Oslo has always been listed as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Thus, many budget travellers and backpackers skip this city for fear of high expenses. That’s why we decided to write a detailed post how to have a great weekend break in the capital city of Norway and visit many interesting places without breaking the bank. Have a look at our What To See In OSLO | Travel Itinerary and get to know more about this marvel of Scandinavia!
How To Get In Oslo
The best and the most reasonable way to arrive in Oslo is to take a flight. There are two airports near Oslo.
The main one is called Oslo-Gardermoen, which is the biggest airport in the whole Norway. It has hundreds of connections to amazing places around the world. Although it serves mostly traditional airlines with their pricey fares, it has started attracting more and more low cost carries, which offers flights in prices financially reachable for backpackers. It’s the base of Norwegian Air Shuttle that can cheaply take you to Gardermoen from most of European capital cities. Apart from that, there are a few other budget airlines with inexpensive routes from several destinations in the region as well.
If you want to travel to Oslo really R-E-A-L-L-Y cheap, you should consider the smaller and remote Oslo Sandefjord-Torp airport located 120 km away from the capital. This is home of two main LCC in Europe – Ryanair and Wizz Air. They flight to Oslo in fantastic prices from Poland, UK, Spain, Italy and a few more. And the big news is… if you do a little research, you will spend up to $20 RT !!! There are always many dates to choose, so it’s very easy to find such great deals. It’s very important issue to get cheap flight tickets to Norway as it will be the only cheap thing during your trip to this country…
FROM AIRPORT TO THE CITY
There are a couple of ways to reach the city center from Gardermoen airport, but taking NSB train is definitely the best option of all. Other means of transport are either too expensive or too time-consuming. NSB trains is just the most convenient and the most popular too. It frequently departs from the airport station called “Oslo Lufthavn” (every 10-30 min) and arrives at Oslo Central Station called “Oslo S” in just 23 minutes. One way ticket costs only 101 NOK (approx. $12) what is fairly cheap for Norwegian standards. You can buy your ticket online or even better at the spot by cash or card.
On the other hand, the transport from Sandefjord-Torp airport to the city center looks differently. The train is not the most convenient option as the train station is located not by the airport, but in the nearby town Torp, which requires taking a free shuttle bus to get there. Moreover, the train between Torp and Oslo departs only once an hour, so if you miss it, you’ll waste some time waiting for the next train at the station. It’s 249 NOK (approx. $30) for a one-way ticket and it takes 1h 30h from departing Torp train station to arrive in central Oslo. All in all, it’s not so bad, but keeping all disadvantages in mind, train should be considered only as an alternative way to reach the capital.
Taking A Bus
So, what’s the best mean of transport to get to Oslo when landing at Sandefjord-Torp airport? The correct answer is: A BUS. A bus company called Torpekspressen runs on this route and it’s fast, direct, pretty cheap and very easy to use. If you buy your tickets online and decide to get a return ticket, it will cost you 478 NOK (approx. $56) in total. As you see, it’s even slightly less than two single train tickets. If you buy your bus tickets at the spot or take single tickets, they will charge you a little more. Also, discounts for children, students and seniors apply.
The big plus of Torpekspressen buses is that they are linked to every Ryanair and Wizz Air flight and wait for passengers when the flight is delayed. The ride takes 1h 45 min, so it seems to be a bit longer than train, but remember that buses run directly from the airport doors to Oslo, so in fact it turns out to be the fastest way of all. The bus is comfortable and equipped with lavatory. At the end, Torpekspressen will drop you off at Oslo Bus Terminal in downtown.
How To Get Around Oslo
Most of the famous tourist attractions in Oslo are located quite close to each other. As a result, it’s easy to sightsee Oslo on foot, which is a good way to get to know the city much better than using public transport. During our weekend break in Oslo, we were walking almost all the time and needed to take metro only once.
If you need to visit some remote parts of Oslo or the weather is not convenient for walking, it’s worth to choose metro, called there T-bane. There are 5 lines of this system that cover the whole city, even far suburbs. A single metro ticket costs 35 NOK (approx. $4) and 24-hour one is 105 NOK (approx. $12). It means that day tickets are worthwhile only in case you’re going to ride the metro 3 times a day (to break even) or more (to finally have cheaper rides). For longer stays in Oslo it’s reasonable to consider a 7-day ticket for 249 NOK (approx. $30).
Most important metro stations:
Nationaltheatret – Royal Palace, National Gallery
Jernbanetorget – Central Station
Stortinget – City Center
What To See In Oslo
It’s an important museum of art, which includes plenty of works of well-known painters, like Picasso or Monet. Although there are many interesting paintings in the National Gallery, to be honest, almost all visitors go there to see the one particular masterpiece – The Scream by Edvard Munch. It’s amazing to stay in front of one of the finest paintings in the world and see it live. The Scream always makes a great impression on everyone who visit it. The play of strong colours and mysterious character in the middle stuns since the first moment. The most famous Munch’s painting always gets the biggest crowds and nobody can go out from it without taking a picture of the legendary “screaming” figure. Ticket price: 120 NOK (approx. $14), students pay just 60 NOK (approx. $7).
The official residence of King Harald V. The building is made in a neo-classical style. Everyday there’s changing the guard at 1:30 pm.
In summer, it’s also possible to visit the palace from inside with a guided tour. There are a couple of English-speaking tours a day and tours in Norwegian run every 20-minutes. You can book tickets online or buy them in Oslo Visitor Centre right outside Oslo Central Station. Moreover, if some remaining tickets are left, they wait for visitors at the entrance before each tour. The tour lasts about an hour. Admission: 135 NOK (approx. $16), students/seniors are charged only 105 NOK (approx. $12).
This is the home of Norwegian museums and it looks like a village in the city. Bydgøy is separated from the center of Oslo by waters of Oslofjorden. Although, you can get there making a detour by public bus no. 30, it’s much more adventurous and enjoyable to take a boat cruise (Bygdøyfergene) as it’s an attraction itself. It runs between April and October from City Hall Pier 3, which is very close to the city center. You will easily spot it, just look for a sign Tickets can be bought at the ticket office by the pier for 48 NOK OW (approx. $6) or 69 NOK RT (approx. $8). Free with the Oslo pass. Obtaining tickets on board is more expensive. The ferry departs every 20-30 minutes and the cruise lasts about 15 minutes.
The boat stops at two piers on Bydgøy – Dronningen and Bygdøynes, so in fact it makes a triangular route. We advise you to get off at the first stop, explore Bydgøy on foot and then for your return way board the boat at the second pier, which is a walkable distance from the first one.
There are many museums on Bydgøy but frankly speaking, there’s only one that is really worth to visit – The Viking Ship Museum. Yes, you can see there a couple of original, giant ships that used to be occupied by Vikings over a thousand years ago! Especially, the biggest and the best-preserved ship makes a huge impression. Ticket price is steep – 100 NOK (approx. $12). Students are charged 80 NOK (approx. $9).
Apart from museums, it’s a good idea to wander around Bydgøy because it’s a calm and lovely neighbourhood with elegant and classy villas. This is the place where you can rest from the noise of the city and spend some time only with yourself.
OSLO OPERA HOUSE
Opera House is a side of modern look of the city. It’s a massive building creatively designed in unusual shape. The biggest advantage for tourists is that you can go on the roof to get the panoramic view of fjords. We recommend this place, especially for sunsets when you can take good pictures of Oslo from above.
It’s a medieval castle that was a witness of the most important events in Norwegian history. Through the centuries the fortress has never been captured. It used to be a military base, prison and nowadays it’s a temporary seat of Norwegian Prime minister. Most importantly the entrance is always free of charge.
Sleeping, Eating, Safety & Other Tips
Like everything, accommodation is very pricey in Oslo. The best budget lodging there is a hostel called Central City Apartments close to Tøyen metro station. For unbeatable $58 a night you can get a private double room with a shared bathroom, kitchen and dining area. Besides that the plus is, you share these facilities with only one room as it looks more like a two-bedroom flat. What’s surprising, standard of rooms in this hostel is very high for a budget lodging. Rooms are very clean, renovated and comfortable. It’s a great option and for sure you won’t find anything better in Oslo.
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Have a look how to do the whole procedure step by step:
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Norway is famous for fishes. It’s almost a crime to visit this country and not try their tasty fishes. The famous fish & chips sounds so yummmmy. Delicious and affordable portion of fish & chips is prepared in Fiskeriet restaurant. They make the best fish & chips ever with pickles, onion and remoulade dip. The restaurant is small with limited tables inside, so they set lower prices for takeaway orders. If the weather is fine, it’s not a problem to eat outside as plenty of people eat their dinners at the square in front of the restaurant. There are benches where you can have a seat and try tasteful fish & chips. One portion to go costs 128 NOK (approx. $15), which is fairly inexpensive comparing to average prices of dinner in Oslo.
Oslo is a safe city. Even in neighbourhoods considered as kind of dodgy we felt safe and had no issues throughout the whole trip. Just regular precautions advised.
Much more problematic can be weather. Keep in mind that in winter the temperature in Oslo hits sub-zero degrees. Even in summer 20-something °C on plus is maximum you can expect. That’s why the best time to visit the capital of Norway is a period from June to August when you can go out in sweatshirt or thin jacket. Also, remember that Norway is very rainy throughout the year so necessarily pack a raincoat or umbrella in your luggage.
Paying by contactless cards is well-developed in Oslo. Cards are widely accepted and it’s possible to pay with them literally everywhere. As a result, there’s no need to get physical money at all. If you want to, you can always withdraw some Norwegian krones from ATMs that are located almost on every street in Oslo.
Oslo Pass is a widely-advertised special ticket for short-term Oslo visitors. It gives free entry to museums, free travel on all public transport and full of various discounts. It sounds luring but the reality is far more disappointing. As the pass is very pricey itself, it’s hard to benefit from it, unless you sightsee paid attractions A LOT. If you count your expenses, Oslo Pass usually turns out to be poorly cost-effective. Certainly, it’s comfortable to use it as a key that opens all doors, but your wallet may get hurt. To sum up, as we are budget travellers and backpackers WE DISADVISE INVESTING IN OSLO PASS. If you already know what you’re going to visit in Oslo, have a look at prices of Oslo Pass (Adult fare) to make a right decision:
24 hours – 395 NOK (approx. $46)
48 hours – 595 NOK (approx. $69)
72 hours – 745 NOK (approx. $87)
How Much Does It Cost? (per person)
Flights Gdansk-Oslo-Gdansk: $20
Torpexpressen airport shuttle RT (student discount): 378 NOK (approx. $44)
Accommodation (1 night): $58 / 2 people = $29
Metro: 35 NOK (approx. $4)
Bydgøy cruise RT: 69 NOK (approx. $8)
National Gallery entrance fee (student discount): 60 NOK (approx. $7)
Viking Ship Museum entrance fee (student discount): 80 NOK (approx. $9)
TOTAL (for 24 hours): $156