Visiting Oslo earlier this autumn was short and sweet. Before planning our trip, since it was the last of the Scandinavia capitals on our list to visit, Michelle and I made sure that we coordinated as much as possible to fit into our three days there. Three days is more than enough time to visit Oslo, with a population of only 600,000 (the size of Boston), and not as much to see and do as its Scandinavian sister cities of Copenhagen or Stockholm.
A huge part of our interest in this particular Scandinavian city was a result of our newfound love for a Norwegian television series, called Skam. After the final season ended this summer, it was only fitting that we took our travels to the Norwegian capital itself, as it was the last one for us anyway. I’d say: perfect timing.
We hadn’t heard raving reviews about Oslo in particular, seeing that it is just a city, and not a very big one at that, it has the least amount of awe-inducing topography (so no huge fjords or anything), and of course, as the rest of Scandinavia is, it’s extremely expensive, if not the most expensive city of them all.
However, we didn’t let those lackluster reviews change our opinion. Our itinerary was already solidified, with tons of activities to support us during our days. We had accommodation offered to us graciously by a mutual friend and so all that was left, was figuring out how to eat and explore cheaply, but well.
So we did. Here are some of our tips that we realised before, during, and after our travels.
- Visit during the summer! We went to Oslo in early September and the weather was already cloudy, gloomy and grey, though it wasn’t as deterring as we thought. The best time to go would be in June or July. June, in particular, so you can experience MIDNIGHT SUN, which is the longest day of the year — the sun doesn’t set at all!
- If you want some nightlife in the small city, go to Grünerløkka and Blå. On Sundays, the bar holds jazz events, and we were lucky enough to see some jazz musicians perform while there.
- Definitely plan your days around being able to do what you can for free: Karl Johans Gate, Viegland Park, Town Hall and the Royal Palace: all free of charge.
- Wander off to the Akershus Fortress and while you’re there, visit VIPPA, a food hall with tons of options to eat from all around the world.
- If you’re heading to Oslo over a weekend, make sure to buy your alcohol before 6pm, as the shops stop selling alcohol at that time. Apparently it’s to keep the Norwegian youth from getting too drunk.
- THE MUNCH MUSEET, to see the Scream, is a must. I remember that masterpiece from a Rugrats episode when I had no idea what it was or where it came from. But if that kind of art isn’t your thing, then go to the Astrup Fearnly Museum and go through Aker Brygge while there, too. The architecture is one of a kind.
- If you want to see a gorgeous fjord, then Oslo might be disappointing, although they do have one that is there for visiting if you don’t have the time to head north to see the bigger, better real deals.
- If you’re into SKAM, visit the school grounds (after school hours), cafes, and areas that were frequented by the students from Nissen School. Especially KB – kaffeebreneriet. There’s also a SKAM tour you can take, too, if you’re really obsessed, though it’s quite costly.
- Traveler tip: SPARK UP A CONVERSATION — with any Norwegian. The English literacy of Scandinavian countries are some of the highest of the world, and while they are quiet and shy, we found the Norwegians to be the friendliest of the Nordic countries. Everyone was so open to talking to us about music, art, anything that comes to mind, just make sure it’s not small talk about the weather. 😉