– Written by Victoria Philpott
‘Oslo’ and ‘budget’ are not two words you hear together very often. Norway is the most expensive city in the world and as the capital, Oslo will cost you even more Krone. But, please don’t let this put you off. I went to Oslo in May and was genuinely amazed at how beautiful the city was, and how much there was to do there for free. You could happily entertain yourself on a sunny day for free in Oslo with all the parks, free museums and free galleries.
The Oslo Pass is a great option for budget travellers too. You get free entry to more than 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all public transport, free parking, and discounts on many other activities and restaurants.
Cost: 24 hours = 270NOK (€36) | 48 hours = 395 NOK (€52) | 72 hours = 495NOK (€65)
Here are my top 7 things to do in Oslo on a budget…
1. Go on a cruise around the fjords
Take a two-hour guided cruise around the fjords and back along the Aker Brygge harbour. You’ll learn all about the little houses on the islands, where the royal family live and how the Oslobergers spend their time in this beautiful area. You’ll also learn what exactly a fjord is – if only I could remember – they look great anyway. Refreshments are served on board and there are plenty of blankets to go round. This is the most expensive thing on the list, but well worth it.
Cost: 250NOK (€33). If you have an Oslo Pass you can get 15% off the price.
2. Visit the Armed Forces Museum
The Armed Forces Museum in Oslo (the Forsvarsmuseet) is incredible. It’s free to enter and there are thousands of exhibits to enjoy and learn from. See how backpacking was done just a few years ago with the wooden structures they’d carry on their backs during the war and all the crazy utensils they had to carry with them.
You can also see a real Tiger Moth plane, life-size exhibits, interactive shows and cabinets full of guns, weapons and other war memorabilia.
3. Check out the Nobel Peace Centre
The Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo houses dedications and memorials to all the Nobel Peace Prize Winners of days gone by. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 92 times to 124 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2011 – 99 times to individuals and 23 times to organisations.
The award is given out every year at City Hall just a few steps away from the Centre above. At the Centre you can watch videos dedicated to the current prize winners – in 2012 it’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman – learn about past ones, and offer your wishes for peace and unity by writing on a card and sending it down the wire loop.
Cost: 80 kr (€10.66) or free with the Oslo Pass.
4. Stroll along Aker Brygge
Aker Brygge is the most expensive part of the most expensive city in the most expensive country in the world. This is where you’ll have to start flashing the cash if you want to eat in the restaurants. There is a TGI Friday serving the usual suspects where you can get a meal for around €15, or there’s a pub called Rorbua where I had a delicious elk burger for around €12 (small, but tasty!). I also enjoyed a delicious meal at D/S Louise Restaurant & Bar where I had a salted herring and potato dinner and my friend enjoyed an incredible traditional Norwegian stew.
Strolling along the harbour front doesn’t cost you anything though. You can admire the boats, buy an ice cream (oops, there I go spending again), imagine yourself living in one of the apartments and check out how the developments are coming along for the Museum of Modern Art. You can also look out onto the beautiful Oslo fjords and enjoy the views of Akershus Castle as you walk back.
Cost: Free (unless you buy that ice cream)
5. Visit the Vigeland Sculpture Park
In 1939 Mr Gustav Vigeland carefully modelled 212 naked life-size figures out of bronze, granite and wrought iron – along with a team of carvers and casters to finish them off. The result is the incredible Vigeland Sculpture Park. It’s the largest sculpture park in the world and took Gustav 10 years to craft and place everything.
The central fountain you see above shows off the circle of life: from cradle to grave and back to cradle again. There are clusters of trees as you can see in the background which represent a different stage of life. There’s an amazing 100m bridge in the centre of the park with 58 sculptures flanking it – including the famous ‘Little Angry Boy’ – people rub his fist for good luck and its now gold where the colour’s worn off.
6. Shop in Grünerløkka
Grünerløkka is the ‘cool’ part of Oslo. It’s where all the bohemian trendies hang out and houses the coolest Oslo nightlife. Top places include Parkteatret, Fru Hagen and Bar Boca for a (relatively) cheap pint. Make sure you have a good walk around and even though the boutique shops are probably out of your price range there are loads of fun junk and second hand shops that had cool stuff. I was flying with Ryanair though – so no chance they would’ve fit in my backpack.
While you’re in Grünerløkka make sure you visit the cool weekend Bla Market. It’s quite small but there are plenty of cute things to buy and you can stick around and enjoy the bar by the river too.
Cost: Free (unless you get spending)
7. Explore the Mini Bottle Gallery
I know it sounds a bit random, but this was one of the coolest things I did in Oslo. The Mini Bottle Gallery houses thousands of mini booze bottles in every shape you can imagine. There’s a whole section dedicated to bottles from different countries and there are even bottles shaped like pretzels, clowns and footballs. Make sure you don’t miss the ‘sexy room’ on the tops floor. It’s so weird.
There’s also a fun game on the second floor where have to guess what alcohol it is you’re sniffing in different boxes. Very entertaining. There’s a bar inside where you can order a real drink and you’ll also get a few samples to try on the way in too.
Cost: 85 NOK (€11)
Where to stay in Oslo
Or try the Oslo Youth Hostel Haraldsheim. It’s 4km from the centre of Oslo ensuring green surroundings. There are plenty of common areas and there’s also a laundry, a drying room and guest kitchen on site and a daily breakfast is included in the price. Dorms are male or female only. Beds start from €35.27pppn, but you can get 20% off on selected rooms in our Summer Sale right now.