Travel guide to Olso
Oslo is just like any other small sibling; a bit rebellious, striving to be at the same level as its older siblings. In the recent years, Oslo has done just that. Oslo has worked hard to get rid of its little brother-complex. However, when visiting Oslo, you just might see why its petiteness can be to its advantage; the small city center is picturesque and much more accessible than the other capitals in Scandinavia. Here, the sense of direction comes easily.
The people of Oslo are as polite as one can be, and their way of singing words is like music to your ears. With the city’s roots that stretch back to the 1000s, you can expect gorgeous buildings, rich history and a sense of pride in the locals. Have that in mind while you find yourself staring out over Oslo Fjord, get seduced at the Akershus Fortress or towering City Hall. It’s magic, and you, you are one of the few who figured it out this early on.
Easy links to each section in out travel guide to Oslo below:
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Oslo is a small capital with a couple of city district the make up the “center”: Oslo East, Oslo West, Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen, Grünerløkka and Bygdøy. In our travel guide to Oslo, we’ll take you through the essentials of them all.
Oslo City Center
The City Center of Oslo mostly surrounds the area around the main street of the capital – Karl Johans gate. If there’s one place you’re going to want to have enough battery on your phone for taking photos, this is it. Make sure you have enough memory too, because you’re about to pass the Royal Palace, the City Hall, Stortinget and lots and lots of picturesque buildings. Don’t forget to greet the seagulls living on the Opera House rooftop, where you also are allowed to walk. Yup, Oslo is not like any other, and this is just the first glimpse.
Gathered under the term Oslo East lies a couple of neighborhoods, all located in what’s known as ”Old” Oslo – Gamle Oslo.
Gamlebyen (Old Town) with Ekeberg really is the old part of Oslo: findings have proved that people have been living here for ten thousand years. Besides plenty of medieval traces, you can gasp at buildings who’s architectural style is miles away from the newly-built Barcode-area. Ekeberg is mostly famous for Ekeberg Sculpture Park and the street where Edvard Munch supposedly got the inspiration for his painting Scream.
Sørenga is an up-and-coming area of Gamlebyen, and is the home of Havnepromenaden (The Harbour Promenade), a nine kilometers long walk from east to west. Here you’ll find mostly locals, a seawater pool that’s open year-round, and a beach.
Bjørvika Barcode is a small area consisting of 12 skyscrapers close to each other, making it look like a barcode. It has quickly become the most business-like area of the city but also houses galleries, shops and cool restaurants.
Tøyen and Kampen, located a couple of minutes by foot away from Gamlebyen is the home of many cute wooden houses, relatively cheap restaurants and vegetable markets. Before you go, don’t forget to visit the Munch Museum.
Under the umbrella-name Oslo West you will find Majorstua, Frogner and St. Hanshaugen.
Frogner is where the creme de la creme lives in Oslo, riding the tram pass luxurious apartment buildings will make you drop your chin. It’s crawling with fancy interior- and clothing shops and restaurants offering an experience out of the ordinary. Away from the luxury lies Frogner Park, home to the largest sculpture park in the country, Vigeland Park.
Closest to the city center lies Majorstua, the coolest downtown area of the city. Most people go here for one thing: shopping. In Majorstua, you can find local brands as well as Scandinavian goodies.
St. Hanshaugen has perhaps not always been a tourist attraction (and to some extent, it still isn’t), it’s primarily been a residential area. But as the neighborhood has developed, the numbers of visitors has too. St. Hanshaugen has a park with the same name, with a lovely pavilion and reflecting pool.
Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen
What now is the wharf of Aker Brygge, was once upon a time a shipyard. Today, instead of wrecks and ships, you’ll find modern architecture, hip restaurants, and shops. Together with Tjuvholmen, Aker Brygge has become a new mecca for art and culture. On the waterfront of Aker Brygge, you have a fantastic view over the fjord. Sit down on one of the 2500 outdoor-seats and enjoy life. Tjuvholmen is a relatively new borough. Not one but 20 (!) different architect have been part of designing this area, making it a unique and diverse area. You’ll also find a city beach here, because, why not!
The area of Grünerløkka is like a city in the city, but a waaay cooler city. It’s like passing a magic line, and all of the sudden you are surrounded by vintage shops, quirky cafés, microbreweries and amazing street art. As if the artistic vibes of this area wasn’t enough, this is where the great artist Munch used to live. Imagine that, while you are tripping around the area. Perhaps on our Hipster Oslo tour? Whatever floats your boat!
Resembling Stockholm’s Djurgården, Oslo also has a museum island of its own. Bygdøy is located around 30 minutes from the city center, and once you get there you have them lined up on a tremendous row: The Viking Ship Museum, Kon-Tiki Museum, Fram Museum and Norsk Folkemuseum. There’s more to this lovely, cultural little island than its treasures of museums. You have a coastline with beaches for the sunny days and big woods with bike and hike trails. Perfect, if you want to blow off some steam after getting your head filled with tons of information!
Getting around & to Oslo
Train from Gardermoen Airport to Oslo City Center
Flytoget Airport Express Train
Flytoget Airport Express Train departs every 10 to 20 minutes and goes to Oslo Central Station (Oslo S). It takes around 20+ minutes. An adult ticket costs NOK 180 to the city center. Students, seniors, and children go for half the price.
Norwegian State Railways
The country’s official railway has a line that operates Skien-Oslo-Lillehammer-Trondheim, which also goes via Gardermoen. The ride takes 23 minutes and costs NOK 93. Read more about traveling by NSB here.
Bus from Gardermoen Airport to Oslo
Flybussen departs every 20 minutes from the airport and takes approximately 40-50 minutes to central Oslo. The bus stops at plenty of places, which is convenient if you’re not living right by the Central Station. Plan your journey on Flybussen’s website.
Taxi from Oslo Airport to City Center
Its, of course, possible to take a taxi from Gardermoen to the city center of Oslo. We recommend either Oslo Taxi and Norgestaxi. Price depends on the day, time of day and where you’re going too. From NOK 560.
Public transportation in Oslo
To travel by public transportation in Oslo is as easy as ABC. You have metro, trams, buses, and boat. The nicest, if you ask us, is, of course, to travel by tram or boat. All of the above mentioned goes to the public transportation company in Oslo called Ruter. I.e. if you purchase a ticket for 72-hours you can travel by all. At Ruter’s website (link) you’ll find a list of places where you can purchase your ticket.
Practical information about visiting Oslo
Card is king, not cash
Lesser and lesser places are accepting cash as payment. Card is king.
Weather in Oslo
Let’s face it, you’re going up North, you MAY not use sun-screen. Or a sun hat. Or sunglasses. From November to March, we have Winter in Oslo. The temperature stretches from -20 to +5. April, May, September and October are those typical months when anything can happen. Either it’s +5 or +20. June to August is when you have most chance of getting a tan, or at least sitting out and not freezing to death. The temperature stretches from +15 to +25, even though the latest is not very common.
When coming to Oslo, you don’t need to think about vaccines. You can drink the tap water.
If you’re planning on visiting the archipelago and spending a lot of time in nature, be sure to check yourself for ticks.
Visa to Oslo
Go here to apply for Visa. OURWAY Tours can not assist in Visa matters.
Tipping in Oslo
In Oslo and Norway, it’s not compulsory to leave tip. You most often don’t leave tip to taxi-drivers or cleaning staff at hotels. If you like the service at a restaurant, 10-20% in tipping is a guideline to go after, however, many Norwegians do not.
Electricity in Norway
The voltage in Norway is 230V, 50Hz current and uses two-pin continental plugs. We use the standard European grounded socket. The adapter is known as type C and F.
Norwegian phrases that might be of good use
Hi = Hei
Good morning = God Morgen
Goodbye = Farvel
Excuse me = Unnskyld
Thank you = Takk
Thank you so much = Tusen takk
Do you speak English? = Snakker du engelsk?
Toilet = Toalett
Can you help me? = Jag trenger din hjälp
Where is… = Hvor ligger
I don’t understand = Jeg forstår ikke
Boat = Båt
Beer = Øl
Wine = Vin