Looking to plan a trip to Norway? Most flights travel through Oslo, the capital city and major transportation hub. Situated on the edge of the Oslofjord, Oslo offers many exciting activities from a short layover to a longer stay.
So how do you plan a perfect day in Oslo? Follow along below:
Wake up and stroll down to a local cafe. Grab some coffee and make sure to try Norwegian bread and brown cheese with butter and jam. One great cafe option is Godt Brod, which is a Norwegian bakery chain.
After you are good and caffeinated, head into the main tourist area - pretty much all the sites surround Karl Johan's gate. You should make sure to stop and see:
- Royal Palace - this is the current residence of some the Norwegian monarchy. You can wander around the beautiful palace gardens and square that leads into the main Karl Johan’s Gate road. Tours of the actual palace can be booked in advance and offered everyday during the summer.
- National Theater - this building features prominently as an architectural highlight in the main downtown area. Build in 1899, it is still used for performances today!
- Grand hotel - this beautiful hotel is worth popping into for a drink or a meal, as it is where all the Nobel peace prize winners stay when they come to Oslo to receive the award! Famous guests include Barak Obama and many other U.S. presidents. Book here!
- Opera house roof - one of the more interactive activities you can do in Oslo as it relates to architecture, you are invited to walk onto the sloping opera house roof and take in 360 degree views of the city. You can look out to ships and swimmers in the fjord or view the city's high rise buildings.
In the winter, take advantage of the sauna culture and book a spot at SALT right on the fjord-front.
Smoked fish is a main counterpoint of food culture in Norway. Other foods which are unique to the region include reindeer and elk. We decided to enjoy the eclectic options at Vippa, which is a hipster space right on the waterfront with food stalls from all over the world.
If you are in Oslo on a Saturday, make sure to check out the Mini Bottle Gallery. This museum is more off the beaten path from regular tourist sites in Oslo. Only open on weekends, this exhibit is the largest private collection of mini bottles in the world. The bottles are displayed in cleverly set up dioramas and interactive exhibits. There is also a bar in the museum in case you are thirsty for a drink after admiring all the types of alcohol!
From there, you can head over to the Akershus Fort and walk around the grounds. This fort and castle were built in the 13th century to protect the royal family, and it has also served as a military prison and government office. Unfortunately as of this post, the inside of the fort is being restored and is not available for visitors.
Late afternoon Site-Seeing:
Head over to Oslo’s city hall to see where the Nobel peace prize is delivered. No need to go inside (and it may not be open, as it is a public building used for city council and administrative meetings). However, you can admire the statues and facades that adorn the building. You can also pay to visit the Nobel Peace Center. Here, there is a permanent exhibit about the history of the prize and past recipients, a rotating exhibition about the previous year’s winner, and a temporary exhibit in the main gallery of a featured artist.
If you are looking for an affordable yet specifically Norwegian dining experience, check out Pink Fish for salmon any way you want it! Of note, this restaurant tends to close early.
Summer days are long in Oslo, with the sun barely setting around midnight. Head over to the beautiful Frogner Park, filled with uniquely strange statues. This is the biggest sculpture park designed by a single artist, and is filled with many baroque lawns, hedges, and statues adorning long avenues for strolling. This is the most popular tourist attraction in Oslo, so shouldn’t be missed!
If you have more than a day, consider breaking up this itinerary into smaller chunks - you can spend more time at the Royal Palace and Akershus. Additionally, I didn't make it there but next time I'm in Oslo the Viking Ship Museum is at the top of my list.