Oslo is one of those cities to visit where you never really know what to expect. With a thriving foodie scene, rich Viking history and beautiful natural wonders, it’s surprisingly overlooked as a city break in Europe. However, if you’re spending a long weekend in Oslo or even just 48-hours in Oslo, you can easily turn it into two days that you’ll never forget.
The Norwegian capital is in the perfect location. It’s situated right on Norway’s southern coast at the head of the Oslo fjord (which is one of the best things to do in Oslo!). There are also plenty of exceptional museums, cultural gems and a vibrant harbour and waterfront area.
Of course, you’re not going to experience some of the breathtaking views that you’ll get from the rest of Norway. But, for a capital city, the sights certainly aren’t bad. Oslo is surrounded by parks, natural beauty and green areas. It also has a gorgeous fjord in its backyard! So, there is easily plenty to do and plenty to see if you’re thinking about spending 48-hours in Oslo.
How many days in Oslo is enough?
To be perfectly honest, 2 days in Oslo is more than enough to see all of the major sights of the city. Of course, you can spend longer there. This will give you time to go on a few day trips outside the capital or maybe go on a road trip around the most beautiful places in Norway. But when it comes to how much time to spend in the city, 48-hours in Oslo is enough.
Is Norway expensive to visit?
A lot of Scandinavian countries have a bit of a reputation for being rather pricey and this isn’t undeserved. Oslo was a much pricier European country than many of the other places that I’ve visited. So, if you’re travelling Europe on a budget, it may end up being tough to stick to it.
Between 2 people spending just a weekend in Oslo, we ended up spending close to £700 between us on hotel, flights, food and attractions. You could probably make this slightly cheaper by staying in budget accommodation. Plus finding cheap places to eat or cooking for yourself if you have self-catering accommodations is another great way to save pennies.
However, if you’re planning on spending time in Oslo, even if it is a long weekend, expect it to be a little pricey.
Can you see the northern lights in 48-hours in Oslo?
One of the best places to visit in winter, Norway has become one of the top spots to see the Northern Lights. However, for the best chances of seeing them, you’ll need to hear up into the northern regions. Svalbard or Tromsø are great places to see the lights.
It’s not impossible to spot the lights in Oslo, but your chances are much slimmer in the south. Plus, as Mother Nature is a little unpredictable, you’ll probably want to give yourself longer than 2 days.
How to get around for 48-hours in Oslo?
The Norwegian capital is a pretty walkable city and, during your 48-hours in Oslo, you could probably make it between all of the major attractions on foot or by bicycle. However, to save time on your trip, the public transport system is also pretty reliable, with local buses running frequently. You can find information about ticket prices and how to plan your journey here.
Public transport is also pretty affordable. A pre-bought single bus ticket is just 19 NOK, (which is about £1.60), and a 24-hour ticket is 114 NOK, which is around £10. You can also get free public transport around Oslo with the Oslo City Card.
What are the best things to do in 48-hours in Oslo?
There are some great things to do in Oslo and you will be truly glad you decided to visit this swanky little Scandinavian city. From trendy cafes to traditional Viking huts, here are a handful of the 18 best things to do in Oslo.
If natural wonders are one of your must-sees during your weekend in Oslo, then look no further than just beyond the city’s harbour. Experiencing Oslo from the water gives you a whole new perspective of the city. Not to mention some wonderful photography opportunities.
The simplest way to get out onto the fjord is to locate and board a boat from Pier 3. It’s near to City Hall. There are also plenty of sightseeing cruises that you can book online that cover the fjords. Of course, to find more dramatic, mountainous fjord landscapes, you’ll have to travel further into Norway. You can also book a tour of the fjord below.
Built in the 13th Century, Akershus Fortress is one of the best things to do in Oslo. The landmark consists of a castle, several historic buildings, museums and defence installations.
It was originally used to defend the capital and has withheld every siege that it has faced – most of which were conducted by the Swedish.
Located right by the harbour, the fortress is a beautiful area to stroll around. On a sunny day, the views out across the city are superb and it’s not one to miss during 48-hours in Oslo.
Of all the museums I visited in Oslo, this one was by far my favourite. The incredible open-air museum is a step back in time. Walking around the medieval villages and buildings really make you imagine what things were like way back when. In total, there are over 150 buildings in the museum and many of them represent different eras and architectural styles.
Plus, in the indoor exhibits, you can learn about traditional Norwegian costumes, see exhibitions about the history of medicine and toys and learn about the Sami culture, tools and weapons.
A truly eye-opening visit, you can watch authentically dressed artisans demonstrate ancient crafts such as pottery, weaving, and candle making. In the warmer months, you can also feed farm animals and go on horse and carriage rides.
Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Tower
An absolute must-see during 48-hours in Oslo, the famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump Arena is one of Norway’s biggest tourist attractions. The magnificent hill has been holding ski jumping competitions since 1892. It’s recognised today as one of the top ski jump facilities in the world.
The museum inside depicts a detailed history of the sport. It’s the oldest one in the world of its kind and showcases a wide range of exhibits, some of which are interactive. This includes an ancient pictograph that tells the story of how skiing began.
Standing at the top is pretty terrifying, although the views are beautiful. It definitely gives you a sense of what the ski jumpers go through when they step up. In warmer months, there is also a zip-line down the ski jump. It’s perfect for a bit of an adrenaline rush and even further insight into the free-fall feeling of hurling yourself down the huge jump.
Right at the top of the ski jump is an observation deck where you can see panoramic views across Oslo and the surrounding fjords. Open throughout the year, the entrance fee to Holmenkollen costs 140 NOK, which is about £12. Overall, it’s one of the best things to do in Oslo. Don’t miss out if you have a weekend in the city.
Perched at the Western End of Karl Johans Gate, this 19th-century palace serves as the primary residence of the Norwegian royal family: King Harald V and Queen Sonja. Completed in 1849, this Neoclassical building is nowhere near as elaborate as some of the palaces across Western Europe (such as the gorgeous Pena Palace near Lisbon).
It’s also fairly unguarded with no walls or rails. And, a complete contrast to the palace of my home country in London. There, the guards have become something of a tourist attraction, while the palace guards in Oslo are pretty nondescript.
Nevertheless, the palace is still one of the top things to see during a weekend in Oslo. The interior of the palace is open for guided tours from the end of June until mid-August. The tour will cost 135 NOK. However, the beautiful surrounding gardens are free and open to the public all year round.
Kon Tiki Museum
Serving as a tribute to the great explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s epic raft journey across the Pacific Ocean in 1947, the Kon Tiki Museum is a wonderful place to visit in Oslo. Heyerdahl, and just a 5 man crew, sailed from Peru to Polynesia on the seemingly fragile (but pretty spectacular) balsa wood raft, Kon-Tiki.
The raft is understandably the centrepiece of this museum. The many interactive exhibits give a detailed account of just what Heyerdahl went through on his journey. Although they achieved something truly great, it was quite an ordeal out on the raft.
You’ll also find the papyrus boat Ra II and a selection of archaeological finds from Heyerdahl’s expeditions to far-off places such as Easter Island. The museum costs 120 NOK to enter and is well worth a visit during your 2 days in Oslo.
Another seemingly unassuming Norwegian building on the outside, the City Hall is rather spectacular once you dig beneath the surface. The Hall is in command of the Oslofjord. The dark brown-red fired bricks are a similar colour to those in medieval fortresses in Verona in Italy. Although these were actually fired specifically for this building.
As I mentioned, the outside is seemingly uninteresting. However, the interior tells a different story. It’s intricately decorated with beautiful artwork that doubles as a storybook of Norwegian history and culture.
A few of the highlights include the ceremonial hall, where a magnificent oil painting by the artist Henrik Sørensen is hung. The Banqueting Hall is also super impressive, decorated with a magnificent Feast Gallery.
Another must-see destination on this 2-day Oslo itinerary is the Oslo Cathedral which is also known as Oslo Domkirke. It’s the main church of the city and features a collection of reconstructions and renovations in Baroque and Neo-Gothic styles.
Typical of any European Cathedral, the interior is elaborately decorated with stained-glass windows and a lavishly painted ceiling. There’s also a silver sculpture with a Last Supper motif and a large, delicately carved wooden altarpiece.
Oslo Opera House
One of the top sights in the city, the Oslo Opera house is definitely something you should see during your 48-hours in Oslo. A fairly recent construction, it only opened in 2008 and has since flourished into the city’s most photographed spots.
The Opera House is in a very central location: right on the waterfront in the Bjørvika area. So, whichever way you come into Oslo, you will most likely end up passing it at some point.
Almost creating the illusion of an iceberg, the building is mostly known for its striking sloping roof, which is covered in white marble and granite. Much of the building is built in or under the sea which further adds to the iceberg illusion.
Nowadays, it’s a popular spot to hang out, with people taking photographs, sunbathing, and sitting around with their lunches on sunny days. Even if you’re travelling in winter, it looks majestic, with snow just adding to the beauty of the building.
Viking Ship Museum
Can you really visit Oslo and not check out its Viking history? The Viking Ship Museum, or Vikingskipshuset, holds three of the world’s best-preserved Viking ships from the 9th century. Easily some of Norway’s most beloved cultural treasures. The fantastic Oseberg Ship was excavated in 1904-05 and it’s like new as it’s been almost perfectly preserved.
Decorated with elaborate dragon and serpent carvings, the Oseberg Ship is the most impressive. But the museum also holds ships from Tune and Gokstad, the latter of which is the largest of the 3, capable of travelling at up to12 knots and incredibly long distances.
A wonderful place to visit during your 2 days in Oslo, it’s also suitable for visiting with kids as many of the attractions are suitable for all ages. The entrance fee is 100 NOK.
This was one of the coolest things we saw during our 48-hours in Oslo. It’s easily something that we’d return to and see again. Part of Oslo’s largest park, Frogner Park, Vigeland is a collection of over 200 sculptures. It was completed between 1939 and 1949.
It’s the largest sculpture park in the world to be made by a single artist. The sculptures depict his rather interesting views on humanity. The centre of the park is a gigantic monolith composed of 121 human figures, contorting and clinging to each other. This symbolizes the struggles of everyday life.
There are also a few other popular sculptures in the park. You can usually tell which ones by the larger crowd gathering around them to take a photograph! This includes the ‘Man Attacked by Babies’ and the highly popular ‘Angry Boy’. One of the best free things to do in Oslo, Vigeland park should certainly be on your itinerary.
Located on the Bygdøy Peninsula, this entire museum is a tribute to the daring polar explorers of the 20th century. In particular, the polar ship Fram and the expeditions made by explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen to the Arctic and Antarctic.
The ship itself set sail on these famous expeditions between 1893 and 1912. It remains the vessel to have travelled the furthest north to this day. This is mainly due to its ingenious design – it’s actually able to float on pieces of ice!
One of the best things to do in Oslo, it’s also a great place to visit if you’re travelling with kids. Inside the museum, there are tonnes of interactive attractions, videos and games to engage with. You can even climb aboard the ship itself. On the ship, you can explore the sleeping quarters, galley, cargo areas and every place else and envisage yourself as a round-the-world explorer. It’s great fun!
Mathallen Food Hall
This is admittedly a little touristy but if you love eating traditional dishes, then Mathallen is well worth a visit. Containing more than 30 restaurants, bars, street food vendors and speciality food shops, it will be a treat for your tastebuds. It’s been standing since 1908.
It sometimes holds festivals, movie and quiz nights, and other food-related activities inside, like cooking classes or bake-offs. If you’ve been wondering where to eat in Oslo and fancy trying a few of the city’s authentic delicacies, then a trip here will certainly not be wasted.
Norway National Gallery
Home to Norway’s largest collection of artwork, the gallery is one of the best things to do in Oslo to get a further taste of the city’s culture. Showcasing an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and engravings from the 19th and 20th centuries, Norway’s National Gallery also houses one of the most frequently depicted works of art in the world.
Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ is a fantastic piece of expressionism. It has been reproduced countless times all over the world due to its popularity. Most of the people who visit the gallery are primarily there to see that one painting.
When spending 2 days in Oslo, a visit to the vibrant district of Aker Brygge is one of the best things to do. The former shipyard has been transformed into Oslo’s most chic entertainment hub. It features the biggest concentration of restaurants in the city.
It’s an especially popular place to visit in the summer months. You can eat fresh seafood right next to the water’s edge and get great panoramic views out across the water. A fabulous spot to visit for lunch or an evening meal, it’s a trendy yet beautiful place to end your 48-hours in Oslo.
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