I’ll be the first person to admit that I have been extremely lucky recently, being able to travel to many different places in a relatively short period of time. However, when I’m traveling from place to place, I don’t always get to spend as much time as I would have liked to in certain cities.
For this reason, my favorite kinds of places are the ones that feel smaller than they actually are; even if I’m only there for a few days, I am still able to feel like I know my way around town.
In 2014, I spent three days in Oslo, which was more than enough time to get to know the Norwegian capital city. Despite being the largest city in Norway, Oslo is compact and incredibly easy to walk through and navigate in a short period of time!
If you find yourself in this beautiful city for a short period of time, rest assured that the best of what Oslo has to offer is definitely doable in just one day! So get up early, eat some delicious Norwegian waffles (pictured) for breakfast, put on your walking shoes, and start your day at one of the most well-known symbols of Oslo: Holmenkollen.
Holmenkollen is a ski recreation neighborhood in Oslo that is home to the ski jump known as Holmenkollbakken, the famous ski jump hill that has hosted over a century’s worth of skiing competitions! Since Oslo is well-known for its role in the skiing community, Holmenkollen is definitely a must-see for a proper Oslo experience.
If you’re not in awe by the mere sight of the metal structure, rest assured that there’s more to Holmenkollen than meets the eye. There’s a museum at the base of the tower for those who are intrigued by the history of the sport. There is both a ski jump simulator and a zipline from the top of the tower, for those who enjoy more active excursions. And last but not least, there is a lift that takes you up to the top of the tower for some incredible panoramic views of Oslo. This is something that everyone can (and should!) enjoy.
Duration: 2.5-3 hours (including the commute via public transportation from Oslo)
Overall, Holmenkollen is a fun outing to start the day! Once you’re seen and done all there is to do in the ski village, head back to the city center (if taking the tram, get off at Jernbanetorget) and have a quick bite to eat for lunch. After all, there’s much more to see!
Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House is a short walk from the city center and rests along the banks of the head of the Oslofjord. The new, modern building is a landmark meant to mimic the nearby mountains that people from all over the world come to climb. You’re allowed– no, encouraged– to ascend to the top of the Opera House!
Take the brisk walk up the slopes to the roof of the building in order to enjoy the scenic view of the fjord and the city beyond the shore.
Fun fact! According to a Norwegian friend of mine, the Opera building actually sank a little into the fjord because there were so many screaming fan girls in attendance during a Justin Bieber concert!
Duration: 30 min.- 1 hour, depending on how long you take at the top, enjoying the views.
After descending from the rooftop of the Opera House, continue along the fjord toward the city center. En route, you can pass through the Akershus Fortress, which houses the Armed Forces Museum.
Since Akershus was meant to defend Oslo, it has clear, stunning views of all sides of the fjord. Exploring the grounds of a real historic fortress was such a great opportunity!
Duration: 30-45 min.
Nobel Peace Center
Oslo is home to several art exhibits and notable museums, including the Munch Museum and the Vigeland Sculpture Park. However, visiting the Nobel Peace Center is unlike any other museum experience you will ever have! Each room is filled with fun, interesting exhibits that bring the history of the Nobel Peace Prize to life.
The Nobel Peace Center was a perfect mix of educational and engaging— not only did the Center open my eyes to various world issues, but it also encouraged me to think about them through different perspectives. I can’t think of any other museum that has ever impacted me in such a meaningful way!
The Nobel Peace Center was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Oslo, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
After the Nobel Peace Center, continue walking down Olav Vs gate toward the city. There are shops and pubs all around you! By the time you reach Stortingsgata, turn right and you’ll see both the National Theatre and the Stortinget, the home of Norway’s Parliament. Walking your way through Oslo is a promising and easy way to get to know the capital city, and to see a good amount of what it has to offer, in a short period of time.
What were your favorite things about your visit to Oslo?