Travel itineraries in Oslo for a day or more
Planning a trip to Norway? Here is an Oslo travel itinerary for a day in the capital, and some suggestions for a longer stay.
The Norwegian capital Oslo is one of the fastest growing European cities. As such, it offers an ever-growing list of cultural attractions to entice travelers to the fjords to spend more time in the city.
Historic buildings stand side by side with modern architecture. Some of the best museums in the country and a growing list of art attractions are also part of the city’s cultural appeal.
We’re not quite back to the days when traveling in Norway was still easy. But with the progress made, we can at least start to think about traveling again. So with that in mind, let’s start with the capital.
How long do I have to spend in Oslo?
This is a difficult question to answer, as everyone’s preferences and expectations are different.
Lack of time ? Even a simple city break will introduce you to Norwegian nature. The city is surrounded by water and forest. In summer, there are great opportunities for hiking, biking and boating. In winter, you are never more than 20 minutes by metro from a cross-country ski trail.
An extended stay in Oslo gives you easy access to big cities such as the historic Fredrikstad or the sporty Lillehammer. Both are worthy of a day trip from Oslo if you’re staying longer than a few days.
To enjoy the city’s main attractions, visit Bygdøy’s museums and explore at least some of the outdoor possibilities, plan three full days.
A day trip itinerary in Oslo
Hard choices will have to be made for those of you who are only spending one day in Oslo. Personal preferences are important here, so there is no “correct” itinerary for a single day. That being said, here is my suggestion.
Enjoy coffee and pastry at one of the cafes in Oslo Central Station, and take a short stroll past the New Library to the roof of the Oslo Opera House for breakfast with a view.
From the sloping roof it is easy to see the sparkling springboard in the hills; your destination for later today. From the back of the rooftop, you’ll have a clear view of the modern developments of Barcode and Sørenga, which are part of the ever-changing look of Oslo’s waterfront.
From Jernbanetorget Square opposite Oslo Central Station, take the Karl Johnas Gate, Oslo’s main pedestrian thoroughfare. This will take you through the bustling shopping areas of the city center, past the Parliament building, the National Theater and finally to the Royal Palace.
Here you have a choice. If you don’t mind walking more, take a stroll through the pleasant gardens of the Royal Palace (look out for the sculptures!) And on Hegdehaugsveien. This upscale shopping street leads to Bogstadveien and the Majorstuen transport interchange.
Alternatively, take the T-Bane (metro) to the National Theater for a quick ride to Majorstuen! There are several cafes in the area which make a good choice for a light lunch, which you can grab after the next stop.
From Majorstuen you are only a short walk from the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Plan to spend around an hour here exploring the more than 200 bronze, granite, and cast iron sculptures by Gustav Vigeland.
After lunch in Majorstuen, hop back aboard the T-Bane and take in views of the Oslo suburbs as you ascend the hills towards Frognerseteren, where the views get even better. Stop at the mountain hut of the same name for coffee or lunch if you prefer to eat later.
Take a 20-minute walk through the forest to the awe-inspiring Holmenkollen ski jump. Climbing the tower and visiting the ski museum are optional extras, but it’s the views from here that are the main draw.
The metro from Holmenkollen station will take you back to Jernbanetorget at Oslo Central Station.
Enjoy dinner at one of Aker Brygge’s many restaurants before strolling along the waterfront. This is a great place to people watch with an ice cream. Alternatively, the Grünerløkka district has more lively options, especially if you want an after-dinner drink.
Two days in Oslo
If you have the luxury of a second day, my recommendation is to spend the whole day exploring the museums of Bygdøy. There are several options, but even exploring just two of them completely will take almost a day.
Keep in mind that the Viking Ship Museum will soon be closed for a major renovation. Until it reopens in 2025 as a Viking Age museum, many tourists will be disappointed.
But a trip to Bygdøy is always worth it for Norway’s only cultural history museum. My recommendation would be to include this magnificent museum in your itinerary and then choose between the Kon-Tiki Museum or the Fram Museum.
The first tells the story of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s epic journey, while the Fram Museum focuses on polar exploration. Both are must-haves for anyone interested in boats and ocean exploration!
Three days in Oslo
Add a third day to your Oslo travel itinerary? Good choice! In summer, my recommendation would be to go to the Oslofjord Islands.
Small public ferries take you from the pier in front of the Town Hall to the various islands in just 5 to 20 minutes. Choose between spending time exploring the larger Hovedøya Island or roaming between two or three islands.
I only recommend going there in the summer because then you will find kiosks open on the larger islands. However, boats run all year round, so it is possible to visit in spring or autumn, if the weather in Oslo is good! Remember that departures are less frequent outside of high season.
Depending on how much time you spend on the islands, you may or may not want to do something else. If you do, I recommend spending some time exploring the shops and cafes of the trendy Grünerløkka district.
Longer in Oslo
Spend more than three days in Oslo and you may want to consider day trips. The Olympic Winter City of Lillehammer is a bit of a stretch but doable if you are ready to leave early and return late.
A little closer, the historic old town of Fredrikstad and the seat of the Norwegian constitution in Eidsvoll are also worth a visit. In summer, Drøbak is worth a visit.
What is your favorite activity in the Norwegian capital?