10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Time in Oslo, Norway
Oslo, a beautiful capital city in Scandinavia, home of the Nobel Peace Center, and presently the fastest growing in Europe, is worth the visit in the beautiful summer climates, with 12-14 hours worth of sunshine, and weather usually averaging in the high 60's to low 70's during the day.
Perhaps more importantly, in 2016, the Global Peace Index rated Norway 17th out of 163 countries measured as having a high state of peace. Translation: this is a solid travel destination for solo female travelers and can be done in 3-4 days.
Prices can be very expensive in Oslo, in particular food, as a result of the cost of maintaining living wages for the people of Norway. If need-be there are opportunities to keep expenses low during your time in Oslo. For example, you can stay in hostels or Airbnbs (my recommended method either way), buying food at local markets and reducing your dining out, finding modestly priced cafes, seeking the green spaces through-out the city by foot or bike (which are free or low cost) and taking advantage of public transportation (which is easy) and of course, there's the Oslo Pass, allowing entry to more than 30 museums, free public transport, free municipal parking and other discounts.
But first, 5 things to know before you go:
1. Currency: The currency is Norwegian Krone. If you haven't already, download the XE Currency app. If you're arriving from another country in Scandinavia it helps you adjust to the new exchange rate right away. You'll be able to access free wifi in the airport when you arrive and switch over to the rate if you need.
In addition, credit cards are widely accepted everywhere, so if you have a credit card that earns you points or miles, feel free to swipe away! (I didn't take out any cash during my time in Oslo and it worked out great.)
2. When you arrive - transportation to Oslo from the airport: Plan to take the Flytoget Airport Express Train from the airport to Oslo central station. Its faster and cheaper than taking a cab. You will see kiosks in several places after arrivals to buy your tickets and it gets you to the station in 20 minutes. Clean, quick, and easy.
3. Information for the city: when you arrive at Oslo Central Station there is a visitor center in the station if you want more insight before heading to your accommodation.
4. Accommodation: Stay in parts of town that are a close walk to the city center. It will be easy to travel with your belongings and won't take up too much time upon arrival or departure, also helping to avoid costly cabs. Consider staying near Torggata street, a cool block in the city, or in Grünerløkka. You can get a great taste of the city and avoid higher priced tourist areas. More on Grünerløkka below.
5. Power: the adapter is a standard European adapter. Purchase and pack a few if you are traveling with multiple electronics.
Once you've arrived:
1. Take a boat tour and experience Oslo from the sea. The Bätservice Sightseeing company offers tours to the Oslo fjords and nearby islands. They have a number of options for both the time you have available and your budget. The two hour sightseeing tour will take you through the beautiful islands in the Oslo Fjord and give a bit of history of the area. You can find their ticket office on the pier in front of city hall (west).
3. After lunch head west to the Munch Museum of art, which is dedicated to the life work of Edvard Munch, Norwegian artist. He is most famous for his works like "Scream" and "Madonna". When you're done with the museum you can continue west to the neighborhood of Tøyen and spend time in the University Botanical Garden, the oldest in Norway. It includes over 35,000 plants and 21 points of interest within the garden.
4. When you've finished taking in the beauty, continue west again through Sofienberg and the park. Sit and relax, see if there's a pop up dance party, or make your way through observing the locals enjoying the park.
5. As you continue west, spend time in Grünerløkka. This part of Oslo has great walking trails along the Akerselva river, which is beautiful and peaceful in the sunny weather. On the east side of the river you'll find tons of adorable little cafes, fun bars and restaurants, lots of shopping and notably the second-hand and vintage stores. Oh, and check out TGR on Markveien 44 just for fun or perhaps you reallyy are in need of an inflatable pool toy for beer pong.
If you're in Oslo over the weekend, on Sundays you might also find outdoor market areas, for example is Blå, which is an intimate music venue that transforms the space for a market filled with street food and vendors.
Last, you can get some of the best coffee in the world in Grünerløkka. Co-founder, Odd-Steinar Tøllefsen is a two time World Brewers Cup champion and his shop, Supreme Roastwords is here on Thorvald Meyers gate 18. If you're brave, try an iced coffee with rose lemonade and lime on top.
You won't want to miss this hip and stylish part of the city.
6. If you're staying close to Grünerløkka or Osterhaus gate, head over to People's Cafe for an afternoon drink and some people watching (I don't recommend the rosé). It's a fun outdoor spot.
7. In this area are two restaurants you might also enjoy, Jor for healthy clean food (the salmon was great) and Arakataka, a modern bistro. The plates are small and they recommend ordering 3-4 depending on your hunger level. In both situations I ordered two, one with just veggies and one with protein and veggie, and with some bread it was just right.
Other things to do:
8. Walk up and around the Opera House. The building, made in Italian carerra marble is made to look like an iceberg, which permits visitors to climb the steps along the building and walk up on the roof to get a view of the city and water. If you want to see an opera or ballet, be sure to check for tickets in advance, especially during the summer, as popular shows will sell out. You can also take a guided tour of the opera house to learn more about its history, architecture and rooms, and get an intimate look at the venue.
9. Join Viking Bike Tours for a guided bike tour of your choice in the city. If you want to explore on your own, you can rent a bike for a day or two, whatever duration your heart desires.
10. Take a listening tour of Akershus Fortress, a medieval castle located near the Oslo Fjord, designed in the 1290's to protect the city of Oslo. It is still a military area but is open to the public during visiting hours and houses two additional museums if you also wish to spend additional time there. And near Akershus Fortress is a water side restaurant, Solsiden with a great seasonal menu including fresh seafood if you want lunch or dinner before or after your tour.
11. Frogner Park and Vigeland Sculpture park. The most visited park in Oslo and the biggest in central Oslo. It will be due west from Grünerløkka, so roughly a 50 minute walk or a 35 minute train ride. Google maps will show you the way.
And last, but not least, make sure you take the time to saddle up next to some locals wherever you go. And keep your eyes peeled for other solo travelers. I had the opportunity to meet both helpful locals and a sweet New Yorker. I hope you love your time in Oslo and definitely let me know what you think of your experience in the city.
*Note. This blog was first published on Sunday, June 12th the day of the tragic shooting in Orlando. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with Orlando, their loved ones and the LGBT community everywhere.