Currently planning your next epic trip? Wondering where on Earth’s expansive atlas you should pin your next adventure? Let me guide you towards the vibrant energy of Norway, and more specifically – to the enchanting city of Oslo.
With its remarkable Viking past, captivating modern culture, and an eye-pleasing fusion of urban and natural beauty, Oslo offers a diverse range of experiences to any traveler. Brace yourself, because we are diving into the 20 absolutely compelling reasons to visit Oslo.
A Little Bit Of History
Before I start this guide, let’s dive on the city’s history. The capital city of Norway has a fascinating history that stretches back over a thousand years. Originally founded as a Viking settlement in the 11th century, the city grew as a trading center and became the capital in 1299.
Throughout its past, Oslo faced challenges such as fires and invasions, but it always rebuilt and adapted. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Oslo experienced significant growth and became a modern and vibrant city.
Today, it showcases a blend of historical sites, contemporary architecture, and a thriving cultural scene, making it a captivating destination for history buffs and curious travelers.
Travel Insurance for Norway
One of the first things that has to come to your mind when planning a trip is insurance.
Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance is one of the best options available out there. With a maximum coverage of 365 days, they are a great option whether you are a Nomad or not! They offer very low rates, but excellent coverage and immediate support (in a few minutes!). The best part? Nomad Insurance can be purchased even if you have left your home country already.
Lastly, they also cover extreme sports, something that can come in very handy if you are an adventurous soul.
Getting To Oslo
What are the best seasons to visit Oslo?
If you’re a fan of winter, Oslo is a dream come true. Given its geographical location, the city enjoys snowy landscapes from November to April, offering picturesque scenery perfect for winter sports enthusiasts. You’ll likely enjoy skiing down Oslo’s frosted slopes or cozying up with a cuppa beside a glowing fireplace. Despite the cold, the locals are warm and welcoming, embodying the concept of ‘koselig’ —a unique term comparable to the Danish ‘hygge’, encapsulating a sense of coziness and comfort.
For those who prefer milder climate, spring and summer seasons are equally captivating. From May to July, the city comes alive with vibrant gardens, open-air concerts, and bustling street markets. The largest city park in Oslo – Frogner Park, blooms into a riot of colors, with flowers of various shapes and sizes. Plus, you get to enjoy nearly 24-hours of daylight due to the phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun, an experience you shouldn’t miss when in Scandinavia.
Outdoor events, like the ‘Øya Festival’, a popular music event held every August, further spice up your summer visit. Not to mention the opportunity to enjoy al fresco dining at the many waterfront bistros offering sumptuous local cuisine and breathtaking views.
Regardless of the time of the year, Oslo never fails to enthrall visitors with its unique charm, a mix of modern urban life and preserved natural beauty.
The Top 20 Reasons to Visit Oslo
1. For the Oslo Opera House
What better way to begin your one day in Oslo than visiting the Opera House? This building is a true architectural marvel situated on the waterfront!
Climb on the building’s slanted roof, offering panoramic views of the city skyline. If time permits, consider watching a performance or taking a tour to appreciate the inner art of this world-class opera house.
Fun fact: Its construction was completed ahead of schedule and 52 million dollars under its original budget! Norwegians are serious!
2. For the Norwegian Cuisine
When it comes to Norwegian cuisine, Oslo serves as a gourmet paradise, combining traditional dishes with a modern twist. Expect to find hearty, unique foods featuring local ingredients, often centered around seafood sourced from the nearby fjords. Salted cod, smoked salmon, and the famous Norwegian brown cheese are some of the highlights you’ll encounter.
And it’s not just about the seafood; meat lovers can indulge in dishes like fenalår (salted, dried, and cured leg of lamb) and rakfisk (fermented trout). Impressively, Oslo has a number of Michelin-starred restaurants as well—garnering international acclaim for their innovative approaches to Nordic cuisine.
Plus, you can’t miss out on trying the iconic Norwegian waffles. Thinner than the Belgian ones and heart-shaped, they are typically served as an afternoon snack with jam, sour cream, or brown cheese. They are a testament to the city’s love for comforting, homey delicacies.
3. Discover The Akershus Fortress
Explore the historic Akershus Fortress, a medieval fortress overlooking Oslo’s harbor, and learn about its storied past. Remember to visit the castle’s fascinating museums, including the Norwegian Resistance Museum and the Castle Chapel.
Take your time to enjoy the panoramic views of the city from the fortress walls and wander through its picturesque grounds.
4. For The Thriving Coffee Culture
Diving deeper into Oslo’s thriving coffee culture, you will discover that the Norwegians take coffee drinking to the next level. Oslo is home to a growing specialty coffee scene. Premium roasters dominate the local coffee landscape, gaining global recognition for their craft in brewing the black gold. They source beans from around the globe, emphasizing sustainable methods and exceptional quality.
As a visitor, expect the baristas to be passionate and highly skilled technicians. Each cup is brewed to perfection, ensuring optimal extraction of flavors. Whether you prefer filter coffee, espresso, or a creamy latte, Oslo will provide an option that strikes your fancy.
Moreover, the relaxed ambiance of local coffee shops complements this enriched coffee experience. Enhancing the appeal, many of these establishments grapple onto their unique elements – perhaps, a cozy interior sheathed in vintage furnishings or a vibrant outdoor patio brimming with plants. In Oslo, coffee breaks are a quintessential part of your daily explorations.
5. To Immerse Yourself In the National Gallery
You should definitely to the National Gallery and indulge in Norway’s rich artistic heritage. Admire iconic artworks by Norwegian masters such as Edvard Munch. Does this name ring a bell? That’s maybe because he is the person responsible for the world-famous painting “The Scream”!
6. For the Famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump
Ever dreamed of standing at the top of a ski jump tower? If so, a visit to the iconic Holmenkollen Ski Jump won’t disappoint. It’s not only a key location for international ski jumping events, but also a favorite locale for thrill-seekers. Take a funicular to the top, where you can experience panoramic views of Oslo from 60 meters above ground.
The Holmenkollen’s jaw-dropping height and steep slope are impressive even for the most experienced skiers. But don’t worry if you’re not quite ready to take the leap – the site is also home to a fascinating ski museum, the oldest of its kind in the world. Here, you can trace the evolution of skiing over 4,000 years, from its origins as a basic means of transportation to its current status as a favorite leisure activity and competitive sport.
You can even experience the adrenaline rush of a ski jump for yourself, albeit virtually. The ski jump tower offers a ski simulator that lets you enjoy the sensation of ski jumping, minus the bone-chilling cold and terrifying heights. It’s an unforgettable experience and one of the best reasons to visit Oslo!
7. To Enjoy A Scenic Walk Along Aker Brygge
Stroll along Aker Brygge, a vibrant waterfront promenade with shops, restaurants, and cafes. Enjoy the picturesque views of Oslo’s harbor and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Consider stopping for a delicious seafood lunch at one of the waterfront eateries! It may be the best place to enjoy the flavors of Norwegian cuisine. If you only have one day in Oslo, dining here is a must!
8. To Experience Oslo’s Nightlife and Music Scene
As the sun sets in Oslo, the city lights up and comes to life with a vibrant nightlife that caters to every preference. From chic urban bars serving experimental cocktails to traditional Norwegian pubs offering local brews, there’s a watering hole for every taste.
Oslo’s music scene is equally compelling, offering a splendid fusion of traditional Norwegian folk tunes, sophisticated jazz venues, and cutting-edge electronic music. Whether you’re tapping your foot to a folk melody at a small, intimate venue or dancing the night away at a throbbing nightclub, the rhythm of Oslo is sure to captivate you.
Major concert venues such as the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet frequently play host to international stars as well as local talents, providing a spectrum of auditory experiences. Every summer, the city also hosts the Øya Festival, a celebrated music festival that has showcased international music luminaries and up-and-coming stars alike since 1999.
Ultimately, the nightlife and music scene in Oslo offer a few great reasons to visit oslo by themselves!
9. To Learn About Norway’s Royal History At The Royal Palace (Slottet)
You can immerse yourself in the royal charm of Oslo by visiting The Royal Palace, also known as Slottet. This majestic building blends architectural excellence and royal heritage and it is one of the most famous reasons to visit Oslo.
That’s why it is the official house of the Norwegian monarch—Marvel at its majestic neoclassical design and captivating details, both outside and in. Discover the State Apartments with their fine artwork and intricate decorations. Learn about the history of the Norwegian monarchy and the traditions that shaped the country.
If timing allows, watch the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony! The timing of the Changing of the Guards may vary, so check the schedule in advance to make sure to see this display of royal heritage. After exploring the palace, take a walk around the Palace Park. The well-preserved gardens and charming pathways will make it worth it!
10. To See the Nobel Peace Center
You might wonder, what exactly does Oslo house in relation to Nobel Peace? Well, it’s nothing less than the Nobel Peace Center. This highly interactive museum is a tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize and its winners, dedicated to portraying these figures’ vital contributions and influencing issues related to sciences, literature, and conflict resolution.
The center makes use of cutting-edge technology to provide a unique and enlightening experience. As you meander through the exhibits, you’ll feel fascinated to witness the development of peacekeeping efforts, observed from a global perspective. Also, make sure to make a stop at the Wall of Nobel Laureates – a place that honors all Peace Prize laureates with commendable details about their groundbreaking achievements.
11. To Explore the Statues At The Vigeland Park
Continuing your journey into Oslo, head to Vigeland Park, a unique sculpture park. It was created by renowned artist Gustav Vigeland. Wander through the park’s wonderful green spaces! There are over 200 captivating sculptures, including the iconic Monolith and the touching sculpture of the Angry Boy.
Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and take a walk through this enchanting park. Remember to take photos of these remarkable works of art so that those memories last forever!
12. For the Oslo Fashion Scene
Current trends imply that Oslo is quickly shaping to become one of the most influential fashion capitals, confidently behind Milan, Paris, and New York. There’s an undeniable air of sophistication along its streets, which are swarming with unique boutiques, edgy fashion houses, and inviting vintage shops. With a focus on sustainable clothing and ethical fashion practices, Oslo turns shopping into an experience loaded with worldly wisdom.
Every August, Oslo runway, the largest fashion event of its kind in Norway, lights up the city with internationally renowned designers showcasing their latest lines. Even outside the fashion week, there’s a constant stream of pop-up sales, fashion markets, and exhibitions, keeping the city’s style scene lively and dynamic.
Fashion lovers can spend their days wandering from upscale fashion retailers downtown to more unique boutiques tucked away in charming neighborhoods such as Grünerløkka and Frogner. Not forgetting to mention the city’s thriving second-hand and vintage scene, where thrifty shoppers can find one-of-a-kind pieces.
13. For the Edvard Munch Artworks
Yes, you heard that right. Oslo, the city of the iconic ‘The Scream’, houses an extensive collection of works by the famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch.
If art gets your heart pumping, you can’t miss a visit to the Munch Museum. You might not need any other reasons to visit Oslo after that! Housing more than half of Munch’s entire production, including roughly 1,200 paintings, 18,000 prints, six sculptures, as well as sketches and watercolors, the building itself is quite a sight, standing tall and purposeful against the Oslo cityscape.
A visit to the museum is about immersing yourself in Munch’s creative universe. The museum offers daily guided tours that will lead you through his life, from his intense relationships and personal tragedies to his views on love and death, which drastically influenced his work.
What makes the experience even more enticing is the museum’s fluid exhibition policy. Rather than a static collection, the Munch Museum offers a dynamic display, constantly changing and curating different aspects of Munch’s oeuvre. This means that every visit provides a different experience, a new perspective on Munch and his comprehensive collection.
14. To Embrace Nature at Bygdøy Peninsula
Bygdøy Peninsula provides great opportunities for outdoor activities! Walking, jogging, or cycling along its coastal trails are a few of the things you can do. These paths offer picturesque views of the Oslofjord. The refreshing sea breeze and the peaceful vibes make it a popular spot for locals and visitors. It is the best place to reconnect with nature!
The peninsula is also home to several beaches, inviting you to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the Oslofjord. Whether you prefer sunbathing, swimming, or simply wandering by the water’s edge, the beaches of Bygdøy Peninsula offer an escape from the bustling city. The perfect place for an afternoon walk.
15. For the Spectacular Northern Lights
One of the many lures of Oslo is undoubtedly the chance to witness the spectacle of the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights, are an all-natural light display, characterized by shades of green, purple and red that dance across the night sky. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, this phenomenon is caused by solar particles colliding with gases in Earth’s atmosphere.
Now, the optimal time for spotting this astral marvel is during the deep winter months, between late September to late March when the nights are at their longest and darkest. It’s a hit-or-miss game, influenced by factors like weather and solar activity.
Outside the city, away from the light pollution, is where you’ll get the clearest view. While Oslo is situated on the Southern part of the country, it is still possible to see the Northern Lights.
16. To Explore Polar Exploration At The Fram Museum
Did you know you can get on a journey of polar exploration at the Fram Museum and discover the stories of brave people who explored the Arctic and Antarctic regions? This museum is a personal favorite and one of the greatest reasons to visit Oslo.
Step before the Fram, a well-preserved polar ship, and learn about its incredible expeditions. Those people truly pushed the boundaries of human exploration. Immerse yourself in the exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. They bring the history of polar expeditions to life!
17. For the Colorful Street Art
As you walk through the streets of Oslo, you’ll be in awe of the colorful and thought-provoking street art scattered all around the city. These sprawling murals, skillful graffiti, and playful installations reflect Oslo’s commitment to promoting art in every form – boldly on display on its buildings, walls, and sidewalks.
18. To Discover Thor Heyerdahl’s Expeditions at the Kon-Tiki Museum
This one is another personal favorite! Explore the fascinating world of Thor Heyerdahl’s seafaring adventures at the Kon-Tiki Museum. For those who don’t know, Thor Heyerdahl is one of history’s most renowned explorers.
In 1947, he crossed the Pacific Ocean on the balsawood raft named Kon-Tiki. This remarkable journey was captured on film, earning an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1951. A new film commemorating this accomplishment was released in 2012!
Heyerdahl’s passion for the environment and world peace fueled his many achievements. Those include even more expeditions on reed boats. His explorations took him to various destinations, including the Galapagos and Easter Island.
The Kon-Tiki Museum displays artifacts and exhibits from his world-famous expeditions. It is a celebration of Heyerdahl’s extraordinary accomplishments. Among the highlights are the original Kon-Tiki raft and the boat Ra II. Seeing them in person is just astonishing.
19. To Unveil Viking History at the Viking Ship Museum
Oslo, the ancient hub of Viking culture, is a treasure chest of Viking history. The city and its surrounding region were once the center of the Viking Age, a period from the late 8th to early 11th century when Scandinavian seafarers and traders ventured across Europe and beyond.
The Viking Ship Museum offers a glimpse into the legendary world of the Vikings. The museum houses Viking ships from the 9th century, immersing visitors in Norway’s rich Viking history. Get lost admiring amazing pieces of history. The ships provide valuable insights into Viking seafaring and cultural traditions. The museum brings Viking culture to life through its many exhibits and presentations.
A visit to the Viking Ship Museum is a journey back in time. Learning about their daily life, navigation techniques, and lasting impact on history is wonderful!
Important note: The Viking Ship Museum is closed and will reopen in 2026 as “Museum of the Viking Age”. So, your one day in Oslo has a big miss for now
20. For the Oslo Fjord
One can’t talk about Oslo without mentioning the Oslo Fjord. Covering an impressive area, it’s a natural wonder filled with plenty of islands waiting to be explored. Each island has a unique character, beautiful beaches, forests, historic landmarks, and even simple houses offering a taste of local life.
During the warmer months, swimming and picnicking by the fjord are popular activities. If you’re an enthusiast of fishing, Oslo Fjord is home to numerous species, providing a perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon. In winter, the fjord transforms into a magical snowy landscape, paving the way for cross-country skiing and ice fishing under a crisp, clear sky.
And of course, any visit to the Oslo Fjord wouldn’t be complete without sampling the local seafood. Head to a waterside restaurant and enjoy a meal featuring fresh, locally caught fish, topped off with stunning views over the fjord. Seafood lovers shouldn’t miss out on the city’s traditional fish markets, where you can grab the day’s freshest catch.
From the captivating sculptures of Vigeland Park to the Viking history at the Viking Ship Museum and the cultural delights of the National Gallery, there are plenty of good reasons to visit Oslo. Embrace the vibrant atmosphere, indulge in Norwegian cuisine, and create lasting memories during your one day in Oslo.