Excitingly close to the polar circle, you find the third northernmost capital of the world, Oslo, my hometown, is the capital city where the sunsets never end in summer, you can swim in the inner city harbor and go island hopping aboard local ferries.
Oslo, despite its modest size, has everything bigger European cities have… and more. I am thrilled to share with you all the unique and quirky things you can do in Oslo, and, rest assured, I will let you in on adventures and experiences only the locals know about.
1. Walk The Oslo Opera House Roof
Begin your exploration of Oslo with the stunning National Opera House. Designed to resemble a white glacier slipping gracefully into the Oslo fjord, the building is open for guided tours. Or take a stroll on the roof on your own for amazing views.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Add a post-tour drink in the elegant surroundings for the ideal date. I have fond memories of gazing into someone’s eyes during an incredible sunset here.
2. Embark On A Floating Oslo Fjord Sauna
A really cool thing to do in Oslo is to book a stay or a tour on one of the city’s floating saunas.
Although the water in Norway is never really “warm,” that doesn’t stop Norwegians from jumping into the sea any time of year.
Doing so from a steaming sauna floating in the Oslo Fjord will give you incredible memories and a soaring feeling of invincibility, and it is really healthy. It’s a perfect thing to do if you want to test your Norwegian Viking skills.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Go to SALT, my favorite, where you have fjord views directly from the sauna. There is outdoor seating in the summer, frequent concerts, and lots of restaurants nearby.
3. Have Lunch By The Water At Aker Brygge
Within walking distance from the city center is Aker Brygge, which translates to Aker Wharf, a vibrant hub for museums, restaurants, bars, and some of the best hotels in Oslo.
This area is a center for everything from great shopping to cultural experiences, food, and even beach life! I love strolling along the wooden jetty and having ice cream by the water or taking a seat for lunch or happy hour in one of the numerous outdoor seating restaurants scattered along the shore.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Aker Brygge is where you find the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, right next to one of the sandy city beaches.
4. Go Island Hopping In The Oslo Fjord
The Oslo Fjord is coveted for its many inviting islands covered in lush green nature, perfect for laid-back summer days and nights. Go island hopping in the Oslo Fjord on warm sunny days with the local ferries that dock at all the six main islands.
I bring my friends out here regularly through the summer, and all the islands are super charming with their own unique vibe. Hovedøya Island is the closest to the city center, where you can have lunch or a drink at Revierhavnen Kro right next to the water. Buy your ticket on the Ruter app.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Bring your hammock to Langøyene Island for a night of camping. Find two trees for your hammock, bring a portable BBQ, and enjoy the sunset from the beach (camping here is free).
5. Join A Guided Tour Of The Royal Palace
Outside the Royal Palace of Norway, you will see guards from the Royal Guard Regiment 24/7.
Even though the Norwegian King and Queen live in the castle, parts of the palace interior with incredible art and architecture are also open to the public for guided tours.
I did this tour with my parents, niece, and nephew, and they all loved it. The interior and architecture of the palace are absolutely stunning; there is so much history here that you will enjoy learning about from one of the enthusiastic guides.
SheBuysTravel Tip: I recommend you try to catch the guard-changing ceremony that takes place every day at 1:30 pm.
6. Chill On The Oslo City Center Beaches
One of the things that make Oslo a one-of-a-kind city is that the water is so clean that you can swim in the inner fjord in the summer.
Hidden around the Oslo harbor, you find jetties and urban sandy beaches that are very popular with the local population in the summer. Be aware, though, that the water temperatures in Norway, even in summer, are far from Caribbean levels!
SheBuysTravel Tip: Visit one of my favorite three city beaches where the locals go swimming in the center of Oslo in the summer:
7. Explore The Frogner Sculpture Park
Next to the elegant residential area of Frogner with villas and classical apartment buildings, you will find the largest and most beautiful park in Oslo, Frogner Park. This park is also referred to as Vigeland Sculpture Park because the renowned’ artist Gustav Vigeland is the single artist who created more than 200 of the park sculptures.
I often come here in the summer with my family for picnics or BBQs with friends to relax and have fun. There is also a charming cafe here where you can stop for refreshments and the Oslo City Museum, where you can explore the medieval history of Oslo from its beginning until the present day.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Visit the Vigeland Museum to learn more; you can explore on your own or book a guided tour.
8. Have Brunch In A Charming Cafe
There are a plethora of super charming cafes in all city districts of Oslo, from fast-chain coffee places to unique little gems serving locally made food and sweet treats and steaming coffee.
Venerable Engebret Cafe by Akershus Fortress is the oldest cafe in Oslo and is definitely worth a visit; this is where you go for refreshments in really elegant surroundings.
Hønselovisas Hus (Lovisa with the hens) is another hidden gem along the Akerselva River, a red wooden old house where you can relax in a green oasis in the city with the sound of the passing river nearby.
9. Stroll Karl Johans Gate Main Street
Running from the Oslo Central Station and ending in front of the royal castle of Norway, where the king and queen reside, is Karl Johans Street, or Karl Johan for short.
This is a busy shopping street that is also full of a variety of restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and troubadours in the summer.
The most famous area of Karl Johan is Spikersuppa, an area with beautiful fountains in the summer and an ice skating rink in winter. Join in, or just have a seat on a park bench and take in the ambiance!
SheBuysTravel Tip: Places to check out along Karl Johan are
- Stortinget National Assembly of Norway
- The National Theater
- The high-end Eger Shopping Center
10. Explore The Oslo Cathedral
Along the lower part of Karl Johan Main Street, you will find Norway’s main cathedral, Oslo Domkirke, surrounded by a small green park with cafes, restaurants, and shops. This is a super nice and quiet place to stop for refreshments in central Oslo, especially in the summer.
This impressive cathedral was built in 1697 and has been the center point for everything from royal weddings to funerals and everything in between.
The cathedral is open every day, still has a mass three days a week, and high mass every Sunday. If you don’t feel like attending mass, you can attend one of the many concerts instead, which will be an experience with regal acoustics in a unique environment.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Do a guided tour of the cathedral, and make sure to book it in advance.
11. Visit The Nobel Peace Center
Norway is the awarder of the annual Nobel Peace Prize. In the center of Oslo, in front of the City Hall, you can also find the Nobel Peace Center for a thought-provoking experience.
The Nobel Peace Center has become an important voice for profound dialogue and a host for a variety of important events and exhibitions. Its overall vision is inspired by Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament: to work for the greatest good of humanity.
Come here to learn about the history of the Nobel Prize and its founder, Alfred Nobel, the recipients of the Peace Prize over the years, and, not least, the history behind why these courageous people have been given this honor.
12. Stop By The Elegant Victor’s Wine Bar at Frogner
Victor’s Wine Bar in the west end offers a great selection of wines served by expert staff who love to give guests a wonderful experience.
On the inside of this family-run venue, the ambiance is calm and cozy. On hot summer days and nights, you can have a cold glass of bubbles on the outdoor terrace surrounded by the tranquil atmosphere of the Frogner neighborhood.
13. Visit The National Museum
You can explore Norway’s largest collection of art, architecture, and design in the National Museum of Oslo, situated in a modern building at the entrance to Aker Brygge in the city center.
This important cultural hub is the biggest art museum in the Northern countries. The premises display a staggering 400.000 objects, some in permanent exhibitions, while other exhibitions are available only for a limited period of time.
If you love to immerse yourself in art and the history of art, this is a must-visit sight.
14. Incredible Kayaking From The Center Of Oslo
From the central harbor of Oslo, you can rent kayaks and head out on the fjord on your own for a few hours if you are already a skilled kayak paddler.
If not, you can join a kayak tour in the inner fjord departing from the most recent city area, the artificial peninsula of Tjuvholmen.
From here, you will get up close and personal with the capital fjord nature and wildlife and enjoy slow traveling the water on your own time. Stop wherever you see a beautiful bay or natural rock for lunch and a refreshing swim!
15. Visit The Venerable National Theatre
You find the National Theater of Norway situated right in the center of Oslo next to Karl Johan Street, a majestic building from 1899.
The building is listed for protection, and in the exterior and interior, you will find exquisite details created by a variety of cherished Norwegian artists. In front of the theater are sculptures of famous writers Henrik Ibsen (A Doll’s House) and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson.
The National Theater has five stages, and you can check out the program if you want to experience a piece. Mind you, the performance is in Norwegian, while the guided tours are in English.
16. Embark On A Laid-Back Fjord Cruise
In the summer, there are a variety of boats heading out for an Oslo Fjord Cruise. Boarding one of the charming vessels for a slow guided trip around the inner Fjord islands is a wonderful experience.
You will board in front of the city hall close to Aker Brygge, and the boat will cruise around the famous Hovedøya, Langøyene, Malmøya, and more. Sit back and watch the elegant villas sitting right on the shore with private beaches, small wharves, and yachts.
SheBuysTravel Tip: My favorite is a sunset cruise where you can enjoy live music and fresh seafood while slowly cruising around the islands with holiday houses and leisure boats.
Read More: Best Countries to Visit with Kids
17. Visit Gamlebyen – “The Old City”
In the original part of Oslo, Gamlebyen is located a little to the east of the current city center. This is where you find the Medieval Park with ruins of St Clements Church and the former royal estate from around the 13th Century.
In Gamlebyen, there are also lots of nice little restaurants and bars with a low-key and laid-back ambiance. Try lunch at the super charming Cafekontoret or the rustic Klosterenga Cafe.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Outside the beaten tourist path is Vålerenga, where you find Smia Galleri, an incredibly picturesque restaurant and bar built in an old forge. Come for one of the regular live jazz nights for a unique ambiance.
18. Stop By The Medieval Akershus Fortress
On the brink of the inner fjord just below the Oslo Town Hall lies the medieval Akershus Fortress, which has guarded the capital since the 13th Century before Norway became Norway!
Once you enter the fortress gate guarded by soldiers, you arrive in a tranquil atmosphere with a huge parade square, cobbled streets, and ancient buildings. Kings and queens resided here back in the day, and you still find dark dungeons, regal halls, and narrow paths.
Inside the fortress walls, you can visit the Norway Resistance Museum over the Second World War, and on top of a steep hill is the Akershus Castle Church from the early 14th Century, with an intriguing history and stunning views of the harbor.
19. Visit the Iconic Painter Edvard Munch’s Museum
Norwegian artist Edvard Munch is world-famous for iconic paintings like The Scream, Vampire, and Sick Girl. While he lived, he was considered a controversial artist, and after his death, he became one of the most renowned modernist artists in the world.
At the Munch Museum, you can learn all about Munch’s life, legacy, and art over 13 floors, and join one of the many events they offer.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Finish off your visit to the Munch Museum with dinner at Bistro Tolvte with some of Oslo’s best views.
20. Stroll The Parks Of Laid-Back Grunerløkka
Grunerløkka is one of the old working-class neighborhoods of Oslo, which is now the number one artistic city district with several picturesque parks, small boutiques, cafes, bars, and art venues.
I lived in Grunerløkka for years, which is one of my favorite areas of Oslo because of its vibrant and laid-back ambiance. There is always something going on around here!
This district has been called “Oslo’s coolest neighborhood” by Vogue, and you will often find concerts here in places like Parkteateret, a variety of art venues, exhibitions, and unique local design shops.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Have a tapas lunch at Delicatessen, a fresh cocktail in Bettola, and stroll slowly around parks like Sofienbergparken or Birkelunden.
21. Walk The Picturesque Akerselva River Walk
Pouring out into the Oslo Fjord is the Akerselva River, which starts five miles above the city and has pathways along the waterway from start to end. There are picturesque cafes and little shops scattered along the riverside paths. If you make it all the way to Nydalen, you can even go for a swim in a designated river bath in Akerselva.
Every year in September, you can experience the incredible Elvelangs evening walk, with live music, cultural events, and over 4000 torches lighting up the path along the river.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Join a river kayak tour down Akerselva and end up in the central Oslo harbor in front of the National Opera.
22. Attend A Show At Rockefeller Concert Hall
For all music lovers, I definitely recommend you check out the program for Rockefeller Music Hall, the best concert venue in the center of Oslo.
Many national and international artists come here to have concerts, either on the main stage, the smaller John Dee Live Club & Pub, or the Sentrum Scene stage, which also hosts big shows and other types of performances.
The program for concerts and shows is extensive, and something is going on almost every night here.
23. Dive Into The Past At The Historical Museum
In Oslo’s city center, you can visit the Historical Museum to explore the largest archaeological and ethnographic collection in Norway. The exhibition has interesting objects from the Stone Age, The Viking Age, the Middle Ages, and up to the present.
As the famous Viking Ship Museum on the Bygdøy peninsula is closed for renovation, you can also see the Viking exhibition in the Historical Museum until 2026.
24. Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
If you are curious about Norwegian heritage and cultural history, you will enjoy a visit to the Norsk Folkemuseum on the Bygdøy Peninsula.
At the Folkemuseum, which also has an Open-Air Museum, you can see the famous traditional Stave Church from Gol, a mountain village in central Norway.
This is also where you find original buildings from the Old Town of Oslo and the Norwegian countryside, so if you love to explore history hands-on, this is for you!
25. Visit The Oslo City Hall
Nestled beside the inner harbor of the capital is the Oslo City Hall, an impressive building built in maroon brick in 1950 which is both where the city’s mayor works, as well as an important hub for art and architecture.
In the City Hall tower, you find the Nordic region’s largest carillon. You will hear it playing across the city every hour between 7 am and 12 midnight, and in the building’s Munch Room, you can even get married.
Take a guided tour of the inside to get a peek into the history of Norway and its values and traditions, told through art and architecture. The city hall is open every day between 9 am and 4 pm, and you need to prepare for a security check to enter.
26. Mathallen Food Hall
Along the Akerselva River, you will find a modest but large building that houses Mathallen Food Hall, a gastronomic hub in Oslo, perfect for any foodie who loves to smell, taste, and sample tasty delicacies.
Mathallen is situated next to the Akerselva River, walking distance from Grunerløkka. You can just stroll around here for hours, have a seat in one of the eateries for a gourmet experience, or just sample tiny delicacies on the go.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Try Norwegian locally-made cheese, fresh seafood, or homemade lemonade from one of the stands.
27. Head Up To The Holmenkollen Ski Jump
In the hills high above Oslo is where you find the famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump, which is a great year-round destination if you are into winter sports and history portrayed in the Holmenkollen Ski Museum.
You may be lucky and find a ski jump competition happening during your winter visit, where you can watch impressive ski flyers. In the summer, you can challenge yourself and walk all the 600 steps from the bottom to the top of the ski jump or just take the elevator up to enjoy the airy views.
SheBuysTravel Tip: In the summer, you can also test the flight from the ski jump yourself on an airy and steep zipline tour if you have the guts!
28. Have Lunch At the Holmenkollen Hotel
The venerable Holmenkollen Hotel is situated close to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump Arena, a luxury hotel that was built in 1894 with an absolutely spectacular view of the city.
You can still soak up the incredibly elegant yet rustic 19th-century atmosphere with a typical Norwegian wooden interior, although the hotel was recently completely renovated.
Book a stay, or just book a treatment at Artesia Spa, followed by an amazing evening in the restaurant. The hotel has parking for staying guests, and the city metro stops around 500 yards from the hotel.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Go for a wine tasting in the Sanatorium Wine Celler, the old basement of the Dragon Building from 1874 that used to be a sanatorium.
29. Have lunch or dinner at Nedre Foss Gård
Close to Grunerløkka by the Akerselva River, you can visit Nedre Foss Gård farm, an elegant building that houses a top-rated restaurant.
The original farm was operational from the 13th to the 20th century until it was transformed into an incredible venue for great dining experiences. However, the original buildings burned down in a fire in 2015, so the restaurant you visit today is a rebuilt version of the old architecture.
Come here for a night of great dining or a light lunch on the outdoor patio in the summer; both will be awesome experiences.
30. Have Dinner At Ekeberg Restaurant In The Hills Over Oslo
The outdoor seating at the Ekeberg Restaurant high above the Oslo Fjord is amazing in the summer, and they serve the best fish soup and scallops! ‘
I have visited the Ekeberg restaurant both for casual summer lunches with friends and wedding celebrations, so any excuse is a good excuse to make the trip and test the menu.
Inside the functional style building is the restaurant with a modern and elegant interior that you can enjoy any time of year. Constructed in 1916, the building is listed for preservation today. Enjoy the ambiance, service, and views while having excellent food and drinks in this special place!
31. Walk The Ekeberg Sculpture Park
From the Ekeberg Restaurant, you will find a forest path taking you to the Ekeberg Sculpture Park, a large park nestled in a natural forest. You will see the art and sculptures secluded among the trees, where you can follow pathways that are also beautifully lit at night.
The art collection in the park has a total of 43 sculptures and installations, including pieces like We Come in Peace by Huma Bhabha, and Loiseau Amoreux Fontaine by Diki de Saint Phalle.
If you travel with kids, they will probably enjoy a stop at the EKT Animal Farm during your sightseeing stroll around this forest park.
The Ekeberg Park also has a Museum located in a beautiful white wooden villa below the Ekeberg Restaurant, just minutes from the city tram stop.
32. Go For A Fresh Swim At The Sognsvann Lake
A short metro ride out of the city center will take you to one of the most popular summer outing spots in Oslo: the Sognsvann Lake.
Lots of locals come here on lazy summer days (just like to the parks) for romantic dates or with their family or friends, to have picnics, BBQs, and, of course, to go swimming!
There is a beautiful walking path around the lake, surrounded by forest, where you can stop anywhere you find a charming spot and settle down with your blankets and lunch basket.
33. Hike to Ullevålsseter Shieling in the Northern Forest
If you are an avid hiker, and you love the forest, the hike from Sognsvann Lake to Ullevålsseter Shieling in the Northern Oslo Forest is a really nice summer outing.
You need to be in okay physical shape to enjoy this hike, which is around 3 miles slightly uphill into the woods. Once you arrive, you can enjoy the scenery and countryside ambiance from the grassy seating area outside, along with the locals.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Reward yourself with sweet waffles with cream and jam from the forest cafe and enjoy them on the grassy fields outside.
34. Have A Traditional Lunch At Frognerseteren Shieling
Frognerseteren is another national treasure nestled in the hills of Oslo. It is a rough wooden building from 1891 with historic charm on the outside and an elegant atmosphere on the inside.
The restaurant at Frognerseteren is infamous for its culinary dinner pleasures, or you can just come up here and relax in the cafe in the daytime with hot chocolate and a traditional lunch.
You will find yourself in the cultural heritage of the kingdom of Norway, in quite extraordinary surroundings and with spectacular views.
35. Admire Polar Heroes At The Fram Museum
The polar exploration museum at the Fram Museum in Bygdøy Peninsula right outside Oslo tells the story of Norwegian polar exploration, including expeditions, ships, and famous national heroes like Amundsen and Nansen.
Fridtjof Nansen and his crew were the first people to cross the Greenland ice from east to west; it took them six weeks to complete the ordeal in 1888.
At the museum, you can see unique photos of him and other explorers, visit the ship Fram, and experience a spectacular northern lights show from the ship deck every 20 minutes.
36. Pacific Adventure History At The Kon-Tiki Museum
At The Kon-Tiki Museum at Bygdøy peninsula, right outside the center of Oslo (you can take the city ferry over), you find the famous Kon-Tiki Museum.
Kon-Tiki is the name of a balsawood raft that Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl used to cross the Pacific in 1947. This was his first expedition captured on film, although he has done several, and Heyerdahl later got the Academy Award for Best Documentary for this brave endeavor.
Learn all about Heyerdahl’s adventures at the museum, as well as his archeological excavations in exotic places like Easter Island, Galapagos, and Tucume.
Is Oslo worth visiting?
Yes, Oslo is worth visiting. This small capital is unique in the sense that it has lots of sights and a cosmopolitan feeling in the city center, as well as proximity to nature and fjords and intriguing history.
Is Oslo safe?
Yes, Oslo is a very safe city to visit.
Is 2 days enough for Oslo?
In 2 days in Oslo, you will be able to see the major sights in the city center. If you want to explore more of the sights that require some transport and time to explore, I recommend 3-4 days.