Every now and then, an opportunity to spend a short time in a city presents itself, perhaps for a layover or quick stop between destinations. This is a chance travelers should generally take.
Some cities, however, are better for a short stopover than others. Depending on the size, transit options, and friendliness, a pit stop could be overwhelming. This is not so in Oslo. The capital city of Norway is the perfect place to spend a few hours.
Oslo is easy to get around, full of friendly locals, and surrounded by beautiful Scandinavian scenery. Plus, with low cost airfare on Norwegian Airlines, layovers in Oslo are becoming more common for travelers. If you have an opportunity to spend any time here, make sure to do so.
Here’s your travel guide for what to do during an afternoon in Oslo, Norway.
Go on Top of the Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House is a large, modern building located on the city’s waterfront.
In the centrally located Bjørvika neighborhood, the Oslo Opera House is impressive both inside and out. The building, which was completed in 2008, is composed of towering glass facades and long, clean lines. Visitors to the opera house are encouraged to follow the building’s upward incline to the roof. Once you walk to the top, you’ll have a wonderful view of the town and the fjord. Spend some time wandering and taking in the views.
It is free to walk around the outside and on the roof of the Oslo Opera House. The opera house is located at Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1, 0150 Oslo, Norway.
To get a feel for the city, take to the streets on foot. When you’re only in a city for a short time, one of the best things to do is simply explore and see what catches your eye.
If you’ve just arrived at the train station in Oslo, head out the front door and start strolling along Karl Johans gate. Karl Johans gate is a long, well-known avenue just for pedestrians. Along this main street you’ll find plenty of historical sites, shops, restaurants, and bars to explore.
One fun bar to stop into for a drink is Sir Winston’s Public House. This bar has an outdoor patio perfect for relaxing and people watching. Sir Winson’s Public house is open daily. The bar is located at Karl Johans gate 10, 0154 Oslo, Norway.
See Some Natural Spaces
Norway is famous for its natural beauty, and even the capital city of Oslo is full of lovely green spaces.
Make sure to take advantage of this feature by paying a visit to one of the city’s many parks. There are several small parks dotted around the city as well, perfect for stopping to admire the scenery.
One of the most famous sights is Frogner Park, which is known for its Vigeland installation (Vigelandsanlegget), a permanent collection of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. Frogner park, which was originally part of Frogner Manor, is also home to the Oslo City Museum. The park is located outside the center of the city at Kirkeveien, 0268 Oslo, Norway.
Have a Great Meal
Really, a great meal is an essential part of visiting any city, right? Oslo, of course, is no exception.
For modern Nordic cuisine, dine at Bacchus Spiseri & Vinhus. The restaurant uses local produce and offers a wide selection of beer and wine, all within a lovely, rustic interior. Make sure to try a traditional seafood dish while you’re there. Don’t miss out on the drink list, which includes a local beer dubbed “Norwegian Wood.”
Bacchus Spiseri & Vinhus is open Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday. The restaurant is located at Dronningensgate 27, 0154 Oslo, Norway.
Grab a Nightcap
To end your time in Oslo, pop into a bar for a nightcap.
Justisen Restaurant, Bar & Bakgård is a cozy bar with great cocktails and a variety of beers. The outdoor courtyard area is particularly fun in the evenings, with long communal tables and a lively atmosphere. Stop in for a drink and a chat with some friendly locals.
Justisen Restaurant, Bar & Bakgård is open Wednesday through Saturday and closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. The restaurant and bar is located at Møllergata 15, 0179 Oslo, Norway.
Tips for Visiting Oslo
- Oslo is expensive. One local described the average prices to us as “New York City plus 20 percent.” Just be prepared to pay higher prices than you may be used to back home or in other European countries.
- In Norway, the currency is the Norwegian krone. However, when just in a city for a short time, you won’t need too much cash, and Oslo is pretty credit card-friendly. Just keep in mind that between the exchange rate and higher prices, it can be easy to lose track of how much of your money you’re actually spending.
- It’s easy to get around Oslo. There’s a train that runs directly from the airport to the center of town, making Oslo a great city for long layovers or as a jumping off point for a route through Europe. Once in town, you can get most places on foot. However, if there is anywhere farther you’d like to go, Oslo’s public transit system includes buses, trams, and ferries. (If you purchase an Oslo Pass, you can ride public transit in some areas for free.)
- If you end up staying the night in Oslo, get an AirBnB room in a host’s home. I have mixed feelings about home rental services and the effect it can have on tourist destinations, but in Oslo, renting a room in a host’s home is a great option. In this expensive city, it’s a way to save money while supporting a local. Plus, this usually gives you an opportunity to talk with your host and find out all about the city.
Of course, there’s so much more to see in Oslo and throughout Norway.
However, when your itinerary allows for any time in Oslo, you should take it, even if it’s just for an afternoon. The pleasant town, marvelous scenery, and friendly locals will have you feeling right at home, not matter your length of stay. Skål!