Attractions In Oslo

Sightseeing in Oslo: Your guide to the best tourist attractions in Oslo

When booking a trip to Scandinavia, many people will head to Copenhagen or Stockholm before they visit Oslo. But the Norwegian capital is slowly coming onto more people’s radar, so what are the best attractions in Oslo for tourists? 

Oslo has a unique mixture of urban and nature, with the city gracefully melding around the upper part of the Oslofjord. You’ll find plenty of islands worth exploring within touching distance of the city center, along with several interesting places to visit without needing to hop on a ferry. 

We’ve compiled a list of the best tourist attractions in Oslo. You can easily visit most of them on a three-day trip, and we’ll also provide tips on saving money. So, if that sounds interesting, stick with us as we dive into the wonders that Norway’s largest city has to offer.

Is sightseeing in Oslo easy?

Before we begin looking at tourist attractions in Oslo, it’s worth considering whether or not getting to each of them is easy. The Norwegian capital is easily manageable; while you can join a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, you probably don’t need to. 

Oslo isn’t a huge city, but you’re better off dividing your time between the eastern and western parts. Getting around on an area-by-area basis is much easier than trying to tackle everything in one go. 

You should also remember that Oslo has some pretty steep hills, meaning that walking in some spots might be slightly more challenging. 

You can, of course, join a sightseeing tour if you’d prefer to steer clear of the buses. But if you want to do it yourself, you can use Oslo’s excellent public transport network to get you from Point A to B. 

24-hour tickets cost 117 Norwegian Kroner (roughly $11), and you’ll pay 323 NOK (c.$31) for a seven-day pass. 

Buying tickets for Oslo’s public transport network is easy; all you need to do is download the RuterBillett app for your smartphone. Once you’ve done that, choose your preferred ticket and enter your card details before confirming the payment. 

What are the main tourist attractions in Oslo?

Okay, so you’ve now got more knowledge about sightseeing in Oslo — and whether it’s easier than other European cities. We can now move on and look at the best tourist attractions in Oslo; you’ll find these below. 

Attractions In Oslo

Frognerparken

Frognerparken is a spacious park in Oslo’s wealthy Frogner district, which is in the city’s west end. The park is particularly famous for its statues designed by Gustav Vigeland, which have been there since the 1940s.

Frognerparken is the biggest park in Oslo, and the sculptures form the largest sculpture park featuring only one artist. 

Regardless of the time of year you visit, it’s well worth spending some time in Frognerparken. The park is open round-the-clock, and getting here is simple. All you need to do is take a short tram journey from the city center; you can also walk here in roughly 40 minutes. 

Attractions In Oslo

The Oslofjord

The Oslofjord doesn’t get as much attention as some of Norway’s others, which are typically more dramatic and have petrifying dips in comparison. But at the same time, sailing along the Oslofjord is a lovely way to spend a few hours. 

While it’s certainly not the Bahamas, the Oslofjord — at 7.5ºC (45.5ºF) — has the warmest average annual water temperature of all the fjords in Norway. And yes, you can swim in some parts of it. 

The Oslofjord spreads out from the mouth of Norway toward Denmark and Sweden’s West Coast. You can do several activities at certain points throughout the year, such as fishing (in some areas). 

Ferry arrivals to Oslo from abroad will sail through the fjord on their way to docking in the capital. 

Attractions In Oslo

Oslo Opera House 

Oslo’s Opera House is the star of a thousand postcards and Instagram posts. The iconic structure has been the main attraction on the waterfront for over a decade, and it’s hard to imagine a visit to the Norwegian capital without seeing it. 

Never mind being one of the best tourist attractions in Oslo; the city’s opera house is probably the top dog in this respect. 

You can see the Oslo Opera House from much of the city’s rejuvenated waterfront, and it’s right outside the main station in the center of town. You can walk up to its roof for free, enjoying views of the fjord, downtown Oslo, and the Bjørvika neighborhood. 

Attractions In Oslo

Holmenkollen Ski Jump

Like the Oslo Opera House, the Holmenkollen Ski Jump is very much an icon of the Norwegian capital. And considering the nation’s love for skiing in general, you could class it as one of Norway’s most important monuments as well. 

The ski jump overlooks Oslo from one of the hills surrounding the city, and it’s well worth the short metro ride to check it out.

The most recent version of the Holmenkollen Ski Jump has been in place since 2010; an older edition was part of the 1952 Winter Olympics. If hopping on a pair of skis and going down yourself seems too daunting, don’t worry; you can go to the museum instead. 

To get here, take the number 1 metro line toward Frognerseteren.

Attractions In Oslo

The Norwegian Royal Palace 

If you want to see the main attractions in Oslo, you’ll find a cluster of them on and around the city’s main shopping street. One of those is the Norwegian Royal Palace, which sits at the opposite end of Karl Johans Gate from the city’s main train station. 

The country’s Royal Family still resides at the palace, though it takes its summer vacation elsewhere. 

When the Norwegian Royal Family is on holiday, you can join a tour to check out the palace’s interiors. But if you visit at a different time of year, the outside is still scenic enough to warrant a visit. Around the building, you will also find a peaceful park that makes for a great evening stroll. 

To get here, walk to the other end of Karl Johans Gate or take the metro to Nationaltheateret. 

Attractions In Oslo

Hovedøya 

Island-hopping in the Oslofjord is one of the most enjoyable activities you can do on a visit to the Norwegian capital. Many tourists start with Hovedøya, which is the closest to the city center and only 10 minutes away by ferry. 

The island has plenty of lookout points for you to take in the Oslo skyline from a unique angle, plus places to relax and woodland worth exploring. 

Hovedøya also has various historical sites, such as a now-abandoned monastery. To get to the island, you’ll need to catch a ferry from Aker Brygge; services run year-round but are more frequent during the summer months. 

The ferry is included in your public transport pass. 

Attractions In Oslo

Oslo City Hall 

We don’t think it was designed to look like the iconic Norwegian brown cheese, but Oslo’s City Hall certainly bears some resemblance. The building is a prime example of functionalist architecture; it opened in 1950 following a construction delay due to World War II. 

Oslo’s City Hall, known as Rådhuset in Norwegian, has gained international recognition for its quirky style. 

The inside of the city hall is perhaps more scenic than the outside, with various paintings and patterns. When the building is open on weekdays, you’re free to step inside and check it out for yourself. 

The building is a short walk from the main train station and Karl Johans Gate; it’s right next to Aker Brygge, so you won’t struggle to find it. 

Attractions In Oslo

Bygdøy 

Locals and tourists alike are big fans of Bygdøy, which is a lovely peninsula on the western perimeters of Oslo’s central districts. The area has several museums, making it an excellent place if you want a dose of culture on your trip to Norway’s biggest city. 

You will also find several walking routes, in addition to cafés and beaches. 

The waterfront leading up to Bygdøy is a particularly scenic walk or bike ride if you happen to visit when the weather’s a little warmer. If you want to reach the peninsula by public transport, you can take a 20-minute bus journey from the city center. 

Alternatively, you can catch a ferry from Aker Brygge. 

Attractions In Oslo

Ekebergparken 

Ekebergparken is one of the best tourist attractions in Oslo, and you can enjoy one of the best views over the city from its main viewing platform. The park is home to a sculpture mimicking “The Scream” — a famous painting by much-celebrated Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. 

If you visit around sunset, you’ll get to enjoy a particularly Instagram-worthy scene. 

Away from the viewing platform, you will find various other sculptures in Ekebergparken. The park is also home to a famous restaurant, which offers gourmet food in the most beautiful of settings. To get here, take the number 13 or 19 tram toward Ljabru and get off at Ekebergparken.

Attractions In Oslo

Stortinget 

If you walked past Stortinget without actively looking for it, you might not realize that you’re walking past one of the top tourist attractions in Oslo. However, the unassuming yellow brick structure is a seat for the Norwegian parliament. 

The building is located on Karl Johans Gate and is opposite the Grand Hotel — another iconic structure in and of itself. 

The building you see today at Stortinget dates back to the 19th century, and it was designed by a Swedish architect. Getting here is straightforward; walk along Karl Johans Gate from Oslo Central Station, and you’ll eventually see it on your left-hand side. 

If you’re coming from the Norwegian Royal Palace, it’ll be on your right. 

Attractions In Oslo

Oslo’s street art 

If you thought Oslo’s city center was a band mixture of gray and practical — but ugly — buildings, you might want to rethink that. The Norwegian capital is home to some incredibly creative minds, each of whom has helped to give the city a little more of a hipster edge than it once had. 

One of the best ways to find out for yourself is to take a tour of Oslo’s impressive street art. Much of it is concentrated around the Grünnerløkka and Grønland districts in the city’s east end; the Oslo tourism board has a handy guide with a map and further details. 

Attractions In Oslo

Karl Johans Gate 

Despite a pretty high VAT rate of 25%, shopping in Oslo is a lot of fun. You’ll find several clothing outlets selling Norwegian clothing brands, including everyday wear and more practical outdoor clothing. 

You can also find various pieces of Norwegian interior design for your home, such as tables, lamps, and curtains. 

Karl Johans Gate is the main shopping street in Oslo, and you’ll find many things you’re looking for here. If you want something to remember your trip by, you will also find various souvenir stores. 

The street is directly outside Oslo Central Station and stretches up to the Norwegian Royal Palace, with numerous side streets along the way. 

Attractions In Oslo

Akershus Festning 

As you might expect from a city strategically located at the tip of a huge mouth of water, Oslo has had to defend itself from attackers in centuries gone by. One of the best examples of the mechanisms the city deployed is Akershus Festning, which nestles prettily atop a hill overlooking the Oslofjord. 

Akershus Festning is still in use today, and part of the fortress is a military base. But outside of that, you’re free to wander around its exterior and enjoy a great view of Aker Brygge and the Oslofjord. To get here, it’s a 17-minute walk from the main train station. You can also take the 11, 12, or 13 tram; all stop nearby. 

Attractions In Oslo

The Barcode District 

Once you’ve got your fix of older architecture, you’ll probably be ready to check out some of the newer buildings that Oslo has to offer; located in the trendy Bjørvika neighborhood, the Barcode District has become one of the top attractions in Oslo. 

It’s a photographer’s dream, to say the least.

The Barcode District features offices for various major companies, and you will also find a range of high-end accommodation and apartments for rent. On top of that, the district has a selection of cafés and restaurants if you start to feel hungry. You can get the tram toward Ljabru and alight at Bjørvika station to check out the district. 

Attractions In Oslo

Damstredet 

When we talk about those traditional wooden Norwegian houses, Oslo isn’t as famous as Bergen or Trondheim. However, you will find pockets in the city that deliver in this respect — and Damstredet is probably the best place to find them. 

The quarter is part of the Grünnerløkka district, and people still live in the houses lining its cobblestone streets and steep stairs today. 

You can walk around Damstredet and take photos, but remember to be respectful as you’re still close to people’s homes. It’s just over 15 minutes by foot from the city center, and you can also take the bus before getting off close by.  

Attractions In Oslo

The Equinor Building 

Fornebu is a knowledge hub just outside of Oslo; once upon a time, it was the location of one of the city’s airports. Now, however, it has evolved into a modern district with several offices from some of Norway’s biggest companies. 

Unless you’re staying at the Scandic hotel there, you probably won’t visit for many reasons; but it does have one unique building worth checking out. 

The Equinor Building is one of Norway’s finest examples of modern architecture, and it’s home to Norway’s largest energy company. You might recognize the building from the Norwegian political drama Occupied. 

To get here, take the 31 or 81 bus and get off at IT Fornebu. While Fornebu isn’t in the Oslo Municipality, your one-zone ticket will still cover you.

Attractions In Oslo
Credit: 22juli-senteret

The 22nd July Center 

Anders Breivik carried out Norway’s worst peacetime terror attack on 22nd July 2011. That afternoon, he killed a total of 77 people; eight when he detonated a bomb in downtown Oslo and 69 more after traveling to nearby Utøya and shooting multiple people. 

While the city plans to create a new government quarter, the original building that was bombed still hasn’t been knocked down at the time of writing in July 2022. 

At the foot of the old government building, you’ll find the 22nd July Center. The small museum vividly tells stories from that day, along with documenting initial reactions and highlighting how Norway pulled together in the aftermath. 

You can visit for free; information is provided in Norwegian and English. 

Attractions In Oslo

Oslo Cathedral 

Oslo’s main church is perhaps not as impressive as the cathedrals you’ll find in cities like Florence and Barcelona. Nonetheless, it’s still picturesque enough to at least warrant a photo. The church dates back to the 17th century, making it one of the oldest buildings in the capital. 

The church is free to enter, and you’ll find a pleasant interior that’s ideal for a quick pit stop. Getting here is simple; you’ll find the church right next to Karl Johans Gate. 

Attractions In Oslo

The Akerselva River 

The Oslofjord takes much of the attention in Oslo, but it isn’t the city’s only body of water. Many attractions in Oslo lie close to the Akerselva River, which runs through the center and is worth walking along in and of itself. 

You’ll find waterfalls along various parts of the way, and it’s also right next to the trendy Vulkan district. 

You’ll find a designated walking route all the way along the Akerselva River, and checking out this area is a fine way to spend your lunch break or evening. It runs all the way up to Maridalsvannet, which is a relatively large lake just north of Oslo. 

Attractions In Oslo

The Norwegian National Theater 

The Norwegian National Theater is another of those attractions in Oslo that you might easily walk past and not assume much of. Nonetheless, it’s an important place for various cultural events; the building has been a key part of the city since it opened in 1899. 

Today, it has four stages for different plays and whatnot.

You can easily notice the Norwegian National Theater by its statue of Henrik Ibsen and other national icons outside the main entrance. 

It’s in a yellow building on one side of Karl Johans Gate; you can easily walk here from the main train station or the waterfront, but the theater also has a metro station just outside. 

How to visit the main attractions in Oslo for less money

Although Oslo is well worth visiting, those rumors about it being pretty expensive are not exaggerated. Many of the attractions we’ve mentioned on our list don’t require a fee, but that isn’t universal — and in some instances, you might find it easier to batch everything together. 

If you plan to do a lot when visiting the Norwegian capital, you might want to strongly consider getting yourself an Oslo Card. Prices vary depending on how long you choose your pass to last; you can select anywhere from one to three days. 

The Oslo Card includes free or reduced entry to multiple tourist attractions in Oslo, and you will also get unlimited free rides on public transport. 

You won’t need to purchase a separate pass when on transportation in the city center and in zone 2, but you’ll need a separate ticket when you travel back to the airport. 

You’ll find plenty of Oslo attractions to keep you entertained for your trip 

You will find more than enough attractions in Oslo to keep you entertained for a couple of days, at the very least. Norway’s capital city has something to offer almost everyone, from interesting architecture to cultural institutions and lovely nature. While visiting is pretty expensive, you can easily save money with an Oslo City Card. 

Many of Oslo’s main attractions are within close proximity of one another, and walking around the city requires little effort. You’ll find almost everything in or around Karl Johans Gate and along the waterfront, with the metro, tram, ferry, or bus taking you to some of the more far-flung ones in little time. 

Oslo offers plenty of hotel options if you are looking for somewhere to stay overnight.

Before traveling to Oslo, knowing what the people are like is a good idea. Understanding the Norwegians is a little difficult if you aren’t used to their culture, and you’ll notice several unwritten rules worth keeping an eye on. To help you out, we’ve written a full guide to Norwegian traits and stereotypes.

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