Truth be told – not everybody has the time to explore a place for weeks. Sometimes we just need to make the most of the time we have. In this segment of our “One Day” series, we’re looking how to spend one day in Oslo, Norway. Mihir and I recently seized the chance to visit for two days and are itching to go back, if even just for a day. Although many people claim that Oslo is boring or not worth visiting, we wholeheartedly disagree. We were positively surprised just by how much the city had to offer. If you would like to know how to spend one day in Oslo and enjoy it to the fullest, keep on reading 🙂
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Table of Contents
24 Hours in Oslo – Why & How?
There are a couple of reasons for why you might have just 24 hours in Oslo. You may be planning a short city break, either from Copenhagen or Stockholm. You may have snagged a cheap deal with Norwegian. Or perhaps you are starting a round trip of Norway from Oslo. No matter the reason, we’re here to make sure you enjoy your one day in Oslo as much as possible!
How to Get Around Oslo
For this itinerary, you will primarily be traveling on foot. However, this is not a walking tour in the classical sense. Oslo’s sights are rather spread out which means you will need to make use of public transport. You can either get a one-day ticket for public transport for 105 NOK or buy single tickets as you go (35-55 NOK). Alternatively, you could purchase the Oslo Pass which includes unlimited travel within Oslo as well as free entrance to a number of attractions.
We have added a map of all the attractions included in this Oslo itinerary for you below!
Your One Day Itinerary for Oslo
- Vigeland Sculpture Park
- Royal Palace
- National Gallery
- Norwegian Folk Museum
- Viking Ship Museum
- Aker Brygge
- Akershus Fortress
- Oslo Opera House
What to See in Oslo in One Day
This itinerary will take you around the city and past some of its most impressive landmarks. You may start at any point of the itinerary, although we do recommend that you see Vigeland Sculpture Park in the morning. This is particularly true if you are visiting on the weekend, as the museums may open a little later. And please do spend the evening in Aker Brygge, you won’t regret it!
Vigeland Sculpture Park
Vigeland Park is a sculpture park dedicated to Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland. Not only did he himself design the park, it is also home to more than 200 of his statues. One of the most popular pieces is the statue of The Angry Boy. You can find him on the main bridge. The statue is made of bronze and covered in a typical green patina. However, visitors like to touch the hand of the Angry Boy which has caused the patina to disappear. Instead, the statue sports a golden hand. Vigeland Museum encourages you not to touch the hand in order to conserve the statue for the future.
While you are in the park, you could also pop into the Vigeland Museum to the south of the park (80 NOK or free with the Oslo pass). Alternatively, you could also visit the Oslo City Museum, located in the southern end of the park. It’s free to visit on Saturdays or 70 NOK all other days (free with the Oslo Pass).
Your next stop is Oslo’s bustling city center, starting at the Royal Palace. As you might guess, the palace is the home of the Norwegian royal family. Its lush park is also a welcome breath of green in the dense city center. You can visit the gardens year-round, but the palace is only open to visitors during the summer. In order to visit, you need to book a guided tour online before you arrive (135 NOK). The changing of the guard takes place in front of the palace every day at 13:30.
From the Royal Palace, you can also explore Karl Johans gate, Oslo’s main shopping street. There are also numerous cafes along the way, just in case you are craving a cup of coffee or a piece of cake by now 🙂
If you are debating whether to visit the Munch museum, you should know that the artist’s most famous painting is actually in the National Gallery. Although the Munch museum is the home of several beautiful pieces, Munch’s “Scream” is hidden deep inside the National Gallery.
The lovely thing is, you will get to see some of Munch’s work as well as a selection of other pieces by artists such as El Greco and Pablo Picasso. Not surprisingly, a large part of the museum is dedicated to works by iconic Norwegian artists, including Adolph Tidemand and Lars Jorde. Although I must say, it was a real treat to find works by impressionist Claude Monet in this corner of the world!
Entrance to the museum costs 120 NOK (free with the Oslo pass). Please note that the National Gallery in closed on Mondays. You can find all the official information here.
Norwegian Folk Museum
Next, you are going to see two of Oslo’s most popular museums. They are both located on the island of Bygdøy and accessible either by bus or by ferry from Aker Brygge. We truly recommend that you extend your stay beyond one day and check out some more of the city’s museums. We were pleasantly surprised by them!
First up is the Norwegian Folk Museum, an open-air museum dedicated to the cultural heritage of Norway. Its collection comprises of 150 buildings which have been relocated to this location from all over Norway. You could even say it’s… Norway in a Nutshell 😛
We really enjoyed the Gol Stave Church due to its unique exterior, so representative of Norway. Mihir and I had been to several open-air museums in the Nordics, including Skansen in Stockholm/Sweden and Luostarinmäki in Turku/Finland, but many of the exhibits still surprised us. During the summer there are also demonstrations of traditional handiwork.
Within the museum, you can also buy some freshly made bread or candy from an old-timey candy store. Be aware though that you can only pay in CASH in both places. In the end, we had to leave without freshly baked bread or sweet treats 😞
Entrance to the museum costs 130 NOK (free with the Oslo pass). The museum is open year-round, but opening hours are reduced during the winter months. We recommend that you check their website. You could probably spend an entire day in here, but about an hour is enough to see some of the museum’s highlights.
Viking Ship Museum
Oslo’s Viking ship museum is home to three exceptionally well-preserved Viking ships which fill the most of the museum’s interiors. The museum’s crown jewel is the Oseberg ship, the biggest known burial ship. Due to their age, you cannot access the ships, but they are impressive nonetheless.
Entrance to the museum is 100 NOK and it is open daily although opening hours are reduced in the winter months. With the same ticket, you can also visit Oslo Historical Museum downtown within 48 hours. Click here for more information.
Now, a quick disclaimer: Mihir and I were not the biggest fans of this museum although it is one of the city’s top tourist attractions. We concluded that it is very well worth a visit if you have an Oslo pass, but may otherwise skip it in favor of some of the other museums. However, the museum is set to be expanded in the upcoming years which we’re excited to see!
Aker Brygge is a high-end residential neighborhood in Oslo. It is also home to some of the city’s best restaurants and cafes. But most of all, it is a recreational space for the people of Oslo which comes alive in the evenings and on the weekends. Across the bridge lies Tjuvholmen, the location of Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art.
If you are coming from Bygdøy you can simply take the ferry and take a stroll along the promenade after you land. Grab an ice cream and sit down by the water. Or, grab a delicious dinner in one of the many restaurants!
Not only is Aker Brygge the perfect place for people watching, it also offers splendid views of Akershus Festning.
Akershus Festning & Oslo Opera House
After a satisfying meal, you will now walk back to Oslo Central Station. On the way, you will pass two of Oslo’s most iconic structures, Akershus Fortress and Oslo Opera House.
Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle and used to serve as the royal residence. While it is still under military jurisdiction today, it is open to the public every day between 06:00 and 21:00. Although you might not have time to see some of the locations on site, it is still worth poking your head in to see the castle up close.
Please note that parts of the fortress are currently closed due to restoration work.
Not far from the medieval fortress lies the modern Oslo Opera House. The unique design was chosen out of 350 entries of a design competition in the early naughties. What makes the building stand out is the large walkway which leads up from the ground level to the roof. Visitors are invited to relax in, on, and around the building while enjoying a scenic view of Oslo Fjord.
Take a stroll up and take in your last views of Oslo as the sun is setting. Perhaps you’ll be back and explore a little more 🙂
Is the Oslo Pass Worth It for One Day?
Now that you have seen our itinerary for one day in Oslo you may be wondering whether purchasing the Oslo pass is worth it. Mihir and I basically never buy any city pass, but we made an exception for the Oslo pass.
The Oslo pass grants free travel on all public transport and offers free entrance to most of the city’s attractions. Because Oslo is somewhat spread out, you will probably need to use public transport at one point or another. Otherwise, you will limit yourself as to how much you can see within a day. The 24h Oslo Pass costs 395 NOK. Find all information on the Oslo Pass on their official website.
Below we have illustrated your potential savings following our itinerary. As you can see, even though you will only be visiting a handful of attractions, with the Oslo pass you would save 60 NOK. If you stop over at some other attractions (e.g. Fram Museum, Kon Tiki Museum), your savings will be even greater.
Which means: Yes, the Oslo Pass IS worth it.
Particularly because Oslo’s museums are exquisite and, quite frankly, blew our socks off. If you can manage, we strongly recommend that you extend your stay (see below)!
|Original Price||Oslo Pass|
|Public Transport||105 NOK||Free|
|National Gallery||120 NOK||Free|
|Norwegian Folk Museum||130 NOK||Free|
|Viking Ship Museum||100 NOK||Free|
|Total||455 NOK||395 NOK|
Your Personal Map for One Day in Oslo
Extend Your Stay
In recent months I have heard people say that there is nothing to see or do in Oslo and that you should just skip it all together. Personally, we think that one day in Oslo is not enough. The city has so much more to offer than you would think and you don’t even have to love museums. Although we do love museums if they are as interesting as the Fram Museum, the Kon Tiki Museum, and the Holmenkollen Ski Museum.
We really enjoyed our stay at Scandic Sjølyst. Although it is nothing fancy, it is clean and affordable. It is also easily accessible by metro (T-banen) from the city center. What we liked most, though, is its proximity to Bygdøy and Vigeland Sculpture Park. That, and the breakfast 😉
Now, what do you think? What would you most like to see in Oslo? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! Let’s stay in touch!