Norway is one of the world’s most beautiful and tourist-friendly countries. If you’re planning on spending 2 to 3 days in Oslo, the country’s capital, then read on; this Oslo itinerary is the perfect way to tick off the Norwegian capital’s highlights, as well as exploring some of its best-kept local secrets.
The charming city of Oslo is located on the Norway’s southern coast. A compact, cosmopolitan metropolis, Oslo has an air of laidback sophistication to it; with a thriving bar and craft beer scene, plenty of interesting galleries, great restaurants, gorgeous natural surrounds, and beautiful architecture to take in, there’s so much for tourists to do and see here.
How Many Days in Oslo?
If you’re currently planning a trip to Norway, you may be wondering how many days to spend in Oslo. While it’s true that the city is very compact and most of the main attractions are in Oslo Sentrum, it’s worthwhile trying to spend 2 days in Oslo, at least.
Having two days in the city is virtually a must if you’re thinking of visiting some of the larger museums on the Bygdøy Peninsula, for example, which is worth devoting a whole day to on its own.
And, if you can, planning to spend 3 days in Oslo is an even better idea. A third day in the Norwegian capital gives you the opportunity to go on a day trip or explore some of the gorgeous nature areas surrounding Oslo, which, frankly, are a massive part of what makes it such a special place to begin with.
Getting To & Around Oslo
Oslo and the wider Akershus region are primarily served by the Gardermoen and Torp airports. Both are connected to a variety of domestic and international flight routes, with Gardermoen being the larger of the two.
The quickest way to reach Oslo Sentrum from Gardermoen is with the Flytoget express trains service; trains run throughout the day and night and take approximately 20 minutes to reach Oslo Central Station. You can also book private transfers here.
Torp is the preferred airport of the two for several budget airlines, including Ryanair, and is a short drive from the nearby city of Sandefjord; bus and train transfers from Sandefjord to Oslo are available, with fairly frequent departures throughout the day.
Several carriers also operate bus routes from Gothenburg in Sweden to Oslo; this is a great option for budget travellers, as the journey only takes a few hours and costs a fraction of the price of flying into Norway. You can view schedules here.
It’s also possible to reach Oslo from other parts of Norway via train (the Bergen-Oslo railway, Bergensbanen, is particularly well-known, thanks to its stunning scenery).
However, this is a more time-consuming option than flying, so it might not be the most pragmatic choice if you’re, say, trying to see as much as you can of Oslo in 2 days.
Public transport in Oslo is reliable, comprehensive, and easy to use, and central Oslo itself (or Sentrum, as it’s known locally) is compact and very walkable. Because of this, renting a car for travelling within Oslo or its surrounds isn’t necessary.
Public transit services run frequently and, on many routes, operate fairly late into the night. Downloading the Ruter app is highly recommended; it can be used for planning your journey, viewing departures and timetables, buying tickets, and more.
If you intend to use the public transit system frequently along with visiting a number of the city’s museums, it can be worth it to purchase an Oslo Pass.
This will give you access to the public transport network along with entry into a number of museums and attractions, such as the Akershus Fortress, the National Museum, the Fram Museum and more!
2 to 3 Days in Oslo Itinerary
The following itinerary suggests a range of activities and locations that you might want to check out if you’re planning on spending 2 or more days in Oslo.
Not only does it cover most of the city’s museums and cultural highlights, but it also provides a few recommendations for hiking trails on the outskirts of the city, in the Oslomarka recreation areas.
Day 1 – Exploring Oslo Sentrum
The first day on this Oslo itinerary will take you to some of the city’s best-loved attractions, all of which are within easy walking distance of each other. If you want to learn more about the history of the city, you can consider booking a walking tour or going on a bike tour.
It’s worth noting that one of the city’s top attractions, the Viking Ship Museum, is currently closed for renovations for the next few years. Keep this in mind when planning out your time in Oslo to avoid any disappointment!
The National Museum
Oslo’s National Museum is home to Norway’s largest and most comprehensive collection of art, architecture, and design.
Perhaps most noteworthy is the museum’s Edvard Munch Room, which is home to some of the artist’s most important and groundbreaking works, including The Scream, Madonna, and The Girls on the Pier. It also boasts historic and more contemporary works from a range of both Norwegian and international artists.
Additionally, the Museum hosts a range of temporary exhibitions and is open throughout the year.
The Royal Palace
Initially built in the 19th century for King Charles III John, who was the ruler of Norway and Sweden at the time, Oslo’s Royal Palace is easily one of the entire country’s grandest, most impressive buildings.
The current residence of Norway’s King Harald V, the Royal Palace is typically open to visitors from June to August, while its grounds (Slottsparken) are open year-round and make for a fantastic place for a picnic in the warmer weather.
While certainly humbler in appearance than other, major European cathedrals like Notre Dame in Paris or St. Paul’s in London, Oslo’s Domkirke (the Oslo Cathedral) has significant historical value, as well as being a striking example of typical Norwegian architecture.
Built in 1697, Oslo Domkirke was Norway’s third-ever cathedral and is still used by the royal family for weddings and other events of significance.
Admission into Oslo Domkirke is free, and the richly-decorated ceiling in particular, with its multitude of frescoes, is well worth checking out.
Akershus Festning is a fortress and castle complex built to protect one of Oslo’s royal residences, with the fortress itself having been constructed all the way back in the early 1300s. While still in use as a military base, the fortress is open to the public and guided tours are available in the summer.
And, thanks to its being placed on a hill just above the water, Akershus Festning also offers lovely views of the Oslofjord (Oslo Fjord) below. You can even take a short boat ride for views and you’ll also pass by the Oslo City Hall while en route to the fortress, which is the host of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Oslo Opera House
Famed for its ultra-modern design, no trip to Oslo is complete without heading here. The Oslo Opera House is found right on the waterfront in the Bjørvika district.
Also home to art installations and a distinct, serene atmosphere, the Opera House is definitely worth a visit even if you aren’t planning on attending any concerts there.
It’s also home to some great restaurants which, paired with the building’s fantastic view over the Oslofjord, make for the perfect place for lunch or dinner.
Neseblod Record Shop
While unlikely to appeal to everyone, fans of heavy music (and vinyl in general) will want to make sure to check out Neseblod Records, an infamous record shop-cum-museum dedicated to Norway’s black metal scene.
Black metal has become a bonafide cultural export for the country, and Neseblod was founded and initially run by Euronymous, a central member of the Norwegian band Mayhem, until he was brutally murdered by a member of a rival band.
Despite its grim backstory, the shop is a place of pilgrimage for metal fans from around the world, and it’s not hard to see why.
In addition to stocking an enormous array of hard-to-get merch and records, Neseblodwas featured in the 2018 feature film Lords of Chaos; if you do go, make sure to check out the notorious ‘black metal’ painted wall in the shop’s basement.
Day 2 – Vigeland Park and Bygdøy Museums
If you’re looking to spend 2 days in Oslo at least, a great way to make use of your second day in the city is by visiting the beautiful Vigeland Park, as well as some of the fascinating museums on Bygdøy Peninsula, which is easily accessed via public transit from Oslo Sentrum.
Vigeland Sculpture Park
One of Oslo’s absolute highlights no matter what the season, Vigeland Park is a subsection of Frogner Park that is home to a diverse collection of statues by the artist Gustav Vigeland.
These artworks are scattered throughout the Park, which offers free admission, and provide plenty of entertainment and opportunity for reflection; it’s worth setting aside a few hours to be able to see the whole display.
Norsk Folkemuseum/Gol Stavkirke
Found on Oslo’s Bygdøy peninsula, the Norsk Folkemuseum (the Museum of Cultural History) is a museum dedicated to the social and cultural history of Norway. Part of its collection incorporates the world’s oldest open-air museum, which aims to recreate scenes from Norwegian urban and rural life throughout different historical periods.
Gol Stavkirke is one of the museum’s highlights; Norway is known for its distinctive, stunning stave churches, and Gol Stavkirke is one of the oldest examples of these, having been originally built in the 1200s and relocated to Bygdøy in the early 1900s to save it from being demolished.
With exquisite wooden carvings and painted murals, this humble church is a far cry from the colourful splendour of Oslo Domkirke, but is just as, if not more interesting to visit.
The Norsk Folkemuseum is fairly large; you can probably devote up to half a day to it, depending on how much time you aim to spend in the museum’s open-air display.
Also located on Bygdøy, the Fram Museum is dedicated to Norway’s lengthy history of polar exploration.
With a particular focus on the explorers Otto Sverdrup, Fridtjof Nansen, and Roald Amundsen, the Fram Museum’s permanent collection is also home to displays of arctic wildlife, including penguins and polar bears, as well as housing the ship Fram, which was used in a number of Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.
The museum is also home to Gjøa, a sloop which, captained by Roald Amundsen in 1906, was the first ever vessel to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage, a treacherous sea route that stretches from Greenland to Alaska.
Dinner at Fiskeriet
Located in Oslo Sentrum, specialty seafood restaurant Fiskeriet is a must-visit for (non-plant-based) foodies. The restaurant’s menu is expansive and varied, and the ingredients used are some of the freshest money can buy. Booking in advance is strongly recommended, as Fiskeriet tends to be packed.
Day 3 – Hiking in Oslomarka
One of Norway’s most unique attractions is the country’s stunning, varied natural landscapes.
While the sloping hills and forests of southern Norway are perhaps less dramatic than the towering mountains and glaciers of the western and northern parts of the country, Oslomarka (an umbrella name for all of the recreational/wilderness areas surrounding the city of Oslo) is the perfect place for hiking/walking day trips, most of which are accessible via public transport.
If you’re planning on spending 3 days in Oslo, then tackling one (or all) of the hikes suggested below is a fantastic way to enjoy your final day here. Getting out into nature is absolutely one of the best things to do in Oslo.
Option #1 – Bygdøy Loop
Not far from Oslo Sentrum, there is a number of pleasant walks that you can take in Bygdøy, a peninsula in the western part of Oslo. The easiest way to reach Bygdøy from Oslo Sentrum is via the 30 bus; with frequent departures from Nationaltheatret, the journey takes around 15 minutes.
Disembark at the Karenslyst Allé stop, where you’ll find the start of the walking trail. From there, you can branch off in a number of directions; walking out to Huk, a beach on the far end of Bygdøy, is especially recommended for the views.
Option #2 – Grefsenkollen
Grefsenkollen is a fairly popular walk and viewpoint with minimal elevation gain that offers pleasant views of the greater Oslo area. Take the tram or bus from Oslo Sentrum to Grefsekollveien; from there, the walk to the viewpoint (Grefsenkollen utsikt) is fairly straightforward.
This is a fairly short route which will likely take no longer than two hours to complete, so you might like to combine it with another walk or activity to get the most out of your final day in Oslo.
Option #3 – Kolsåstoppen
Kolsåstoppen is said to be the most popular hike in Oslomarka, and for good reason. Offering views of the Oslofjord and Bærum, the walk is 7.5 km long and provides plenty of stunning scenery. If you want to get the most that you can out of Oslo in 3 days, then Kolsåstoppen is probably going to be the hike for you.
There are multiple routes to Kolsåstoppen, but it’s easiest to start the walk from a farm called Stein Gård; the 150 bus will take you there from Oslo Sentrum, with a journey time of roughly 40 minutes. From Stein Gård, there’s a looping track that will take you to the viewpoint on Kolsåstoppen and back to the farm again.
Expect the hike to take somewhere between three or four hours, though this will depend on conditions on the path and what time of year you’re visiting.
Evening Activity – Craft Beer at Røør
Another haven for craft beer enthusiasts, Røør is a popular local haunt perfect for sampling unusual or rarer craft beers.
The bar has a constantly changing selection of 70 craft beers and 4 kinds of mead, 71 of which are on tap. Note that Røør doesn’t have a food menu, so you’ll need to make other arrangements for either eating out or self-catering.
Where to Stay in Oslo
Hotell Bondeheimen – Mid-range travellers will love this 3-star hotel in the centre of Oslo. There are a number of comfortable rooms on offer along with a number of other great amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Clarion Hotel Oslo – This chic and sophisticated hotel in central Oslo is perfect for those travelling on a bit of a higher budget in Norway. They have a number of modern and comfortable rooms on offer, a great location for exploring the highlights of the city and plenty of other amenities available for guests. Click here to check availability
Frogner House Apartments – If you’d like your own flat while visiting Oslo, then this aparthotel is a great choice. They have a range of different apartments available while also being located centrally. Thre are also a number of other great amenities to choose from. Click here to check availability
K7 Hotel Oslo – Budget and solo travellers will love this sleek hostel in central Oslo. Offering both dorms and private rooms, there are also great common areas and self-catering facilities for guests to use. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Oslo hotels!
Planning to visit Oslo is one of the best things you can do when mapping out your trip to Norway. The capital has a lot to offer visitors and it is truly a joy to explore.
Are you planning a trip to Oslo? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!