Is it possible? It’s no secret that Norway is an expensive country, and it’s capital more so. While other destinations will save you a pretty penny, several things can be done to cut down on expenses while visiting Oslo, and here are some of my favourite free and low cost activities to do in Oslo.
First though, a little tip: download the transportation app ‘Ruter’ from Ruter.no . Norwegian public transport is state run, so with this app you can board just about any train, tram, underground (T-bane) and bus. A single zone ticket costs 32NOK and is valid for one hour, so you won’t have to buy a new ticket every time you board. The app also lets you buy 24 hour and period tickets, so do some research before you leave to calculate what the best option is for you. Beware of buying tickets directly from the conductor, as they will charge you 40NOK more than the ticket price.
Vigeland Sculpture Park – Frognerparken
Frognerparken is a sculpture park just outside the centre of Oslo, and probably the best free activity available in the city. Consisting of more than 200 sculptures, the park is open all year round. The artist Gustav Vigeland (1889-1943) is behind both the architecture of the park as well as its sculptures, making it the largest park in the world created by a single artist. The most famous sculptures are Angry Boy (Sinnataggen, bronze), the Monolith (Monolitten, granite) and the Wheel of Life (Livshjulet, bronze).
The National Gallery – Nationalgalleriet
Located close to Nasjonaltheateret station and with Aker Brygge a stone’s throw away, the National Gallery houses the most famous norwegian paintings, as well as some from the European masters. The artist Christian Krogh is particularly well represented, politically inclined, he is known for his depiction of social realism in the Norwegian capital. Albertine i Politilægens Venteværelse (Albertine at the Police Doctor’s Waiting Room) in particular is worth noting.
Entrance is free on Thursdays, otherwise it is 100NOK per adult or 50NOK for students.
Pro tip: the National Gallery also houses the most famous Edvard Munch paintings, including Scream and Madonna. Entrance is slightly cheaper here than at the Munch Museum at Tøyen (100/60NOK) and is slightly more accessible here since it is in the city centre.
Oslo Opera House – Den Norske Opera & Ballett
This relatively new attraction lies in the harbour area of Oslo, close to Oslo Central Station. Designed to look like a glacier rising out of the sea, the building has won several prestigious design prizes. It’s most fun feature though, is that it is designed for the public to walk on. Climb to the top and it offers panoramic views of Oslo, the likes of which you would otherwise have to climb up Holmenkollen ski-jump for. Mind your step though – like a glacier, its surface is uneven!
Walk Along Akerselva-river
Walk along the Akerselva-river through the middle of the city for some inner city peace and quiet on a sunny day. Running from Maridalselva to the Oslo Fjord, it is a popular trail for locals, tourists, walkers and runners alike. The trail takes you past the old industrial parts of the city which makes for an interesting trip, as well as several Oslo neighbourhoods. The trendy borough Grünerløkka is worth stopping by, with its art galleries, vintage and secondhand shops, restaurants, cafés and bars.
A steep climb from the T-bane stop ‘Holmenkollen’ to the ski-jump, the elevated position of Holmenkollen and Frognerseteren mean that these locations have excellent views of Oslo. 130/110NOK will give you entrance to the ski museum and the top of the Holmenkollen ski-jump, and in autumn a zip-line is open for drop-in bookings (600NOK).
After visiting the ski-museum, a visit to the Frognerseteren restaurant and café may be in order. Architecturally designed to resemble the wooden Stave Churches, it is a beautiful building with traditional Norwegian interiors. Large fireplaces keeps it warm in winter, and there are tables outside to make use of during summer. The apple-cake is recommended, and many other tasty and traditional Scandinavian dishes are on offer.