50 Things To Do In Oslo, Norway

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Welcome to Oslo, the capital city of Norway, where tales of the Viking Age meet modernity, and nature blends seamlessly into urban life. Nestled between the Oslofjord and forested hills, Oslo offers a blend of big city living, cultural richness, and easy access to nature.

Planning a trip? You're not alone, as huge numbers of people visit the city every year from all over the world. Whether you're a history buff, art enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, or simply a curious traveller, Oslo has something for everyone.

Cityscape of Oslo taken from Holmenkollen. Photo: David Nikel.
Cityscape of Oslo taken from Holmenkollen. Photo: David Nikel.

I lived in Oslo for the first two years I spent in Norway, and have been a frequent visitor back to the capital ever since. On almost every trip, I discover something new. The city is always changing, and so it's taken me a long time to write this article.

From the iconic Holmenkollen Ski Jump to the tranquil islands of the Oslofjord, from the vast new National Museum to the historic Akershus Fortress, I've curated a list that will take you on an unforgettable journey through Oslo's top attractions, hidden gems, and local favourites.

Despite the length of this article, this isn't intended to be an exhaustive list. That would be impossible, really! However, I'm sure you're going to find something for you amongst these ideas, that helps with your travel planning.

To make things easier, I've grouped my suggestions. We'll start with the must-dos, then move on to more niche ideas. Right then. Ready? Off we go…

Top Things To Do In Oslo

Let's start off with the attractions I'd recommend to anyone visiting Oslo, even for the shortest time. You won't manage all of these in a day, but you should aim to see at least two or three.

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If you're spending a few days in the capital, then you could do a lot worse with your time than by ticking off all of these.

1. National Museum

Norway's vast new National Museum, which opened in 2022 after a lengthy wait, offers a significant advantage with its spacious waterfront location. This allows for an unprecedented public display of its collection, including paintings, contemporary art, architecture, arts, crafts, and design.

The first floor highlights design and crafts, featuring everything from imperial porcelain to contemporary Norwegian fashion and the royal costume collection.

The art collection, spanning over 50 rooms, is situated upstairs, arranged chronologically. It emphasises the development of Norwegian landscape painting, its contribution to national identity, the emotional depth of Edvard Munch’s work, and the impact of 19th-century French art on Norwegian artistry.

2. Vigeland Sculpture Park

Allow at least an hour and possibly two to fully enjoy Vigeland Sculpture Park. There are more than 200 sculptures set in the beautiful park, which is the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist.

The Vigeland Park monolith. Photo: David Nikel.
The Vigeland Park monolith. Photo: David Nikel.

The park is entirely free to visit and easily accessible by public transport. The highlight? Standing 17 metres high, the monolith depicting 121 intertwined human figures is one of the artistic icons of Scandinavia.

3. Holmenkollen Ski Jump & Arena

Rebuilt in 2011, Holmenkollen is both a world-class sporting facility in Oslo and an iconic symbol of Norway's rich winter sports heritage. The modern ski jump offers a museum, currently under reconstruction, showcasing the evolution of skiing.

It was one of the first places I chose to visit when I first moved to Norway. I'd never seen a ski jump up close before, and wanted to see the view of the city. It's a view I will never forget.

Visitors can either pay to take the lift up to the tower for stunning panoramic views of Oslo or enjoy wandering the arena for free. Just take care not to wander on to the cross-country skiing trails. They are also used in the summer by roller-skiers.

4. Oslo Opera House

A stunning combination of Italian marble and white granite, the magnificent Oslo Opera House stands as the architectural centrepiece of the city's waterfront redevelopment.

One of the unique features of this architectural wonder is its accessible, sloping roof. Strolling up to the rooftop, visitors can enjoy views of the surrounding cityscape and waterfront.

People walking on Oslo Opera House. Photo: David Nikel.
Locals and tourists alike walk on Oslo Opera House. Photo: David Nikel.

It's a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts or anyone looking to take a moment to appreciate the natural surroundings of Oslo. But don't be afraid to take a quick look inside. The design of the interiors is worth a look, even if you don't plan on attending a show.

5. Munch Museum

The Munch Museum, despite its controversial exterior, offers a deep dive into the emotionally intense world of Norway’s most renowned artist, Edvard Munch.

Munch's difficult childhood and family struggles with mental illness profoundly shaped his unique artistic style. The museum, one of the world's largest dedicated to a single artist, fulfills Munch's preference for contextualised display of his work.

It features three different versions of his iconic “The Scream,” which are rotated hourly, with another version, possibly the original, housed in the National Museum.

Tracey Emin, significantly influenced by Munch, marked her Nordic debut with “The Loneliness of the Soul” exhibition at the museum's opening. Her legacy continues with the dramatic 29-feet-high sculpture “The Mother” placed outside the museum.

6. Visit the Oslofjord Islands

The islands of Oslo offer a blend of historical sites, tranquil walks, and ideal swimming spots, easily accessible in just a few minutes by passenger ferry.

Each island boasts its unique charm, from Hovedøya's beaches and historical ruins to Lindøya's residential atmosphere. The islands follow a strict color scheme for cabins, adding to the vibrant mix of greenery, ocean blue, and cabin hues.

Various ferries leave from the pier in front of the City Hall, and your journey can be planned using the city's transport app, Ruter. Fares to the islands are included in the standard transport pass, but not for any destinations further down the fjord.

Sightseeing tours of the Oslofjord are available from nearby and are heavily marketed. But personally, I prefer using the public transport and enjoying the relative peace on the islands.

7. Akershus Castle & Fortress

A medieval castle originally built to protect the city and serve as a royal residence, Akershus Fortress is a historic landmark with a rich story. Its grounds are perfect for a pleasant stroll on a sunny day.

King Haakon V established it in the late 13th century, and it has witnessed numerous battles, including attempts by Swedish forces to seize it.

Akershus Castle on a sunny day. Photo: David Nikel.
Akershus Castle on a sunny day. Photo: David Nikel.

Renovated into a modern fortress under Christian IV, it served as a palace until the 19th century and has also functioned as a prison. During World War II, German forces used it as a prison, and it is now home to museums.

Museums in Oslo

Norway is a country deeply enriched with history and culture, as reflected in the diverse range of museums hosted in Oslo. Whether you're a lover of art, history, or exploration, these museums in Oslo offer visitors a journey through time.

8. Norwegian Folk Museum

Step into the past at the Norwegian Folk Museum, an extraordinary open-air museum that brings Norwegian history to life. With over 150 buildings from various time periods, this museum offers a tangible glimpse into Norway's cultural heritage.

It's open year-round, but the summer season is best when actors play the part of locals, creating a living history book!

9. Fram Museum

For adventure seekers, the Fram Museum is a treasure trove that chronicles the bold history of polar exploration. Here, you can delve into the world of legendary explorers Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen, and their daring voyages to the polar regions.

The Fram Museum is centred on the original exploration vessel Fram. While restored, the original interiors of Fram remain intact and visitors can walk inside the ship.

10. Kon-Tiki Museum

Next to Fram Museum, this museum celebrates Thor Heyerdahl's expeditions and the famous Kon-Tiki raft. It houses the famous balsa wood raft along with another vessel, Ra II, and original maps from the expeditions.

11. Astrup Fearnley Museum

The Astrup Fearnley Museum boasts one of Europe’s most extensive collections of international contemporary art. This privately-owned museum, another architectural gem on the capital's waterfront, features a boat-like design by Renzo Piano, mirroring the area's maritime history.

Sculptures outside the Astrup Fearnley Museum. Photo: David Nikel.
Sculptures outside the Astrup Fearnley Museum. Photo: David Nikel.

Its collection highlights the young American art scene, American and European pop-art, and 1980s post-modern appropriation art. Additionally, the land outside the museum is dotted with several notable public art installations.

12. Oslo City Museum

If you do visit Vigeland Park, it’s well worth a short detour into the City Museum. A small yet fascinating collection of paintings and photographs showcase the development of Oslo over the centuries.

13. Resistance Museum

The Resistance Museum provides a sobering and educational experience, focusing on Norway's resistance operations during the Second World War.

Located in the grounds of Akershus Fortress, it's a place of reflection and understanding about the resilience and courage of the Norwegian people during one of history's most turbulent times.

Historic and Cultural Sites

Dive a little deeper into Oslo's historical sites and cultural life with these attractions.

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14. Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral, originally consecrated in 1697 and restored to its baroque interior in 1950, is a key religious site for the Church of Norway's Diocese of Oslo. It often hosts royal and government ceremonies, along with regular mass.

Highlights include original baroque furnishings, Hugo Lous Mohr's ceiling murals, and stained glass by Emanuel Vigeland. The 1950 chapel by Arnstein Arneberg and the surrounding “bazaar halls” from the mid-19th century add to its charm.

15. Stortinget

Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament building, is the centre of political activity in Norway and a powerful symbol of Norwegian democracy. Its memorable architecture makes it an often-photographed landmark on Karl Johans gate.

A guided tour is a fascinating activity for those interested in politics and history. They are held occasionally in Norwegian and English, but numbers are limited.

16. The Royal Palace

A striking building in downtown Oslo, the Royal Palace is a true landmark of Norway's capital city.

The Royal Palace in Oslo. Photo: David Nikel.
The Royal Palace in Oslo. Photo: David Nikel.

The official residence of the Norwegian monarch offers guided tours that provide a rare glimpse into royal life. The tour is a journey through elegantly furnished rooms and halls, each telling a story of Norway's royal heritage.

17. Damstredet & Telthusbakken

Unlike other Norwegian cities such as Bergen or Stavanger, Oslo isn't known for its historic architecture. Yet Damstredet & Telthusbakken are two streets in a historic area known for its well-preserved wooden houses. This picturesque neighbourhood is a short walk from the modern city centre.

18. Oslo's Deichman Library

Not a historic building but a modern cultural hub, Deichman Bjørvika has redefined the role of a Norwegian library. There's books, sure, but also everything from computers to sewing machines available for use.

The building's unique architecture has made a striking addition to the waterfront area, while the design of the interior is well worth a look.

Parks and Nature

It's one of Europe's fastest-growing capitals, but Oslo is not short of parks and access to nature. Here's how to enjoy some of the best nature Oslo has to offer.

19. Ekeberg Park

With its sprawling green spaces, Ekeberg Park is a recreation area favoured by locals but it also serves as an open-air museum. The park hosts various sculptures, adding some cultural interest to those looking to enjoy a peaceful walk with terrific views of the capital.

20. Royal Palace Gardens

The meticulously maintained landscapes of the Royal Palace Gardens offer another chance for relaxation in the heart of the city. Located within the greenery, the Princess Ingrid Alexandra Sculpture Park features fairytale sculptures, designed by and chosen by Oslo schoolchildren.

21. Nordmarka

A natural playground for Oslo locals, Nordmarka (the Northern Forest) is a vast forested area bounding Oslo.

Oslo's forest trails are easy to reach on public transport. Photo: David Nikel.
Oslo's forest trails are easy to reach on public transport. Photo: David Nikel.

These woods are perfect for experiencing the Norwegian love of the great outdoors, with numerous trails that cater to all levels of hiking enthusiasts. Best of all? It's easy to access on the city's metro.

22. Botanical Garden

Part of the Natural History Museum, the Botanical Garden is a living exhibition of diverse plant species. It's a haven for botany enthusiasts and those seeking a quiet place to connect with nature, offering a colourful display of flora from various climates and regions.

23. Akerselva river walk

A riverside walk through Oslo offers a picturesque journey through some of the city's vibrant neighbourhoods. The walk is a delightful way to experience Oslo away from the tourist trail, with opportunities to see local wildlife, historic sites, and perhaps stop at cozy cafes along the way.

Food and Drink

Eating out in Norway is rarely a budget activity, but at least Oslo does offer a dazzling array of dining options.

24. Mix with Locals at Oslo Street Food

For a taste of global flavours, head to Oslo Street Food in Torggata. This vibrant spot is where locals and tourists alike gather–indoors–to enjoy a variety of international street foods. It's quietest in the early afternoon, and gets rowdy as the evenings draw on.

25. Mathallen Food Hall

A stop at Mathallen Food Hall in the Vulkan development is ideal on a visit to Grünerløkka or when walking along the Akerselva river. Inside, you'll find everything from fresh seafood to artisan cheeses on the menu.

26. Enjoy Traditional Norwegian Food

Oslo has no shortage of premier fish and seafood restaurants, which showcase some of the best elements of Norwegian cuisine. However, for those wanting other traditional food, it can be a challenge to find something authentic.

Norwegian food is dominated by seafood. Here is a typical salmon salad.
Salmon is a key part of the Norwegian diet. Photo: David Nikel.

Dovrehallen, located upstairs on Storgata, is one such place. Serving classic dishes such as meatballs, stews, and fårikål (mutton & cabbage stew), the dark interior comes alive later in the evenings with live music and dancing.

27. Enjoy Locally Brewed Ales

Oslo's craft beer scene has developed over the past decade and there are now many options for the beer connoisseur, and several places to sample them. Oslo Mikrobryggeri, Crow Bar, and Grünerløkka Brygghus are three options to get you started.

28. Enjoy the Meal of a Lifetime

Norwegian cuisine is often derided, but Norway is home to some of the most forward-thinking chefs in the New Nordic scene. As such, Oslo has a surprising number of Michelin-starred restaurants and other Michelin recommended eateries to explore. Of course, you'll have to book a table well in advance.

29. People Watch at Aker Brygge

Aker Brygge is not just a premium dining destination but a place to soak in Oslo's vibrant atmosphere. Enjoy a meal or a drink at one of the many waterfront restaurants or cafes, and immerse yourself in the lively ambiance as you watch people go by.

Family-Friendly Activities

Many of the attractions and activities listed above are suitable for families, but there are more. Here's a selection of ideas if you're visiting Oslo with younger family members.

30. Visit TusenFryd

Norway’s largest amusement park is located just a 20-minute drive south of Oslo, yet many international visitors have never even heard of it.

Although not on the same scale as Copenhagen's Tivoli or Gothenburg's Liseberg, Tusenfryd nevertheless continues to attract a loyal Norwegian crowd, despite the park showing its age.

Tusenfryd amusement park near Oslo, Norway.
Tusenfryd amusement park near Oslo, Norway. Photo: Mark Francombe / Shutterstock.com.

That being said, the park is undergoing a multiyear transformation. One of the first improvements, the 2023 addition of ‘Storm', has won plaudits from amusement park fans from around the world.

31. The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology

An anchor point on the European Route of Industrial Heritage, this museum showcases progress in science, technology, industry and medicine, socially and culturally, through the ages. If you like your children to be educated as well as entertained, this could be a good choice for you.

32. Oslo Reptile Park

This indoor zoo hosts a fascinating collection of reptiles, including snakes, lizards, and turtles, along with many other animals. Entrance is pricey and the venue is small, but if your family are intrigued by exotic reptiles, this could still be an entertaining choice.

33. International Museum of Childrens Art

See the world through the eyes of children in this museum that showcases art–textiles, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more–by children, for children. Younger visitors can get creative with their own projects, of course.

“It is said that children are people. But, people do not exist without a culture. Children are people who belong to the future. And they have the right to their own culture, their own art and history” – Founder & film director Rafael Goldin (1920-1994)

34. A Day of Play at Funplays

Rainy day? That's not unusual in Oslo! One option that will keep your kids entertained for hours is a visit to the indoor soft play centre, Funplays. Simple food is available to keep you (or your kids!) fully charged.

Outdoor and Adventure Activities

Oslo's natural setting and surroundings offer an abundance of outdoor and adventure activities, perfect for those looking to add a touch of excitement to their visit.

35. Skiing at Tryvann

Head to Oslo Winter Park at Tryvann–now part of Skimore–for a thrilling winter sports experience. Whether you're a seasoned skier or trying it for the first time, the park offers slopes for all skill levels, making it a top destination for skiing enthusiasts. Equipment rental is available.

36. Kayaking on the Oslofjord

Kayaking on the Oslofjord is an unforgettable way to see the city from a different perspective. Glide across the water and enjoy the unique views of Oslo's urban coastline.

To rent a kayak, you'll likely need previous kayaking experience, but group lessons and group tours are also available.

37. Explore the City by Bicycle

Rent a bike and discover Oslo on two wheels. The city's extensive network of bike paths makes it easy to explore both urban areas and natural landscapes, offering a fun and eco-friendly way to sightsee. Alternatively, take a guided bicycle tour of the city.

Much of downtown Oslo is flat. But if you're concerned about hills, consider renting an e-bike, which are prevalent in Norway.

38. Hiking at Kolsåstoppen

There are so many opportunities for hiking in Oslo, but Kolsåstoppen is possibly the pick of the bunch. The hike offers some of the best views over Oslo, rewarding trekkers with breathtaking panoramas of the city and surrounding areas.

There are various starting points for the hike, which can save time or result in a longer hike, depending on your preferences. Bus and metro connections are available to popular trailheads.

39. Relax at Sognsvann Lake

Nestled in the northern hills, Sognsvann lake is a beloved summer spot for swimming, picnicking, and simply enjoying the outdoors.

Sognsvann this morning
Exploring the trails of Sognsvann. Photo: David Nikel.

Its serene environment makes it an ideal place to unwind and soak in Oslo's natural beauty. Many locals take the metro to the lake and walk the perimeter path.

40. Try Out Oslo's Fjord Sauna Trend

Join in on Oslo's latest trend by experiencing a fjord sauna. These waterfront saunas offer a refreshing blend of heat and cool dips in the fjord, providing a rejuvenating experience that combines relaxation with a touch of Nordic tradition.

41. Winter Sledding

Korketrekkeren (The Corkscrew) is a popular Oslo toboggan run that operates in winter, providing a thrilling ride down the snowy slopes. Originally part of the bobsleigh track used in the 1952 Winter Olympics, it's now a popular recreational activity beloved by locals.

Shopping in Oslo

While not a renowned shopping destination, Oslo does offer visitors the opportunity to pick up a souvenir or a piece of authentic Scandinavian design.

42. Thrift Stores of Grünerløkka

The trendy neighbourhood of Grünerløkka is the place to find everything from vintage clothing to retro furniture. ‘Løkka' is a paradise for lovers of all things vintage, offering a shopping experience full of character and surprise.

43. Boutiques of Frogner & Majorstuen

Known for their upscale charm, Frogner and Majorstuen are home to a range of boutiques offering high-end fashion, designer goods, and unique Norwegian designs. Head to streets such as Hegdehaugen and Bogstadveien to indulge in luxury shopping or find one-of-a-kind items.

44. Sunday Market at Blå

The Sunday market at Blå, situated along the Akerselva river, is a vibrant and bustling spot. Here, locals and visitors alike can browse a variety of stalls selling handmade crafts, unique art, and local produce. It's a great place to find unique souvenirs and gifts, as well as to experience the lively spirit of this eclectic urban neighbourhood.

Live Sport in Oslo

Experience local culture in a different way by attending a live sporting event. Here are just a few ideas.

45. Attend a Football Match

Introduce yourself to Norwegian football by attending a match in Oslo. Local team KFUM Oslo will play in the Eliteserien, the top level of Norwegian football, for the first time in 2024 following promotion in 2023. They play at Ekebergsletta.

The Intility Arena is home to Vålerenga, who will in 2024 play in the second tier OBOS League following relegation in 2023. Lillestrøm and Stabæk are two other options nearby Oslo.

46. Attend an Ice Hockey Match

While not as popular as in Nordic neighbours Sweden and Finland, ice hockey is a professional sport in Norway with an avid following. In Oslo, Vålerenga hockey plays its home games at Nye Jordal Amfi.

Ice hockey match in Norway.
Vålerenga v Storhamar ice hockey match in Norway. Photo: David Nikel.

It's usually possible to get tickets on match days, but games against rivals Storhamar and Stavanger Oilers do often sell out. Book in advance on the club website and you'll be able to choose your preferred seats.

47. Attend a Ski Event at Holmenkollen

If you are planning a winter trip to the capital, don't miss the chance to witness a skiing event at the iconic Holmenkollen Ski Arena. Check the events calendar for details.

Known for hosting world-class ski jumping, cross-country skiing, and biathlon events, Holmenkollen offers a unique opportunity to see top athletes in action against the backdrop of Oslo's stunning landscape.

Quirky & Unique Experiences

Oslo also offers a range of quirky and unique experiences for those looking for something a little different and off the beaten path.

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48. Admire Emanuel Vigeland's Mausoleum

The Emanuel Vigeland Museum, hidden in Oslo's suburbs, is an intriguing space showcasing Emanuel Vigeland's life-spanning frescoes and sculptures.

This dark, windowless mausoleum known for its impressive acoustics highlights his work, also seen in Norwegian churches. Open only for limited hours on Sundays and requiring advance booking, it's a short walk from the Slemdal T-Bane station.

49. Visit Oslo's Mini Bottle Gallery

Explore the world's largest collection of mini bottles at Oslo's Mini Bottle Gallery. This unique museum features an extensive array of miniature bottles in all shapes and sizes, presenting a quirky and intriguing attraction unlike any other.

50. Brave the Holmenkollen Zipline

For the thrill-seekers, the Holmenkollen Zipline offers an exhilarating experience during the summer months, when the ski tower is otherwise unused.

Zipline from the top of the famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump tower and enjoy breathtaking views of Oslo as you soar through the air, if you can keep your eyes open that is! It's an adventure that combines stunning scenery with a rush of adrenaline.

So, there you have it. Fifty things to do in Oslo, Norway. Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list. There are many more attractions and experiences, but I hope this list helps with your travel planning.

How many of these have you done? What are your favourite things to in Norway's capital city? Let me know in the comments below.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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2 thoughts on “50 Things To Do In Oslo, Norway”

  1. Hi David. I’m SO grateful that you’re sharing these great ideas for things to do in Oslo!! It’s incredible to have a local’s view on these experiences. My friend and I will also be spending time in Bergen and Flan. Thank you!!!

  2. Hi David

    Thanks for your ever informative bogs. As I’m half Norwegian and my daughter lives there at present, we visit twice a year and as you say there’s always something new! I love the Resistance Museum and often treat myself to a walk along Akerselva River or up at Ekeberg Park. I would add two attractions to your selection: the Tram Museum near Frogner Park is a great place for transport nerds (like my husband) and for kids, as you can climb over almost everything. I also found Roseslottet, a large art installation about World War 2, very moving.


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