One day in Oslo: 10 Best Places to See

Oslo, Norway’s capital and largest city, is located in the southeast of the country, on the eastern shore of Oslofjord. It truly has much to offer. Over the recent years, Oslo city center has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving from an unattractive construction site into a modern neighborhood and a beautiful harbor promenade. So, what exactly can you do and see in Oslo in one day?

What to do in Oslo in one day: Oslo opera
I first visited Oslo in 2013, and I wasn’t impressed. The whole city center felt like a big construction yard. After I met Ivar, I started to visit Oslo regularly, and I have to say I am impressed with the changes the city has undergone in recent years.

Table of Contents

The New Munch Museum in Oslo

The new MUNCH Museum houses an extensive collection of works by Norway’s most famous painter, Edvard Munch. It opened to the public in October 2021.

What to do in Oslo in 24 hours: Munch museum
Munch Museum is the crooked building on the left side of the picture.

 

The unmistakable thirteen-story building on the shores of Oslofjord has sparked mixed reactions. Many deem it Norway’s ugliest building and jokingly suggest that looking at it might make you want to scream, a nod to Munch’s most famous work.

Whether you like the new Munch Museum or not, the building has already found its place in Oslo’s new skyline. In my opinion, it fits well into the modern Bjørvika district. 

 

One day in Oslo - Munch museum
Apart from the paintings, another highlight of the Munch Museum is the breathtaking view from its top floor.
Top floor of the Munch Museum in Oslo
The top floor of the Munch Museum in Oslo

 

Top floor of the Munch Museum in Oslo
The top floor of the Munch Museum in Oslo

The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Munch Museum displays “The Scream” in three versions (drawing, painting, and print), but they are never displayed simultaneously.

Every hour, one version is unveiled to the public while the other two remain covered to prevent exposure to light and fading.

Versions of the Scream by Edvard Munch. Source: Munchmuseet
Versions of the Scream by Edvard Munch. Source: Munchmuseet

 

It also serves as a security measure and prevention against theft. In 1994, one version of “The Scream” was stolen from the National Gallery.

The thief was then well-known Norwegian footballer Pål Enger, who placed a ladder against the museum building, climbed through a window, and simply took one of the world’s most valuable paintings.

In 2004, another version of “The Scream” and the painting “Madonna” were stolen from the old Munch Museum in the Tøyen district. Fortunately, the paintings were recovered in 2006 and are now on display again. Sadly, they were irreparably damaged during the theft.

 

There are many other interesting paintings by Edvard Munch in the museum

 

The New Opera House in Oslo

Well, I admit that compared to the new Munch Museum building, the Opera House isn’t quite as new, but still. The new modern Opera House was unveiled to the public in 2009, and unlike the Munch Museum, the public was enthusiastic about it.

Interactive Tourist Map of Oslo by Guide to Lofoten
The facade of the Opera House is made up of stone slabs of white limestone and Carrara marble, and the entire structure is in a modern minimalist style.

 

Oslo opera house
The architects from the Snøhetta studio, who are also behind the design of the first European underwater restaurant Under in Lindesnes and many other famous buildings in Norway, intended to create the illusion of ice floes sinking into the fjord.

 

What’s great about the Opera House is that you can go up to the roof, from where you have a beautiful view of the modern Bjørvika district or the new Deichman Library building.

By the way, the library won the award for the best public library in 2021 and is also worth a visit.

 

Oslo opera house
Oslo Opera House

 

What to do in Oslo in one day: Oslo opera
Oslo Opera House

 

Oslo in 24 hours: Deichmann library seen from Oslo Opera House
Deichmann Library seen from the Oslo Opera House

 

Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress is the best-preserved medieval castle complex in Norway.

Along the Oslo waterfront, otherwise dotted with modern architecture, a stroll through Akershus Fortress offers a pleasant change, immersing you in the atmosphere of old times.

 

What to do in Oslo in one day: Akershus fortress
Akershus Fortress in Oslo

Construction of the castle and fortress of Akershus began in 1299 under King Håkon V. The medieval castle, completed in the 14th century, held a strategic position and withstood numerous sieges over time.

 

What to do in Oslo in one day: Akershus fortress
Today, the Norwegian army utilizes a significant portion of the fortress, and the Norwegian Resistance Museum is located here.

 

You can walk through the fortress from the Opera House to the City Hall and continue along the Aker Brygge waterfront.
You can walk through the fortress from the Opera House to the City Hall and continue along the Aker Brygge waterfront.

Do you want to explore what Oslo has to offer?

Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall was ceremonially opened in 1950. The functionalist building, constructed of red bricks, has two towers of different sizes.

 

What to do in Oslo in one day: Oslo rådhus (city hall)
One tower reaches a height of 63 meters, while the other is three meters taller. One of the towers houses a carillon consisting of an impressive 49 bells, which chime every full hour during summer.

 

Oslo City Hall
One of the bells, removed from the carillon because it was out of tune, is placed in front of the City Hall, and you can ring it (look for it on the harbor side).

 

The City Hall building is free to the public on weekdays during normal office hours.

Thus, you can freely explore the auditorium, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, and other rooms adorned with frescoes by famous Norwegian painters. 

 

Interiors of the Oslo City Hall
Interiors of the Oslo City Hall

 

Interiors of the Oslo City Hall
Interiors of the Oslo City Hall

 

After visiting the City Hall, we recommend stopping by The Sausage Factory food truck in front of City Hall. There, you can taste possibly Oslo's best hot dogs, such as those made with reindeer meat.
After visiting the City Hall, we recommend stopping by The Sausage Factory food truck in front of it. There, you can taste possibly Oslo’s best hot dogs, such as those made with reindeer meat.

 

Aker Brygge & Tjuvholmen Island

Aker Brygge is a beautiful modern waterfront promenade with numerous cafes and restaurants. In the summer, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor seating with views of Oslofjord, the City Hall, and Akershus Fortress.

Aker Brygge in Oslo
Aker Brygge in Oslo

 

Aker Brygge in Oslo
Stop by the Kveitemjøl café for a cappuccino, excellent cinnamon rolls, or buns with a pudding center “skolebolle.”

 

BRIM’s hybrid boat departs from Aker Brygge for sightseeing trips around Oslofjord. It also sails in the Lofoten Islands and Svalbard, and in winter, it takes tourists on whale safaris in Tromsø.

In Oslo, BRIM offers relaxing cruises that include breakfast, champagne, or evening cruises with dinner.

 

Tjuvholmen Island

The Aker Brygge district is connected by several small bridges to Tjuvholmen Island (Thief’s Island). The island was originally a city execution site (hence the name), and later, unattractive container buildings of the port warehouse were located here.

Today, Tjuvholmen is a beautiful modern neighborhood where you can find, among other things, the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art or the most luxurious hotel in Oslo – The Thief.

What to do in Oslo, Norway in one day: Tjuvholmen
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
Oslo tree at Tjuvholmen
The Oslo Tree Installation at Tjuvholmen

The Royal Palace in Oslo

The Royal Palace building isn’t exactly a sight that would captivate you for hours. However, since it’s essentially on the way back from Tjuvholmen to the city center, why not take a peek inside where the Norwegian royal family resides?

The Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway
The Royal Palace in Oslo was designed by Danish-born architect Hans Ditlev Franciscus Linstow following a decision by the Norwegian parliament in 1821.

 

The Norwegian king laid the foundation stone in 1825, and the construction was completed in 1849.

Most of the rulers of the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway resided mainly in Stockholm, and the palace in Oslo was only used occasionally.

The first permanent resident of the palace was not until 1905 when Haakon VII became the first ruler of independent Norway (Norway gained independence from Sweden in 1905).

Since 2002, the palace has been open to the public for guided tours.

 

During King Olav V’s reign (1957–1991), the palace was neglected and fell into disrepair. A massive and costly renovation initiated by his successor and the current Norwegian king, Harald V, sparked criticism from the Norwegian public but significantly improved the palace’s condition.

Are you planning to visit Norway?

Karl Johan Street in Oslo

Karl Johan Street is the main thoroughfare in central Oslo. It leads from the Royal Palace, past the University and the National Theater, to the Parliament building, alongside Oslo Domkirke church, and ends at the train station, just a stone’s throw from the new Opera House.

Karl Johann street in Oslo
Karl Johan Gate is named after the Swedish-Norwegian king Karl Johan, who ruled Sweden from 1818 to 1844. You might also know him by the name Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte.

 

What was a Frenchman doing on the Swedish throne? 

To cut a long story short, it all goes back to the Napoleonic Wars. The reigning Swedish king at the time was old and childless, so the Swedish parliament sought a suitable successor to prevent unrest.

Napoleon was busy conquering Europe, so the Swedish king sought a candidate to be on good terms with him. Thus, the French marshal Bernadotte was chosen as his successor.

The Napoleonic Wars eventually ended with Napoleonic France’s defeat and the Treaty of Kiel on January 15, 1814. As a result of the lost war, Denmark lost Norway to Sweden.

It is really complex for an ordinary person to grasp who was who and who fought against whom during this period. Nevertheless, it’s important to know that Norway first fell under Danish rule for a long time, then formed a union with Sweden after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and finally gained independence in 1905.

Celebration of the 17th of May in Oslo, Norway
Norwegians do not celebrate their independence from Sweden. Instead, they celebrate May 17, 1814, when the Norwegian constitution was signed in Eidsvoll.

 

Explore the sculptures in front of the National Theater

Amidst the array of modern buildings on the coastal promenade in Oslo stand the Royal Palace, the National Theater, the city university, and the parliament, offering glimpses into Norwegian history.

National Theatre in Oslo: What to see in Oslo in 24 hours
The National Theatre in Oslo

To be honest, I’ve never been inside the theater building, but I always make a point to stop in front of it at the statues of two of Norway’s most prominent literary figures—Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson.

 

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in front of the National Theater in Oslo
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson was a Norwegian writer best known for his poem “Ja, vi elsker dette landet” (“Yes, we love this country”), which is now the text of the Norwegian national anthem. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1903.

 

The statue of Henrik Ibsen in front of the National Theater in Oslo
The other statue depicts Henrik Ibsen, who, although he never received the Nobel Prize in Literature, is still perhaps the most famous Norwegian playwright, thanks to his drama “Peer Gynt.”

 

The Norwegian Parliament Stortinget

Have you ever heard of eclecticism? No? Neither had I. Nevertheless, that’s exactly the style in which the Norwegian Parliament’s building is constructed.

The building of the Norwegian Parliament Stortinget in Oslo, Norway
Stortinget in Oslo

 

This architectural period is characterized by the revival and blending of styles from previous eras, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque, often all used simultaneously.

Sometimes, you might come across the term “era of stylistic confusion.” But I must say, I quite like the building of the Norwegian Parliament.

 

The building of the Norwegian Parliament Stortinget
Stortinget—the Norwegian parliament—emerged as a political institution over several hectic weeks in the spring of 1814, when the Norwegian Constitution was adopted in Eidsvoll after the dissolution of the Dano-Norwegian union.

 

Stortinget in Oslo, Norway
However, it took another 50 years before the Storting had its own building.

Work began in 1836 to establish a permanent structure. Heinrich Ernst Schirmer and Wilhelm von Hanno won the competition for the design, but the Storting ultimately rejected their proposal because the proposed building too closely resembled a church.

Instead, on May 18, 1860, the design by Swedish architect Emil Victor Langlet was selected. The parliament moved into the new building on March 5, 1866.

Stortinget - the Norwegian Parliament
Stortinget – the Norwegian Parliament

How many famous Norwegian people do you know?

Vigeland Sculpture Park in the “Frognerparken”

Frogner Park is a public park in Oslo. It houses a permanent installation of sculptures created by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland.

In the park, you can admire over 200 sculptures comprising more than 600 figures.

Vigeland Park in Oslo
Vigeland Park in Oslo is the world’s largest sculpture park, with sculptures exclusively by one artist.

 

 Among the most photographed sculptures in the park are the bronze statue “Angry Boy,” the “Wheel of Life,” and the “Monolith” – a towering column over 14 meters high composed of 120 human figures intricately intertwined.

 

Monolith in the Vigeland park in Oslo, Norway
Monolith in the Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway

 

Sinnataggen aka the Angry boy statue in the Vigeland park in Oslo
Sinnataggen, aka the Angry Boy statue in the Vigeland Park in Oslo

 

All of Vigeland’s sculptures depict human beings of various ages, genders, and body types, captured in sometimes quite acrobatic poses.

Vigeland’s vision was to capture all stages of life, and the sculptures’ nudity was intended to ensure their timelessness.

One great thing about Vigeland Park is that it’s open 24 hours a day and has no entrance fee.

Vigeland sculpture park in Oslo, Norway
Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo is open 24/7.

 

The Ski Jump at Holmenkollen

The ski jump on Holmenkollen’s hill is a landmark of Oslo. Cross-country skiing and ski jumping, for which the area at Holmenkollen is built, have a well-established tradition in Norway.

Ski jumping competitions at Holmenkollen have been held annually since 1892 when the winner jumped a whopping 21.5 meters. In 1922 and 1923, even the Norwegian Crown Prince Olav (later the Norwegian king reigning between 1957 and 1991) appeared among the competitors.!

No world record has ever been set at Holmenkollen. The Norwegian Robert Johansson holds the record for the Holmenkollen ski jump, with 144 meters.

The ski jumps at Holmenkollen
If you’re a fan of ski jumping, the best time to visit Oslo is in March, when the annual ski festival Holmenkolldagen takes place.

 

Explore Nordmarka

Holmenkollen is a beautiful place to visit, even if you’re not particularly passionate about ski jumping. From the top of the ski jump (or its surroundings), you can enjoy a lovely view of Oslo.

Moreover, the area around Homenkollen is a great starting point for hikes in Nordmarka if you’re interested in exploring the nature around the capital.

For example, you can exit the T-bane at Frognerseteren station, from where you can walk a few hundred meters to the Frognerseteren cabin, where you can enjoy coffee and cinnamon rolls, or hike to the Fuglemyrhytta cabin, designed by the architects from the Snøhetta studio (just like the Opera House). 

Note that contrary to a number of publicly open cabins located in the surrounding city forest Nordmarka, the Fuglemyrhytta is only accessible if you book an overnight stay.

Fuglemyhytta is, however, a good hiking goal if you want to visit the nearby Vettakolltoppen viewpoint.

 

Vettakolltoppen viewpoint has become famous in recent years after a successful marketing campaign by Visit Oslo. The view from the top is really amazing.

 

Ivar grew up nearby, and this was one of his favorite places to go for a walk with his dog.

 

What to See in Oslo in One Day: Summary

Please take this article as an introduction to what you can see in Oslo.

Of course, there are many more places to see, but you can visit these top 10 attractions in one day, giving you a great introduction to Oslo.

If you have more days available, I would also recommend visiting the museums on the Bygdøy Peninsula, which we will cover in a separate article in the future.

 

Visiting Oslo in One Day: FAQ

The best time to visit Oslo is during the summer months (June to August) when the weather is warm and the days are long. However, winter (December to February) is also popular for those interested in winter sports and the holiday season.

My favorite times to visit Oslo are May, September, and October.

Getting from Oslo Airport (Gardermoen) to the city center is straightforward. The easiest and most convenient option is to travel by train.

By Train

Vy trains run frequently from Oslo Airport to Oslo Central Station (Oslo S), taking about 20 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the airport or in the Ruter app.

The Flytoget Airport Express Train is a slightly more expensive but very convenient option. It runs every 10 minutes and takes about 20 minutes to reach Oslo Central Station. Tickets can be purchased at the airport.

By Bus

Several airport shuttle buses operate between Oslo Airport and various parts of the city. These buses can be a good option if you stay outside the city center or need to get to specific locations not serviced by the train.

By Taxi

Taxis are available at the airport but are the most expensive option. They offer the convenience of door-to-door service, which can be useful if you have a lot of luggage or are traveling in a group.

In addition to the places mentioned in this article, we can also recommend the museums on Bygdøy Peninsula (Fram Museum, Kon-Tiki Museum, Folk Museum), the Ski Museum at Holmenkollen, or the National Museum next to the City Hall.

If you want to spend a day relaxing, we highly recommend The Well Spa.

Oslo has an efficient public transportation system, including buses, trams, trains, and ferries.

The Ruter public transportation system covers the entire city, and the Oslo Pass offers unlimited travel on public transport and free or discounted entry to many attractions.

You can buy the tickets for the public transport in the Ruter App.

Moreover, the city center of Oslo is quite walkable.

Picture of Ivar & Radka

Ivar & Radka

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten. We met in Trondheim and lived together in western Norway, Narvik and Tromsø. At the moment we call western Lofoten our home. We hope our page will make it easier for you to explore the beautiful places that made us chose Norway for our home.

More about us

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Ivar and Radka Guide to Lofoten

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten.

Most popular posts

Related Posts

Trolltunga is one of the best and most popular hikes in western Norway

Norway Travel Tips

Planning a trip to Norway can be overwhelming. That is one of the reasons why we started our Facebook group, Norway: Tips for Travellers, which quickly grew into a thriving community with 140,000 members. Over time, we noticed that some questions often repeat themselves. Therefore, we decided to sum them up in this article and give you some essential Norway

Read More »
Reinebringen hike in Lofoten: The ultimate guide written by locals
hiking

Reinebringen Hike: Updated Information by Locals

Reinebringen is, without a doubt, the most famous hike in the Lofoten Islands. In fact, it is one of the most visited hikes in all of Norway. By June 2024, 41,000 people hiked Reinebringen, which means that Reinebringen attracts more people monthly than other famous Lofoten hikes like Festvågtinden or Mannen do in a year.

Read More »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *