Must-Visit Attractions in Oslo, Norway

You can't miss a visit to Oslo's Opera House on a visit to Norway's capital
You can't miss a visit to Oslo's Opera House on a visit to Norway's capital | © Pavel Dudek / Alamy Stock Photo

From crystalline fjords to contemporary art galleries, Oslo melds Nordic nature with cosmopolitan draws like the Munch Museum and Vigeland Sculpture Park. It might not be the cheapest city in Europe for a weekend getaway, but there’s a certain magnetic charm to Norway’s capital. Sandwiched between the icy sea and mountains, this Scandinavian city has a wonderful mix of nature and urban buzz. Here are a handful of top things to do whilst visiting Oslo.

Marvel at Oslo Fjord

Natural Feature
G5XMGF Small Village On An Island Oslofjord Norway
© Graham Mulrooney / Alamy Stock Photo
The beautiful Oslo Fjord stretches 100km (62mi) south from the city and is dotted with picturesque islands such as Langøyene, Gressholmen and Lindøya. Holidaying Norwegians flock here in the summer to swim, kayak, barbecue and enjoy cruises. From its banks, hike through nearby woodlands, open fields and quaint villages. Winter swims are popular, just with a fjordside sauna before and after.

Schuss downhill at Tryvann Ski Resort

Ski Resort
2A4MDB5 Tryvann ski resort in Norway
© NTB Scanpix / Alamy Stock Photo
Ski resorts can be enjoyed all year around, not just in the winter. Tryvann, the most popular resort in Norway dating back to the 1930s, is a 20-minute metro ride from Oslo. For skiing and snowboarding, there are 9.6km (6mi) of slopes and nine lifts – it’s a great spot to hit the pistes at night. Come summertime, you can swing among the treetops at the climbing park, rent a bike and explore the hiking trails.

Visit the Royal Palace

C582PK Royal Palace, Oslo, Norway
© Mark Dunn / Alamy Stock Photo
Norwegians are proud of their royal family and their country’s history, which makes the Royal Palace one of the country’s most important buildings since the early 1800s. Built in a neoclassical style, it has two wings and is three storeys high. Just like Buckingham Palace in London, it’s where the daily work of the monarchy is conducted and where the King and Queen still live. Book a guided tour to see its grandeur with your own eyes.

Swing by Rådhuset

W0C16E Oslo City Hall, rear view of a young woman taking a photo of the Henrik Sorensen painting inside the Great Hall in Oslo City Hall (Radhus), Norway
© Michael Brooks / Alamy Stock Photo
This red-brick, twin-towered town hall opened in 1950 to commemorate Oslo’s 900th anniversary, and today houses the city’s political administration. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded here every year, with luminaries including Yasser Arafat (1994) and Martin Luther King Jr. (1964). Inside, you’ll find Norwegian art from 1900-1950, including the mural Life by Edvard Munch. The building hosts regular concerts and guided tours.

Step inside Oslo Cathedral

KK5AP3 Oslo, Norway - February 28, 2016: Ceiling decoration by Norwegian painter Hugo Lous Mohr inside Oslo Cathedral (Norway)
© Felix Lipov / Alamy Stock Photo
A significant historic landmark in the centre of Oslo, the cathedral was first consecrated in 1697 and restored back to its original baroque interior in 1950 after World War II. Today it is used for weddings and funerals by the Norwegian royal family and government. Learn all about its storied past and architecture with a guided tour – book in advance – or enjoy one of the regular classical concerts put on here.

Stroll through the Vigeland Sculpture Park

Museum, Park
E7WB3H Frognerpark Vigeland Park, Oslo, Norway
© Luis Dafos / Alamy Stock Photo
This is the world’s largest sculpture park: inside Oslo’s Frogner Park, more than 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland (1869–1943) stand in bronze, granite and cast iron. Vigeland designed this park, and there’s a museum on site dedicated to his work inside his old studio and home. Every year, over a million visitors wander the beautiful grounds along the life-like animated sculptures. The park has a delightful cafe. Entry is free and it’s open all year, 24 hours a day.

Step back in time at the Akershus Fortress

Archaeological site
TRNFG9 Akershus Oslo, view at night across Oslo fjord towards the Akershus Festning (fortress) complex sited in the city harbour, Oslo, Norway.
© Michael Brooks / Alamy Stock Photo
This medieval fortress dates back to the 1300s, and was converted into a renaissance castle and royal residence by King Christian IV (1588-1648). It’s the ideal place to discover Oslo’s royal and military history, with guided tours throughout the summer. Enter through a gate at the end of Akersgata, or over a drawbridge. It also acts as a unique backdrop to a raft of cultural events from concerts to plays.

Ride rollercoasters at TusenFryd Amusement Park

Amusement Park
2A4KF7A Tusenfryd Amusement Park outside Oslo
© NTB Scanpix / Alamy Stock Photo
Hold on to your hats – Norway’s largest amusement park offers up high-octane fun. Rides include Speedmonster, a towering rollercoaster that’s faster than a Formula 1 car, and SpinSpider, a terrifying-looking carousel attached to a huge pendulum. There are 30 rides in total and plenty are child- and family-friendly, plus there’s games, shops and eateries. The park is around 20 km (12mi) from the centre of Oslo – hop on a bus that stops at the entrance.

Peruse the Kon-Tiki Museum

2A2TPNX OSLO, NORWAY - Kon-Tiki raft in museum, Oslo waterfront
© Rob Crandall / Alamy Stock Photo
In 1947, a primitive raft named Kon-Tiki set sail across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands, led by Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl. It became one of the greatest sea voyages in modern history. You can see the raft here, among other vessels used by Heyerdahl and a library with 8,000 books. Nearly 20 million people have visited the museum since it opened its doors in 1950.

Ponder artwork in the Munch Museum

Building, Museum
T7A5P4 A visitor admiring the Starry Night (1922-24) by Edvard Munch.Munch Museum.Oslo.Norway
© CNMages / Alamy Stock Photo
Edvard Munch’s The Scream painting won’t be on display to the public until 2022 – but in the meantime, this modern riverside museum holds the world’s largest collection of Munch’s other works. Watch video tours and talks on his life and art, plus enjoy an outstanding programme of events and activities to gain insight into this pioneer of expressionism. The shop sells reproductions of famous Munch motifs and books on the artist. The coffee shop is also excellent.

This is an updated rewrite of an article by Louise Older Steffensen.

These recommendations were updated on August 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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