What to Do in Oslo for First-Time Visitors

Frogner Park

Introduction to Oslo

Oslo is the capital and most populous city of Norway, seconded by the also popular Bergen. It was founded as a city at the end of the Viking Age in 1040 under the name Ánslo, and established as a kaupstad or trading place in 1048 by Harald Hardrada

It is considered a global city and was ranked several times: “Beta World City”, number one in terms of quality of life among large European cities, the most expensive city in the World and the most liveable city.

Top Activities in Oslo

Find below the best things to do in Oslo.

Opera House

The Oslo Opera House is a modern architectural masterpiece that symbolises the city’s cultural vibrancy. Its unique design allows visitors to walk on its sloping marble roof, offering striking views of the Oslo fjord and the urban landscape.

The building is situated in the Bjørvika neighbourhood of central Oslo, at the head of the Oslofjord. The structure contains 1,100 rooms in a total area of 49,000 m2 (530,000 sq ft). The main auditorium seats 1,364 and two other performance spaces can seat 200 and 400. The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with marble from Carrara, Italy and white granite and make it appear to rise from the water.

It is the largest cultural building constructed in Norway since Nidarosdomen was completed circa 1300.

Frogner Park

Frogner Park

Frogner Park is Oslo’s largest park and the most visited tourist attraction in Norway, attracting between 1 and 2 million visitors each year. It covers 45 hectares and the sculpture installation is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist.

It is open to the public at all times and includes the manor house which is the seat of the Oslo Museum, the nearby Henriette Wegner Pavilion, the Vigeland installation of sculptures created by sculptor Gustav Vigeland, Frogner Baths, Frogner stadion, Frognerparken Café, the restaurant Herregårdskroen and the largest collection of roses in the country with 14,000 plants of 150 species.


Grünerløkka is Oslo’s hipster/alternative/cool area. As happens with most areas of this kind all over the World, which was traditionally a working-class district; has increasingly undergone gentrification since the late 20th century and it is currently one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Oslo.

It is located in the East End and comprises a huge variety of independent and quirky shops, art galleries, cafes, parks (Sofienbergparken and Birkelunden) and restaurants, contributing to the area’s unique aesthetic. It has a reputation for being a haven for artists, musicians, and young professionals, fostering an atmosphere of creativity and cultural expression.

Some key places we totally recommend visiting are the following:

Aker Brygge

Tjuvholmen bystrand (beach)

Aker Brygge also used to be an industrial area but is now a residential one. However; is not nearly as hipster as Grünerløkka, so a completely different vibe and aesthetic. it is actually on the high-end spectrum.

It is a popular area for shopping, dining, and entertainment, with a beautiful promenade with views of Oslo centre and especially the Akershus Fortress. It is also a leader in Norway for waterfront development and it is one of the most visited places in Oslo with 12 million visitors each year.

Some interesting places to visit are the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art and the Tjuvholmen bystrand. The latter is a popular beach and picnic area.

Nobel Peace Center

The Nobel Peace Center (Nobels Fredssenter) is a showcase for the Nobel Peace Prize and the ideals it represents. The centre is also an arena where culture and politics merge to promote involvement, debate and reflection around topics such as war, peace and conflict resolution.

The Center presents the prize winners and their work, in addition to telling the story of Alfred Nobel himself. This is done using multimedia and interactive technology, exhibitions, meetings, debates, theatre, concerts and conferences, as well as a broad educational program and regular guided tours.

It is located at the beginning of Aker Brygge‘s promenade, so a visit to both places together is recommended.

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace (Slottet or Det kongelige slott) was built in the first half of the 19th century as the Norwegian residence of the French-born King Charles III John, who reigned as king of Norway and Sweden. The palace is the official residence of the current Norwegian monarch while the Crown Prince resides at Skaugum in Asker west of Oslo.

The palace is located at the end of Karl Johans gate in central Oslo and is surrounded by the Palace Park with the Palace Square in the front.

During the summer months, the Royal Palace offers guided tours that provide a unique opportunity for visitors to explore select rooms and gain insights into the history and traditions of the Norwegian monarchy. There is also the ceremonial Changing of the Guard which takes place daily at 1:30 PM in front of the palace.

Akershus Fortress

(source: GetYourGuide)

Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle that was built to protect and provide a royal residence for the city. Since the Middle Ages the fortress has been the namesake and centre of the main fief and later main county of Akershus, which was originally one of Norway’s four main regions and which included most of Eastern Norway.

The castle has also been used as a military base, a prison and is currently the temporary office of the Prime minister of Norway. Although still a military area, it is open to the public between 6:00 and 21:00 daily. As well as the castle, the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and Norway’s Resistance Museum can also be visited. Alternative Self-Guided Mystery Tours are also available.

The Norwegian Ministry of Defence and the country’s Defence Staff Norway share a joint modern headquarters in the eastern part of the fortress. His Majesty the King’s Guard is responsible for guarding the fortress, with stationary guard posts during open hours and mobile patrols at night. One of the stationary guard posts at the entrance is a popular photography spot for tourists visiting the fortress.


Munch Museum

There are many museums in Oslo (more than 50), some of them worth visiting are:

  • Viking Ship Museum. Admire remarkably preserved Viking longships and artefacts that tell tales of exploration and conquest.
  • Munch Museum. Dedicated to the works of renowned Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. Admire iconic pieces like “The Scream”.
  • Fram Museum. Dedicated to Norway’s exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Discover the history of polar expeditions through the iconic ship Fram.
  • National Gallery. Discover a diverse collection of Norwegian and international art. From timeless classics to modern masterpieces, the gallery boasts works by prominent artists such as Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso.
  • Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum. Experience the thrill of winter sports history.

Where to stay in Oslo?

We stayed at Thon Hotel Slottsparken and we liked it a lot. We got a modest but spacious room with a living room and terrace. There are many rooms in the hotel with the staff was super friendly. And the breakfast was marvellous. Moreover; it was very close to the Nationaltheatret station with trains straight to and from the airport.

Other good value-for-money options are the following:

More Pictures

University of Oslo
Opera House
Oslo Cathedral
Aker Brygge Promenade
Bah in Grünerløkka
Mathallen Oslo
Oslo Pier
Frogner Park main sculpture

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