Is Oslo worth visiting? The Opera house on a calm day with blank seas in front of the glass facade and glacier style structure under a pale bluish pink sky

From A Local: Is Oslo Worth Visiting? (2024)

Are you considering a trip to Oslo? Wondering if a trip here it’s worth your time and money? Well, buckle up. I have lived in Oslo for over twenty years, and I am about to give you the lowdown.

As a local who practically breathes Oslo air, let me tell you, this city may not shout as loud as Copenhagen or Stockholm, but it’s got its own unique vibe that’s definitely worth a visit.

Nestled snugly between the fjord and the forest, Oslo is evolving faster and faster and has become something like a mini-metropole. And if you peel back the layers and don’t just stick to the tourist machine, you’ll find a city bursting with personality and maybe surprises.

So, why should you go? Here are ten reasons why Oslo should be on your radar, whether you’re flying solo, with your crew, or exploring one of Scandinavia’s city gems with your significant other along for the ride.

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Spilling If From A Local: Is Oslo Worth Visiting?

Floating saunas in the Oslo Fjord on a sunny winter day, with the island ferry in the background
Floating saunas in the Oslo Fjord

1. A Rich Tapestry of History

Oslo wears its history like a badge of honor. Museums, galleries, and Viking ships – you name it, Oslo’s got it. Make sure to swing by the Oslo Opera House, a modern masterpiece that’ll make your jaw drop.

Want museums? Check. Galleries? Check. Viking ships? You betcha. Oh, and don’t miss the Oslo new Munch Museum, situated right by the water close to the Central Station. The building architecture is like a tiny slice of the future dropped into the present.

📍 Quick facts about Norway:

  • Population 5 million
  • Capital city: Oslo
  • Language: Norwegian (most people speak English)
  • Currency: Norwegian Krone (currency calculator)
  • Coastline: 62000 miles
  • Has territory in the Arctic region
  • Midnight Sun in summer and Northern Lights in winter

2. Nature’s Playground

Oslo is a capital that is also a nature lover’s paradise, surrounded by a mellow fjord, lush forests, and rolling hills. You can, in fact, swim in the inner Oslo Fjord in the summer, just a few hundred yards from the central station!

In the city center, you will find sprawling parks, epic sculptures in Vigeland Park (Frognerparken), and views that will take your breath away. Don’t miss the chance to hike up Holmenkollen Ski Jump for a panorama that’ll make your Instagram followers green with envy.

And if you feel hikey, take the tram for 25 minutes, and you can hike in the “marka“, the forests that start right outside the city limits and stretch for miles and miles to the west and north.

📍 TravelToNorway Tip: Get yourself an Oslo Pass. It’s your golden ticket to over 30 attractions and free rides on the city’s transport network.

3. Foodie Heaven

Outdoor seating in red sofas next to a  fireplace in Aker Brygge on a sunny day
Outdoor seating with a fireplace in Aker Brygge

Hungry? Oslo has you covered. In the last decades, there has been an incredible development in Oslo in all areas, including culture, shopping, and nightlife – and food.

You will find anything from three starred Michelin restaurants to cozy street food stalls, and everything in between. Each city district has its distinct ambiance, and also places to go for a bite or fine dining.

Get ready to indulge in Nordic cuisine, whether you want to try some traditional Norwegian dishes or some of our famous fresh seafood prepared any way you like.

4. Architectural Marvels

Oslo’s reasonably new skyline is a mix of old-world charm and futuristic flair. You can take a stroll through the historic streets of Old Oslo and the Medieval Park or marvel at the sleek lines of the Barcode District.

In Frogner, you will find classical and elegant buildings characterized by art nouveau-style architecture, mixed with more modern style houses.

And don’t forget to check out the Opera House – it’s built like a glacier sliding into the fjord, and you can walk up the “glacier” and enjoy the amazing fjord views from the roof.

5. Adventures Galore

Kayakers on the inner Oslo Fjord on a bright day with calm dark waters next to the marina

Kayaking? Cycling? Skiing? Take your pick. Oslo’s outdoor scene is off the charts. Whether you’re a water baby or a snow enthusiast, there’s no shortage of ways to get your adrenaline fix.

If you visit in the winter, you can go skiing in the “marka“, alpine skiing downhill in Wyllerløypa, or ice skating in the city center just below the Royal Castle. In the summer, you can go hiking or biking in the forest, swimming, camping, SUP’ing, or island hopping in the Oslo Fjord.

And you can of course enjoy the outdoor seating for dining or just a drink on sidewalks, backyards, or on rooftop bars and restaurants in establishments all around the city.

6. Art and Culture Hub

Oslo has become a cultural melting pot, from cutting-edge galleries to live music venues. Lose yourself in contemporary art or catch a live show – this city knows how to keep you entertained.

I already mentioned the Munch Museum, and you also have the National Gallery, the Nobel Peace Center, and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art.

If you prefer the nightly music scene, you will find a myriad of smaller venues with live music and bands, and the bigger billboards will show up on stages such as the music hub with Sentrum Scene, John Dee, and Rockefeller.

7. Hip Neighborhoods

Salt Sauna, restaurant and bar in central Oslo, a pyramid shaped building with outdoor seating, hammocks, and street art style decor
Salt Sauna, restaurant and bar

Oslo’s neighborhoods are quite different from each other. From the posh Frogner to the laid-back Grunerløkka and quiet St. Hanshaugen.

Get lost in Grünerløkka’s trendy streets with small designer stores, cafes, and bars, or wander through Gamlebyen’s historic alleys.

The city center around Karl Johan main streets has high-end shopping malls and entertainment, and in Grønland you find the biggest melting pot of Oslo with food and shops from all corners of the planet (pun intended).

8. Eco-Friendly Living

Oslo is leading the charge when it comes to sustainability, and in the city center, the public transport system is well developed.

Hop on a tram (or a ferry) and explore the city without leaving a carbon footprint. Or download the city bike app, and you can pick up and drop off the characteristic white and blue bikes in hundreds of stations around the city.

And don’t miss the Økern Portal Rooftop Gardens, where they grow vegetables and greens that you can actually eat over 5000 square meters, which is open for anyone to visit. This place also grows most of the garniture for nine local restaurants in Økern!

9. Design Mecca

Winter light tunnel in central Oslo
Winter light tunnel in central Oslo

Scandi design fan? You’re in luck. Oslo is chock-full of sleek boutiques and minimalist spaces.

Wandering through the cobblestone streets of Oslo unveils a variety of design studios, galleries, and concept stores, each exuding its own distinct charm.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Oslo serves as a melting pot of ideas where design intersects with sustainability, technology, and social consciousness. Here, eco-friendly initiatives coexist with digital advancements to redefine the boundaries of contemporary design practice.

10. Friendly Faces

Last but not least, Oslo is home to some of the friendliest folks around, and the city is super safe for both locals and visitors. Despite a still-existing reputation for being a reserved crowd, this is more of a cultural misunderstanding.

Norwegians show respect by not invading your personal space or inconveniencing you in public spaces. This might be misconceived as “coldness” or even rudeness—but it is intended to signal the opposite!

Norwegians are, in fact, warm and hospitable, but it might take us a bit longer to break the ice. But why not say hi anyway and make some new friends?

The Catch: Oslo Ain’t Cheap

Is Oslo worth visiting? The Theater Cafe in Central Oslo, with lots of guests around the bar area, with warm golden lighting and shiny shelfs behind the bar under elegant decorated ceilings.
The Theater Cafe in Central Oslo

Now, here’s the thing: Oslo (and Norway in general) is a bit pricey. From accommodation to dining out, be prepared to loosen those purse strings a tad.

But trust me, if you do your research and find the places to go that inspire your travel heart, the experiences you’ll have in this vibrant city will be worth it.

Wrap-Up: Go for It – Oslo Is Worth It

So there you have it – ten reasons why Oslo, the capital of Norway, should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

As a native Oslo girl, I am aware that I am probably biased, but I am so sure you will love a lot of what Oslo has to offer that I risk predicting you will love Oslo, especially in the summer.

Whether you’re into history, nature, or just soaking up good vibes, this city has it all despite its smaller size.

So there is nothing to wait for; pack your bags and get ready for a city adventure in the smallest capital in Scandinavia.

Related blog posts:

23 Best Things To Do In Oslo In Summer From A Local

Is Oslo Safe: Travel Safety Advice From A Local

Exploring 8 Vibrant City Districts of Oslo: A Guide to Norway’s Capital

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