48 hours in Oslo, Norway
February 10, 2019
by Alaina Rydzewski
Having visited many countries and loving travel, reaching 30 countries with a short trip to Norway was exhilarating. 36 hours from landing in Oslo to taking off again, was just enough time to appreciate the Norwegian capital’s stunning sights.
Here is a detailed plan of how to spend those 36 hours, which is useful for just about anyone, because it includes hitting the high points of the city without rushing around like crazy to see everything.
Arrival in Norway
Arrive at the airport and take the high-speed train to the city center, which is about 20 minutes away, or 40 kilometers. The train station is located right at the foot of the main pedestrian shopping street, which also features the cathedral. Pop right in and have a quick visit–it features an awesome painted ceiling!
Continuing down the main street is a good way to walk around the city and get a feel for it and orient yourself. Meandering around, it is easy to see the round Parliament building, the National Theater, and the Royal Palace, which sits on a hill that offers a nice view of the city below.
Sightseeing in Norway
The Fram, Kon-Tiki, and Viking Ships:
Start out by taking the bus to the Fram Museum. You can also take the ferry, which is sure to be the prettier route (if it’s not foggy), but for the motion sickness getters among us, the ferry would be a no-no. The Fram Museum details the journey taken by a Norwegian captain who was racing to be the first to reach Antarctica. He was racing the British, and not to spoil the story, but he won by a long shot because the whole British crew basically died. The museum has the actual ship that was used and it can even be toured. Very cool.
Also close by to this museum is the Kon-Tiki Museum, which features the actual raft used by a different Norwegian explorer to go to Easter Island, off the coast of Chile. There are replicas of the statues there, which are intricate and fascinating.
The last museum nearby which is easy to hit in the same day was the Viking Ship Museum, which has three ancient Viking burial ships and lots of artifacts found on those ships. It is insane that these ships, almost 1,000 years old, can still be appreciated in their original form.
Akershus Castle and Fortress
After grabbing a quick lunch, continue on to the Akershus castle and fortress. The castle featured the old living space of the royal family, as well as the mausoleum where they are all buried. After touring the castle, go for a walk around the fortress grounds and appreciate the view of the harbor from the high vantage point. Finish the day with a nice (re: expensive) dinner (30 euros per plate! Tears might be cried.) of fresh fish, a must when in Norway. The hours pass by quickly, and since during the spring there is almost constant daylight—from 4a.m. to 11p.m.—and during the winter almost perpetual darkness—it’s always difficult to tell what time it is.
Sightseeing through art
Sunday can be more of an artsy day, and should be started with the Munch museum, a short tram ride away from the city center. Most people will recognize Munch’s “The Scream” (photo below), but will also be delighted to find that he has an extensive range of themes to his artwork, including partnership and love. The museum gift shop has a wide array of prints and postcards from which to choose.
Next stop is the National Museum, which includes Norwegian artwork as well as work from the Impressionists and other genres. They have Monet, Picasso, el Greco, Cezanne and more. This museum is easy to enjoy because it is really well organized. It has a set route you should follow, which museums hardly ever have, that also goes chronologically, showing development of art through the different periods with this trajectory.
Oslo and the Nobel Peace Prize:
If you’re feeling a bit cheap after all the sightseeing, which would be quite normal when in Norway, enjoying pizza for lunch is much more reasonably priced than the other meals options out there. (Norway had delicious Thai food as well.)
A visit to the City Hall should also be on the agenda, because it is where they present the Nobel Peace Prizes. The Nobel Peace Center is right around the corner and the logical next destination. The exhibition is almost completely digitized, and in a series of small, darkly lit rooms, so instead of reading information on plaques, you can sift through articles on a screen. Not the norm for a museum, when we usually think about large open spaces, soft lights, and much to read, but it was interesting nonetheless.
A short walk from the Nobel Peace Center is the Aker Brygge harbor area, which is very touristy and filled with cafes and restaurants. It’s quite charming and is a lovely place to take a break and enjoy a coffee while appreciating the water lapping around the wharf.
Vigelund Sculpture Park
The final destination of the day is Vigelund sculpture park, which is also a short tram ride from the center, and is renowned for its countless sculptures of couples: holding hands, embracing in different postures, etc. The theme is intimacy, and surprisingly, there is nothing more intimate than these thick, towering statues. It’s an enormous park and after walking up to the top to take in the view, would be the perfect place for a midday picnic or some snacks.
Oslo can be thoroughly visited in 36 hours with ease–but be prepared to spend. Everything is expensive, from postcards to coffee to meals, and for three days an appropriate amount to bring could be nearly 250€, and that is with hardly buying any touristy items at all! Of course buying groceries from the store and packing lots of snacks instead of eating at restaurants is also an easy way to save some money. That being said, like any other destination, Norway is well worth the visit.
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February 13, 2019
This article was very helpful. I feel like I was there in Oslo!!
February 13, 2019
Good coverage. Looks like you’re a bona fide travel writer.
March 1, 2019
I very much enjoyed your review and would like to read more reviews of other places. Thank you for your practical and descriptive review.