Top 10 Low Cost or No Cost Things to Do in Oslo, Norway

The first thing one might notice going into the convenience stores here in Norway’s capital is how a hot dog is about $5. Holy cow that better be made with grass fed, free range, organic pork with a freshly baked in a brick oven bun. Sadly, hot dogs are hot dogs everywhere. How do you figure out things to do in Oslo, Norway and see the sites in a city with an international reputation for its high costs? The good news is I got you covered.

1. Exploring the Akershus Fortress

11693852_10155779953820398_1386490943378345437_nIf you like ancient medieval castles then you will fall in love with Akershus, the royal fortress protecting the city of Oslo for hundreds of years. I can’t believe this place is free. You could wander around for several hours just taking it all in. The visitor’s center has an excellent setup with lots of information on the history of the fortress, from its time as the garrison of last resort to when it was used as a prison. Some very notable people were held here including notorious criminals but also freedom fighters imprisoned by the Nazi regime when it invaded Norway in World War II. This general area is where you will find a lot of important attractions and museums.  Cost: $0

2. Touring the Akershus Castle


If you want to get a taste of what royal life was like back in medieval times, check out the Akershus Castle. It has all kinds of coat of arms, decorated bedrooms, and other royal historical artifacts to show what being a king was like back in the day. It also has a small chapel where the kings used to be buried. The royal dining hall is also quite the site. Cost: ~$9

3. Norwegian Resistance and Armed Forces Museum


Located on the grounds of the Akershus Fortress, these two museums are really fascinating if you are a military history buff. You can learn about the spirited people who fought the Nazi regime against all odds as well as see how the Norwegian military has adapted from the Viking era to modern weaponry. The Armed Services Museum is actually free and the Resistance Museum is about $6. Since they are in the same area I highly recommend you check out both. Cost: $6

4. Exploring Vigeland Sculpture Park

11755271_10155777178795398_384123436665736716_nThe famous Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland has an entire park full of his work for all to see in the western part of the center of the city. It is a short walk away from the Norwegian Palace so you should definitely check it out. Most of his statues are humans doing strange things like tossing around their kids or carrying off a lover or something like that. It is kind of bizarre but very interesting. The main piece is a giant obelisk of people at the center of the park. Even if you don’t care for art the park itself is very pretty. Cost: $0

5. Going to a Concert at the Dome Oslokirk


Oslo’s main cathedral located in the heart of town; you can’t miss it. When I was there they were doing a free organ concert during lunchtime. Sometimes you have to pay but usually the main churches in capital cities have special free events quite frequently so check out a calendar when you arrive so you can plan accordingly. Cost: $0

6. Hitting up a Norwegian Karaoke Bar

11752522_10155779954200398_881807550679009974_nBelieve it or not, Norway has a pretty vibrant karaoke scene. We checked out a place called Trompet Musikkbar in the center of the city and I was blown away. The music selection was predominately American but you could still hear locals belt away their national songs. It doubled as a night club as a DJ played something in between each person going on stage. I have never seen that with karaoke and I thought it was a lot of fun, keeping everyone from getting fatigued. I belted  out Bohemian Rhapsody and the Norwegians seemed to know every word. Cost: $0

7. Exploring the Grounds of the Royal Norwegian Palace

11011264_10155777184715398_2793929538456006444_nIf you like walking around gardens, you’ll appreciate the beauty that surrounds the Palace of Norway’s Royal Family. Surprisingly, it’s open to the public so take your time to stroll and pick up a good book to read on one of the park benches overlooking the flower covered ponds. Cost: $0

 8. Seeing The Scream Before It Gets Stolen Again

screamThe Munch museum might not be your cup of tea if you aren’t an art lover, but his famous painting The Scream is one of the most famous pieces of art in the world. If you are in Oslo and want something to brag about at your next cocktail party, I would think this would be a pretty awesome icebreaker to bring up that you’ve seen his works in person. A fun fact: the Norwegians are awful at protecting their national treasures. This piece, estimated to be well over $100 million, was stolen once in the 90s and once in the 2000s. The thieves got off scot-free when their conviction was overturned by a Norwegian appeals court because the British agents that helped catch them were ruled to be in the country under false identities. You literally can’t make this stuff up. The second time, a couple of armed gun men waltzed into the Munch museum and carried off the famous painting. At least this time, the criminal justice system of Norway came down hard. They all got between four and eight years in prison for stealing something worth $100 million at gun point. Made me really think how big the differences are between America and Norway when having $20 worth of cocaine can get you locked up for 20 years but stealing one of the most valuable paintings in the world at the point of a gun only gets you a few. Anyhow, go to the Munch Museum and see this famous work before it gets stolen again. Cost: ~$12

9. Walking down Jorans Gate to Catch a Street Performance

11350811_10155779951810398_6377609313500104053_nThe main drag in Oslo for all your dining, street performance, and art purchasing needs is called Joran’s Gate. I saw the best spray paint artist I’ve ever seen make a beautiful work of art in less than 10 minutes. There are also numerous others making caricatures, portraits, and more. If you like watching things like extreme basketball juggling, giant bubble making, and balloon art, this is a fun area. It reminded me a lot of central park in NYC but just a lot more compact. If you are lucky you’ll find an impromtu concert happening on one of the street corners. Cost: $0 (unless you buy a painting then maybe $10-$20)

10. Norweigian History Museum/Viking Ship Museum

11239687_10155779951695398_22728552657260866_nIf you really like looking at original ancient artifacts from the Viking era, this is a great museum to check out. The ticket gets you free entry to the Viking Ship Museum as well, so it’s a 2 for 1 special. The Ship Museum is on the other side of town though so plan on a full day dedicated to these two spots if you really want to see them in detail. They have four different floors with exhibits for a variety of tastes, including the Far East, Africa, The Americas, and my favorite, the Arctic. Before visiting I had no idea that there were indigenous people in Norway that had been there for thousands of years that also happened to have pale white skin. I had always assumed that the native Arctic peoples all looked like the Eskimos of Alaska, which I discovered was a pretty foolish presumption. Cost: ~$10

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