Oslo Essentials:

How big is Oslo?
One of Scandinavia’s top destinations, Oslo covers an area of 426.9 square kilometres or 164.8 square miles. It is both the capital and largest city of Norway.
How many people inhabit it?
Almost 580,000 people call Oslo home.
What are the language and the currency?
In Oslo the people speak Norwegian as their official language. English is also widely spoken. The currency used here is the Norwegian kroner (NOK).
  • Inside the Viking Ship Museum
Inside the Viking Ship Museum A pier in Oslo The Royal Palace Skeleton on display in the Viking Ship Museum The Nobel Peace Centre At the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History Karl Johans Gate

Things to see in Oslo

The Nobel Field exhibit
Tell me about one of the main attractions in Oslo?
One of Oslo’s top attractions is the Nobel Peace Center on Brynjulf Bulls Plass. Opened in 2005, the Center was designed to be accessible to everyone and educates its numerous visitors about the Nobel Peace Prize. Permanent exhibits about the deserving recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize can be seen alongside a number of temporary exhibits charged with shining a light on some of the major issues of today. Two of the more popular permanent displays are the Nobel Field with its shining lights and the Nobel Chamber which houses a Harry Potter-esque interactive book about the life of Alfred Nobel.
Anything else which shouldn’t be missed?
If you head to the Bygdøy area you’ll come across two more top attractions. These are the Viking Ship Museum on Huk Aveny and the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History on Museumsveien. In the Viking Ship Museum you’ll see the remains of three Viking Ships used as burial ships over a thousand years ago. The skeletons found in two of these ships, along with various artefacts found with them, can also be seen here. Nearby, the open-air Norwegian Museum of Cultural History houses a huge number of traditional Norwegian buildings including traditional, colourful wooden houses dating from various periods in the country’s history. Here you’ll also see people wandering around in traditional dress as they go about daily routines including baking, folk dancing and caring for the museum’s farm animals. Edvard Munch is well known for iconic paintings like ‘The Scream’ among others. Many of his works of art can be seen in the Munch Museum in Tøyen. As a result of the theft of two of these paintings in 2004, security at the museum is pretty tight. Still, the trip through the metal detector is a small price to pay for the chance to see the breathtaking work of one of Norway’s most famous artists. For a taste of medieval Norway, check out the Akerhus Fortress which began construction in 1299. Here you can wander along the Fortress walls for great views of the city. The Fortress is also home to Akerhus Castle, which hosts the Royal Mausoleum, the Castle church complete with large organ, and a number of elaborate banqueting and meeting halls.
If I’m running low on funds are there any attractions I can visit for free?
There are! Some of Oslo’s most enjoyable attractions can be visited free of charge. These include the stunning Vigeland Sculpture Park, which is one of the most arresting sights in the entire world. The vision of artist Gustav Vigeland, the park is home to over 200 plus statues of the human form in various poses. From the towering Monolith Plateau to the statue-lined Bridge, these sculptures are seen by more than a million visitors each year. A stroll through the Vår Frelsers Cemetery will bring to the final resting places of some of Norway’s most famous citizens. You’ll see the well-kept graves of Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch, among others. The cemetery was established in 1902 and also includes a chapel. Two of the city’s best art galleries are also completely free to visit. These are the impressive National Gallery and the National Museum of Contemporary Art. The National Gallery boasts a collection of more than 48,000 words of art from paintings to sculptures and much more. Some of the artists featured in this well-loved gallery include Munch, Van Gogh, Degas, Monet and Picasso. Spread out over two floors, the National Museum of Contemporary Art is home to a large selection of modern art exhibits, from colourful paintings to interesting video installations. If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, you should check out the Botanical Garden in Tøyen. Established in 1814, this large garden is home to numerous glasshouses, a scent garden, and lots more. From colourful roses to prickly cacti, you’ll see it all here.
Say I want to hit the shops. Where should I go?
Shopping in Oslo is plentiful, with numerous malls and a huge selection of stores. The main shopping street in the city is Karl Johans Gate, which stretches from the main train station all the way to the Royal Palace. Here you’ll come across a large number of international brands including Mango, H&M, Vero Moda and many more. The Paleet shopping centre can also be found on this street. Other major shopping centres include Aker Brygge Shopping and Oslo City, the 5-storey mall close to the main train station. Two of the city’s top department stores are Steen & Strom on Kongensgate and GlasMagasinet on Stortorvet.

Going out in Oslo

Inside the Oslo Opera House
Where are most of the bars found?
Going out in Oslo can take you to numerous parts of the city, with a wide variety of bars, pubs and clubs spread throughout the city’s various neighbourhoods. Grünerløkka is a great spot to go for cool bars with an alternative vibe. Rock music fans will love the selection of rock and metal bars to be found in and around the city centre, and those in search of a cocktail or a packed dance floor will also find what they need in Oslo’s diverse city centre area.
Do I need to carry my ID with me when going out?
It’s a good idea to have your ID with you as some places do ask for it at the entrance or if you order alcohol.
Where would you recommend?
For colourful cocktails and a cool club, check out Z Clubs on Karl Johans Gate. It’s a pretty impressive set-up in here with the bar and club spread out over three levels. Pop, rock and dance music can all be heard here, so there really is something for everyone. The drinks menu is quite varied too, with shots, wines and beers available alongside the cocktails. Whether you prefer sitting on a comfy couch enjoying a drink by candlelight or if you’re more interested in dancing the night away, head to Z Clubs. For something a bit more laid back, check out QBA on Olaf Ryes Plass in Grünerløkka. A busy venue by day when locals come to chat and make use of the bar’s free WiFi, it’s also popular with a youngish crowd at night. Tasty cocktails like the ever popular Long Island Iced Tea are available at reasonable prices, along a wide variety of other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The balance between laid-back atmosphere and chatty punters make this an especially enjoyable bar to spend some time in. Fans of the monster movie genre will love the decorations in Doctor Jekylls on Klingenberggata, from the stills of classic movies like Dracula and Frankenstein to the dusty books and stuffed ravens around the bar. A large selection of whiskeys is available for you to sample, with lots of other drinks also to be had at reasonable prices too. Head down the stairs and you’ll enter the sports bar, home to big-screen TVs and pool tables galore.
Anything to do that doesn’t involve alcohol?
There is indeed! If you’re looking to sample some of Oslo’s cultural delights you should check out the Oslo Opera House on Kirsten Flagstads plass. This unique building holds three different stages and these stages host everything from ballet to musical performances and much more. While you’re here, make sure to go for a walk up the side of the building and stroll across the roof for great views of the surrounding area.

Eating Out in Oslo

Lunch at Villa Paradiso
Is it expensive to eat out in Oslo?
Oslo can be pretty expensive in terms of food and drink but if you look around you will be able to find cheaper options that still taste great.
Where is the best selection of restaurants in the city?
If you’re looking for a good selection of restaurants while in Oslo, there are some parts of the city that you should definitely check out. These include the city centre streets of Karl Johans Gate, Torggata and Youngsgate. Head out to the suburb of Grünerløkka and you’ll come across a number of great value restaurants and cafés in and around Olaf Ryes Plass. Aker Brygge, one of the city’s more touristy areas, is also brimming with places to eat.
Are international cuisines well represented?
They are! From tasty Thai to delicious Italian, you’ll find restaurants serving foods from all over the world in this cosmopolitan city. Of course, Norwegian cuisine is also well-represented.
Any places you’d recommend?
There are! While in Oslo you should definitely check out the Ricebowl Thai Café on Youngsgate. It’s a really popular spot with the locals and you’ll often see queues for a table. These move quickly though, and the food here is worth the short wait. Portions are large and delicious, and all dishes are very reasonably priced. An English menu is available and you’ll find it filled with traditional rice and noodle dishes. The decor is pretty cool too, with lots of pieces from Thailand including musical instruments hanging all over the walls. If it’s pizza you crave, then head to Peppes Pizza on Karl Johans Gate. Part of a local chain, Peppes is less expensive than many of Oslo’s restaurants. Pizzas are large and covered with a wide variety of toppings. Other dishes including nachos, burgers, salads and more are also offered. As you sit at one of the many tables on either of the restaurant’s two floors, be sure to have a look around at the kitschy decorations around you, from model ships to movie posters. Villa Paradiso on Olaf Ryes Plass in Grünerløkka is another great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The staff here are extremely friendly and have great English. On the menu you’ll find a number of Italian dishes, including pizzas and giant sandwiches. A busy spot, it’s often packed full of chattering locals giving it a lively atmosphere. Oslo has numerous cafés where you can enjoy coffee and a pastry in the morning. Two such cafés are Kaffebrenneriet on Brynjulf Bulls Plass and Stockfleths on Prinsens gate. Kaffebrenneriet offers a wide variety of coffees, as well as freshly squeezed juices, pastries, sandwiches and more. Thanks to its location close to the Nobel Peace Center and Aker Brygge, it’s a busy spot with plenty of tables both inside and out. Over on Prinsens gate, Stockfleths has a large seating area down the stairs from the busy counter area. A great place for either breakfast or lunch, this café serves pastries, bread and sandwiches alongside an array of coffees.
Anything else I need to know?
If you stock up on bottled water at one of the many stores around the city, keep in mind that if you return the empties of some brands you’ll get a few kroner for your effort!

Transport in Oslo

City bikes in Oslo
How many different modes of public transport are there in Oslo?
A few! The tram, metro and bus systems are quite popular. Running over 6 lines, the ‘Oslotrikken’ tram system serves both the city centre and the suburbs. The metro also runs on 6 lines, while the buses run across the city by day with a number of night time services also available.
Will I need to use public transport at all?
You will. Getting around the city centre on foot is completely doable; however, you will need to use public transport to get to some of the awesome things to see and do in Oslo’s suburbs.

Make your trip go further with Hostels.com. We offer the most comprehensive selection of hostels on the internet with over 35,000 hostels in 180 countries. Bringing you great value and providing a service that is fuss free, reliable and frankly brilliant! Hostels.com the ultimate resource for great value accommodation all over the world.

  • Posted: Thursday, September 3, 2009
  • Comments: 0
City Guides and Information

Video guides, travel podcasts, city maps & free city guides. What to eat, where to stay and things to do and see - our travel guides have it all.

Find a guide »
Latest Blog Post

We want to make sure that you get to explore as much of Paris as possible and that includes the nightlife scene. We've compiled some of the best places in Paris to check out if ...

Read more »
Great Value and Choice

We offer the most comprehensive selection of hostels on the internet with over 33,000 great places to stay in 170 countries. The ultimate online resource for hostels everywhere.

Find great value hostels »