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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
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
#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
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
#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
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
#6
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
#7
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
#8
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
#9
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
#10
Fram Museum (Frammuseet)

Fram Museum (Frammuseet)

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Along with the Kon-Tiki and Norwegian Folk museums, the Fram is another of the crowd-pullers on the Bygdøy peninsula. It’s found in a new and extraordinary pyramidal structure with a vast portrait of Roald Amundsen projected on to the façade, which houses the most famous Norwegian polar-exploration boat of all time, the icebreaker Fram.Fram was veteran of many Arctic voyages when Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen – the first man to reach both North and South Poles – gained worldwide fame by sailing her to Antarctica from 1910 to 1912, where he beat the UK's Robert Scott in a race to the South Pole.The museums displays have also been given a spruce up and now feature dioramas capturing the horrific conditions of polar exploration in the early 20th century, a recreation of Amundsen’s Antarctic base put together from photos and written witness, and displays on the Northwest Passage through the Arctic ice floes, all brought to life with the use of multimedia, interactive maps, and black-and-white images. Kids will love all the tales of nautical daring and the "dark walk" simulator, in which they experience temperatures below freezing, but the highlight of a visit is boarding Fram to explore the ship’s cramped confines and learn of the hardships of polar exploration.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Oslo

How to Spend 1 Day in Oslo

How to Spend 2 Days in Oslo

How to Spend 2 Days in Oslo

How to Spend 3 Days in Oslo

How to Spend 3 Days in Oslo

Recent reviews from experiences in Oslo

star-5
A great choice!
Madhu_A, Mar 2020
Winter Cruise on the Oslofjord
It was a great way to see Oslo from the water.
star-5
Absolutely Fabulous Tour!
Miriam, Feb 2020
Winter Bike Tour in Oslo
You see the most important places you need to see in a short time frame but are never under stress!
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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.
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.
star-5
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-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
Oslo is a beautiful city and touring...
Steven J, Aug 2017
River Bike Tour in Oslo
Oslo is a beautiful city and touring by bike was a fun and easy way to see the sights.
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
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-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-5
Interesting spots we would have...
Francine T, Jul 2016
Taste of Oslo Walking Tour
It enabled us to see how Norwegians live in Oslo, not just tourists.
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This is a good tour to do if you are...
Zainab I, Jun 2016
Panoramic Oslo City Sightseeing Tour
You get to visit all the major attractions with the comfort of a coach.
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.
star-4
the guides were enthusiastic and...
Geoff C, Jul 2016
Taste of Oslo Walking Tour
Interesting to see Oslo using trams and walking.
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
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.
star-5
Incredible Scenery and Seeing Norway From the Inside
Douglas A, Jun 2019
The Scenic Roadtrip - Oslo to Bergen via the fjords, 24 hr Refundable
I can't imagine a better way to see the real Norway in such a short time.
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.
star-4
Beautiful Trail in a Beautiful City
Lani H, Sep 2018
River Bike Tour in Oslo
The trail passes by artsy and historical areas that you might want to visit again on foot.

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