Last updated on March 29, 2022
Although Oslo is only a 1.5-hour flight away, I had virtually no preconception of the city other than the fact that it’s one of the most expensive places in the world where people enjoy a very high standard of living. It’s also the reason why I’ve been putting off my visit for so long. Even though you can frequently find cheap flights to Oslo, I’ve been hearing numerous stories of how expensive and unsuitable for budget travellers it can be. Last April, I finally went on a weekend trip to Norway with my best friend, Sarah, and I thought I’d share some of my travel tips with you. Here’s how we spent 24 hours in Oslo on a budget, which will hopefully help you make the most of your trip…
How to get from and to the Oslo airport
As my friend and I live in two different countries, we were on separate flights. I flew in to the Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport on Saturday morning and departed from the Oslo Gardermoen Airport on Sunday afternoon, so I can talk you through how to get to both airports.
Having done some research, I decided to take the Torpexpressen bus from the Sandefjord Torp Airport to Oslo city centre. The Torp Airport is definitely one of the smallest I’ve been to. The bus schedule accommodates incoming flights, so that there is always a bus waiting for you outside the terminal.
It is cheaper to buy tickets online – at the time of booking, adult tickets were 269 NOK (around £23), whereas student tickets were 199 NOK (around £17). You can also save money by purchasing your return ticket right away. I would also suggest to get there sooner – although I booked an 8:45 bus, it departed 15 minutes early. The trip itself was very comfortable. The bus stopped in several towns along the way, and an hour and a half later, I made it to Oslo.
When it comes to my return transfer, I chose to take the Flytoget high speed express train as it was the quickest way. At the time of booking, adult tickets were 196 NOK (£17) and student tickets were 98 NOK (around £8.50).
It was by far the best airport transfer I’ve had the pleasure of using. The train was spacious and in the middle of the aisle, there was a large screen displaying the latest news both in English and in Norwegian, as well as real-time information about the next departures and current waiting time for security control. Tickets are valid for 90 days from the date of booking, so with trains departing every 10 minutes, it is extremely easy to modify your plans if necessary.
There are many other transfer options, so do your research beforehand to choose whatever suits you best. I still have a valid student ID card, so I made my decisions based on the trip duration and available discounts.
Where we stayed in Oslo
We both wanted to do this trip as cheaply as possible without compromising our comfort, as we had a number of trips planned in the months to come and had to budget accordingly. When we stumbled upon Norwegian Hotel, we agreed it was the one and managed to book a standard double room for £55.
The hotel is located in a lovely neighbourhood, close to the Tøyen train station, and the photos aren’t just a marketing ploy – the street really was lined with pink blossoming trees. The view from our window was far from great (the first thing I saw upon arrival was a homeless person going through the rubbish) and there was a slight damp smell in the bathroom, but other than that, I would definitely recommend this place for a short stay.
Public transport in Oslo
As Oslo is a perfectly walkable city, we only used public transport once to get to and from Frogner Park. Subway tickets cost 36 NOK (£3) each way. You can buy them from ticket machines and must validate them using a card reader before stepping onto the train. Bear in mind that they do not accept notes, so you can only use coins and cards.
What we ate in Oslo
Eating out in Oslo is where it starts to get tricky. In order to avoid generating unnecessary costs, we brought some pastries, instant coffee sachets and snacks with us and decided to go out for lunch instead. I am not a big fan of fish or seafood, so I did some research beforehand to find other traditional Norwegian dishes that are worth trying.
Turkish food at Anatolia
Unfortunately, we struggled to find a traditional Norwegian restaurant close to our hotel that would offer us a variety of choices. Exhausted after a full day of sightseeing and slowly becoming hangry, we decided to settle for a meal at Anatolia, a Turkish restaurant where I had cheese-gratinated bits of dønerkebab rolled in tortilla breads, served with chips, fresh salad, and homemade tzatziki dressing, as well as a glass of Ringnes beer. The meal came to a total of 224 NOK (around £20). It was delicious and the service was lovely, with our waiter stopping by to make brief conversation and ask about the story of how Sarah and I met.
Reindeer meat at Café Cathedral
The next day, I was adamant that I had to try reindeer meat during my time in Oslo. Having googled the best places to have it, I decided on Café Cathedral, a beautiful restaurant right in the heart of the city. Despite some negative online reviews about this particular dish, I ordered Pizza Norway with mozzarella, reindeer meat, mushrooms and rocket salad, and it did not disappoint. The meat was lean and reminded me of pork loins, while the pizza itself was delicious with its thin crust and toppings. Considering the restaurant’s location, I was expecting to pay much more than 199 NOK (£17) for it.
Buying alcohol in Norway
Now, on to a very important tip for anyone travelling to Oslo which we unfortunately learned the hard way. If you want to purchase alcohol, you have to bear in mind that there is a specific time-span to do so and grocery shops are not permitted to sell any alcohol that is above 4.7% ABV.
Alcohol sales are only possible before 8 PM on weekdays and 6 PM on Saturdays. You cannot buy alcohol at all on Sundays or certain public holidays. If you are interested in buying stronger liquors, you have to head to the state-run Vinmonopolet shops which typically close earlier than grocery shops.
We ended up buying overpriced cider and pre-mixed drinks from the hotel bar (as they were 79 NOK / £7 each, I only bought one to celebrate our trip), so it literally pays off to come to Oslo prepared.
Places to see in Oslo
Munchmuseet is undeniably the attraction I was most excited for and unfortunately, most disappointed with. It was only a 5-minute walk from our hotel, so we decided to pay a visit to see Edvard Munch’s most famous painting – The Scream.
Tickets typically cost 120 NOK (£10) for adults and 60 NOK (£5) for students. However, once we arrived, they informed us that entrance was free due to a very limited number of paintings currently on display. Naturally, The Scream wasn’t there, and there was only one small exhibition hall.
According to their website, once the Museum moves to a new location in Bjørvika later this year, The Scream will always be on display. What I found interesting is the fact that museum visitors can vote which of the exhibits from the Museum’s collection deserve to be put on display in the new location and which should be hidden away.
Afterwards, we went for a walk in the nearby botanical garden, but the flowers weren’t in bloom yet, so there wasn’t much for us to see.
The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet
The roof of The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet – a building which divides the public opinion due to its rather unusual geometric design – is said to offer the best views of the city. While they weren’t as spectacular as I’d hoped, it is certainly an interesting place to visit.
You can see the She Lies sculpture floating on the water and observe various groups which come to perform short dance shows by the opera entrance.
Situated behind the above-mentioned Norwegian National Opera & Ballet building is my favourite part of the city’s skyline – the so-called Barcode Project.
It consists of twelve multi-purpose skyscrapers built with spaces between them, with their resemblance to a barcode inspiring the project’s nickname. Created by various architectural firms as a way of reshaping the city’s landscape, each building has a unique design – together they form a composition that although draws resentment from Oslo citizens, is unmissable when you visit the city.
I believe that the best way to describe the Tøyen district is to call it Oslo’s hidden gem, as we might not have discovered this vibrant artsy neighbourhood if our hotel was not located there.
Back in 2013, Tøyen received a government grant, partly as compensation for the area’s main tourist attraction, the Munchmuseet, moving into a new location. It has been rapidly developing since then. Artists from all over the world have been invited to create murals and many new businesses have been popping up in the area.
Frogner Park and the Vigeland Sculpture Park
Having seen the crying baby sculpture all over postcards in the souvenir shop, we were determined to find out more about this attraction and where it can be found.
Turns out it is part of the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the world’s largest sculpture park created by a single artist. Frogner Park, where it is located, is Norway’s most popular tourist attraction with between 1 and 2 million visitors annually. It is free of charge – visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee at a quaint little café, while kids can play on Norway’s biggest playground.
Parliament and the Royal Palace
Once Sarah left, I had a few hours to kill before I had to get to the airport. I decided to take a stroll along Karl Johans gate, Oslo’s main street which is over 1 km long and connects Oslo Central Station with the Royal Palace. The weather kept changing by the minute the whole time we were in Oslo, and Sunday afternoon was no exception. Clear blue skies would suddenly get covered with grey clouds and then the sun would break out again.
Karl Johans gate is lined with various shops, restaurants, as well as some of the city’s most important tourist attractions, including Stortinget (the Parliament building), the National Theatre, and the central campus of the University of Oslo. It is worth coming to the Royal Palace around 1:30 PM to observe the daily changing of the guards. It was the perfect way to round off our Oslo trip and relax before heading to the airport!
I hope I helped debunk the myth that you cannot plan a trip to Oslo on a budget. Although it is one of the most expensive places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, there are many attractions in Oslo that you can enjoy totally for free!
Have you ever been to Oslo? Do you have any other tips on how to visit the city on a budget?
This looks like such an amazing trip!! That pizza is making very hungry haha 🙂
Lily Loves | https://www.lilyloves.net
I honestly had such a great time! Would you add Oslo to your list of places to visit? x
Oh love this so insprational and useful, thanks for posting!
Glad you enjoyed it!
Oslo looks beautiful! I’ve never been but it’s on my list of places to visit.
I really hope you get to go!
I was supposed to go to Oslo last year but I didn’t manage to, unfortunately. Hopefully, one day cause your photos make it look so beautiful!
Bash | http://www.heybash.com/
I’m sorry to hear you didn’t manage to visit Oslo, but I hope it’s only a matter of time before you get to tick it off your bucket list – and thank you so much for your lovely comment about my photos!
What a gorgeous looking city! I’ll definitely be keeping this in mind if I ever visit Oslo 🙂
Mani / http://eatyourteacup.co/
It’s such a lovely, quaint city – I’m happy to hear my post gave you some ideas!
You genuinely write the best travel guides. They are always so detailed and thorough and have the most incredible photos (I really need to know what camera/editing you use haha!). I’d love to go to Oslo but I’ve always heard it’s super pricey. I’m glad you’ve pointed out a few tips and tricks on how to reduce the cost! That’s such a shame about The Scream though, I’d be so disappointed. But it gives you a reason to go back maybe? Also, the Crying Baby statue and the one of the man fighting off the babies never fails to make me laugh!
Ahhh, thank you so much for your kind words! <3 Most of my photos were taken on my trusty iPhone 8 Plus, although I've recently purchased a Canon 5D Mark IV so I will definitely start using it more from now on - and I always edit my photos in Lightroom!
I know the struggle - all the talk about Oslo being ridiculously expensive discouraged me from visiting for the longest time! I'm so glad I decided to bite the bullet and just go - of course I had to be mindful of how much I spent, but it didn't prevent me from enjoying the city! As for the statues - they're so funny, aren't they?! I have no clue where the idea came from, but that's a unique tourist attraction if I ever saw one!
I like this detailed review and guide of Oslo! Would love to see the Toyen area and the museum too. I’ve never been to Europe, I hope I can see this city one day.
I hope so too, lovely! If only it didn’t take so long to get from Australia to Europe and vice versa! x
This was so interesting for reading. I love how you present Oslo and your photos are amazing.
New Post – https://www.exclusivebeautydiary.com/2020/02/elizabeth-arden-prevage-anti-aging_15.html
Thank you very much, lovely – I’m happy to hear you liked it!
Oh wow it just looks absolutley incredible!
It’s a lovely place, isn’t it?
Thanks for this post. It brought back memories of my time in Oslo as a solo traveler. Beautiful city, and even more beautiful (and super nice) people.
I’m glad my post brought back some lovely memories! I totally agree – Norwegian people are so friendly!
The tip about buying alcohol is so useful, I’ve literally never heard of it before! I really love the sound of the food and oslo seems like such a beautiful place x
I remember reading about it somewhere, but it totally slipped my mind until we tried to buy alcohol and failed miserably! It’s a lovely place for a city break – I can only imagine how stunning Norway’s natural sites must be!
My friend and I have been wanting to go to Oslo for a while now but since it’s so expensive we keep choosing other cities over Oslo for our trips. This was such an interesting, thorough post with beautiful pictures which is definitely going to help us a lot! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing tips!
xoxo Simone | https://beautymone.com
You’re welcome, lovely – I’m so happy to hear you found my post helpful! I can definitely relate because I kept putting off my trip to Norway out of fear for my bank account balance afterwards. It’s still one of the most expensive countries I’ve ever visited, but so many things can be enjoyed for free! x
Oh I’d love to visit Oslo – there are so many places in Europe I want to visit. I’m gonna have to crack on with my list soon xx
Same here, I have a never-ending list of places I want to visit! I hope you get to cross some destinations off your list this year x
First of all amazing photos Dominika and you have written an incredibly informative post!
Oslo/Norway is high up on my list of places I want to go to! Hopefully, when I move back to Europe I can go! xx
Xx Manon | Bondi to Basic
Thank you very much, I’m happy you enjoyed reading it! I hope you get to visit Norway – I would love to go back and explore some of the country’s natural attractions x
this is such a helpful post and your photos are gorgeous! Oslo is definitely on my list x
Thank you, I’m happy to hear you found it helpful!
Such a lovely informative post about your trip to Oslo – makes me wanna go here asap!
Thanks for sharing babe!
Glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you get to visit Oslo!
Great photos! I’d love to visit Oslo, thanks fot sharing all this info!
Thank you, glad you liked it!
Such an informative post. Beautiful photos too. Norway is high up on my list of places I want to go!
Thank you! I would love to venture out of the city to experience Norway’s natural attractions!