Norway is known to be an expensive country for tourists and travelers – but it is possible to have fun here on a low budget as well.
As an inhabitant of Oslo for the last 15 years, I will give you a few insider tips!
Oslo is not a big city – so if you like to walk and have enough time you can go almost anywhere. It may be handy with a day pass for the public transport though – you can find ticket info here.
Enjoy a City Walk
Start on Grønland and walk along the green oasis Aker river (Akerselva). Along the way you will pass the Food Hall of Oslo, which is more of a collection of expensive food stores and restaurants than the food halls most Europeans are used to – but it is situated in a beautiful building, and is well worth a visit just to have a look.
After about a 30 minute walk, you will reach my absolute favorite spot of Oslo: the waterfall Møllefossen. Veer to the right and walk over to Grünerløkka. If the weather is good there will be crowded with people in the parks Birkelunden and Sofienbergparken. Norwegians gather in the parks for picnics, barbecues, and drinks. Note that drinking alcohol in public is not allowed in Norway, but everyone does – and as long as you do not make much fuss, you will most likely not have any trouble.
Grünerløkka is also an area with a lot of popular restaurants and bars, and you will find a buzzing nightlife here.
From there, continue your walk to the Botanical Garden at Tøyen, which has more than 7500 species of plants. Continue down Tøyengata and you are back to Grønland. In this area you will find some cheap eats (especially falafel, kebabs, and Indian fast food) – and there are some great vegetable shops with cheap veggies, olives, and bread for a picnic.
Walk over to the Opera House where you'll be dazzled by the white tiles and have a nice view over the Oslofjord. It is free to walk inside the foyer of the Opera House, and here you will find the nicest free public toilets in town!
Continue along the fjord to the right of the Opera House, and you will reach the Akershus Fortress. It is an amazing place to walk historical grounds, and from the top you have an open view of the harbor.
This is a good point to view the sunset in Oslo!
Walk down to Aker Brygge, a very popular touristy area by the harbor. Do NOT eat or drink here unless you want to waste your money, this is the most expensive area of town. You can pass the City Hall on your way up to the Royal Castle, and if you follow the main walking street in Oslo towards the train station after your royal visit, you will pass the Parliament building on your way back to the train station.
Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park
I think this is one of the most popular places to visit in Oslo. It is a large green lounge in the western part of town, and within the park you will find 212 bronze and granite sculptures. Among them, view the 14 meter high Monolith – which consist of 121 human figures. This is also a popular park for locals to hang out to enjoy the warm weather, to play games and to have picnic and a party at night.
Go for a Swim
There are a lot of beaches around Oslo, but my favorite place to bask in the sun and have a swim is on top of Akerselva – at Frysja. Take bus 54 from Jernbanetorget to Stillatorvet, and walk over to the river. You will find large green fields on both sides of the river, and it is a nice place to swim – although cold!
Bygdøy – museums, walking, and beaches
You can go to Bygdøy by boat or by bus. You will find several museums here – and it is a nice and green place to walk around and visit some of the beaches by the sea.
Take a Hike
If you want to get out of town, there are several options. Take tube no 6 to Sognsvann and have a walk around the lake, or you can hike up to Ullevålseter. The trails are well marked and easy to follow. If you want a long hike you can continue all the way up to Frognerseteren, where you will have a beautiful view over Oslo and the fjord. You can get back to town by tube no 1.
Stroll the Markets
I love markets, and if you can resist buying something and just enjoy the ambience of the crowd and all the fun treasures you discover, it is totally free! Saturday there is a market at Grønland from 09:00 to 18:00. This is a typical “junk-market” – but there are for sure some treasures! Sundays there are a second-hand and antique market in Birkelunden from 12:00 to 19:00, and do not miss the second-hand and handcrafts market at Blå every Sunday from 12:00 to 17:00!
Take a Boat Trip in the Oslofjord
There are several islands in the Oslofjord which are nice to visit for a walk or to bask in the sun to get a nice tan – like most locals do. The boats are a part of the public transport system, and schedule frequent departures in the summer.
Food is not easy to get for free, unless Food Not Bombs have an event the day you happen to be here – then they will make vegan food from excess food donated from grocery stores and restaurants that they hand out for free in the city center.
If you want more insider tips on what to do in Oslo you will find a free Oslo guide written by locals: Spotted by Locals. I´m one of the spotters for Oslo. You can browse all the spots for free, and it is pretty cheap to buy as an app as well: 4 Euros!
There is always something going on in Oslo, and you can find a great collection of events eith free entrance sorted by date.
Events You Should Not Miss:
Free concert at Mono every Saturday at 18:00 (there are some exception, so be sure to check their program).
Free entrance and dancing at Pigalle every Friday and Saturday – all 60´s and 70´s music all night long. Shake it, shake it!
“We fuck up your Mondays” – free music and dancing at Blå every Sunday by Frank Snortz Quartet. Acustic music from 16:00, electronica from 20:30.
Hope you enjoyed my guide on Oslo (almost) for free, I would love to hear your comments if you find it useful – and off course if you have some other tips to share!
Travel tip shared by Elin