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While Oslo is Norway’s capital city, lots of people don’t think of spending time in Oslo as part of a Norway vacation. To be honest, I almost can’t blame them; Norway is full of so many stunning landscapes and beautiful towns that spending time in the big capital might be an afterthought. But if you’re traveling to Norway, spending at least one day in Oslo is worth it. Not only does Oslo have some of the country’s best museums, but they are also some beautiful parks and outdoor spaces. We found plenty to do during our time in Oslo, and are so glad we made it a part of our trip!
So, if you are just passing through for one day, here are the best things you can do in Oslo.
Planning a full Scandinavian trip? Check out our comparison of Oslo vs. Copenhagen.
Is One Day is Olso Enough Time?
In all honestly, I’d recommend spending 2-3 days in Olso to really have the best chance to see all the city’s best attractions. HOWEVER, since so many people are often spending just one day in Oslo while passing through to other Norwegian destinations or maybe stopping in at the cruise port, I will say that spending one day in Oslo is enough to see some of the city’s highlights.
My personal theory? However long you have in a city is enough. It’s better than nothing, and you really can pack a lot of amazing things into just one day!
Getting Around Oslo
Oslo has a great public transportation system, so figure out how to use it as soon as possible. This is a pretty big city, and many of your popular attractions will be spread across it. It won’t be practical for either your time or your feet to walk to many of these sights, and some of them (like the museums in Bygdøy) you will absolutely have to use transportation to get to!
Olso has a system of buses, trams, trains, and ferries that can take you around the city. If you are buying an Oslo Pass (more on that below), you don’t even have to buy a separate ticket. Your pass has public transport tickets included.
If you do need to buy a ticket you can buy them online, through the Ruter app, or at ticket kiosks throughout the city. If you are riding a bus or ferry, you also have the option to buy a ticket onboard using cash (this isn’t an option on trains or the trams though).
Here’s more information about where to buy your Oslo transportation tickets.
You will have the option to buy a single use ticket or a ticket for a set time. If you are spending one day in Oslo, we recommend buying the 24-hour ticket, which is good for unlimited travel in Zone 1 (aka all the places you’ll need to go with this itinerary) for a full day.
One Day in Oslo Itinerary
If you are spending just 24 hours in Oslo (and of course, some of that time has to be spent sleeping), here are the best things to do. Remember, there’s no way you can really do everything in Oslo in just a day. But this itinerary will give you a good peak at some of the city’s best attractions and will include history as well as some modern wonders.
1. Frogner Park + Vigeland Sculpture Park
Since you just have a day in Oslo, get up early and head to Frogner Park in the morning. This is a huge park in the center of Oslo (it’s the biggest park in the city!), and when the weather is nice you’ll find locals enjoying the space.
Frogner Park is also where the Vigeland Sculpture Park is located. This is a free outdoor sculpture museum with over 200 sculptures by artist Gustav Vigeland. The most notable sculpture of Vigeland Sculpture Park is the Monolith, which is a huge column of human figures. But there is also a beautiful bridge, and (my favorite) a fountain with sculptures depicting the stages of life.
The great thing about this park is that it is always open and it’s free! So you can enjoy it as early as you like and return later in the evening too.
2. Royal Palace
From Frogner Park, you can take the tram to the National Theater, and from there you can walk up Karl Johans Gate to the Royal Palace. (Don’t try to walk from Frogner Park! It will take way too long!)
The Royal Palace is where the King and Queen of Norway live and work. Since we have a limited time with our single day in Oslo, just stop by and see it. But if you are visiting during certain times in the summer and have more time in Oslo, you can go inside.
If you have time, you can also enjoy some of the gardens and parks around the Royal Palace.
3. Akershus Castle
From the Royal Palace you can walk about 20 minutes or take the tram to Akershus Fortress. Akershush Castle (the main building within the fortress) is a castle likely built in the late 1200s (the exact date isn’t known), and it has been used both as a fortress to defend the city and as a residential palace. Today, you can tour the rooms of this castle, and there are actually still rooms that are used for special government events.
Inside you’ll find banquet halls, a church, reception rooms, and more. It’s really a great Norwegian castle to visit and will give you a feel for what it must have felt like to live in medieval Norway.
During the summer (May to August), Askershus Castle is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. During the winter (September to April) they are only open Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.
If you have an Olso Pass, your entrance will be free. Otherwise you will need to buy a ticket to enter the castle.
4. The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum)
You’ll find some of Oslo’s best museums on the Bygdøy Peninsula, and you can take a bus from the center of Oslo to get there (from Askshus it will take about 30 minutes).
Make your first stop the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History which is an open air museum with 160 historic buildings from different points in Norway’s history. You’ll find houses, shops, and a farmstead to explore. There is also an apartment building with rooms decorated from different time periods ranging from 1879-2002.
One of the most popular buildings at the Norsk Folkmuseum is the Gol Stave Church, which dates back to around 1200. If you’re planning on visiting this Stave Church, know that’s it’s not quite as easy to find as the museum map will have you believe. You’ll need to find the trail that goes up the hill behind the Finnmark section, and it’s probably easiest to find from the front of the open air museum along the path with the garden and school house.
This museum is such a fantastic way to get a sense of Norway’s history. There are several different indoor exhibits about Norwegian culture and history, and if you’re hungry there is an on-site restaurant. Plus on the weekends you’ll find special activities you can participate in like listening to fairytales, washing clothes the old-fashioned way, and trying traditional bread.
In the summer (May-September), the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During the winter (October-April), it’s open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Again, if you have an Oslo Pass, entrance is free. Otherwise you will need to purchase a ticket.
5. Visit a Ship Museum
There are three ship museums in Bygdøy that are all fascinating in their own right. Definitely visit at least one of these, but if you have enough time left in your day you could choose to visit more than one.
For all of these, entrance is included in your Oslo Pass. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase a ticket when you enter (or online ahead of time).
Viking Ship Museum (closed for renovation until 2026)
The Viking Ship Museum is where you’ll want to go for Viking history. Here, you’ll find three Viking ships once sunken and now restored (although some are in better shape than others). Note that this museum is currently closed though. It will reopen with 2026 as the Museum of the Viking Age, with more Viking objects and information.
The Fram Museum is all about Polar exploration and it is so cool! Here you’ll find the Fram ship (they actually built the building around the ship!), which was used in polar expeditions and was built with revolutionary construction ideas to prevent it from being crushed by ice and instead float on top of the ice. In the museum you can climb aboard the ship and do things like explore an igloo, experience sub-zero temperatures, and see how much weight you can pull through the ice.
During the summer (June through August) it’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Otherwise it’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Kon-Tiki Museum is located right across the street from the Fram Museum. It’s a smaller museum, but is no less fascinating. Here, you’ll find the Kon-Tiki ship, a balsawood raft built in the 1940s as part of Thor Heyerdahl’s expedition from Peru to the South Pacific in an effort to prove the possibility that the South Pacific could have been populated by South Americans. Looking at the small boat, it’s incredible that they successfully crossed the entire Pacific Ocean on it! I loved learning about the history of this expedition here!
6. Oslo Opera House
After your afternoon of museums, take the ferry back to the city center and head to the Oslo Opera House. This modern building opened in 2008 and it has a unique feature: you can walk across the roof! It’s built with slanted peaks on the roof, which are not only fun to walk on but also give you some great views of Oslo. In the late afternoon and evening, you’ll likely find lots of people here walking and socializing. And there are also occasionally outdoor performances where the roof is used as seating.
Sitting here people-watching is a great way to end your day in Oslo!
If you’re planning a trip to Norway, here’s our favorite way to see the fjords!
Should You Get the Oslo Pass?
If you are only staying in Oslo for one day, you can really go either way on getting the Oslo Pass. It probably will not save you a ton of money (although it will likely save you some!).
For me though, the biggest benefits of getting the Oslo Pass are 1) included unlimited public transportation within Oslo and 2) not having to buy separate tickets at each museum you visit in Oslo.
If you’re staying in Oslo for multiple days and doing a lot of paid attractions, the Oslo Pass will definitely be worth it! But for just one day is Oslo, you’ll want to do your own calculations to see if it will make sense for you. (And keep in mind the convenience of it too!)
Where To Stay in Oslo
Oslo is a big city and there are so many great areas to stay. However, if you are only in Oslo for one day and staying for a couple of nights, you want to make sure you stay somewhere with easy access to public transportation and easy access to the train station (since it’s pretty likely you’ll be coming into the city via train.) The Gamle Olso area near the harbor is very convenient area. Here are a few hotel suggestions:
- Thon Hotel Opera — Located right across from the Opera House and right next to the train station, this is a super convenient location and is a hotel with great reviews.
- Clarion Hotel Oslo — Another hotel with a great location near the Opera House and the MUNCH Museum.
- Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion — This hotel is located just across the water from the Opera House, but is still a super convenient location. This is a good choice if you are traveling with kids too since rooms in Europe for more than two people can be hard to find; this hotel has room options that include a double bed and a double sofa bed.
- Clarion Hotel The Hub — Just a few blocks from the train station, this is another hotel with a great location that also is a good option for families as it offers an option for a room with a double bed and a double sofa bed.
- Amerikalinjen — A beautiful hotel with a luxury feel located right across from Oslo Central Station.
More Things To Do in Oslo
If you’re staying in Oslo longer than just one day, there are so many other things you can do in the city! Here are a few of our favorite options.
This new museum opened in 2021. Not only does it feature tons of work by Munch, but it also features collections of other artists and several interactive exhibits that kids will love. One of our favorite things was finding all the miniature scenes in peepholes throughout the museum. OH and it’s also in a BEAUTIFUL building with amazing views of Oslo from the top.
The new National Museum opened in Oslo in the summer of 2022 and is now the largest art museum in the Nordic countries. Here you’ll find all kinds of art, from tradition paintings to modern art to Scandinavian design. Also, even though MUNCH has his own museum (where you can always find versions of The Scream on display) the most well-known painting of The Scream can be found here.
Oslo City Hall
You may not always think to go to a city hall when you’re visiting a city, but the city hall in Oslo is a popular stop because of the huge murals inside depicting life in Norway. Entrance is free and it’s easy to stop by for a short visit if you are nearby.
Nobel Peace Center
This museum is all about the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo each year. Here you’ll find exhibits about the prize itself as well as past winners. The center also hosts events about promoting peace and compassion in the world.
Holmenkollen Ski Museum
If you take the train a bit north of the city, you can visit the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum. You get some beautiful views from here, as you can take the elevator up to the top of the ski jump. They also have a museum about the history of skiing and one of the most adorable indoor playgrounds I’ve ever seen.
Tips for Visiting Oslo
- Be prepared for high prices. Norway is known for being an extremely expensive place to travel, and I especially found this to be true in Oslo even compared to Bergen. The food was significantly more expensive, so be prepared.
- Wear comfortable shoes. As usual when traveling, make sure you have comfortable shoes for all the walking you will be doing!
- Always have rain gear with you. It can rain a lot in Oslo, and the weather can change throughout your day touring the city. So always make sure you have an umbrella or rain jacket with you.
- Wear sunscreen. The cloudy days in Norway can definitely be deceptive. Be sure to wear sunscreen even on cold and rainy days to protect your skin.
- Use public transportation. Oslo is a big city and you won’t be able to walk from attraction to attraction. Figure out how to use the public transportation as soon as you can so you can easily get to where you want to go.
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