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!
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!
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.
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!
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 history’s 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
This region certainly isn’t an easy one to visit on a budget and accommodation and food is likely to take up the vast majority of that, but given how many of the sights and attractions are actually free to see then it does somewhat balance itself out. Having been to other areas of Scandinavia on a budget we’ve found it challenging and not maybe as fun as a result as travelling in really cheap areas like Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe. But we’re keen to explore more and would love to visit Svalbard on a budget and the faroe islands too in the future.
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