Oslo: A Visitor's Guide

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Oslo’s quiet was slightly jarring after coming from the busier Stockholm, but being there for a week really allowed the city to sink in. Oslo definitely set itself apart as a city of art. From the sculptures in Vigeland Park & seeing Munch’s “The Scream” in person at the National Gallery, to experiencing dope black musicians at Oslo World, the city showed its quiet surface hid an underlying current of creativity.  While a week may be too long of a visit, 3 days seems to be the sweet spot, as anything more will have you clamoring for a more bustling locale.

Luckily, one of the Norwegian airline's hubs is located in Oslo, so you can easily hop to several cities within Scandinavia for practically nothing.  If you’re looking for a trip to Scandinavia, plan to include multiple cities into your experience to give you well-rounded experience in this part of the world.

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Just like Stockholm, Oslo’s incredibly expensive, so any way you can save a couple of Krones is worth knowing. Here’s our guide to some of the must-dos in the city.

Getting into the city

The train is the best (and inexpensive) way to get into the city from the airport.  The fastest way to downtown Oslo is by Flytoget, which takes about 20 minutes, however you will pay for the quick convenience.

The cheapest way how to get to city center is to take the regional train that connects the airport with Oslo S (the main railway station). The tickets are about half the price of the express train and the journey takes about 15 minutes more.

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The Oslo Pass

City passes are perfect for saving cash when it comes to touring a city’s sights and museums, and Oslo Pass operates like most city passes. One thing that stands out about the Oslo pass is that it includes free public transportation, so not only do you get access to many of the city’s landmarks, getting there is covered as well!

The Oslo pass is digital, so you’ll need a smart phone to utilize it, but it’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about, because you’ll always have the pass with you.

Pro-Tip: Don’t start the timer on your pass until you are about to get on public transportation (or if you’re already there) or about to walk into a museum.  This way, you’ll get the most out of your 24 hour limits.

Pro-Tip #2: The Oslo Pass does not work on the regional train to get to/from the airport.

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Vigeland Park

One of the free options for culture in Oslo is Vigeland Park.  Home to over 200 sculptures in bronze, wrought iron, and granite by artist Gustav Vigeland and is the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist. The park is the perfect mix of art & nature and a quick ride on the train from the city center will get you there.

Pro-Tip:  If you visit the park and enjoy Vigeland’s work, check out his museum with his earlier pieces and more of his sculptures just a few blocks away from the park.

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Fjords

Similar to Stockholm, the center of Oslo is surrounded by islands. With your Oslo Pass (or a public transportation ticket), you can take a ferry and go island hopping between the islands in the inner Oslo Fjord, another great way to learn about the city.

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Oslo World

If you’re looking for a great time to visit Oslo in the fall, Oslo World is a good option to plan your trip around. During the six days of the festival in late October, you will find more than 300 artists performing at 25 different venues in the city – Oslo World presents music in all genres, from all over the world.

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 Spoek Mathambo, an artist from South Africa performing during the second night of the festival.

Spoek Mathambo, an artist from South Africa performing during the second night of the festival.

 Gafacci, a dj/producer from Ghana.

Gafacci, a dj/producer from Ghana.

 Ibaaku, a dj from Senegal performing during the Afro-futurism portion of the festival.

Ibaaku, a dj from Senegal performing during the Afro-futurism portion of the festival.

We were able to catch artists from Ghana, Senegal & South Africa (a completely rare, yet dope occurrence in Norway), and get a perspective on black music from a different perspective.  It was quite interesting to be in an audience that was largely non-black experiencing inherently black music (shout out to Gafacci, Ibaaku & Spoek Mathambo for outstanding sets during the festival). One of the days of the festival was dedicated to Afro-futurism in music, and the festival was able to pull it off without being disrespectful or pandering.  Honestly, it was surprising, but refreshing.

Munch Museum

A mix of Munch’s works (fair warning, you won’t see “The Scream” here) and works that are aesthetically similar to his style.  This museum is free with the Oslo Pass.

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Nasjonal Museet (Oslo National Museum of Art)

Another museum that is free with the Oslo Pass and worth visiting is the National Museum of Art.  Here, you will be able to get up close and personal (well, at least up to the velvet rope) with Munch’s “The Scream” as well as select works from Picasso, Warhol, and many other famous artists.  There’s also sections of the museum dedicated to photography and sculpture and throughout the year they host several temporary exhibitions, so you may catch an interesting collection while visiting.

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Paul’s Boutique

Hit the bottom of Paul’s Boutique for the party you’d never expect in Oslo.  During the day it’s a cafe serving your typical latte & croissant and broody barista, but at night the mood shifts and becomes a local hotspot. We rolled up to the spot on a Saturday night after having the place suggested to us by newfound friends in the city, and to our surprise found a DJ playing nothing but reggae, R&B and hip-hop.  We won’t completely commit to calling it a bashment party (because this is still in Norway), but it definitely felt close.  The drinks were reasonable (again, by Norwegian standards, not by the standards of the U.S. dollar) and the vibe was chill, and we’re sure we saw a hefty chunk of Oslo’s black population that night.

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All in all, Oslo’s a super safe city with a deep appreciation for the international arts and if you let it, it will surprise you with its culture and individuality.

*This experience was sponsored in part by Norwegian, Visit Oslo and Oslo World.

Have you been to Oslo?  Let us know some of your favorite things to do in the comments below!