Exploring Oslo in just one day might seem like a challenge, but it’s very much doable and you’re in for a treat. This city packs a punch with its mix of modern architecture, historical sites, and vibrant street life.
But how can you make the most of your 24 hours in the Norwegian capital, hitting all the highlights without feeling rushed? Discover our one-day itinerary in Oslo that will take you from iconic museums to hits of nature and everything in between.
Vigeland Sculpture Park
Any art-lover wandering through Oslo has to make their way to Vigeland Sculpture Park. This place isn’t just any old park – instead, it’s 80 acres of greenery, where over 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland are chilling out in the open air.
And we’re not talking tiny, easy-to-miss sculptures. These pieces are life-sized (and bigger!) and showcase the human form in ways that’ll make you stop and think.
The centerpiece, The Monolith, towers over the park, and it’s a sight to see, with its 121 figures all reaching up towards the sky. It’s not just about the art, though – the park is a great spot for a leisurely walk or a picnic, so you can make a whole afternoon of it…although you do only have one day to enjoy the city, so best not to linger this time.
The Royal Palace
Next up, you can’t visit Oslo without swinging by The Royal Palace. It’s where the Norwegian royal family hangs their crowns, so to speak.
The building itself is pretty impressive, with its grand facade and location at the end of Oslo’s main street, Karl Johans gate. During the summer, they offer guided tours inside, where you can peek into some of the lavish rooms and get a taste of royal life.
Even if you don’t go inside, watching the changing of the guard outside is always a sight to see. It’s a bit of pomp and circumstance right in the heart of the city. Plus, the palace gardens are open to the public, offering a peaceful escape with beautiful flower beds and meandering paths.
Eidsvolls Plass is a big, open square in front of the Norwegian parliament building, Stortinget. It’s famous for its large, rectangular pool, which becomes a skating rink in the winter.
It’s a bustling spot where locals and visitors alike hang out. There’s always something going on, from protests and political rallies to concerts and events.
Essentially, Eidsvolls Plass is like the city’s living room, where people come together to express themselves, have fun, or just chill and people-watch. Plus, it’s surrounded by some of Oslo’s best shopping and dining options, so it’s a great place to pause during your day in the city.
Karl Johans Gate
Walking down Karl Johans Gate is like taking a mini-tour of Oslo without the need for a map. It’s the city’s main drag and stretches all the way from the Royal Palace to Oslo Central Station.
Along this bustling street, you’ll find a mix of everything – shops, cafes, bars, and even street performers adding a bit of flair to your stroll. It’s the perfect place to people-watch or pick up some souvenirs.
And if you’re feeling peckish, there are plenty of spots to grab a bite. The vibe here is laid-back but lively, making it a great spot for anyone looking to soak up some city atmosphere without the rush.
For art lovers, the National Museum in Oslo is where you’ll get your fix, especially if you’re keen on seeing Edvard Munch’s iconic painting, The Scream.
But there’s more to the museum than just this one piece, with a vast collection of Norwegian and international art, covering everything from classical to contemporary. It’s a feast for the eyes and a great way to get a crash course in art history without feeling like you’re stuck in a classroom.
Whether you’re an art aficionado or just curious, this place has something that’ll catch your eye.
After all that walking and art gazing, you’re probably ready to eat. When in Oslo, do as the locals do and try some traditional Norwegian food.
The Norwegian stereotype of how they all eat fish does actually have an element of truth to it. So how about digging into some hearty fish soup or rakfisk (fermented fish, and yes, it’s better than it sounds) for lunch?
If you’re not feeling quite that adventurous, you can’t go wrong with a classic open-faced sandwich, known as smørbrød. They come with all sorts of toppings, from smoked salmon to meatballs.
These dishes aren’t just tasty – they’re a way to get a real taste of Norway. Fortunately, there are plenty of cozy cafes and restaurants around the city where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy your meal. It’s a great way to recharge before you head out to explore more of what Oslo has to offer.
Viking Ship Museum
If you’re itching to see some real Viking ships up close, the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo is the place to go. The museum houses some incredibly well-preserved Viking ships that are over 1,000 years old, along with a bunch of other cool Viking stuff like sledges, beds, and even a few ancient textiles.
It’s like stepping right into a Viking time machine – minus the pillaging, of course.
One thing to note is that the museum is currently closed for refurbishment, so before you set your heart on visiting, make sure to check their website to see if it’s reopened yet.
Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
Now, if the Viking Ship Museum is still getting its makeover, or you’re just really into seeing how people lived in Norway back in the day, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History should be right up your alley.
This place is huge and packed with history. This open-air museum takes you on a journey through Norwegian history, from the Middle Ages right up to the 20th century.
There are more than 150 buildings, including a stave church that’s straight out of a fairy tale. It’s a hands-on way to experience Norway’s past, with lots of activities and exhibits to check out.
One thing to note is that you probably won’t have time to do this and the Viking Ship Museum in one day, so if the latter is open, you’ll have to pick one to go to over the other.
After a day filled with museums and Norwegian culture, winding down at Akershus Fortress is a solid choice. This historic site has been around since the 13th century, serving as a defensive stronghold and a royal residence at various points in its history.
Today, it’s a peaceful place to wander around, with stunning views over Oslo Fjord and plenty of green spaces to just sit and relax. The fortress itself is pretty impressive, with its medieval architecture and military areas.
And the best part? Entrance to the grounds is free, so you can explore to your heart’s content without spending a dime. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a calm spot to end your day, Akershus Fortress has got you covered.
Oslo Opera House
Let’s talk about the Oslo Opera House. This isn’t just any building where people go to watch operas and ballets. It’s a modern architectural marvel that looks like it’s rising right out of the waters of Oslo Fjord.
You can actually walk on the roof of this place, offering some amazing views of the city and the fjord. Inside, it’s all sleek design and cool vibes, with performances that are top-notch.
Even if you’re not into opera or ballet, just seeing the building and walking around it is pretty cool. It’s like a piece of art you can walk on, and it’s become one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
Now, if you’re looking for a spot to hang out, grab some food, or do a bit of shopping, Aker Brygge is the place to be. This waterfront area is buzzing with activity and is a favorite among both locals and visitors.
It’s got a great mix of shops, restaurants, and bars, all with outdoor seating so you can enjoy the view of the marina and the fortress. The vibe here is laid-back and perfect for winding down after a day of exploring.
Whether you’re in the mood for some fresh seafood, a juicy burger, or just a cup of coffee, you’ll find it here. Plus, it’s a great place to just sit and watch the world go by, especially on a sunny day.
Evening cruise of the Oslo fjords
To cap off a perfect day in Oslo, how about an evening cruise of the Oslo fjords? This isn’t just any boat ride. It comes with dinner and drinks, making it a pretty special experience.
Imagine gliding through the water as the sun sets, painting the sky in shades of orange and pink. You’ll get to see the city and the surrounding nature from a whole new perspective, with the calm waters of the fjord stretching out around you.
The dinner is usually a buffet with a variety of dishes, so you can sample a bit of everything, and the drinks make sure the atmosphere is just right. It’s the perfect way to relax and soak up the beauty of Oslo’s natural surroundings, all while enjoying some delicious food and good company.