Your Guide to Oslo, Norway: Experience Oslo’s Vibrant Culture and Inspiring Hidden Gems

Oslo, Norway

Your Guide to Oslo, Norway: Experience Oslo’s Vibrant Culture and Inspiring Hidden Gems

Oslo, Norway

In 2021, Norway welcomed 1.44 million tourists from all over the world. The country’s capital city, Oslo, is always a popular destination! Top sights, like The Fram Museum, The National Museum and the Oslo Opera House make Oslo a must-see for any Nordic traveler.

Oslo, Norway is a vibrant and bustling fjord city with a rich history, a blend of historic and modern architecture and expansive natural beauty. The city is easygoing and a place where locals and visitors enjoy a variety of seasonal activities. Of course, delicious Norwegian food and a thriving outdoor scene are also a plus here!

Oslo’s weather ranges from snowy winters to mild summers. From skiing to hiking and refreshing dips in the water, there’s something fun to do every season! 

In this article, I’m sharing the best of Oslo! Whether it’s your first visit or you’re ready to return, you’ll learn about Oslo’s…

  • hidden gems,
  • top attractions,
  • new neighborhoods,
  • local snacks,
  • historic harbor, and
  • best places to stay.

 

For more insider tips (from a local tour guide!), bookmark my Oslo City Guide

 

Pal and Rick Steves posing for a selfie in Oslo, Norway

Rick Steves and I doing some sightseeing in Oslo, Norway.

 

Let’s explore Oslo’s hidden gems

As spotlighted in my YouTube video below, Oslo: HIDDEN GEMS by a Licensed Local Guide, there are many unique places to visit in Oslo. 

Little-known gems include The Munch (Scream) Viewpoint, The Old Aker Church, The Vigeland Mausoleum and more.

 

 

It would take 10+ hours to show you all of Oslo’s best spots, making for a very long video! So, instead, here are a few more hidden gems for you:

 

Islands of Oslo

Did you know you could go island hopping in Oslo? 

Yep! You can easily take a day trip to one of Oslo’s many islands—just hop on a ferry departing the city to make Oslo your summer island paradise.

 

Ekebergparken Sculpture Park

Enjoy panoramic city views, contemporary sculptures and beautiful grounds (perfect for a picnic!) at Ekebergparken Sculpture Park

You can also sign up for a guided sculpture walk and visit the on-site museum and gift shop. 

 

Mathallen Oslo

After a busy day exploring Oslo, you’ll be ready to eat some good Norwegian food!

Mathallen Oslo is the perfect spot to tame your hunger. Indulge in gourmet food and local treats from over 30 restaurants, cafés and bakeries.

 

Oslo’s top attractions

Oslo is home to many iconic landmarks and attractions—loved by both locals and visitors.

Spend a few days visiting Oslo’s main attractions, including:

 

The Oslo Opera House: A modern cultural center and home to the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Opera House’s backstage area, Main Stage and more with a 50-minute guided tour. After your tour, head to the rooftop for unbeatable panoramic city views!

 

The Vigeland Sculpture Park: See Gustav Vigeland’s masterpieces among a beautiful landscape. There are more than 200 sculptures and over 700 figures on display!

 

The National Museum: If you’re an art enthusiast, The National Museum in Oslo is a must-see! Here, you’ll find over 400,000 works of art, including Edvard Munch’s famous painting, The Scream.

 

The Scream Painting by Edvard Munch.

The Scream painting by Edvard Munch is at The National Museum in Oslo, Norway.

 

The Fram Museum: Explore the history of Norwegian polar exploration and see the strongest wooden ship ever built, Fram. You can even board the ship and experience a chilly polar simulator!

 

Discover more of Oslo’s must-see places in my YouTube video, TOP Attractions in Oslo by a Licensed Guide

 

 

Oslo’s new neighborhoods

Walking around Oslo, you’ll notice lively, new neighborhoods and districts full of arts, culture and food.

Here are a few must-visit areas!

(Click on the names below to find them on Google Maps.)

 

Bjørvika: A modern port district featuring the Oslo Opera House and the Sørenga Seawater Pool. Have a nice meal at one of the many trendy restaurants overlooking the Oslo fjord.

Watch my video below for a tour of Bjørvika!

 

 

Grünerløkka: Oslo’s hip hub with vintage boutiques, coffee shops, concert venues and a bustling main street.

 

Tjuvholmen: A waterfront district with contemporary art galleries, upscale dining, an urban beach, and floating saunas!

 

Waterfront views in the Tjuvholmen neighborhood.

Waterfront views in Tjuvholmen.

 

Get more of Oslo’s neighborhoods in my blog post, Oslo Neighborhood Guide for Travelers.

 

Kjempegod (Yummy!): Oslo’s best snacks

One of my favorite things about living in Oslo is… the food! If you’re out and about in the city, you might spot me enjoying a fresh waffle or a classic Norwegian hot dog.

Here are a few of my top foods and places to eat in Oslo!

 

Norwegian waffles

Savor a traditional waffle (vaffel) topped with sweet jam and sour cream—the best toppings, in my opinion! You can find waffles at cafés and bakeries, like Haralds Vaffel.

If you can’t wait until you’re in Oslo to enjoy this delicious treat, learn how to easily make Norwegian waffles from home.

 

👉 I recommend the Cucina Pro waffle maker to get the traditional heart-shaped waffle.

 

A display of vaffels (Norwegian waffles) - pictured with brown cheese, sweet jam and sour cream.

Treat yourself to a traditional Norwegian waffle — pictured with brown cheese, sweet jam and sour cream!

 

Hot Dogs

The Oslo street food scene offers plenty of variety. Enjoy food from international flavors, like kebabs, to traditional Norwegian fare, like pølse (hot dogs).

 

Syverkiosken hot dog stand in Oslo, Norway.

The Syverkiosken Hot Dog Stand in Oslo, Norway.

 

While there are plenty of excellent restaurants in Oslo, I love to grab a classic Norwegian-style hot dog at the iconic Syverkiosken Hot Dog Stand when I’m on the go.

I ordered mine topped with ketchup, mustard and roasted onions—simple and delicious! Check out my Oslo Hidden Gems YouTube video for other types of hot dogs you can eat here.

 

Traditional foods

When in Norway, eat like a Norwegian! 

Spor av Nord (which translates to Traces of the North) is my favorite place when I’m craving comforting Norwegian foods. 

Don’t miss this beautifully decorated café serving Norway’s classic dishes, like traditional lefse, sour cream porridge, fish cakes and reindeer stew.

And yes, you can even find Norway’s iconic brown cheese here!

 

Local chocolate

Norwegian chocolates are a must-try! Unlike hot dogs, you can pack plenty of these in your suitcase to enjoy back home! Popular brands are Kvikk Lunsj, Freia, Stratos and Smash.

Learn more about Norway’s best chocolates in my blog post, Try these Five Norwegian Chocolates. I’ve included online purchasing options, so you have plenty to eat and share (if you want!).

 

Explore Oslo’s Harbor Promenade

Stretching from the east to the west of the city, you’ll find a picturesque promenade among historic buildings, outdoor cafés, art, marinas and markets.

A public library, the Barcode buildings, and the Oslo Opera House are all part of the area’s modern architecture. Walk to the roof of the Oslo Opera House for a sprawling city view.

Sail with me, and let’s explore the Harbor Promenade together!

 

 

Visit the Holmenkollen Ski Jump

Bordering a forest, the Holmenkollen National Ski Arena is where many famous Norwegian skiers have competed. The arena is home to a large ski jumping hill that opened in 1892.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional skier to enjoy the Holmenkollen Ski Jump. The iconic arena offers guests a chance to jump from the Holmenkollen in a ski simulator. Or you can take a zip line down the hill—or enjoy the fantastic view from the top!

Let’s take a tour of the Holmenkollen Ski Jump!

 

 

Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos on Oslo and Norway

Places to stay in Oslo

Oslo offers plenty of options for making your stay comfortable and cozy.

I highly recommend CityBox Hotel for a modern, budget-friendly hotel with a central location. You can also rent an inexpensive but comfortable apartment from Bob W Sentralen.

My favorite mid-range hotel is Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz, located near the lively Karl Johan main pedestrian street. The hotel offers an exceptional breakfast buffet, comfortable rooms and friendly staff. To be closer to the Oslo Central Train Station, stay at Thon Hotel Opera.

Grand Hotel is a high-end hotel in a beautiful 1874 building on the Karl Johans Gate. It is a 5-minute walk from the National Museum of Art and an 11-minute walk from the Royal Palace. The Thief Hotel is an award-winning modern hotel on the waterfront in the Aker Brygge neighborhood.

 

Get more hotel recommendations for any budget in my Oslo City Guide

 

 

Oslo Norway Guide - Infographic of top sights

 

Over to you! Ready to explore Oslo, Norway?

We’ve covered what Oslo is best known for—its hidden gems, top attractions, neighborhoods, food, harbor, and places to stay. Now it’s time to explore this lively city in real life!

When planning your trip, I recommend having a copy of Rick Steve’s Scandinavia guidebook handy. It features more of my Norway travel tips! You’ll learn how to connect with local culture, skip the lines, and get valuable resources, like common phrases.

Also, be sure to check out my curated Oslo travel map, which features over 200 marked spots in the city. It’s the perfect guide for new and seasoned tourists! 

This digital Oslo map is full of my recommendations on top sights, hotels, food and drinks, museums, swimming spots, viewpoints and lots more!

 

Screenshot of Oslo Norway digital map

My curated Google map of Oslo, where you can find a selection of 200+ marked spots to keep you busy (and happy) when you visit Oslo!

 

Want a more personalized experience? I’d be honored to be your official Oslo tour guide!

I offer tailor-made full—or half-day guided tours. Each tour includes walkable routes (or sightseeing from a private vehicle) and my insider take on Norway’s rich history and modern marvels—and lots of fun!

Book your guided Oslo experience today. I can’t wait to explore Oslo with you! 

Your friend in Norway,

Pål

Pål of Norway With Pål

Pål of Norway With Pål

Norway native, veteran travel guide, sailor, filmmaker, and writer (you might have seen me in one of Rick Steves’ guidebooks!). I want to help you enjoy Norway the right way — like a local. Learn more about me.

DISCLAIMER: Products on this page may contain affiliate links, and I might make a small sum per purchase. For you this does not affect the product price, but supports me and my work, and makes me able to continue sharing my passion for Norway with you. Read the Disclaimer policy. Thank you, tusen takk!

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