter, a pond along the street transforms into an ice skating rink. Throughout theyear, restaurants, cafes and bars lining the street fill up with both locals and visitors. Much of Oslo’s best shops can be found along the street and the smaller streets branching from it.More
#4
Akershus Castle (Akershus Slott)

Akershus Castle (Akershus Slott)

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Set on the banks of Oslo Fjord, Akershus Castle (Akershus Slott)—also known as Akershus Fortress (Akershus Festning)—was built in 1299 as a residence for Norway’s royal family. Over the years it has served as a fortress to protect Oslo against sieges from rival Swedish forces, as a Renaissance castle, and as a full-fledged 19th-century prison.More
#5
Bygdøy Peninsula

Bygdøy Peninsula

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Jutting out into Oslo Fjord, the Bygdøy Peninsula is a one-stop leisure destination just west side of the city center. A clutch of Norway’s most popular museums are found here along with hiking and cycling trails, beautiful – if small – beaches at Huk and Paradisbukta, plus several cafés and seafood restaurants. Come sunny days, the peninsula is full to bursting with Oslo families enjoying the peninsula’s laid-back vibe and the organic farm at the Royal Manor, which is the summer residence of King Harald V.Altogether Bygdøy is home to the Neo-Gothic castle of Oscarshall, the Holocaust Center in the austere Villa Grande, and no less than five museums. Of these, the Viking Ship, Fram, Maritime and Kon-Tiki museums deal with Norway’s illustrious nautical heritage, while the open-air Norwegian Folk Museum concerns itself with Norway’s cultural past. It displays a colorful collection of Sami national costumes from Lapland alongside 150-odd reconstructed buildings including traditional Sami goahti and a magical 13th-century wooden stave church from Gol, a small town north of Oslo.More
#6
Oslo City Hall (Radhuset)

Oslo City Hall (Radhuset)

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Home to the Oslo City Council and numerous galleries and studios, the Oslo City Hall (or Rådhuset) showcases the city’s political and cultural sides. It is widely considered one of Oslo’s architectural gems, winning the 2005 vote for Oslo’s "Structure of the Century."Planning for City Hall began in 1915 and served a dual purpose: not only establishing an Oslo City Hall, but also replacing the old Oslo harbor slums. The building exemplifies a changing mentality in Norwegian architecture at the time, combining native romanticism, functionalism, and classicism.Once inside, the building contains the Festival Gallery, complete with a stunning view of the harbor side, the East Gallery, with Petr Krohg’s stunning mid 20th century frescoes, “The town and its surroundings,” Banquet Hall, and Central Hall, with a mural of Oslo’s patron saint, St. Hallvard.More
#7
Oslo Royal Palace (Kongelige Slott)

Oslo Royal Palace (Kongelige Slott)

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Oslo’s Royal Palace was designed by architect Hans Linstow and built in the early 19th century for King Charles III, who reigned over a united Norway and Sweden. He died before work was completed on the vast Neo-classical edifice and it was his son Oscar I who finally moved into the palace in 1849. Today it is the official city residence of King Harald V and his wife Queen Sonja, and is open during the summer for guided tours of parts of its 173 palatial rooms.A dozen of the palace’s ornate staterooms are included on the tour, including the Council Chamber, King Haakon VII Suite, Bird Room — delicately decorated with 40 species of bird — the Mirror Hall, Great Hall — where lavish balls still take place under dripping crystal chandeliers — and the Banqueting Hall.The colorful Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place outside the palace daily at 1.30pm; it’s short in winter but in summer takes a full 40 minutes of pageantry, with the King’s Guards on horseback, bands, square bashing and parades along Karl Johans Gate.The Royal Palace is surrounded by the manicured gardens of Slottsparken, also laid out by Hans Linstow. As well as lakes, leafy promenades and picnic spots, the park is dotted with statues of Norway’s great and good, including King Carl Johan and Queen Maud, mathematician Nils Henrik Abel and women’s rights defender Camilla Collett — the latter two both by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, whose lifework can also be seen in Oslo’s Vigeland Park.More
#8
Kon-Tiki Museum

Kon-Tiki Museum

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The Kon-Tiki Museum is home to a variety of boats and other artifacts from the famous Thor Heyerdahl’s expeditions. Thor Heyerdahl is a Norwegian expeditionary and ethnographer who famously sailed by raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands. The museum includes the very raft used during that expedition.The museum also houses permanent exhibits on Ra, Tigris, Kon-Tiki, Fatu-Hiva, and Easter Island and even has a cave tour (that is 100 feet/30 meters in length) and an underwater exhibition with a life-size whale shark. For those who are not well acquainted with Norway’s topographical landscape, there is a recommended widescreen film that takes the viewer on an aerial tour of the country’s coastline and settlements.Once you’ve soaked in all the exhibits the museum has to offer, the restaurant offers a lunch menu which includes authentic Norwegian cuisine, including the highly recommend Kon-Tiki Fish Casserole and Tapas buffet.More
#9
Oslo Opera House (Operahuset)

Oslo Opera House (Operahuset)

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Norway’s stylish, innovative new arts center opened in 2008 at Bjørvika, with views stretching out over Oslo Fjord. It is home to the national ballet, opera and orchestral companies but audiences probably come as much for the sublime waterside setting of this gleaming white auditorium as they do for the performances. Designed by Norwegian architect Tarald Lundevall, who also built the National September 11 Memorial Museum & Pavilion in New York, the opera house is constructed of marble, granite and glass and won the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award for Contemporary Architecture in 2009. Inside there are three main stages, combined able to seat audiences of up to 2,000; all this is supported by a staff of 620 led by artistic director Tom Remlov in a labyrinth of more than 1,000 studios and workshops.Acoustics are second to none and the repertoire includes modern dance and classical ballet, jazz, chamber and Baroque concerts, plus light-hearted operettas and serious opera. Open-air concerts are held on the opera house’s sloping roof in summer and there are sometimes small recitals in the foyer. The Argent restaurant is currently the place to lunch in Oslo.More
#10
Vigeland Sculpture Park (Vigelandsanlegget)

Vigeland Sculpture Park (Vigelandsanlegget)

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Comprising of more than 200 bronze, granite, and cast iron sculptures by the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, Oslo’s Vigeland Sculpture Park is the world’s largest such complex made by a single artist. Located within Frogner Park, it is also one of Oslo’s top attractions, drawing more than a million visitors a year.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Oslo

How to Spend 1 Day in Oslo

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How to Spend 3 Days in Oslo

Recent reviews from experiences in Oslo

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A great choice!
Madhu_A, Mar 2020
Winter Cruise on the Oslofjord
It was a great way to see Oslo from the water.
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Oslo fjord
akikobuyo, Jan 2020
Winter Cruise on the Oslofjord
I was able to see Oslo fjord & other sightseeing places from the cruise ship.
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Hop on Hop off on water
hrvatica1, Aug 2019
1,5 hour City Cruise | 5 stops
However the stops were interesting , good way to see Oslo.
star-5
Would recommend!
Diana N, Jun 2019
2-Hour Oslo Fjord Sightseeing Cruise
It was great to see Oslo from the water and get a little history of the city.
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Excellent way to see Oslo during cruise port stop
Trail22614966542, Jun 2019
Oslo Shore Excursion: City Sightseeing Oslo Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
The stops were in great locations to the main tourist attractions (we went to the Viking Museum and Vigeland Park) so having this option available to us made our day in Oslo wonderful.
star-5
Lovely way to see Oslo from a different...
Juan David B, Aug 2017
2-Hour Oslo Fjord Sightseeing Cruise
Lovely way to see Oslo from a different perspective.
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A complete round trip is 1.5 hours...
Terry, May 2017
City Sightseeing Oslo Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
5 hours which enables you to get a pretty good insight to Oslo as well as seeing many of its major attractions.
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One of our favourite stops visited...
John M, Jul 2017
Oslo Pass at the Oslo Visitor Centre
The Oslo transit system was easy to navigate and with the Oslo Pass we managed to see most of the main attractions.
star-5
This is without doubt the best way...
Andy H, Sep 2017
Small-Group Oslo Bike Tour: City Highlights
This is without doubt the best way to see the sights of Oslo or any other city in fact.
star-5
Great. We spent almost all good...
Julius H, Apr 2018
City Sightseeing Oslo Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
We spent almost all good attractions in Oslo by joining this hop-on hop off tour.
star-4
Great way to see the city certainly...
John, Sep 2017
Small-Group Oslo Bike Tour: City Highlights
Great way to see the city certainly a different experience for me.
star-5
I took 48 hour Oslo pass and it is...
sharan, Aug 2017
Oslo Pass at the Oslo Visitor Centre
you can get this pass from central station it covers public transport and major attractions of Oslo.
star-4
Very enjoyable cruise trip. It was...
Kurtcobain, Mar 2017
2-Hour Oslo Fjord Sightseeing Cruise
It was interesting to see the Oslo Fjord and the little islands surrounding the city.
star-5
A beautiful way to see Oslo and get a...
Stella C, Jun 2014
2-Hour Oslo Fjord Sightseeing Cruise
A beautiful way to see Oslo and get a true perspective of of its beauty, people, and sights!
star-5
The best decision to visit this...
lourdesabbott, May 2018
City Sightseeing Oslo Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
The best decision to visit this city.
star-4
The buses ran frequently and covered...
Vicky, Nov 2015
Oslo Shore Excursion: City Sightseeing Oslo Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
A very cost effective and complete way to see Oslo
star-5
Simply awesome!
Krystal S, Jan 2019
The Scenic Roadtrip - Oslo to Bergen via the fjords by private van
Would highly suggest the fjord cruise ship ride in winter, simply beautiful.
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The tour got us oriented to Oslo...
Ross T, Sep 2016
City Sightseeing Oslo Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
We were able to get off, after a full city tour, to visit the spots that interested us.
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With Oslo Pass we were able to visit...
Biljana C, Sep 2016
Oslo Pass at the Oslo Visitor Centre
With Oslo Pass we were able to visit all attractions in Oslo worth seeing.
star-5
This tour was surprising better than...
Deborah M, Jul 2017
Shore Excursion: Oslo Highlights Tour with Viking Ship Museum and Vigeland Park
Our guide was also from Oslo so was able to give our group some information and suggestions for what to do and where to go after the tour as our ship was in port until late in the evening.

All about Oslo

When to visit

Deciding when to visit Oslo really depends on what you plan to do there. Summer’s great for warm-weather activities such as fjord hopping, while winter’s ultra-freezing temperatures are perfect for winter sports. Coincide springtime visits with May's National Day, which sees the streets fill with parades, marching bands, and locals wearing traditional costumes.

Frequently Asked Questions

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