Oslo, Norway: Backpacking one of the most expensive cities in the world! A budget guide!

Oslo is famous for being one of the most expensive cities in the world and Norway one of the dearest countries. So when we arrived here from travelling in Australia where we had been working and Asia where everything is dirt cheap we knew we would have our work cut out backpacking the city on a tight budget. Living costs are high here but luckily we found some amazing things to do and see that were either free or very affordable! Here’s our guide to Oslo on a budget!

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Vigeland Sculpture Park at Frogner Park

A few KM out of the centre of the city is the huge open air Vigeland Sculpture park at Frogner Park. The incredible and eye opening work was created by Gustav Vigeland between 1924 and 1943 and is a permanent exhibition of his most famous works. The provocative Art Deco sculptures, bridges and other installations study the human form in all its oddities in what makes for a strange but impressive installation across the park. The park itself is home to the historic Frogner Manor for which is was originally created in 1750 as a baroque garden and is one of the top things to do in Oslo

Entry to the sculpture park is FREE so a great addition to our guide to Oslo on a budget!

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Take in the views and history at the Akershus Fortress

This magnificent medieval fortress dates back to 1290 as a castle to protect the city from attacks. Over the years it has served as a prison, been home to the Norwegian Royal Family and been occupied by the Nazi’s during the Second World War. 

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The fortress has literally seen every era of this historic city and walking the quaint cobbled roads up here is to step right back in time. Not only is it a wonderful place to look back at the history of the city, it also offers some of the most impressive views out over the harbour and the modern day city of Oslo.

Not only that but it is FREE! There are also additional museums that you can pay to enter too, so great for our guide to Oslo on a budget!

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Take a ride down the OsloFjord

Norway is famous for its amazing and breathtaking Fjords, but you might not have realised that Oslo itself sits inside one of them. Ok, it might not be as impressive as some of the other mighty Fjords around the country but its is probably more important in historical terms and still offers a beautiful and much more budget friendly boat trip right from the heart of the city. The Oslo Fjord is full of small islands, many inhabited by small communities and offering a look at a more rural and traditional way of life just a short right from the capital. Local public ferries service these islands so you can easily island hop and spend a day or two exploring this beautiful and different side to the city and a cheap addition to our guide to Oslo on a budget.

Find out more about the ferries here: www.visitoslo.com

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Hang out with the royals up at the palace

Looming large over the city is the magnificent Norwegian Palace, built in 1849 it stands at the end of Karl Johans gate. The palace is a beautiful construction that really does leave you in awe of the pomp and history of such places. You can also witness the changing of the guard outside the palace everyday at 1.30 pm and during the summer months go on an hour long tour through the corridors of the home of the current Norwegian Royal Family. If you’re looking for a guide to Oslo on a budget then this is another thing you can do for free!

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Stare up in awe at the Holmenkollen Ski Slope

Around half an hour on the train outside of the city centre is the wonderful Oslo Winter Park which includes the awe inspiring Holmenkollen Ski Slope. Even if you don’t fancy strapping on a pair of skis and flying off the end of this incredible ramp it is worth the visit to see such a sight. Having watched Ski Jumping on the TV in the past I never really had the full appreciation of just how high and far these guys jump, but staring up at this super steep and intimidating slope I have even more respect for this crazy sport! Up here you can also visit the Ski Slope museum and taking the the wonderful views over the city. Once the winter season kicks in fully there are also chairlifts in operation for skiing, snowboarding and sledging.

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Wander around the amazing historic streets of the Norwegian capital

Oslo itself is rich in history and stunningly detailed architecture that tells its ever developing story. A wander around the ancient streets, taking in the crowds of Karl Johans Gate and the quiet contemplating of the 500 year old Oslo Cathedral, the city is one that just keeps on giving for those who love to get lost in these historic European cities. We alway advocate exploring and getting lost in a new city and that is no different on our guide to Oslo on a budget.

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Oslo is a nice size too and is also served by trams and buses for getting across town, however taking in the sights, sounds and culture is best done on foot. Modern Oslo is a tapestry of the ancient and the new, representing accurately the culture of present day Norway.

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Stroll around the wonderful Oslo waterfront

The city recently has heavily invested in the harbour promenade and turned it from an old working harbour into a modern attraction that combines the seafaring history of Oslo with the Norway of today. A fine example of this is the tall and narrow Oslo Opera house that is reminiscent of the ski slope in the suburbs that sits next to the ports that have served this city for centuries. In the summer this area is a gathering place to eat, explore and even take a dip in the seawater pool right on the harbour. Even in the winter it offers a relaxing and peaceful walk within the city centre. 

It’s from here that many of the amazing Norway Tours leave from too, these often feature a combination of different highlights around Oslo and the country as a whole and so save money in the long run.

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A city of museums

Being such a historic city it is no surprise that it is also packed full of museums in which to take a gander. No matter what your interests are there will be a museum in Oslo that you will love. From the Munch museum where you can see the famous painting “Scream” to the Viking Ship Museum across the water where you can visit a real viking ship, there is so much history and culture here to absorb. The Nobel Peace Centre offers a place for reflecting on the triumph and efforts of some of histories most influential and extraordinary people where the Norwegian Folk Museum celebrates the everyday people of these lands. If you want to visit more than one of the museums or galleries then consider buying a combination pass or museums pass to save money.

See the list of museums and galleries here: www.visitoslo.com/en/activities-and-attractions/attractions/museum

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Have you been to Norway? What would make your guide to Oslo on a budget?

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Amit Sharma

As a budget backpacker myself and one that wants to backpack around Norway quite soon this is a very useful post for me, one that I’ve saved. So thank you 😀 – Strolling around the lake seems like something I won’t ever get bored of, and the ski slope looks majestic from just your picture. If you don’t mind me asking how long did you travel Norway for and what was your budget? (I’m a proper shoestring backpacker haha)

Thanks, We just spent around 3 days there, we spent around £30 a day for the two of us but that doesn’t include the accommodation.

Punita Malhotra

Isn’t it true that some of the most authentic ‘local’ experiences in a city are usually free? I had no idea that Oslo had a beautiful fortress too…that just shows how little i know about the city. Have to do more research. The sculptures are Art Deco, you say?

Yes, that is always very true, I think most of the time the things you end up having to pay for to get in etc are just made for tourists instead of being real!

Great photos! I’ve never been to Oslo but I’d love to go. I had heard it was very expensive. I hope to to visit sometime soon to see it for myself.

Thanks, yeah expensive but still plenty to do on a budget!

Varshastravel360 Gawai

Wow, what a useful article. I am keeping Norway from a long time only due to budget. Your tips are definitely going to help.

Thank you, hope you get to visit!

bye:myself

I’ve been to Oslo decades ago and do remember having been very impressed with the Vigeland Sculpture park – didn’t he like sculpt people of different ages in some sort of circle of life?! Anyway, I always wanted to go back to Norway – yes, for the Fjords, too, but also to see the paintings of Edvard Munch, but I always thought I first had to find a gold mine. Good to know that there are ways to survive on a budget – and even better to know that there is a museum pass.

Yes, loved the statues too, very different and fascinating, bloody cold in the snow though!! We hope to return for longer in the future when we have more money!

I had no idea Oslo was within a fjord itself guys. Inspired stuff. I would love to visit and knowing I can go while saving some chedda definitely helps me get clearer on a visit. Booked up for a while now; we head to Thailand in a week then off to NZ. But I’ll keep Oslo and Norway in mind.

Ryan

Cheers Ryan, yeah we took the opportunity to visit flying back from Thailand to Europe via Oslo, it’s a beautiful city but it is expensive. We will be over in NZ this year too, when do you go?

Awesome! We will be in NZ in late March, staying for a month.

We won’t be there until July, staying for possibly a year!

Lara Dunning

These are all great ideas. The statue of the man with the babies is both funny and disturbing. I’d love to visit the Viking Museum to see a real viking ship, and make a trip to Akershus Fortress.

Ha ha, yeah those statues are crazy but really interesting! Cheers

Yesh Sewdayal

Budget travel in an expensive destination – hell yeah! I love the list you’ve compiled, especially the Vigeland Sculpture Park and Akershus Fortress. With so much history, one could probably spend hours at the museums! Definitely worth visiting!

Thanks, yes it is expensive but there is always free things to do to save money!!

Such a great list! I lived in Norway for a little bit and it really was expensive! I never made it to explore the 500 year old Oslo Cathedral. I will have to check it out if I ever revisit the area 🙂

Wow, that must have been amazing to live over there!

Hownottosailaboat

Such a lot of history in Norway that I would love to see, but being on a budget have not made it yet! Thank you for posting something that could get me there sooner!

Yeah its a beautiful city bit hard on the wallet, still, we managed to make a small budget work!

I have been to Oslo and boy is it expensive. Coming back through London, everything seemed cheap in comparison. The statue gardens are crazy. It made me think that everybody was close to insanity with how far north they were. Long winters and lack of sunshine were my thoughts. Munch paintings made a lot more sense. I would highly recommend walking down by the water, near the Nobel Prize buildings, and get steaming hot fresh shrimp. Not only were they some of the tastiest shrimp I have eating, but they were also the lowest price meal I had in Norway.

Yeah it’s crazy expensive over there, such a nice city to explore though so well worth it! Ha ha, yeah I know what you mean, I don’t think I could live in such a cold and dark place!

Ariel Huffaker

I have never been here, but I have heard of it. I did not know it was one of the most expensive cities in the world. I’m all about budget traveling! All the places you went sound amazing. I am going to have to add this to my bucket list. Your pictures are stunning!

Yeah it is so expensive, especially when you have spent a lot of time in Asia then its even worse, but there is always a way to do it cheaper!