Norway has always been a dream destination for us. It is a place that conjures up thoughts of fjords and forests, and little red cabins. So when we found a cheap flight to Oslo with Ryanair we just had to go. Even better was when we started looking at accommodation, and stumbled upon a cheap, well priced hotel. And so we thought we were going to have a budget weekend getaway. We were wrong. There is a reason Google comes up with a predictive “is Oslo expensive” suggestion. Oslo is really expensive. But it is also really beautiful with so many amazing attractions and so much natural beauty. We really wanted to provide a frank and honest guide for people thinking of spending a weekend in Oslo. Here are our thoughts.
When to go
I can imagine Oslo being beautiful all year round. Especially when strolling around some of the nature trails in the mountains. If you are looking to ski then obviously winter is your best bet. We visited in late August. The temperatures were quite mild which made it perfect weather to go exploring.
Where to stay in Oslo
Our flight arrived really late on a Friday night so we wanted to be close to public transport. We checked out out Hotels.com and picked the Comfort Hotel Express Youngstorget. It was a short work from the Oslo Busterminal and it was centrally located as well.
The money bit
So our goal was to have this cheap and cheerful weekend away. This didn’t go to plan because Oslo is really expensive. A round of drinks for the two of us would cost us around £15 depending on where we were. Food was also really expensive. We visited one place that looked like a carvery. The food was cooked in bulk and displayed behind glass and you sort of just pointed at what you wanted. We spent about £40 on this meal. In the UK you would probably pay about £15 for this. Don’t even get me started on McDonalds. It is usually a quick and cheap meal. We paid about £16 for two burger meals. So be prepared to spend quite a bit of money when exploring the city.
Things to do in Oslo
So now we have the practicalities out of the way. Here are are list of things to do in Oslo.
If you want to see some amazing forest areas and those little red cabins then this is the place for you. Nordmarka refers to the forested region located in the northern part of Oslo. It takes about 20-30 minutes to get here on the train from the centre of Oslo. In the winter this is where people go to ski and in the summer to go hiking along the many trails.
The best thing about it was the view from the train as we made our way up the mountain towards Frognerseteren. There is a lovely cafe here, where you can relax and take in some incredible views. You can also use this as a starting point and follow one of the trails as you walk down the mountain.
The good new is this is a relatively inexpensive thing to do in Oslo. You really just need to pay to get the train here and walk around at your own pace.
One of my favourite things we did in Oslo was hopping on a boat and taking a tour around the Oslofjord. You sail past some beautiful islands as well as some of the sights in the city such as the Opera House. The whole trip lasted about two hours and we got to sail one of of those schooner type boats with the giant sails. There are refreshments on board as well if you like your boat trips with expensive pints of larger. We definitely recommend doing this. Nothing beats gazing at incredible views of Oslo with the wind in your hair.
Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle designed to protect Oslo back in the day. It is quite charming walking around the castle grounds. And you get a really nice view looking down at the Oslofjord.Guided tours of the fortress are available throughout the summer and these start at the Fortress Visitors Centre.
Oslo Opera House
Located at the harbour the Opera House appears to rise out from the water. It has a very angled design which is interesting to see. You also don’t need to go to the opera to visit as you can walk up to its roof and checkout some great views of the city. It was designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta (nope I don’t know how to say it either) and has received many awards for its creative design.
Hop on hop off bus tour
Because we were so time limited this tour was perfect for us. We got to see a lot of the city quickly and easily. Some of our favourites sights were the Viking Ship museum, the Nobel Peace Centre and the Oslo City Hall.
One thing we noticed in Oslo was the incredible architecture. From the design of the aforementioned Oslo Opera House to the Town Hall, and even the Oslo Cathedral. There is a lot to explore in Downtown Oslo and a lot of buildings to admire.
So should I spent a weekend in Oslo?
We definitely recommend visiting, especially for a weekend. You just need to be aware of how expensive things are and plan accordingly. Admittedly there are more picturesque parts of Norway you can visit but Oslo is worth a look.
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