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Free Self-Guided Oslo Walking Tour: Highlights & Overlooked Gems (With Map!)

Oslo’s fame and allure for tourists stem from its unique blend of rich history, innovative architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and commitment to green living. It’s a city where every corner holds a story and an Oslo walking tour is the best way to absorb the mix of the city’s urban, classic, and contemporary sights. This post includes a map for a self-guided free walking tour of Oslo. Enjoy your walk! 🙂

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Why Choose This Free Self-Guided Oslo Walking Tour?

This free self-guided Oslo walking tour itinerary is perfect if you are short on time and trying to save some money. With our free map, you can follow the route quite easily without having to hire an expensive guide for the day. 

The tour will take you past most of the city’s major attractions, landmark public buildings, places of worship, cultural venues, restaurants, and cafes. You’ll also learn a few lesser-known facts about Oslo along the way.

The tour will take you through the center of Oslo and the neighborhoods of Tjuvholmen, Aker Brygge, and Bjørvika. Many areas in central Oslo are traffic-free, which makes the compact city pleasurably walkable.

Oslo Walking Tour Itinerary

The walking tour covers a total distance of approximately 7.45 kilometers (4.63 miles). The tour starts at Oslo Central Station and terminates at the Munch Museum. Of course, you can do this walking tour the other way around if it suits you better. 

Feel free to take a break if you feel jaded along the way. I have included some cafés and restaurants on the map where you can take a breather and grab a bite. On this Oslo walking tour, you will see:

  1. Oslo Central Station
  2. Tiger Sculpture
  3. Karl Johans Gate
  4. Oslo Cathedral
  5. Norwegian Parliament Building
  6. National Theater
  7. University Square
  8. Royal Palace
  9. Oslo Concert Hall
  10. Tjuvholmen
  11. Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
  12. Aker Brygge
  13. Nobel Peace Center
  14. National Museum
  15. Oslo City Hall
  16. Christiania Square
  17. Akershus Fortress
  18. Oslo Stock Exchange
  19. Deichman Bjørvika
  20. Oslo Opera House
  21. Barcode Project
  22. Munch Museum

1. Oslo Central Station

People strolling in the square in front of the Oslo Central Station. PC: trabantos /

Start your Oslo walking tour at the Oslo Central Station (Oslo Sentralstasjon). As Oslo’s as well as Norway’s main railway station, it serves as the main junction for both domestic and international trains. The station is a bustling hub of activity and over 150,000 people pass through its doors every day.

The station extends beyond its functional role. Inside, you’ll find a diverse range of shops from high-street fashion outlets to stores selling Norwegian design and souvenirs.

Oslo Central Station also stands out for its cutting-edge architecture. Its façades are largely covered in glass, allowing natural light to flood the interiors and creating an atmosphere of spaciousness and transparency. The emphasis on straight lines, simplicity, and functionality embodies a typical Scandinavian design approach.

One of the most striking architectural features of Oslo Central is its large hall “Østbanehallen.” Formerly a train shed, it has been transformed into a modern food court that features a diverse range of eateries.


Your next stop is the Tiger Sculpture (2) which lies just outside the Oslo Central Station.

2. Tiger Sculpture

The famous Tiger Sculpture outside the Oslo Central Station. PC: Arndale /

Standing just outside of Oslo Central Station is a striking bronze sculpture, popularly known as the “Tiger.” Cast by renowned artist Elena Engelsen, the sculpture stands an impressive 4.5 meters (15 feet) in length.

The sculpture was erected in 2000 to celebrate Oslo’s 1000th anniversary and has since become one of the most photographed spots in the city. The tiger represents Oslo’s nickname, “Tigerstaden” meaning “Tiger City,” which might seem peculiar as there are no wild tigers in Norway.

The nickname stems from Sidste Sang, a 19th-century poem by Norwegian author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. Bjørnson used the term to describe the city as a cold, aggressive, and unwelcoming place. 

The “tiger” metaphorically represented the city’s struggle and battle against the harsh reality of life. Over time, however, the perception of Oslo has dramatically changed, and it’s now universally heralded as one of the world’s best cities to live in.


Your next stop is Karl Johans Gate (3). Head west onto the main pedestrian-only street.

3. Karl Johans Gate

People on Karl Johans Gate on a sunny summer day in Oslo. PC: Sergey-USSR -

Karl Johans Gate is the best-known and busiest thoroughfare in Oslo. This 1 km (0.6 miles) long historical artery is named after Karl XIV Johan, who was the king of Norway and Sweden from 1818–44 and is known simply as Karl Johan by the people of Oslo.

Originally a modest dirt road, Karl Johans Gate was transformed into a grand boulevard in the 19th century and the street is flanked by stately Neoclassical buildings, some of which are prominent Oslo attractions in their own right. In addition to the many public buildings, the street is lined with a variety of retail shops, cafés, and restaurants, making it a prime spot for shopping and dining. 

Karl Johans Gate is divided into two distinct sections – the lower part is narrow and pedestrianized while the upper section is broader and more imposing. The upper section of Karl Johans Gate is the focal point for national celebrations and parades, the biggest of which is Norway’s National Day on 17 May when thousands of people come out on the street.

I like how amidst the hustle, Karl Johans Gate is still home to some serene patches of green such as at Eidsvolls Plass (popularly known as ‘Spikersuppa’). These are ideal for a picnic or people-watching.

Today, Karl Johans Gate is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, teeming with life and activity. It is an absolute must-see in Oslo.

Fun Fact

Since 1947, Oslo has sent the Christmas tree that sits in London’s Trafalgar Square every year as a token of appreciation for Britain’s support in World War II.


Your next stop is the Oslo Cathedral (4). Head northwest on Karl Johans Gate and turn right onto Kirkegata. You’ll be walking a distance of 350 m.

4. Oslo Cathedral

Oslo attractions: Exterior of the Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral (Oslo Domkirke) is the principal church of Olso and one of the city’s must-see sights. The cathedral’s construction began in 1694, during the reign of King Christian V of Denmark-Norway, and was completed in 1697. 

The cathedral is an important spiritual and community space, where regular services, concerts, and major events take place, including royal weddings, coronations, and state funerals. In keeping with Lutheran tradition, the Cathedral sports a modest red brick façade.

The cathedral’s interior on the other hand is a captivating display of artistic and architectural grandeur. Most impressive is the beautiful modernist tempera ceiling by renowned Norwegian artist Hugo Lous Mohr that depicts various biblical scenes.

The richly decorated pulpit and altarpiece—carved in the late 17th century with lovely motifs of acanthus leaves never fail to dazzle. Lovely stained glass windows adorn the interior, their vibrant colors casting an enchanting play of light throughout. 


Your next stop is the Norwegian Parliament Building (5). Backtrack on Kirkegata and turn right on Karl Johans Gate. You’ll be walking a distance of 400 m.

5. Norwegian Parliament Building

Oslo landmarks: The exterior of the Norwegian Parliament Building (Stortinget) on Karl Johans Gate

Next up on this Oslo walking tour is the Norwegian Parliament Building (Storting), one of the main landmarks on Karl Johans Gate. 

Following Norway’s separation from Denmark in 1814 and the subsequent establishment of the Storting (Parliament), the need for a dedicated Parliament building became evident. 

The building was designed by the Swedish architect, Emil Victor Langlet, after a lengthy and bitter debate and a stream of different proposals. The foundation stone was laid on 10 October 1861. Construction took five years and in 1866 the Norwegian national assembly met for the first time in its own building.

The handsome edifice sports a yellow Neo-Romanesque brick exterior and details inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture. I definitely rank it as one of the most attractive parliaments in Europe.

It has been expanded and partly reconstructed on several occasions and remains the seat of the Norwegian Parliament. 


Your next stop is the National Theater (6). Continue northwest on Karl Johans Gate and turn left at Universitetsgata. You’ll be walking a distance of 350 m.

6. National Theater

Oslo must-see: The lovely exterior of the National Theater

Since its inauguration in 1899, the National Theater (Nationaltheatret) has served as Norway’s main arena for stage artists, theater productions, and large celebrations. 

Designed by the eminent Norwegian architect Henrik Bull, the theater’s architecture showcases an elegant fusion of Classical, Neoclassical, and Art Nouveau styles. The grand façade is adorned with an ornate entrance portico, supported by elegant Corinthian columns.

In front of the theater stand sculptures of two of Norway’s most celebrated writers – Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. They also have their names engraved on the theater’s façade like badges of honor, along with the Danish-Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg.

One of the National Theater’s most significant features is its central pediment, which contains a relief representing a scene from Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt. Ibsen is often referred to as “the father of modern drama” and he is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after William Shakespeare.

The theater features an opulent interior with a sweeping staircase, intricate stuccowork, beautiful frescoes, and lavish chandeliers.


Your next stop is University Square (7). Backtrack on Kirkegata and turn left on Karl Johans Gate. You’ll be walking a distance of 160 m.

7. University Square

University Square in Oslo with the Neoclassical main building of the University of Oslo

University Square (Universitetsplassen) is a compelling location in the heart of Oslo that dominates the northeast side of Karl Johans Gate. 

The iconic square is anchored by the University of Oslo’s main building, an impressive neoclassical building completed in 1852. Its main entrance features a grand portico, supported by tall, Corinthian columns. 

Above the portico, you’ll notice a pediment adorned with a beautiful relief. The relief depicts the Goddess Athena, symbolizing wisdom and warfare, alongside allegorical figures representing the academic disciplines studied at the university.


Your next stop is the Royal Palace (8). Continue northwest on Karl Johans Gate. You’ll be walking a distance of 450 m.

8. Royal Palace

The Royal Palace in Oslo and the statue of Karl Johan on a sunny summer day

The Royal Palace (Det Kongelige Slott) is one of Oslo’s most prominent landmarks. It sits atop the western end of Karl Johans Gate, overlooking the city from a small hill. 

Designed by renowned Danish-born architect Hans Ditlev Linstow, the palace’s construction began in 1824 and was completed in 1849. It was never occupied full-time until Norway became an independent nation in 1905, when King Håkon VII, originally a Danish royal by the name of Prince Carl, was installed, along with his wife, the new Queen Maud.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the palace is that its pale-yellow brick and plaster Neoclassical design is completely free of bombast that is characteristic of other royal residences.

The palace’s symmetrical facade and columned entrance evoke a sense of majestic grandeur, while its relatively modest size reflects the Norwegian monarchy’s approachable and understated nature. A statue of Karl Johan stands in front of the palace.

The palace’s interior, which can only be seen on a guided tour (only offered from late June to mid-August), showcases a wealth of artistic and architectural treasures, from magnificent frescoes and ornate stuccowork to beautifully preserved historical furniture. The grand staircase, the stunning banquet hall, and the elaborately decorated Bird Room are among the highlights of the guided tour.

The changing of the guard, albeit a pale shadow of the changing of the guard at London’s Buckingham Palace, takes place daily at 13:30. 

One of Oslo’s premier green spaces is the park surrounding the Royal Palace with its lush manicured lawns, clusters of towering trees, tranquil ponds, and statues. 


Your next stop is the Oslo Concert Hall (9). Backtrack through the park, turn right, take the stairs down, and then turn right onto Munkedamsveien/Ring 1. Take the stairs up to reach the Concert Hall. You’ll be walking a distance of 550 m.

9. Oslo Concert Hall

Oslo landmarks: Exterior of the Oslo Concert Hall. PC: Andrey Shevchenko -

Oslo Concert Hall (Oslo Konserthus) has been a leading venue for Norwegian cultural and musical life since its opening in 1977. The concert hall is the home of the Oslo Symphony Orchestra, regarded as one of the world’s leading symphony ensembles.

The building features a modernist style that was avant-garde for its time. Its angular facade, clad in polished granite and glass, creates a striking contrast to the low-key architecture nearby. The quirky copper structure outside the concert hall is rather amusing.

Inside, the hall has been specially designed to stage orchestral works, with every architectural detail meticulously considered to provide the best possible sound quality. In addition to concerts, the venue hosts various events, from conferences to ceremonies, showcasing its versatility. 

Whether you’re a music enthusiast or an admirer of modernist architecture, a visit to the Oslo Concert Hall is a highlight of any Oslo sightseeing tour.

Fun Fact

Oslo’s Vigeland Park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. It features more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite, and wrought iron.


Your next stop is Tjuvholmen (10). Head southwest on Munkedamsveien, turn left onto Sjøgata and turn right onto Filipstad Brygge. Then, continue along the road by the canal toward Bryggegangen, turn right onto Bryggegangen, turn left toward Tjuvholmen allé, and turn right onto Tjuvholmen allé. You’ll be walking a distance of 700 m.

10. Tjuvholmen

Modern commerical and residential buildings in the trendy Tjuvholmen district in Oslo. PC: Dmitry Naumov /

Tjuvholmen, a vibrant neighborhood located at the end of Oslo’s Aker Brygge waterfront, perfectly encapsulates Oslo’s commitment to sustainable urban development, showcasing an array of impressive eco-friendly contemporary buildings and a car-free environment. 

Once an industrial dockland, Tjuvholmen, meaning “Thief Islet,” has transformed into a hip and upscale district, celebrated for its cutting-edge architecture, eclectic culinary scene, and thriving art culture. Its shoreline promenade, lined with cafés, boutiques, and world-class restaurants, is a culinary delight.

Despite its urban setting, Tjuvholmen offers a strong connection to nature. With its well-maintained promenade, green spaces, a small sandy beach, and a swimming area, it provides an outdoor haven for Oslo natives.

Don’t miss the small canals crisscrossing the neighborhood, adding a Venice-like vibe to your Oslo walking tour!


Your next stop is the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (11). Head southwest on Tjuvholmen allé and turn left onto Strandpromenaden. You’ll be walking a distance of 250 m.

11. Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art

Oslo Museums: The stunning exterior of the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. PC: JJFarq /

The crown jewel of Tjuvholmen is undoubtedly the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Astrup Fearnley Museet), an art lover’s paradise designed by the acclaimed architect Renzo Piano. 

Its architectural brilliance is evident at first glance, with a dramatic curving roof of fritted glass uniting the three timber-clad buildings that comprise the complex. Artificial canals and bridges separate and connect the buildings, promoting the nautical aesthetic of Tjuvholmen. 

The naturally-weathered timber cladding brings to mind sailing ships and the latticework of the slender, steel columns is reminiscent of a ship’s rigging.

The privately owned collection within is as riveting as the exterior, showcasing works from some of the most influential artists of the 21st century. Here, you’ll find pieces from iconic artists like Jeff Koons, Matthew Barney, Richard Prince, Dan Colen, Damien Hirst, and Cindy Sherman. 

The museum does not shy away from the provocative and the unusual, creating a rich and varied experience for art enthusiasts.


Your next stop is Aker Brygge (12). Head northeast on Strandpromenaden and turn right onto Stranden. You’ll be walking a distance of 350 m.

12. Aker Brygge

People strolling on the famous Aker Brygge promenade on a sunny spring afternoon

Aker Brygge is a popular and lively entertainment district on the banks of the Oslo Fjord. In 1982 the leading Akers Mekaniske Verksted shipyard closed down, freeing up a potentially attractive area on Oslo’s waterfront.

Since the 1990s, Norwegian oil revenues have stimulated a dramatic output of public buildings and urban developments in Olso, and Aker Brygge is a great example of this. 

Many of the shipyard’s original buildings were repurposed into offices, shops, and restaurants. The blend of brick, steel, glass, and wood offers a visual treat for architecture enthusiasts.

The result is a bustling cultural and entertainment hub, with residential apartments and the city’s largest concentration of restaurants. With its numerous restaurants, cafés, bars, and boutiques, Aker Brygge is a paradise for foodies and shoppers.

One of my favorite things to do in Oslo is take a walk along the Aker Brygge quayside. As you stroll along the boardwalk, you’re greeted with panoramic views of the Oslo Fjord and boats of all sizes bobbing in the bustling marina. 

Whether it’s a leisurely stroll, dining alfresco, or just people-watching, the buzzing atmosphere of Aker Brygge is sure to captivate you.


Your next stop is the Nobel Peace Center (13). Head northeast on Stranden. You’ll be walking a distance of 300 m.

13. Nobel Peace Center

Exterior of the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo at sunset

One of the more prominent Oslo attractions you will encounter near the vibrant Aker Brygge waterfront is the Nobel Peace Center (Nobels Fredssenter). The Nobel Peace Center is, as the name suggests, a significant cultural institution dedicated to peace, conflict, and human rights. 

Housed in Oslo’s former 19th-century railway station of Vestbanen, the center’s striking façade features an innovative and artistic light installation. 

Inside, the center presents the history of the founding father of the prize, Alfred Nobel, “the dynamite king,” and the biographies and careers of Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

A combination of permanent and temporary exhibitions offers a powerful, interactive experience for visitors. The Nobel Peace Center encourages you to reflect on the topics of war, peace, and resolution of conflict.


Your next stop is the National Museum (14) which is just behind the Nobel Peace Center.

14. National Museum

Oslo Museums: Exterior of the National Museum. PC: Sergio Delle Vedove /

The National Museum (Nasjonalmuseet) is undoubtedly one of Oslo’s top ten sights and a must-visit destination for art and culture buffs. As the largest museum of its kind in the Nordics, it offers a world-class collection of art, architecture, and design that spans over seven centuries. 

Inaugurated in 2022, the museum building is another striking addition to the cavalcade of modern architecture in Oslo’s cityscape. Its sleek and modern exterior of enormous hard-edged boxes clad in striated dark gray slate blocks with few windows and zero funky details showcases a brilliant interplay of light and space.  

The most eye-catching feature of the new museum is the large, translucent marble and glass exhibition hall on top of the building. 

Inside, the museum spans two floors and the stellar collection comprises more than 400,000 artworks, including stellar pieces like Edvard Munch’s Madonna and The Scream

The version of The Scream at the National Museum is one of four versions of the iconic artwork but is the first one painted by Munch in 1893. It famously bears the barely visible pencil inscription “could only have been painted by a madman.”

Fun Fact

On 12 February 1994, Edvard Munch’s infamous painting, The Scream, was stolen in only 50 seconds during a break-in. Two thieves broke through a window of the National Gallery—the museum it was kept at the time and used wire cutters to detach the painting from the wall before making a swift getaway in less than a minute. They left a taunting note before they made their departure, which read: “A thousand thanks for the bad security!” Luckily, the painting was recovered almost three months later in a daring joint undercover operation by Norwegian and British police.

The museum’s vast collection is chronologically arranged, showcasing everything from medieval ecclesiastical art to avant-garde contemporary installations and industrial design to fashion. Highlights include stylish exhibitions of Viking drinking horns, medieval tapestries, porcelain from imperial China, and modern Norwegian furniture design.


Your next stop is the Oslo City Hall (15). Head through Olav Vs plass Park, turn right onto Kronprinsesse Märthas plass, and then right onto Rådhuset. You’ll be walking a distance of 280 m.

15. Oslo City Hall

Oslo attractions: The stunning red-brick exterior of the imposing Oslo City Hall

No Oslo walking tour would be complete without seeing Oslo City Hall (Oslo Rådhus), one of the city’s most emblematic sights. This twin-towered building, completed in 1950 to commemorate Oslo’s 900th anniversary, is the administrative center of Oslo and is filled with mid-century tributes to Norwegian cultural and working life.

The building’s blunt corners and red-brick functionalist exterior are polarizing and it has been called everything from “hideously ugly” to the pride of Oslo. Look closer though and you’ll find that it is richly decorated with sculptures and bas-reliefs made by famous Norwegian artists.

The interiors of the building feature decorative murals and frescoes with motifs from Norwegian culture, history, and working life.

Aesthetics aside, the Oslo City Hall is known for hosting the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, which takes place annually on 10 December (the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death) in the main hall of the building. This is the only Nobel Prize that is not presented in Stockholm.


Your next stop is Christiania Square (16). Head south on Hieronymus Heyerdahls gate, turn right onto Kronprinsesse Märthas plass, and then right onto Rådhusgata. You’ll be walking a distance of 500 m.

16. Christiania Square

The Christiania Square in Oslo with the infamous Christian IV's Glove sculpture. PC: Kiev.Victor /

Teeming with stories from Oslo’s past and present and brimming with charm, Christiania Square (Christiania Torv) is a hidden gem in the heart of Oslo. 

Christiania Square dates back to the 17th century, when it was the city’s main square, originally serving as a marketplace. It was named after Christian IV, the Danish-Norwegian king who rebuilt the city after a catastrophic fire in 1624. 

The square’s most distinctive feature is a fountain, with a sculpture of King Christian IV’s gloved hand pointing to the ground. The sculpture, titled “Christian IV’s Glove” was designed in 1997 by Norwegian artist Wenche Gulbransen.

Legend has it that after Oslo was burned down by the fire in 1624, King Christian IV pointed to this spot and declared, “The new town will lie here!”

Surrounding the square are several popular cafés, restaurants, and historic buildings, among them the Old Town Hall (Gamle Rådhus). Since its founding in 1641, the building has been used as a fire station, a private residence, a church, and even a prison! Today, it houses one of Oslo’s oldest restaurants.

Fun Fact

Oslo has changed its name several times in its history – from Oslo to Christiania in 1614 and then to Kristiania in the late 1800s. In 1925 the capital reverted to its original title, Oslo, the name it had from the beginning until 1624.


Your next stop is Akershus Fortress (17). Backtrack on Rådhusgata, turn left onto Kontraskjæret, and continue until you reach the fortress. You’ll be walking a distance of 500 m.

17. Akershus Fortress

Oslo landmarks: Sunset view of the beautiful Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress (Akershus Festning) is a significant historic site that has stood as a silent guardian over Oslo since the 13th century. It’s a complex of dozens of buildings, including a castle, barracks, a mausoleum, administrative buildings, and public areas.

Akershus Castle (Akershus Slott) forms the core of the fortress. King Haakon V commissioned it in 1299 as a defensive stronghold to ward off all attempts to invade the city from the sea, and it has withstood numerous sieges throughout its history.

The fortress displays an intriguing blend of architectural styles, reflecting its evolution over the centuries. Initially, it was built in the Gothic style but later the fortress underwent a significant transformation with the changing nature of warfare and the influences of Renaissance architecture.

Akershus Fortress wasn’t just a military stronghold; it has also served as a royal abode, a place of government, and a prison. Now the Norwegian government primarily uses it for stately dinners and visits for foreign heads of state.

Today, this well-preserved fortress serves as a public park and cultural site, housing museums, including the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and the Resistance Museum, making it a must-visit for history buffs.

Renovated muzzle-loading cannons at  Akershus Fortress in Oslo

From the well-manicured lawns, you can enjoy closeups of the fortress’s numerous cannons and panoramic views of Aker Brygge and the Oslo Fjord.


Your next stop is the Oslo Stock Exchange (18). Backtrack onto Myntgata, turn left onto Kongens gate, and turn right onto Tollbugata. You’ll be walking a distance of 1 km.

18. Oslo Stock Exchange

The Oslo Stock Exchange Building (Borsen) in Oslo

The Oslo Stock Exchange (Børsen) is one of the most important financial institutions in Norway and a key architectural landmark in the heart of Oslo. 

Although it only started functioning as a stock exchange in 1881, the Oslo Stock Exchange building was the first of the city’s grand buildings and dates back to 1828. The structure itself is a shining example of 19th-century Neoclassical architecture.

The façade of the building is constructed of brick and stucco, and its classical elements exude an air of authority and solidity fitting for a financial institution. Its front entrance is highlighted by a portico supported by six towering Ionic columns.

Above the portico, you can see the national coat of arms flanked by allegorical sculptures symbolizing industry and agriculture, underscoring the importance of these sectors to the Norwegian economy.


Your next stop is Deichman Bjørvika (19). Head southeast on Tollbugata/Operagata. You’ll be walking a distance of 250 m.

19. Deichman Bjørvika

Exterior of the avant-garde Deichman Bjørvika public library in Oslo

Deichman Bjørvika, which opened in 2020, is the main branch of Oslo’s public library system. Situated on the waterfront in the city’s redeveloped Bjørvika district, the public library is an architectural marvel. 

Designed by the Norwegian firm Atelier Oslo and Lundhagem Architects, the immense building is covered entirely in thin, vertical windows. It has an impressive cantilevered top floor that juts out almost 20 meters above the entrance, creating a protective covering.

The six-floor interior architecture of the library is just as impressive. Its design encourages exploration and interaction, breathing new life into the concept of a public library. 

A grand staircase weaves through the building’s heart, doubling as an amphitheater for performances and a seating area. On each floor, wood and concrete elements juxtapose the exterior’s sleek metal and glass windows, bringing a light and airy dynamic inside. 

In addition to the 450,000 books on offer, the library hosts spaces for meetings, rehearsal rooms, a cinema, an auditorium, a café, a restaurant, gaming rooms, exhibition niches, a recording studio, silent reading rooms, and even a rooftop terrace that offers panoramic views of the city and the fjord.

Deichman Bjørvika is one of the coolest public libraries in the world that I’ve seen. It reminds me very much of the equally fascinating Oodi Library in Helsinki.


Your next stop is the Oslo Opera House (20) which lies just opposite Deichman Bjørvika.

20. Oslo Opera House

View of the beautiful Oslo Opera House on a sunny summer afternoon

Located in the heart of the Bjørvika district, the Oslo Opera House (Operahuset) is one of the must-visit places in Oslo. Designed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, it was officially inaugurated in 2008 and is now probably Oslo’s most famous building. 

Jacky and I LOVE architecture and we really like that the Opera House’s design reflects a modernist approach with a distinctive Scandinavian touch. 

Inspired by glaciers floating in the adjacent Oslo Fjord, the building’s most defining feature of the structure is the angular, iceberg-like exterior clad in Italian Carrara marble and white granite. This creates an illusion of a gigantic ice block emerging from the waters of the Oslo Fjord. 

A defining feature of the Oslo Opera House is its sloping roof, known as the “carpet.” As Norway isn’t an EU member, builders in the country are not held to European Union safety codes, visitors can literally stroll up the incline onto the roof, enjoying panoramic views of the city and the fjord.

Inside, the Oslo Opera House is equally stunning. The oak wood-clad horseshoe-shaped main auditorium seats approximately 1,370 attendees, while the glass façade of the cavernous foyer affords visitors breathtaking fjord views. 

Whether you’re a fan of opera and ballet, an architecture enthusiast, or a curious traveler, the Oslo Opera House is a must-visit destination on any Oslo walking tour itinerary.


Your next stop is the Barcode Project (21). Head southeast on Operagata, turn left onto Nylandsveien and turn right onto Dronning Eufemias gate. You’ll be walking a distance of 350 m.

21. Barcode Project

The cutting-edge architecture of the high-rise buildings of the Barcode Project in Oslo. PC: Felix Lipov /

The Barcode Project in Bjørvika is another set of buildings that cements Oslo’s reputation as an avant-garde architectural hub. Designed by a consortium of Norwegian and international architects, the Barcode Project comprises a series of 12 narrow, high-rise buildings varying in height and width.

When seen from afar at certain angles, the twelve buildings together form an eye-catching composition with the gaps between them creating the impression of a “barcode.”

The architecture of the Barcode Project is diverse, featuring innovative design solutions, odd peculiarities, and a mix of materials, including glass, concrete, and steel.

Each building has a unique design, incorporating different materials, colors, and textures. This diversity creates a visually dynamic and interesting skyline.

The buildings house offices, retail spaces, restaurants, and residential apartments, with green rooftop terraces providing residents a touch of nature amidst the urban landscape. This heterogeneity contributes to a lively urban landscape, emphasizing modernist principles while fostering sustainability and community interaction.

The buildings have some wonderful façades that are a joy to photograph.


Your next stop is the Munch Museum (22). Turn right onto Edvard Munchs Plass. You’ll be walking a distance of 240 m.

22. Munch Museum

Exterior of the huge Munch Museum in Oslo. PC: Robson90 /

The final sight of our free Oslo walking tour is the Munch Museum (Munch-Museet). The museum is a testament to the life and work of Edvard Munch, Scandinavia’s greatest artist. 

The museum, which was designed by Estudio Herreros, a Spanish architecture firm, and opened in its new waterfront location in 2021, is home to the world’s largest collection of Munch’s art, with a collection exceeding 28,000 items. 

The museum rises 13 floors, reaching a height of about 57 (187 feet) meters, cutting a distinctive figure in the Oslo skyline. At over 26,000 square meters (280,000 square feet) the new Munch Museum is one of the world’s largest museums devoted to a single artist.

The building’s exterior is characterized by a shimmering façade clad in recycled and perforated aluminum panels, designed to imitate the strokes of a paintbrush. The unique configuration of these panels allows the building to capture and reflect the changing Nordic light, creating an ever-changing aesthetic that mirrors the dynamism of Munch’s artwork. 

The building itself has been heralded as a marvel of modern architecture though I’m not wholly sold on its monolithic design.

Inside, the museum’s 11 exhibition halls offer ample, well-lit spaces dedicated to showcasing Munch’s art. From his famous painting “The Scream” to lesser-known pieces, the museum provides a comprehensive view of Munch’s artistic journey. 

His paintings, graphic art, sculptures, drawings, letters, personal belongings, and photographs are thoughtfully displayed, each telling a unique story.

Guided Oslo Walking Tours

If you are very short on time or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of a self-guided Oslo walking tour, you can also opt to take a guided tour instead. Two ones I can recommend are –

Best of Oslo Walking Tour: This 2-hour walking tour of Oslo, led by a knowledgeable guide, takes you around the highlights of Oslo. Listen to interesting stories as you go past notable landmarks.

Oslo Stories, Myths and Legends Walking Tour: Uncover fascinating and eerie stories about Oslo and Norwegian folklore on this walking tour.

What Else to See in Oslo

Obviously, there is plenty more to see in Oslo than what we have covered in our walking tour. Places like the beautiful Vigeland Sculpture Park, the atmospheric Holmenkollen Ski Jumping Arena, and excellent museums like the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and the Fram Museum all deserve to be seen.

Oslo is also the ideal starting point for excursions to the postcard-perfect Oslo Fjord. Stretching for about 100km (62 miles), Oslofjord is Oslo’s link to the open sea. Touring the fjord’s western and eastern banks by a sailing boat is extremely rewarding.

Where to Stay in Oslo

Accommodation in and around central Oslo provides convenient access to most of the main attractions. With Oslo being one of the most expensive cities in the world, you can expect hotel prices in the city to be pretty high. Here are our recommendations on where to stay in Oslo:

Hostel: Anker Hostel, a good no-frills option in Grünerløkka, 10 minutes from Oslo Central Station

Budget: Citybox Oslo, a nice budget hotel, only a 2-minute walk from Oslo Central Station

Mid-range: Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz, chic pick within 2 minutes of Karl Johans Gate, only a 10-minute walk from Oslo Central Station

Splurge: The Thief, a sumptuous top-choice in Tjuvjolmen, and a 5-minute walk from Aker Brygge

Further Reading For Your Oslo Visit

That summarizes our comprehensive free self-guided Oslo walking tour. However, we reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Oslo!

More Self-Guided Walking Tours in Europe

In case you enjoyed our self-guided Oslo walking tour, do check out our other self-guided walking tours of major European cities.

Now, what do you think? Did you enjoy our self-guided walking tour of Oslo? Are there any other stops that we should be adding? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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About Mihir

Hello there, fellow globetrotters! I’m Mihir, a passionate travel blogger with an insatiable wanderlust. My journey across the world is fueled by curiosity and a hunger for unique experiences. As a travel writer, photographer, and adventurer, I’ve explored more than 35 countries, aiming to provide readers with a distinctive glimpse of our diverse world. Join me as I blend captivating storytelling with stunning visuals, guiding you through hidden gems and cultural treasures. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, and Australian Rules Football (Go Dons!).

4 thoughts on “Free Self-Guided Oslo Walking Tour: Highlights & Overlooked Gems (With Map!)”

  1. This tour has been a lifesaver for me. I was struggling to put together a list of things to see and voila it has already been done, along with nice introductions at each place. Thanks a lot!

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