How to Spend 24 Hours in Oslo on a Budget

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 tips and things I’ve learned along the way…

Vines crawling along a building in Oslo, Norway
Østbanehallen in Oslo, Norway

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.

Torpexpressen

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 and 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 early – 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.

Flytoget

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 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’s ID, 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 outside of Norwegian Hotel in Oslo, Norway

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 garbage) and there was a slight damp smell in the bathroom, but other than that, I would definitely recommend this place for a short stay.

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 some other traditional Norwegian dishes that are worth trying.

Norwegian pastries

On Saturday, I started our sightseeing trip by trying the kanerboller (cinnamon buns) and skoleboller (Norwegian buns with vanilla custard). I bought them from the nearby supermarket, and since I found them really tasty, next time I would love to see what Oslo’s best cinnamon buns taste like and whether they live up to the hype.

Turkish food at Anatolia

That afternoon, 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 French fries, 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.

A menu at Anatolia restaurant in Oslo, Norway
Cheese-gratinated bits of dønerkebab rolled in tortilla breads, served with French fries, fresh salad, and homemade tzatziki dressing, and a glass of Ringnes beer at Anatolia restaurant in Oslo, Norway

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 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.

People sitting outside Café Cathedral in Oslo, Norway
Pizza with reindeer meat at Café Cathedral in Oslo, Norway

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 grocery shops are not permitted to sell any alcohol that is above 4.7% ABV and there is a specific time-span to do so.

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

This 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.

The entrance to the Munchmuseet in Oslo, Norway
A Munch painting at the Munchmuseet in Oslo, Norway

Tickets typically cost 120 NOK (£10) for adults and 60 NOK (£5) for students, but 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.

Trees and plants in the Botanical Garden in Oslo, Norway
Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway

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 it wasn’t as spectacular as I’d hoped, it is certainly an interesting place to visit.

The view from the top of The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in Oslo, Norway
A girl standing by The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in Oslo, Norway
The She Lies sculpture in Oslo, Norway

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.

The view from the top of The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in Oslo, Norway
A seagull sitting on the ledge of The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in Oslo, Norway

Barcode Project

Situated behind the above-mentioned Norwegian National Opera & Ballet building is my favourite part of the city’s skyline – the so-called Barcode Project.

The Barcode Project in Oslo, Norway

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.

A girl in Oslo, Norway with the Barcode Project in the background
A girl in Oslo, Norway with the Barcode Project in the background

Tøyen

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.

A mural in the Tøyen neighbourhood of Oslo, Norway
A mural in the Tøyen neighbourhood of Oslo, Norway

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. Interestingly, 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.

Sculptures in the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo, Norway
A girl standing in Frogner Park in Oslo, Norway
Frogner Park in Oslo, Norway

The only time we used public transport was when we got to and from the 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.

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 entire time we were in Oslo. 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 in Oslo, Norway
Oslo Cathedral
Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway
The Parliament building (Stortinget) in Oslo, Norway
The National Theatre building in Oslo, Norway
A fountain on Karl Johans gate in Oslo, Norway
Karl Johans Gate with the Royal Palace in the distance

The street 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.

Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway
Changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway
Changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway

Oslo City

When you get tired of sightseeing, you can visit the Oslo City shopping centre for some retail therapy or, in my case, window shopping. It houses 93 shops across 5 floors. What I found particularly interesting was that apart from clothing, H&M also stocked products and accessories from other brands. Do you need a new NYX lipstick, or maybe your Beautyblender needs replacing? You’ve come to the right place.

The inside of Oslo City shopping centre in Oslo, Norway

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 that can be enjoyed for free!

Have you ever been to Oslo? What other attractions would you recommend and do you have any other tips on how to visit the city on a budget?

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36 Comments

    • Dominika
      Author
      April 22, 2020 / 10:47 am

      I honestly had such a great time! Would you add Oslo to your list of places to visit? x

    • Dominika
      Author
      March 22, 2020 / 4:03 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Dominika
      Author
      March 19, 2020 / 5:05 pm

      I really hope you get to go!

  1. March 10, 2020 / 1:28 pm

    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!

    with love,
    Bash | http://www.heybash.com/

    • Dominika
      Author
      March 13, 2020 / 11:32 am

      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!

    • Dominika
      Author
      March 7, 2020 / 5:04 pm

      It’s such a lovely, quaint city – I’m happy to hear my post gave you some ideas!

  2. March 3, 2020 / 4:58 am

    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!

    • Dominika
      Author
      March 5, 2020 / 11:12 am

      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!

  3. February 27, 2020 / 6:43 am

    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.

    http://www.busyandfab.com

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 28, 2020 / 1:37 pm

      I hope so too, lovely! If only it didn’t take so long to get from Australia to Europe and vice versa! x

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 23, 2020 / 11:21 am

      Thank you very much, lovely – I’m happy to hear you liked it!

  4. Erin
    February 19, 2020 / 10:11 pm

    Oh wow it just looks absolutley incredible!

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 20, 2020 / 7:46 am

      It’s a lovely place, isn’t it?

  5. Corinne
    February 19, 2020 / 5:24 am

    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.

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 19, 2020 / 7:34 pm

      I’m glad my post brought back some lovely memories! I totally agree – Norwegian people are so friendly!

  6. Kayleigh Zara
    February 18, 2020 / 10:47 pm

    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

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 19, 2020 / 7:33 pm

      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!

  7. February 18, 2020 / 7:10 pm

    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

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 19, 2020 / 7:27 pm

      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

  8. Alice Anne Spake
    February 17, 2020 / 4:25 pm

    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

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 17, 2020 / 7:05 pm

      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

  9. February 17, 2020 / 12:50 am

    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

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 17, 2020 / 7:02 pm

      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

  10. katy gilroy
    February 16, 2020 / 10:34 pm

    this is such a helpful post and your photos are gorgeous! Oslo is definitely on my list x

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 17, 2020 / 7:01 pm

      Thank you, I’m happy to hear you found it helpful!

  11. February 16, 2020 / 6:10 pm

    Such a lovely informative post about your trip to Oslo – makes me wanna go here asap!
    Thanks for sharing babe!

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 17, 2020 / 7:01 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you get to visit Oslo!

  12. February 16, 2020 / 4:20 pm

    Great photos! I’d love to visit Oslo, thanks fot sharing all this info!
    Anda
    travelforawhile.com

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 17, 2020 / 7:00 pm

      Thank you, glad you liked it!

  13. February 16, 2020 / 12:43 pm

    Such an informative post. Beautiful photos too. Norway is high up on my list of places I want to go!

    • Dominika
      Author
      February 17, 2020 / 7:00 pm

      Thank you! I would love to venture out of the city to experience Norway’s natural attractions!

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