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One day in Oslo: How to spend 24 hours in the Norwegian capital

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected] • 12 Jan, 2023 Updated Thu 12 Jan 2023 12:57 CEST
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Here's what you should do in Oslo if you only have 24 hours to spare. Pictured is Oslo opera house. Photo by Svein Sund on Unsplash

Despite its small size, Oslo packs a punch and has plenty to offer tourists and locals. If you only have 24 hours to spare, here's what not to miss.

Between 5-6 million tourists visit Norway each year, with plenty of those spending some time in Oslo, either with the sole purpose of visiting the capital or using it as a transport hub to head to another part of the country. 

Incredible museums, eclectic architecture and surrounded by scenic islands and forests- Norway's capital certainly packs a punch for its small size. 

Despite being home to 600,000 residents, Oslo has plenty to offer, and the ideal amount of time to spend in the city would be three or four days (two would also suffice). However, what if you have less than that, say, only a day to spend in the capital? 

We've put together a travel itinerary that should help you see and do the best the capital has to offer. There will be some notable admissions due to only a day being available. 

We've tried to offer alternatives for different tastes and seasons, as we appreciate that not everyone is into the same things. 

READ ALSO: How tourists in Oslo can save money and live like a local

Morning

In some cities, they say that you are only a few feet away from a rat. Luckily, Oslo isn't a city with that kind of reputation- instead, you are only ever a few feet away from somewhere selling tasty baked goods. 

Therefore if you don't like the look of the hotel buffet, you should consider finding a café or coffee shop somewhere kanelbolle (cinnamon bun), skolebolle (Norwegian custard buns), and kardermonbolle (cardamon bun) are all pretty decent options. 

This should also be relatively inexpensive (for Norway, at least). You can do this anywhere in the city as from there you'll be heading to the centre. 

If you are up early enough and it's the spring or summer, it may be worth seeing if you can walk along the Akerselva to the town centre. If not, public transport will do. 

The stop you'll be heading to is Jernbanetorget, a bus and tram terminal by the central station. If your flight lands in the morning and you are coming from the airport, head to Oslo Central Station. 

Late morning/ afternoon

Being smack bang in the middle of the centre is quite handy as many of Oslo's best sites can be seen there. 

Just a stone's throw from Oslo Central Station is the Oslo Opera House. Sat on the shores of the Oslo fjord, you can take excellent pictures from the promenade opposite the front of the opera house. You can also walk about the top of the opera house and get views of the inner Oslo fjord and the rest of the city.

While not essential, a 15-20 minute stop-off in the Diechman Bjørvika library next to the opera house may be worthwhile as it's pretty cool in its own right. Both of these are great things to do all year round. 

READ ALSO: What you might not have known about Oslo’s Diechman Bjørvika library

From there, you'll want to head to Oslo's busiest street, Karl Johan Street. Once you start walking up Karl Johan Street, you'll notice the Royal Palace in the distance. Along the walk to the Royal Palace, you will also come across the national theatre and the Storting (Norway's parliament). 

You should be able to see all three and spend a decent amount of time at each in around two hours. 

From there, you can decide whether you want to go to Oslo Town Hall, which is open to the public on most days. Once at the town hall, you can see Aker Brygge. 

Once you've seen the big sights in the city centre, you'll have a decision to make. That decision is whether you want to see a museum or not. 

If you do, you may only have time for one. In the centre, there is the new National Museum and the Munch Museum. Both have versions of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, but the more coveted version is found in the National Museum. If you head to the west, you will have options such as the Fram or Kontiki museums. 

You can head to trendy Grünerløkka, home to charming shopping streets, cafes and eateries, if you aren't concerned about seeing a museum.

You can also choose to take a public transport ferry around Norway's islands for just 39 kroner in the spring and summer. These trips take around an hour but can be extended if you get off to explore any islands. 

Alternatively, you could consider a stroll in Vigelandsparken, famous for its sculptures. However, you won't be able to fit all these options into a single afternoon. 

Central, west and east Oslo have an excellent selection of restaurants if you stop for lunch. However, more independent restaurants are found outside the centre. 

Evening

With most museums and activities closed for the day, it's time to think about dinner. If you want a cheap bite to eat and aren't concerned about trying traditional Norwegian cuisine, then Mathallen and Oslo Street Food are both great spots with plenty of options. 

From either of those, you are close to Torgata and Grünerløkka, which are located very close to each other and have some of the best night life and bars that Oslo has to offer. 

If you have more money to burn and know you'll be in Oslo in advance, you can book a table at Maaemo, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the centre. Of course, this will cost you a lot of money, but it will be some of the best gourmet food in Scandinavia. 

Other restaurants serving traditional food at a lower cost are Dovrehallen, Smalhans, Café Elias and Kaffistova. 

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Frazer Norwell 2023/01/12 12:57

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