Oslo has come a long way from its yesteryear image as a mundane and staid city to a zestful metropolis that is becoming increasingly recognized for its allure. Blessed with an almost unsurpassed location, a lively waterfront area, and a spate of top-notch cultural attractions, the capital of Norway is a great introduction to the country. Here’s our lowdown on how best to spend one day in Oslo 🙂
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Is One Day Enough For Oslo?
One day in Oslo is certainly not enough to see all that the city has to offer. To really get a better feel of the city and go beyond the touristy things, I recommend spending at least 2-3 days in Oslo since it’s the ideal amount of time to see all that this little city has to offer.
However, if 24 hours in Oslo is all you have, you can easily make your way around the city and take in the best of Oslo.
How to Get Around Oslo
Oslo is primarily a city that is meant to be walked and many of the city’s attractions lie in the central part of the city.
In case you’re interested in seeing the highlights of Naples on foot, check out this rewarding Oslo walking tour.
Of course, in order to make the most of your day in Oslo, you should make use of the city’s extensive and efficient public transportation system (buses, trams, local trains, metro, and ferries), especially when going to the museum-rich Bygdøy Peninsula.
Public transport tickets can be purchased from kiosks (Narvesen, 7-Eleven, Deli De Luca, and Mix), ticket machines, or the Ruter app. You can also buy a ticket on board buses but it’s cheaper and more convenient to buy one in advance.
The Oslo public transport utilizes a zone system in which the price for a trip is calculated based on how many zones you pass through. However, all the attractions in our itinerary are in Zone 1.
Single tickets for adults (40 NOK) are valid for 60 minutes and they allow you to transfer between modes of transport within their validity. Single tickets for kids between 6–17 cost 16 NOK and children under 6 travel for free.
A day ticket (24 hours) is a good option if you make several journeys during your one day in Oslo. A day ticket for public transport in Oslo costs 121 NOK for adults and 61 NOK for kids between 6–17.
If you are using the Ruter app, remember to purchase your ticket before the start of your journey. Please make sure you have received the ticket on your phone before boarding public transport.
Make use of the very useful intermodal Journey Planner for getting around Oslo with public transport.
Should you be visiting Oslo from April-October, getting around on a bicycle is also a good alternative. Biking in Oslo can be fun and renting a bike is rather easy and cheap. You can find more information about bike rental here.
In case you’re interested in seeing the highlights of Oslo on bike, check out this excellent Oslo Bicycle Tour.
If you’re not up for a long walk or cycle around Hamburg, you could also get around on an E-scooter. In case you’re interested in seeing the highlights of Oslo on an E-scooter, check out this excellent Oslo E-Scooter Tour.
For those craving an audio guide and extra comfort, you can also get around the city with Oslo Hop-On Hop-Off Tour.
Finally, I would advise against using taxis in Oslo as they are very expensive, and you’ll unnecessarily run up a high tab.
Is the Oslo Pass Worth It?
The Oslo Pass is an all-inclusive city card that gives you a complete sightseeing experience and grants you free entry and discounts to more than 30 of the top attractions and museums in Oslo.
The Oslo Pass also includes unlimited free travel on all the local public transport options (buses, trams, metro, trains, and boats) in the city. Another great reason to invest in the Oslo Pass is that it saves you the time and the hassle of purchasing tickets at each attraction/museum.
In general, I highly recommend buying the Oslo Pass as it is a great bargain. That being said, the Oslo Pass may be worth it for a day depending on how much sightseeing you’re planning to squeeze in.
Even if you plan on hitting all the attractions we’ve outlined in our one-day Oslo itinerary, your savings with the Oslo Pass will be minimal.
Your One Day in Oslo Itinerary
This itinerary covers most of the important sights in Oslo. For your convenience, this post includes a free map of the top sights in Oslo. You can find the addresses of the attractions by clicking on the icons in the map.
Depending on your interests, you should choose one between attractions #6 and #7. We also understand that everyone travels at a different pace so feel free to choose the destinations according to your own pace.
The earlier you start your day the more time you’ll have to see the attractions. Below we have compiled a list of the best things to see (or eat) in Oslo in one day:
- Vigeland Sculpture Park
- The Royal Palace
- Karl Johans Gate
- National Museum
- Traditional Norwegian Lunch
- Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
- Viking Ship Museum
- Akershus Fortress
- Oslo Opera House
- Aker Brygge
Start your one day in Oslo by treating yourself to a delicious breakfast at Erlik Kaffe, one of the best cafes in downtown Oslo. Enjoy some fresh brews, brownies, and muffins in a cozy setting.
2. Vigeland Sculpture Park
Vigeland Sculpture Park is a sculpture park dedicated to Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland. It lies within the much larger and wonderfully manicured Frogner Park, which happens to be the largest park in Oslo.
Not only did Vigeland design the park himself, but it is also home to more than 200 of his statues. All the statues are centered on the Human Condition theme of the park, illustrating relationships between men and women, adults and children.
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, due to visitors constantly touching the hand of the Angry Boy the patina has disappeared and as a result, the statue sports a golden hand.
The soaring monolith is definitely the focal point of the park. This highly symbolic sculpture comprises 121 intertwined figures, meant to represent the struggle of humanity. The monolith was carved out of a single slab of granite and its carving took over 14 years. Now, that’s dedication!
Beyond the sculptures, the park’s picturesque setting with expansive green spaces, water features, and well-maintained paths offer a welcoming place for a leisurely stroll or picnic.
Whether you’re an art enthusiast, history lover, or simply looking for a serene spot in the city, Vigeland Sculpture Park promises a memorable and thought-provoking experience.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park is open 24/7 and is free to visit.
3. The Royal Palace
Nestled atop a gentle slope, The Royal Palace (Det Kongelige Slott) stands as grand testimony to Norway’s royal history. Completed in 1849 for King Charles III, the Neoclassical architecture of the palace pleases with its simplicity and symmetry, a departure from the archetypal ornate extravagance of many European royal dwellings.
Surrounding the palace is the extensive palace park (Slottsparken). With its lush green spaces, manicured lawns, tranquil ponds, and romantic winding paths,it is an urban oasis that invites locals and visitors alike to leisurely stroll, picnic, or simply unwind amidst verdant tranquility.
One of the highlights of any visit to the Royal Palace is the daily Changing of the Guard, a ceremony that underlines the palace’s active role in Norwegian monarchical traditions.
The palace opens its meticulously maintained interiors to the public during the summer months, offering insight into the country’s regal history and functioning monarchy.
Practical Information for Visiting the Royal Palace
The interior of the Royal Palace can only be seen on a guided tour (only offered from late June to mid-August). In order to visit, you need to book a guided tour online before you arrive. A guided tour costs 175 NOK.
The Royal Palace Park is open around the clock, every day. The changing of the guard takes place in front of the palace every day at 13:30.
4. Karl Johans Gate
In my opinion, there’s no better way to capture the essence of Oslo than by ambling along Karl Johans Gate, the city’s main thoroughfare and a must-visit for every traveler.
Spanning from Oslo Central Station in the east to the Royal Palace in the west, this bustling 1km (0.6 mile) long street unfolds the city’s character in a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and experiences.
You can see some fine examples of Neoclassical architecture here. Karl Johans Gate is home to numerous cafes, just in case you are craving a cup of coffee or a piece of cake again 🙂. There are also a spate of bars, restaurants, and shopping options.
Many of Norway’s leading institutions are situated here, including the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget), the university, and the National Theater.
I like the dichotomy that the street presents as the narrower lower part is pedestrianized while the broader upper section is used for parades.
5. National Museum
Housed in an imposing if rather drab stone-clad building, the recently-opened National Museum has taken over Oslo’s cultural scene by storm. With 13,000 square meters of exhibition space, the museum spans two floors and 86 rooms making it the Nordic region’s largest cultural building.
The National Museum gathers the collections of four existing museums including the popular former National Gallery. With more than 6,500 objects on display, you can experience both older and modern art, as well as contemporary art and design, all under one roof.
A strong emphasis, however, lies on Norwegian and international painting. The main reason that drew us to the National Museum was Edvard Munch’s The Scream, which both Jacky and I had yearned to see for a long time.
The Scream, which has been reproduced in countless posters around the world, still inspires artists today and continues to weave its way into popular culture. The mesmerizing oil painting is one of four versions of The Scream that Munch created in his lifetime and it doesn’t disappoint.
You can also admire a selection of other pieces by renowned international artists such as El Greco, Dürer, Van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, and Picasso, among others.
In addition to the stellar artworks, the museum has an impressive collection of design and craft pieces, including Norwegian silver, glass, textiles, and furniture from various eras.
The National Museum is totally worth visiting! It is open from 10:00–21:00 (Tuesday–Sunday). The entrance costs 200 NOK for adults. Free entrance for children under 17.
Though you could easily spend at least half a day at the National Museum, try and limit your visit to about 90-120 minutes in order to see the other must-see Oslo attractions.
6. Traditional Norwegian Lunch
Treat yourself to some traditional Norwegian specialties such as lamb and cabbage stew, marinated salmon, dumplings, and reindeer medallions for lunch. Gamle Raadhus is one of the most renowned places in Oslo for a hearty meal.
In case you’re interested in tasting some authentic Oslo street food, check out this highly rated Oslo Street Food Walking Tour.
7. Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
Next, you are going to see two of Oslo’s most popular museums on the leafy Bygdøy Peninsula. First up is the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkmuseet), an open-air museum dedicated to the cultural heritage of Norway.
Its collection comprises 150 buildings that have been relocated to this location from all over Norway. You could even say it’s… Norway in a Nutshell 😛
The museum gives a good idea of what old villages and agricultural settlements looked like. We really enjoyed the Gol Stave Church due to its unique exterior, so representative of Norway.
During the summer, there are also demonstrations of traditional handiwork. Within the museum, you can also buy some freshly made bread or sweet treats from an old-time candy store.
You could probably spend an entire day here, but about 60-90 minutes is enough to see some of the museum’s highlights.
The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History is open daily from 10:00–17:00 (May–September) and 11:00–16:00 (October–April). The entrance costs 180 NOK for adults. Free entrance for children under 17.
8. Viking Ship Museum
Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum is home to three exceptionally well-preserved Viking ships which fill most of the museum’s interiors.
The ships were excavated from the Oslofjord between 1867 and 1904 where the blue clay soil had preserved them amazingly well for about 1,100 years. Due to their age, you cannot access the ships, but they are very impressive nonetheless.
The museum’s crown jewel is the Oseberg ship, a decorative ship, with several ornate serpent carvings covering its hull, that was likely built to be used specifically as a burial vessel.
The Gokstad is the largest ship of the three at 24 meters in length. Tune, the third vessel isn’t as well preserved as the other two.
Now, I would just like to state that although the ships themselves are beautiful and we recognize their historical significance, there’s not much else to see in the museum. There’s also a lack of information about the Vikings themselves.
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!
The Viking Ship Museum is open daily from 09:00–18:00 (May–September) and 10:00–16:00 (October–April). The entrance costs 120 NOK.
Unfortunately, the Viking Ship Museum is currently closed for a major refurbishment and expansion project and is slated to open in 2026. To compensate for this, you can visit the excellent Fram Museum (also found on Bygdøy Peninsula). At this highly interactive museum, you can gawk at the world’s first ice breaker ship made of wood, learn about the history of polar exploration, and admire the many exhibits and audio-visual presentations. The Fram Museum is open daily from 10:00-18:00 (June-August), 10:00-17:00 (May), and 11:00-17:00 (September-April). The entrance costs 140 NOK.
9. Akershus Fortress
Akershus Fortress is one of the most popular attractions in Oslo. It dates to the 13th century and consists of a medieval castle, historic buildings, and museums.
The castle once served as a royal residence and is now used for state functions. Its setting on a hill at the head of Oslofjorden has seen it thwart attempts to invade the city from the sea.
While it is still under military jurisdiction today, Akershus Fortress is open to the public every day from 06:00–21:00 and is free to visit.
Although you might not have time to see some of the museums at Akershus Fortress, it is still worth visiting to just walk around and enjoy the scenic views of the harbor.
10. Oslo Opera House
Not far from the medieval fortress lies the modern Oslo Opera House, one of Oslo’s architectural masterpieces. The unique design was chosen out of 350 entries in a design competition in the early noughties.
The building’s landmark design and architecture give the impression that a white granite glacier is sliding into the waters of the Oslofjord. I would love to see it in winter because I’ve heard that natural ice flows make it indistinguishable from its environment.
The Oslo Opera House is home to the prestigious Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. Inside, you can witness phenomenal performances from globally-acclaimed operas to contemporary dance productions.
The best thing about the building is the large walkway that leads up from the ground level to the roof. You can stroll up the incline onto the roof, enjoying panoramic views of the city and the fjord.
The Oslo Opera House is open from 11:00–22:00 (Monday–Saturday) and 12:00–22:00 (Sunday). You can see the interior by attending a performance or on a guided tour. If you’re interested in doing a guided tour, click here.
11. Aker Brygge
Cap off your one day in Oslo by heading to the bustling Aker Brygge district, a high-end waterfront neighborhood.
Since the 1980s this place has undergone an extensive transformation from being an industrial eyesore to a vibrant entertainment quarter full of lively bars and chic boutiques. It is also home to some of the city’s best restaurants and cafes.
Aker Brygge is beloved among Oslovians and doubles as a recreational space for the people of Oslo in the evenings and on the weekends. Take a stroll along the promenade, grab an ice cream, and sit 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, but it also offers splendid views of Akershus Fortress.
Across the bridge from here lies Tjuvholmen, another upcoming district with a similar backstory as Aker Brygge. It is also home to lavish examples of contemporary architecture and is home to a slew of fancy condominiums.
Tjuvholmen is also the location of Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, one of Norway’s leading museums showcasing contemporary art.
You deserve a great dinner to cap off your 24 hours in Oslo. Take this opportunity to check out Jarmann Gastropub, one of the many places lining the Aker Brygge waterfront.
They’ve got a great selection of eclectic beers and hearty grub. If you want to try something different, New Delhi is a fantastic choice.
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
More Than One Day in Oslo?
Ideally, I would recommend that you spend 2-3 days in Oslo. There are many beautiful sights that we had to exclude from our one-day itinerary, such as the Kon-Tiki Museum, the Holmenkollen Ski Jump Arena, and the trendy Grünerløkka district.
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.
Further Reading For Your Oslo Visit
That summarizes our comprehensive guide to one day in Oslo. However, we reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Oslo!
Further Reading For Your Oslo Visit
Now, what do you think? How would you spend one day in Oslo? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!