Oslo is often ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time there without spending a fortune.
Here are some tips on planning your trip to Oslo on a budget and some of the best free things to do in the Norwegian capital.
Visit the Vigeland Sculpture Park
This is one of the most popular and impressive sights in Oslo. The park features more than 200 sculptures by Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland, depicting various aspects of human life and emotions. The park is open all year round and is a great place to relax, admire the art, and take photos.
See the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is the official residence of the Norwegian royal family and a symbol of the nation. You can watch the changing of the guards ceremony every day at 1:30 pm, which lasts about 40 minutes. You can also take a guided tour of the palace during the summer, but you must buy a ticket.
Walk on the roof of the Opera House
The Opera House is a stunning example of modern architecture and a cultural landmark in Oslo. The building is shaped like an iceberg and has a sloping roof to walk on and enjoy the views of the city and the fjord. The building also hosts opera, ballet, music, and theatre performances, but you must buy a ticket.
Explore the Ekebergparken Sculpture Park
Photo by Ivar Kvaal/Ekebergparken
This is another park that showcases art and nature in harmony. The park is located on a hill overlooking the city. It features over 30 sculptures by international artists, hiking trails, viewpoints, and historical sites. The park is open 24/7 and has free guided tours on Sundays.
Hit the beach or go island hopping
Photo by Didrik Stenersen/Visit Oslo and Katrine Lunke/Visit Oslo
Oslo has a unique location between the sea and the forest, so you can enjoy fresh and salty waters. You can swim, sunbathe, or picnic at one of the many beaches in the city centre or take a ferry to one of the islands in the Oslofjord, such as Hovedøya, Gressholmen, or Langøyene. The ferries are free with an Oslo Pass or a public transport ticket.
Find inner peace in the forest
Photo by Tord Baklund/Visit Oslo
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, you can take a short metro ride to the Oslomarka forest, which covers more than 2,000 square kilometres of green space. You can hike, bike, ski (wintertime), or camp in the woods, following marked trails and stopping by cosy cabins. You can also enjoy the wildlife, such as moose, deer, foxes, and birds.
Discover historical Oslo
Oslo has a rich and diverse history dates back to the Viking Age. You can see some historical sites that reflect different periods and events in the city’s past. For example, you can see rock carvings from the Stone Age at Ekebergparken, ruins from the Middle Ages at Gamlebyen (Old Town), and buildings from the Dano-Norwegian Realm at Akershus Fortress.
Enjoy street art
Photo by Didrick Stenersen/Visit Oslo
Oslo is not only a city of museums but also a city of outdoor art and street art. You can find sculptures, murals, graffiti, and installations all over town, created by local and international artists. Some of the best places to see outdoor art are Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park, Barcode Project, Vulkan Area, Grünerløkka District, and Sofienberg Park.
Experience winter activities
If you visit Oslo during winter, you can have fun with some snow and ice activities. You can go cross-country skiing on groomed and lit trails in the Oslomarka forest or slide down the Korketrekkeren toboggan run. You can also try ice skating in Spikersuppa or one of the local ice rinks.
How to save money on transportation and entry fees
Oslo has an efficient public transport system that covers buses, trams, metro, trains, and ferries, but the fares can add up quickly. A single ticket costs 40 NOK and is valid for one hour. A 24-hour ticket costs 121 NOK, and a 7-day ticket costs 335 NOK. Discounts are offered for children and seniors.
Plan to use public transport frequently. It might be worth buying a ticket for a longer period or getting an Oslo Pass, which gives you unlimited access to public transportation, free admission to more than 30 museums and attractions, and discounts on sightseeing tours, restaurants, and shops.
The Oslo Pass costs 495 NOK for 24 hours, 720 NOK for 48 hours, and 895 NOK for 72 hours. Discounts are offered for children and seniors.
Another option is to rent a bike from one of the many rental places or use the Oslo city bikes service, which allows you to unlock bicycles at more than 100 stations in and around the city centre for a small fee. You can use your phone to register and pay for the service, which costs 35 NOK for a single ride (one hour), 69 NOK for a day pass or 159 NOK for a 30-day pass. You can use the bikes for up to 60 minutes and return them to any station. If you want to extend the hour limit, it costs 15 minutes for another 15 minutes.