Located between lush forests and a spectacular fjord, Oslo is the perfect city-break destination for anyone who loves culture, food or history. For disability-friendly transport options, hotel suggestions and insider tips, here’s a guide on how to explore the Norwegian capital for those with limited mobility.
With its vibrant harbour, fascinating museums and idyllic parks, Oslo is packed with things to do and see. Thanks to its excellent public transport system, regular dropped pavements and commitment to making public buildings accessible, it is also a great city to visit with limited mobility. “Oslo is one of the most wheelchair-friendly cities in Scandinavia,” says John Morris, a wheelchair user and founder of accessible travel website wheelchairtravel.org. “It offers travellers of all abilities an opportunity to connect with local culture, beautiful landscapes and the city’s unique history.”
“The majority of public transport in Oslo is wheelchair accessible, including the national railways, metro system, city buses and ferries,” confirms Morris. Passengers in wheelchairs can also travel for free on all public transport operated by Ruter including the bus, tram, ferry and subway inside the city of Oslo. All metro trains have low floors and no steps. They also all have ramps or lifts to the platform, with the exception of Frøen station, though beware of some gaps between the carriage and platform. Announcements are made in stations and on the trains.
All buses have lower floors to aid boarding, though there is usually only space for one wheelchair on board. Use the middle doors and press the wheelchair button to notify the driver. Trams are more variable. The newest trams on lines 13, 17 and 18 have low floors for boarding and a button to alert the driver; however, older trams on lines 11, 12 and 19 have steps, making them more difficult to board. “As it is such a walkable and rollable city,” Morris points out, “visitors may just prefer to move about independently when travelling shorter distances. Sidewalks in the city centre are largely accessible, and its relatively compact footprint means it’s great for independent exploration.”
With most sights adapted for accessibility and close to the city centre, Oslo is a great city for sightseeing with limited mobility. “Oslo boasts a wide variety of attractions, from the museums of history, art and culture to public parks, art installations and historical buildings, the majority of which are wheelchair accessible,” says Morris.
During the summer months, the Royal Palace – the official residence of King Harald V of Norway – is a good place to start. Tours of the lavish state rooms and pristine gardens are available between June and August, and a lift is available for those with limited mobility. Wheelchairs can also be provided.
Other attractions include the National Theatre, Parliament Building, the Nobel Peace Center and the Edvard Munch Museum, which are all fully accessible to wheelchairs. Oslo’s Opera House received an accessibility award from the Council of Europe in 2014 for its innovative design. This includes broad ramps giving everyone access to the roof of the building.
To learn more about the city’s famous history, head to the Viking Ship Museum. This includes some of the world’s best-preserved Viking ships and several treasures unearthed during archaeological digs including utensils and wood carvings. All the exhibitions are accessible, and the museum also has a lift and accessible toilets in the basement. Some doorways (including the main entrance) are heavy, but staff are more than happy to provide assistance.
If the weather’s good, be sure to check out Frogner Park, a peaceful expanse of lawn, lakes and water fountains crossed by wheelchair accessible paths. The Oslo City Museum is at the park’s south end and has ramps and adapted bathrooms. Wheelchair-accessible paths lead to the famous Vigelund Sculpture Park, home to more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron.
Bogstadvannet (Bogstad Lake), Nøklevann, Svarttjern and Sognsvann are four beaches and swimming areas in Oslo that comply with universal accessibility requirements and have suitable toilets, a bathing ramp and disabled parking. They also have an accessible fishing jetty.
Though most hotels in Oslo have facilities for those with limited mobility, be sure to choose one in the city centre for easier access to the main tourist attractions and public transport links.
For those looking to explore Oslo’s shopping scene, you won’t find a better location than this central three-star hotel. In the same building as the Byporten Shopping Centre and next door to the Central Station, this cool, contemporary hotel is also close to the urban Grünerløkka district, the Opera and several restaurants. Scandic Byporten excels at accessibility, listing dimensions of rooms and facilities on their website and training staff to cater for disabled guests across their hotel chain. This particular property has six accessible rooms with fully equipped bathrooms, wide corridors to public areas and disabled parking.
Thon Hotel Slottsparken
The three-star Thon Hotel Slottsparken is ideal if you’re sticking to a strict budget. Situated in a tranquil neighbourhood by the Royal Palace, it is within easy reach of restaurants and nightlife. Stylish but simple rooms come with a kitchenette to help keep dining costs down, although a buffet breakfast is also included. There are four accessible rooms, disabled parking and an accessible lift, as well as free coffee and newspapers in reception.
Grand Hotel Oslo
Norway’s best-known hotel, the five-star Grand Hotel Oslo opened in 1874 and has since hosted world leaders, celebrities and Nobel Peace Prize laureates. The iconic property on Karl Johans Gate has a rooftop bar, heated indoor pool and elegant lobby restaurant. It also has three accessible rooms, a wide main entrance, parking assistance and accessible public areas.
During your city-break, be sure to consult Wheelmap, an app and website that lists the accessibility of restaurants and tourist attractions throughout the city. Also note that wheelchair taxis are available from Oslo Taxi, though it is a good idea to reserve them in advance.