As we arrived bright and early in Oslo, with 24 hours to kill before our transfer flight to Turkey, we jumped at the occasion to explore this beautiful Scandinavian capital. Here are a few tips and recommendations if you too find yourself on a short day trip to Oslo on a tight budget.
How to get from Oslo airport to Oslo city centre
Getting into the city centre from Oslo airport is relatively quick and easy. The cheapest option is to buy a regular train ticket (90NOK/approx £7 or €10) at the information desk. Trains depart very regularly and take approximately 25 minutes. An express train is equally available for a higher price and only five minutes difference. You may want to pick up a Oslo information guide whilst you’re here too as it has a useful map inside.
Get off at Oslo Sentralstasjon (Central Station) the main train station situated in the heart of the city. Minutes away are the main shopping streets and monuments of interest such as the Royal Palace, and various parks.
If you have heavy bags or suitcases which you don’t wish to lug around with you, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can leave them at the airport’s “lost and found” counter for up to 24 hours for a small fee of 79NOK per bag. That works out at about £6 or €9.
What to do in Oslo
Our first piece of advice is to understand the currency exchange rate as prices here can seem steep, particularly if you’re buying alcohol. In fact you might want to forget about drinking altogether; for a beer you can expect to pay around 70NOK (£5/€8).
Information concerning the museums and tourist attractions are available from the airport’s information desk, however you can also pick some up at Sentralstasjon or in some shopping centres such as the Oslo spectrum, which is located right next to Sentralstasjon.
You can expect to pay for many of the museums and attractions at sometimes heavy prices. For example, entrance to the Munch Museum, which holds the largest single collection of Edvard Munch’s work, will cost you 100NOK for an adult. We were also recommended to go to the Holmenkollen, which is a large ski jump where you can experience a 360 degree panoramic view of Oslo. But again, this will set you back at 120NOK per adult and 60NOK for children.
However, if you’re on a tight budget, fear not, as there are a number of free sights and attractions to be experienced for absolutely nothing!
The Parliament building (Stortinget) for example has free guided tours in English at specific times. When we were there, tours started at 10 and 11:30am, outside the entrance on the Akersgaten road. Other free sights can be found such as the nearby port. This is a peaceful area, with a lovely view of the promenade and various mountains. The Aker Brygge can also be found here,which is a series of bars and restaurants by the water.
Since we missed the Parliamentary guided tour and didn’t want to spend anything, we chose to branch out and explore the lesser known spots and we’re glad we did.
If you’re looking for a unique, quirky place in Oslo, away from all the museums and monuments, then head over to Grünerløkka over the Akerselva river. Coined as Oslo’s “Shoreditch”, this place is full of colourful, elegant boulevards and quirky second-hand shops, harbouring beautiful vintage garments, crockery and furniture among other things. The hipster bars and restaurants here are also worth the journey. However considering Oslo’s extortionate prices and our tight budget, we couldn’t do much grazing and as result have limited advice on this topic.
Although one restaurant we do recommend, both for those on a budget and Vietnamese food lovers, is Lille Saigon on the south side of Birkeluden park. For a decent price this little restaurant serves authentic Vietnamese dishes in a cosy environment. They are delicious and very popular with the locals! Highly recommended are the Bun Bo and Pho soups. Both come served in big bowls brimming with colourful herbs and delicious sauces. Servings are generous and a meal for two cost less than 250NOK or £20/€28.
After dinner we highly recommend a stroll along the Akerselva river where you will find colourful and quirky bars with lots of life and music. A notable bar opposite DogA with stunning graffiti covered walls and live music, this is definitely the right place to be for a relaxing drink by the river (even if it is just a cheap cola).
Best parts of Oslo
• Peaceful and not too crowded
• Great graffiti and street art
• Most museums and attractions within walking distance so no need to spend for extra transport
• Easy to get by if you’re English speaking
• Undoubtedly the high costs, particularly for alcohol.
• Not as many free museums as we would like, or at least at reasonable prices.
We hope you found this useful and if you have any more suggestions or Oslo advice that we missed please comment!