5+1 reasons why Oslo should be on your bucket list

What makes Oslo so special from Stockholm, Copenhagen or Helsinki?

The Oslo Opera House. Photo: VisitOSLO/NLE Film

Oslo is a city that many tourists merely see as a stop on their way to the fjords on the west coast, the Midnight Sun in the North or the breathtaking nature on the Lofoten islands.

Then there is also competition from other Nordic capitals: Stockholm being the biggest and perhaps the best known, Copenhagen known for its Little Mermaid Statue, and Helsinki, which is particularly known among design and architecture lovers (disclaimer: my previous home town for almost 10 years). But having visited all those cities several times, I can reveal Oslo has something unique: it really has it all.

Here are our top reasons for visiting Oslo:

  1. You only need a day or two

    Got only a day? Or maybe 2? No problem. If you’ve ever been to London, Paris or New York for the first time (let’s not even begin with cities such as Shanghai or Delhi), you know how meticulous planning it takes to ensure you get to cross just a thing or two off your list because of long distances, complex public transport, long queues to sights or simply just because of the overwhelming amount of things to see or do. Oslo is super compact, which means that those with limited time will be able to get a taste of everything: the nature, culture, shopping, sightseeing and literally tasting Norway – even if you’ve only got a day.

  2. Architecture, design and art in Oslo

    The new Oslo Opera House was opened in April 2008 and has since then become, to many, the symbol for the entire city. Designed by the Oslo-based architecture firm Snøhetta (they are located just some 10-15 minutes walk from the Opera House, behind the Akershus Fortress), the Opera House is not only a stunning example of contemporary public architecture, but also houses a cafe and a restaurant that are both open to public.

    Another Great example of contemporary architecture is the Astrup Fearnley Museum of modern art. Designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, the museum is located in Tjuvholmen, an area entirely built after 2010, offering several other pieces of interesting architecture, such as the hotel Thief.

    If you’re into funkis architecture, you will get a 3-for-1 deal by taking a trip up to Ekebergrestauranten: the building is a fantastic piece of recently fully refurbished funkis architecture and offers one of the best views in Oslo, as well as local flavours on the menu.

    On the other side of the city, Vigelandsparken is a short tram ride from the city center and the world’s largest sculpture park with works from only one sculptor, Gustav Vigeland.

    Akerselva river. Photo: VisitOSLO/Didrick Stenersen.
  3. Nature

    While Stockholm consists of a large number of islands, Helsinki covers a wide area and Copenhagen is where the Nordics meet Continental Europe, Oslo is densely populated and surrounded by hills that offer unique spots for sightseeing. It’s also a capital where you can literally “ski in and ski out of the tube”.

    The Oslo people love outdoor life, and the public transport system extends to locations that would normally not be within reach by a bus or the tube. In Oslo, a nature experience really doesn’t require a daytrip out of the city.

    Frognerseteren and Holmenkollen are popular tourist attractions, however if you feel like a walk in the woods, you can still take the same tube up to Frognerseteren and follow one of the marked trails or ski tracks to enjoy the forests that surround Oslo (“marka”). Another option is to take the tube up to to Sognsvann, which is a lake and a very popular place for family outings, running, hiking or skiing in the winter. You need a total of 2-3 hours for a the tube rides and quick lunch at Frognerseteren, or a walk around Sognsvann. Just remember Sognsvann doesn’t have a restaurant.

    A walk along the river Akerselva is always a good idea – just remember that the walk is heavier if you start from the city center. Summer: If you enjoy long walks, head all the way up to Brekkedammen with a towel and packed lunch for a refreshing swim in the lake or just to enjoy the lovely lake view.

    Similarly, the many islands just outside the Oslo city are great for a picnic and you get there conveniently on boats that are part of the public transport system.

  4. Shopping

    In terms of shopping, Oslo offers something for everyone. In addition to a growing number of international designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermés and Burberry, there is a particularly good selection of outdoor clothing, watches, lifestyle shops, vintage, sustainable clothing, design and much more. What is best, you really don’t need an entire day for shopping as the main shopping areas are close to each other. See our high end shopping guide here. 

    Michelin star restaurant Maaemo. Photo: VisitOSLO / Anders Husa
  5. The food

    What would a holiday or trip be without food? Regardless of your preferences – seafood, French, local, fine dining, Asian – there is more than plenty to choose from.

    For visitors on a schedule, restaurants at the Oslo opera house, Ekeberg and Frognerseteren offer a great opportunity to combine sightseeing with a great dinner or lunch. If you are looking for seafood, restaurants Fjord and Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin have great menus and wine lists. Summer-only restaurant Solsiden (the sunny side) is a popular classic among the locals for a reason: it’s one of the best seafood restaurants in town.

    For those looking for Michelin star or near Michelin star level experiences, there is an option for any occasion: Maaemo for the ultimate Michelin experience, Kontrast with their modern Scandinavian take on fine dining or Statholdergaarden for those who prefer classical gourmet.

  6. It doesn’t get much more down to Earth than this

    Those of us that are used to travelling know that queues and ever-tightening security comes along with it. So visiting buildings of importance, museums and other attractions usually comes with thorough security. In Oslo, you are actually able to for example take a stroll in the same park that surrounds the Royal Palace, the King’s and  the Queen’s majestic home, without it creating a police alert. There is security, but you won’t get into trouble by snapping selfies in front of the palace. Or perhaps you’ll walk past one of the top politicians on Karl Johans Gate, next to the Parliament House, without any sign of their position.


Guide to luxury shopping in Oslo

Looking for shopping tips? The luxury shopping scene in Oslo is just like the city itself: compact, yet it offers something for everyone.

While most visitors associate Oslo with nature, the Viking ship, the Holmenkollen ski jumping tower or a blooming architecture scene, the city has quickly become also a great shopping destination.

The best thing about shopping in Oslo is that all luxury brands are located in a small area right downtown, between Karl Johans gate and Nedre Slottsgate. As with all shopping in Norway, it’s good to keep in mind that most shops are closed on Sundays. Most high-end stores open at 10AM and close at 6 PM Monday to Saturday.

Nedre Slottsgate is the heart of Oslo’s luxury shopping district.

Here are our top picks for designer shopping in Oslo:

  1. Hermés 
    Famous for its scarves, handmade handbags and other leather accessories, the iconic French brand is located in Nedre Slottsgate 15. The two-storey store offers a nice selection of goods for men and women, including items from the Hermés ready-to-wear collection. If you are looking for a specific item, I would recommend that you contact the store before your arrival – the sales associates are very helpful.
  2. Louis Vuitton
    The classic French luxury brand is located in Nedre Slottsgate 13. You’ll find mostly handbags, leather accessories, scarves and shoes for men and women in this store, but if it’s something in particular you are looking for we recommend you give them a call in advance to learn if they have the item available in store.
  3. Burberry
    You’ll find the British luxury fashion house in Nedre Slottsgate 9. The store has a selection of handbags and other accessories, scarves and a nice selection from their ready-to-wear collection, including the classic trench coat in various models.
  4. Bottega Veneta
    Next door to Burberry is Bottega Veneta, the Italian luxury brand known for its woven leather handbags. The store has a selection of handbags, shoes and other accessories. Their address is Prinsensgate 21, however the entrance is on Nedre Slottsgate side.
  5. Saint Laurent
    Saint Laurent is ne of the newcomers in the Oslo luxury shopping district. The store has a particular focus on handbags, however you’ll find a selection of shoes and other accessories as well. Address: Nedre Slottsgate 13-15.

    Jimmy Choo is one of the newcomers in Oslo.
  6. Jimmy Choo
    Opened late summer 2018, Jimmy Choo is one of the latest additions to the Oslo designer scene. The store carries a wide range of shoes and some handbags and accessories as well. The store is located in Nedre Slottsgate 17.
  7. Balenciaga
    The Spanish designer brand is one of the new brands that have opened a store in Oslo during the last couple of years. In this store you’ll find handbags, shoes, accessories and a selection of clothing from their ready-to-wear collection. You’ll find Balenciaga in Nedre Slottsgate 8.
  8.  Moncler
    The Italian luxury lifestyle clothing brand has a small Genius store in Nedre Slottsgate 13.
  9. Gucci
    A luxury fashion district would not be complete without this iconic Italian brand. The store carries a good selection of handbags and other accessories, as well as ready-to-wear for men and women. Nedre Slottsgate 8.
  10. Isabel Marant
    In Prinsensgate 22, you’ll find the brand synonymous with Parisian chic. The store carries ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories. IMG_4204
  11. Vincci
    Located in Akersgata 20 (behind the Norwegian Parliament house Stortinget), Vincci is a multi-brand boutique that carries luxury brands such as Céline, The Row, Chloé and Manolo Blahnik.
  12. Kamikaze
    While the iconic Italian designer house Salvatore Ferragamo doesn’t have a brand store in Oslo, you’ll find a nice selection of their shoes and handbags for women at Kamikaze, in Prinsensgate 21. They have specialised in luxury shoes, and in addition to Ferragamo, they carry Christian Louboutin, Les Petits Joueurs and Gianvito Rossi.
  13. Høyer
    On the second and third floor in the high-end shopping center Eger (Karl Johans gate 23B) you’ll find Høyer, a large multi-brand store. Their top floor is dedicated to international luxury brands such as Lanvin, Fendi, Loewe, MaxMara, Givenchy and Valentino.
  14. Valentino
    For the luxury fashion friend, there is more to come: Valentino is opening a store in Nedre Slottsgate, right next to Gucci (updated October 2018).

Oslo Airport Gardermoen transport guide

Oslo Airport Arrival Transport to City
Continuing your journey from Oslo Airport Gardermoen is easy. Photo: Avinor.

Oslo airport is located some 50 km (30 miles) outside of Oslo, and was opened in 1998. Since then, the airport has been through a significant expansion, also in terms of services. The airport offers a range of transport options to travellers from near and far.

Private driver / chauffeur

For a stress-free ride all the way to your hotel door, choose a private car or limousine. Many of them offer fixed rate transfers. Oslo Chauffeur Service  and Private Driver offer various car types depending on your need. A car ride from the airport to the city center takes approximately 30-45 minutes. The cost of private driver services vary, but typically start at 2500 NOK for one way (about USD 300).

Car rental

You will find several car rental companies in the parking facilities. Read more on Avinor website.


Most taxis operate with a flat fee from the airport to Oslo city center, but we recommend that you always check this before you start your ride. You will find taxis outside the terminal. Prices for a taxi ride vary by company, time of day and number of passengers, but the cost of taxi from Oslo airport to city centre typically starts at 800 NOK for 2 people during the daytime on a weekday.


In addition to the national railway operator NSB, the privately owned airport express train Flytoget operates between Oslo Airport and Oslo city (and beyond). There is direct access to both train operators from the terminal building. Flytoget leaves every 10-20 minutes, but late at night every 30 minutes. Trains to the city center take some 20 minutes. One way tickets are around 110-200 NOK, depending on which company you choose.


There are several bus companies that operate between the airport and Oslo city, and many of them cater for areas outside the city center, so do make sure to check before you get onboard a bus. SAS Flybussen operates between the airport and the city center. You will find timetables and can purchase tickets in the terminal. Busses take up to 1 hour to reach the city center. One way tickets are around 200 NOK.

How to Get Around in Oslo – Taxis, Public Transport and More

Oslo tram Aker Brygge
Photo: Ruter

Oslo is a fairly compact city with an extensive and efficient public transport system. This means that you’ll likely reach your destination on a train, bus, tram, a ferry, the underground, but more options are available.

Uber in Oslo

While ride-hailing apps such as Uber are under scrutiny in Norway, you can still get an Uber Black, Lux or XXL.

Uber X, Uber POP and Uber Pool are currently unavailable in Norway.

Public Transport in Oslo

The public transportation in the Oslo region is operated by a company called Ruter. The most convenient way to purchase tickets for public transport is through their app called RuterBillet, which is also available in English.

You can purchase single tickets or period tickets (24 hours, 7 days and 30 days) for yourself and your travel companions in the app – be aware that everyone travelling with Ruter is required to have a valid ticket on them, not on the phone of someone else on the other side of the town. The Ruter tickets are valid on local busses (red ones within Oslo, green ones outside the city borders), trams, the underground, some fast ferries (those operated by Ruter are clearly marked) and trains within the chosen zone. Read more on Ruter’s website.

Did you know that the underground – T-bane – takes you all the way to Frognerseteren, which offers a breathtaking view over Oslo?

Oslo Ferry Town Hall
Photo: Ruter/Fartein Rudjord


A large number of taxi companies operate in Oslo, and prices vary. Taxi app Mivai has several companies on their platform, which means that you will be able to compare prices while ordering.

Oslo Taxi is one of the biggest taxi companies and has their own app in addition to booking possibility on their website.

Another taxi booking app is NorgesTaxi, which also allows Paypal payment in their app. You can pre-book transfers on their website, also airport transfers. In addition to Oslo, NorgesTaxi are present in Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger.


Rental car

Prefer sitting on the driver’s seat? Most international car rental companies are present in Oslo. However, be aware that the inner city area is very compact and offers relatively limited parking possibilities. Hotels, especially those in the city center, also often have limited offering for parking.

Oslo City Bike (Bysykkel)

As a compact city, it’s possible to explore Oslo by foot or bicycle. There are some bicycle rental places. wWe recommend you ask your hotel, as many hotels actually offer free bikes for their guests. The locals and many visitors love exploring the city by Bysykkel, the Oslo city bike. For 49 NOK a day, you have access to unlimited number of bike rentals (do note: one ride is maximum 45 minutes). The network of stations for rental and drop-off is extensive. Real-time updates for availability can be found with the Bysykkel app which is required for renting a bike.

The Bysykkel season continues until now and ice cover the streets, and begins again when the winter has literally melted away. In other words, it is closed from some time in December to approximately April.


Looking for tips on airport transfer from or to Oslo Airport Gardermoen?

Read our Oslo Airport Gardermoen transport guide