When you think of Norway, what is the first word that comes to mind besides cold weather, mountains, fjords and salmon?
Maybe not the first thing that comes to mind, but definitely not far from it, the word I’m thinking of is most commonly introduced as a follow-up to “I’d love to visit Norway, but…..”
Yeah, you got it. It’s expensive. So damn expensive. Pardon my language, but I really needed to emphasize that word. Norway is expensive. I know that, you know that, everybody knows that. And the capital is one of the most expensive cities in the country – although I believe Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger will burn holes into your wallet and eat your money just as fast as the capital city would do.
But guess what – I have lived in that city and I’m here to share some travel hacks with you all. I want to make Oslo more accessible to ANY traveler – on ANY budget. Not just the privileged kids who can go wherever they want without worrying about the costs. Listen up. I have created TWO different lists of where to eat, sleep and what to do during your weekend in Oslo. Two different lists for two different budgets. Low and lower. I have also created a list of upcoming events in Oslo, so that you can plan your weekend around one of those events – or have an idea of when Oslo will be busier than usual.
Budget for the BROKE traveler
Where to stay:
Norway is generally a safe place to use websites like Couchsurfing.com . But if crashing on a strangers’ couch ain’t quite your thing, don’t worry. There are options. For 26 euros per night you’ll get a bed in an 8-bedded dorm at Anker Hostel (although bed linen and a towel will add a little extra to the cost). The hostel is located a ten minute walk from the heart of the city center, and a five minute walk from the cool hipster neighborhood Grünerløkka.
Are you traveling with friends? At P-Hotels you can get a 3-persons room for 95-96 euros (31-32 euros per person) per night or a 4-persons room for 110 euros (27-28 euros per person) per night. The hotel is located in the city center, close to the busy shopping street Karl Johan.
Where to eat:
In spring/summer/early fall; do like Norwegians do. Go to a nearby supermarket (Rema 1000 and Kiwi are the cheapest ones), buy a disposable barbecue (costs about 1-2 euros) and whatever you wanna barbecue and find a park where you can peacefully have a picnic in the grass and barbecue. It is not permitted to barbecue in the Palace Park. My personal recommendation would be Frogner Park, St. Hanshaugen Park or Sofienberg Park.
At Harald’s Vaffel you can get either a regular Norwegian waffle or a gourmet waffle with blue cheese and bacon or any of the other varieties on the menu (between 2 and 4 euros).
Aker Brygge is not a part of Oslo I’d recommend you to visit for a low budget meal, but if you want an authentic Norwegian experience, go to pier number 3 and buy some boiled fresh shrimp from the local fishermen.
The supermarket chain Meny has a deli department where you can buy freshly made meals like salads, burgers, fish, meat, anything – and ask them to re-heat it for you.
If you’re one of those people who needs their daily coffee fix, visit Deli de Luca at Karl Johan’s gate. There’s a bunch of Deli de Luca’s everywhere in Oslo, but that particular one has a large seating area. If you want to accompany your coffee with a pastry, go for the Kanelbolle (cinnamon roll) or Skolebrød (sweet roll with custard and icing with grated coconut).
If you really, really like hot dogs, you’ll be in for a treat. Cafes, mini markets, gas stations, newsagents – a lot of them offer “varme pølser” (warm sausages). They’re hot dogs. And they cost 1-2 euros, which is cheap in Norway.
What to do:
- Visit The Vigeland Sculpture Park . There is no entrance fee to visit this famous and sort of bizarre sculpture park. I used to live only a stone’s throw away from the park and went there a lot during the summer to lay in the grass with a good book and a basket of strawberries – and a great view of the gigantic centerpiece that looks like a gigantic…well..google it and you’ll know what I mean.
- Visit Akershus Fortress . You can visit the fortress free of charge and explore it on your own, or pay 6 euros for a guided tour. There will be an additional cost to visit the museum.
- Walk through the Palace Park and see the exterior of the Royal Palace.
- Visit the famous Opera building and its marble and granite exterior and get a nice view of the Oslofjord from the rooftop.
- Visit the University Botanical Garden free of charge.
- Spend a day in the forests of Nordmarka – you’ll find some cafes there, in case you forget to pack your lunch!
Budget for the SOMEWHAT POOR traveler
Where to stay:
Comfort Hotel Børsparken is where I always stay, when in Oslo. It’s 82 euros per night for a single room – with breakfast included, and free coffee and tea all day in the lobby. There’s also a gym in the hotel. If you’re traveling with a friend or your partner, you can have a double room for 87 euros per night. The hotel is located close to the central train station and the Opera.
Anker Hotel is located right next to the hostel by the same name. For 90 euros per night you’ll get a single room with breakfast included in the rate. If you’re a group of five friends traveling together, you can book a family room for the price of 179 euros (35 euros per person) per night.
Where to eat:
Jensen’s Bøfhus is a steakhouse located right next to the parliament building, close to the Karl Johan street. The taste and quality of the food is nothing out of the ordinary, but with a lunch menu offering a meal for the price of 6-10 euros it’s worth it. Absolutely. Remember, in Norway this is considered a cheap meal. And it’s way batter than the 1 euro hot dogs you’ll find everywhere in the city!
Fiskeriet is a combined restaurant and fish market. They offer anything from fancy oysters (which is a lot more pricey than everything else on the menu) to traditional creamy fish soup (18 euros) to fish cake with bread and aïoli (14 euros) and a lot more. And they are rumored to have the best fish & chips in town!
Illegal Burger has – in my opinion – the best burgers in town. Actually, I might even go as far as call them the best burgers in Norway, and I share that opinion with food critics who voted it the best burger-restaurant in Norway, two years in a row. The price is a little less than average Norwegian price – so it’s not cheap, nor too expensive. You can choose between the char grilled meat or the veggie patties (all burgers can be done vegetarian). The fries come with aioli sauce. Yum!
ChillOut is, as you all know, my favorite hangout-spot in Oslo. Which is why I dedicated an entire post to the place. I highly recommend you visit the hipster district Grünerløkka, have a coffee and a snack at ChillOut Travel Store, relax and read one of their many travel guides or travel magazines. Also, sign their guestbook while you’re there. Share one of your greatest memories from a recent trip or write down all the things you’re looking forward to do in Norway!
Cocoa used to be another one of my favorite hangout-spots in Oslo, at least while I lived in Grünerløkka and was close to all the cool cafes, restaurants, secondhand shops and everything else that neighborhood has to offer. Cocoa is Norway’s first hot chocolate/cocoa-cafe. They offer hot chocolate with various flavors and toppings, and cold chocolate with different flavors as well. The pastries are just as yummy as their hot choc.
What to do:
- Get yourself an Oslo Pass – which gives you free entry to more than 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all public transportation, free entry to outdoor swimming pools, free walking tours, discounts on sightseeing, ski simulator, Tusenfryd Amusement Park , concert tickets, climbing, ski and bike rental, and special offers in restaurants, shops, entertainment and leisure venues.
- Stroll along Aker Brygge, visit the Astrup Fearnley Art Museum. Order the today’s special (18 euros) or just a dessert at restaurant Rorbua (everything else is quite pricey) and enjoy the view of the Oslofjord.
- Visit Mathallen – a glamorous food court and meeting point for locals. The food is quite pricey, so I recommend just going there for a snack – perhaps a yummy pastry to satisfy your sweet tooth, or a sandwich if you need something more filling?
- Join The Norwegian Trekking Association on a guided tour! I used to work for this association when I lived in Oslo and I know just how professional these guides are and I know they’ll take you to some amazing destinations – whichever the tour you choose. They do anything from day tours to week-long tours. All you need to do is browse through the website and search for a tour that fits your interests, skills, budget and time frame – sign up – or send them an e-mail if you have any questions.
Upcoming Events in Oslo
- 01.-04. March: By:Larm Music Festival (75 euros for a 4-day pass).
- 10.-12. March: Holmenkollen Ski Festival (from 5 euros up to 250 euros).
- 17.-26. March: Oslo International Church Music Festival (festival pass 140 euros).
- 17.-19. March: Biathlon: Trial World Championships (from 250 to 50 euros for a day pass)
- 12.-15. April: Inferno Metal Festival (190 euros for a 4 day pass, 70 euros for day pass)
- 3. June: National Music Day Oslo (FREE)
- 21.-24. June: OverOslo Music Festival (price TBA)
- 22.-24 June: Picnic in the Park Festival (price TBA)
- 23.June – 02. July: Oslo Pride 2017 (Free?)
- 30. July-05.August: Norway Cup (FREE)
- 08.-12. August: Øya Festival (week pass 280 euros, day pass 97 euros)
- 12.-19. August: Oslo Jazz Festival (price TBA)
- 17.-26. August: Oslo Chamber Music Festival (price TBA)
- 18.-20. August: The Mela Festival (FREE)
- 01.-02. September: Granittrock: Free Rock Festival (FREE)
- 07.-16. September: ULTIMA Oslo Contemporary Music Festival (price TBA)
- 16. September: Oslo Marathon (price between 40 and 90 euros to participate, FREE to watch)
- 05.-15. October: Films from the South Festival (price TBA)
- 31. October – 05. November: Oslo World Music Festival (62 euros for a day pass)
- 10. December: Nobel Peace Prize
- Christmas markets in Oslo (FREE) – dates TBA
Important note: Euro is not the currency in Norway. Norwegian Kroner is. I just converted the currency to make it easier for you to understand the prices.