How to spend 72 hours in Oslo, Norway
Recently, Scandinavia’s tourist trade has soared from where it was a couple years ago. And, rightly so Norway has made it onto many wanderlust lists for its beautiful landscapes. Whilst Oslo probably wouldn’t make it onto my list of best European city breaks, it is still definitely not one to be missed. Especially if, like me, you’re an avid art enthusiast.
This city doesn’t do things half-hearted. Oslo is in the process of transforming its dated 70’s architecture into modern geometric pieces of art which resemble colossal icebergs. I’m not joking, just Google ‘Oslo Opera House’ or ‘She Lies Sculpture’. Talk about mimicking the natural landscape in manmade architecture.
Oslo is easily accessible as a solo break or part of a larger trip around Norway. I visited during the 2018 May bank holiday to enjoy some beautiful weather and stunning views across the fjords. Two things of which you don’t get over a bank holiday in the UK.
But when you only have 72 hours in Oslo – like I did – where do you start? What must you do to make the most of your time and get the best feel for the city possible?
SEE ALSO: How to travel Iceland on a Budget
Day One: Parks and Art
Frogner Park and Vigeland Sculptures
For Oslo, the day starts later than many European cities. Museums and galleries open from 10am. To start day one of your 72 hours in Oslo, grab a tram to the largest Park in Oslo. If there is one thing about Norwegians, it’s that they love the sun and truly make the most of it when they can. But who wouldn’t when your winter is spent almost in complete darkness!
In the Summer months, the locals flock to Oslo’s parks, docks and open spaces where they’re no stranger to catching some rays. Frogner Park is home to over 200 sculptures created by artist Gustav Vigeland, which beautifully capture the emotion in human interactions. Walking through the park is incredible and you’ll be amazed by the depth of feeling that Gustav manages to share in his sculptures. Entry to the park is totally free but if you want to learn more about Gustav and his art, there is a museum inside the park and entry is 80NOK or about £7.
Nobel Peace Centre
Jumping back on a tram, head to the Nobel Peace Centre (Akey Brygge). Begin as you mean to go on, right. Every year, this very building is the home to the Nobel Peace Prize celebration. And year round, the Nobel Peace Centre is open to the public for 100 Nok (around £8) to see changing exhibitions based around war, peace and conflict resolution. However, if you have an Oslo Pass, you can get entry for free.
Astrup Museum of Modern Art
Take a right out of the Nobel Peace Centre and head down Stranden, along the water’s edge. Throughout the summer months, a plethora of crepe and ice creams stops open to get your taste buds watering. I totally recommend picking up a scoop of salted caramel ice cream here if you can foot the rather stealthy £6 a scoop price tag. That being said, it’s well worth it as it is the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
At the end of the pier, you will arrive at the Astrup museum of modern art. If you are a fan of Art, I recommend heading inside to see the latest exhibitions from a mix of local and foreign artists. It will set you back about £11.50 or 130NOK but with several floors and two wings to explore, it’s totally worth it.
Back across the boulevard style boardwalk, you’ll find a number of incredible restaurants which are sure to take your fancy for dinner.
Day 2: Forts and Gardens
Once a medieval castle, Akershus fortress is now home to the Norwegian Military but with wings open to the public it’s a great way to start off day two of your 72 hours in Oslo. With a mixture of things to see inside from prison cells to royal chambers, Akershus Fortress will get you out of the cold for an hour if you are visiting in Winter. In the Summer, there are some great places to sit outside, with incredible views across the docks and fjords in the bay.
Museum of Edvard Munch
Heading east, past the Government Offices toward the Munch Museum. Edvard Munch was a Norwegian painter and considered a pioneer in the expressionism movement and best known for ‘the Scream’. When he died, Munch left his work to the city of Oslo, to which it is now permanently displayed. For 120NOK (£10.60) you can explore the world of Munch, a must see when visiting Oslo. Again, totally free if you pick up an Oslo Pass.
Oslo Opera House
The first thing you think of when someone mentions Oslo is the famous Opera House. Built with smashing traditional “please don’t touch” ideologies of similar buildings, the Oslo Opera house was made to be climbed. A fantastic viewing platform of the Arkshus Fort, Byodgy Dock and across the Oslo Fjords. End your afternoon atop the Opera House, watching the sunset dip behind the fjords in the distance before heading our for dinner.
In Norway, climbing mountains feels like the most natural thing to do — so why shouldn’t this also apply to buildings?
Day 3: Island Hopping
Bygdøy Ferry Tour
Jump on board the Bygdøy ferry and start your last day in Oslo with a little bit of Island hopping. The ferry departs every 30 minutes or so from Pier 3 by the Arkshus Fortress. You can buy tickets once on board for 69NOK for a return journey or travel for free with the Oslo Pass.
The ferry has two stops before heading back to it’s starting point. The first is Dronningen where you can visit the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and the Viking Ship Museum. And the second being Bygdøynes for the Kon-Tiki, Fram and Norwegian Maritime Museum. A return journey on the ferry allows you to hop on and off the two stops as you please. So take your final day in Oslo slowly. Take in the sights as you journey through the fjords and the history to be found inside the museums.
I totally recommend the Viking Ship Museum, with real, reconstructed Viking ships, light shows and artefacts you can easily spend an hour roaming around. And a plus, with the Oslo pass, it’s – you guessed it – free.
The Royal Palace and Gardens
Take a stroll Slottsparken, the luscious gardens of the Royal Palace. Like I mentioned before, Norwegians love the outdoors and making the most of the brilliant weather in the summer. The Royal Palace grounds was one of my favourite of picnic spots whilst in Oslo (of that there are many). In the summer, the Royal Palace is open to the public through guided tours for 135NOK (£12).
SEE ALSO: How to spend 72 hours in Prague
72 hours in Oslo. Done.
Albeit a jam packed 72 hours, but 72 hours of mesmerising architecture, museums, galleries, parks and incredible Ice Cream. Oslo treats you well.
Have you ever been to Oslo? I’m sitting here writing this, almost 10 months after visiting and I truly forgot how impressive of a city Oslo is. It has been given a lot to live up to, not a month passes where I don’t see a photo taken from the top of a mountain or across the lake of a picturesque village. Trolltunga and Bergen are serious Instagram hotspots. And it’s true that they set wildly unrealistic expectations for Oslo. Oslo is nothing like your stereotypical view of Norway. In reality if you want to see the grandest of Fjords you need to get out to Hardangerfjord or Lysefjord. But that does not mean Oslo is not spectacular in it’s own right. In a sense it has entirely its own personality. There’s a lot of history, art and culture to be immerse yourself in. Exactly what I look for in a great city to be honest!