Travel Secrets | how to spend 48 hours in OSLO Most budget travelers avoid Norway because it is an expensive country. The capital Oslo is regularly considered one of the most expensive cities in the world due to its high taxes, strong currency, and a high proportion of imported goods.
Naturally, it is difficult to travel here on a budget. Still, I encourage you to visit, even if it’s not a budget destination. There are unique museums, beautiful parks and breathtaking nature. It’s small enough that a two or three-day visit is usually enough to get a feel for it.
To help you plan your trip and make the most of your time, here is my recommended 48-hour itinerary for Oslo.
Travel Secrets | day 1 IN OSLO
Wander Vigeland Sculpture Park
- A small baby statue in Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway Start your day and marvel at this 80-acre park and admire its 200 statues.
- Located in Frogner Park, this is the world’s largest exhibition of sculptures created by a single artist.
- Gustav Vigeland (1869–1943) created the collection of bronze, iron, and granite statues that are now in this open-air gallery (you’ve probably seen the famous “Crying Baby” statue on social media).
- In summer you will find locals in the park enjoying the long sunny days.
- Events and concerts are also often organized there.
- From there you head to Bygdøy Island, where you can find many Oslo museums.
See the Viking Museum
- This museum houses the best-preserved Viking ships in the world, some of which date from the 9th century.
- It’s a sparse museum (the emphasis is really on ships), but burial ships (along with medieval tools and carts) are incredibly rare and worth seeing on their own.
- The museum also offers a short film, although the free audio guide is the best way to get the most out of your visit.
Discover the Norwegian Folk Museum
- Not far from the Viking Museum is the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.
- It has a collection of more than 150 buildings from different eras of Norwegian history.
- It is an open-air museum where you can explore both the interior and exterior of many buildings, some of which date from the 12th century.
- The most impressive of their exhibits is Gol Stave Church, an intricately carved wooden church dating from 1157.
- The museum also has a large archive of photos as well as countless historical artifacts, documents, tools, and more.
Visit the Fram Museum
- A wooden icebreaker the Fram in a museum in Oslo, Norway.
- As a northern country accustomed to cold temperatures and harsh winters, polar exploration is an area closely linked to Norwegian history.
- This museum sheds light on this history and focuses on Norway’s contributions to polar exploration.
- The heart of the museum is the Fram, the world’s first icebreaker ship.
- The ship was used between 1893 and 1912 and is actually made of wood.
- The Fram made trips to the North and South Poles and sailed further north and south than any other wooden ship in history.
- The museum is incredibly detailed; There are lots of photos, artifacts, tools, and tons of information. It is a unique look at Norwegian culture through the prism of exploration.
Visit the center of the Holocaust
- Founded in 2001, this museum sheds light on the experiences of Norwegian Jews (as well as the persecution of other religious minorities).
- It is located in the former residence of Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian fascist who led the Norwegian government under the National Socialist occupation between 1942 and 1945.
- It is a dark and understated, but incredibly insightful place with various exhibits, photos, films, artifacts, and interviews from WWII and the German occupation of Norway.
Learn more about the Kon-Tiki expedition
- The famous Kon-Tiki balsa raft in Oslo, Norway.
In 1947, Norwegian historian and explorer Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific from South America to Polynesia on a traditional balsa raft.
- This trip was supposed to prove that the Polynesian islands were colonized from America – not Asia as previously believed.
- He and his small crew spent 101 days at sea.
- They filmed much of the experience and won an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1951 (he also wrote a book on the voyage).
- For a taste of his trip, watch the 2012 historical drama Kon-Tiki (it’s a great travel movie).
The town hall
- End your day at the town hall, open and freely accessible to the public.
- While it doesn’t seem like an interesting sight, tours of the hall give you a glimpse into the city and its history.
- The most notable are the twenty murals and works of art in the hall.
- They show everything from traditional Norwegian life to the National Socialist occupation.
- The history of the Nobel Peace Prize is also highlighted here.
- It is awarded here every year (the other Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden).
Travel Secrets | Day 2 IN OSLO
Walk-in Akershus Fortress
- Akershus Fortress was built in 1290 and is a medieval fortress that turned into a Renaissance palace under Danish King Christian IV.
- It is currently used as the Prime Minister’s office.
- It was built for protection and the fortress was never successfully besieged (although it surrendered to the Nazis during WWII).
- The fortress houses a military museum as well as a museum dedicated to the Norwegian resistance during World War II.
- In the summer you can take a guided tour and there are often events here (mainly concerts).
- Check the website to see if anything is going on during your visit.
Take a harbor tour
- The Oslo fjord is breathtaking.
- The Oslo Fjord with its towering cliffs, calm waters, and the rugged green coastline is not to be missed.
- You can take a hop-on-hop-off boat that takes people to different sites and museums, or take a reasonable two-hour cruise through the fjord.
- I recommend the two-hour cruise because it goes further into the harbor and you see a lot more.
- It’s a relaxing way to spend part of your day, especially if you’ve been up all day.
- Tickets for the two-hour cruise cost NOK 339 per person.
Explore the royal palace and the park
- The Royal Palace is the official residence of the monarch (Yup! Norway still has a king!).
- It was completed in the 1840s and is surrounded by a huge park. Usually, locals can enjoy the long summer days here.
- During the summer, parts of the palace are open to visitors and guided tours.
- Tours last an hour and you can see some of the lavish and richly preserved halls and learn about the country’s monarchs and their rule over Norway.
Visit the National Gallery
- The National Gallery in Oslo is small but has a great selection of artists.
- Here you’ll find impressionists, Dutch artists, works by Picasso and El Greco as well as the highlight of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” gallery.
- The Scream was painted in 1893 and stolen from the gallery twice over the years.
- The gallery might not have the biggest collection I’ve ever seen, but it’s still worth a visit. It’s a relaxing way to end your trip.
Other things to see and do
If you have more time in Oslo, here are some more suggestions to make the most of your visit:
- Explore Nordmarka – The Nordmarka wilderness offers everything from biking and swimming to skiing.
- It spans 430 acres and houses cabins available for overnight stays. You can reach the area in just 30 minutes by car or 1 hour by bus.
- Avoid going on Sundays because that’s when all the locals leave to make it busier (unless you want to meet more locals!).
- Toboggan – If you visit in winter, do the Korketrekkeren toboggan run.
- The route is over 2000 meters long and sleds (including helmets) can be hired for NOK 150 per day (so you can take as many trips as you want).
- It is only available when there is snow, so the schedule varies. However, it’s incredibly fun and popular with the locals too!
- Stroll the Botanical Gardens – This botanical garden/arboretum is home to over 1,800 different plants and has two greenhouses filled with exotic plants and a specially designed ‘scent garden’ for the blind to have a sensory experience (it is a really nice to experience so don’t miss it).
- There are plenty of benches to sit down and relax with a book, as well as artwork throughout the garden. Free entry.
- Go Swimming – Oslo is surrounded by water and has plenty of places to swim. The water is clean and safe, and residents can swim all year round.
- Tjuvholmen City Beach, Sørenga Seawater Pool, and Huk are three must-see spots if you want to take a dip when the weather is nice.