Oslo for the budget conscious

How to save when in Oslo

Norway, a country blessed with so much natural beauty doesn’t come free. It spans a wider region in up to north pole and covers a variety of vegetation. It isn’t cheap to do stuff in Norway by general standards but coming from Australia I have noticed some prices in Noway are comparable to Australian pricing. Below is a general guide of how you can save money when visiting Oslo in particular.

Doing the touristy things

Hey, if you are visiting anywhere I always do the touristy things. After all, its how you get to know a city and the country. Oslo in particular has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty and museums.

Following is a list of places I visited in Oslo free of charge:

  • Akershus fortress
  • Viking ship museum
  • Holmenkollen
  • Fram museum
  • City hall
  • Munch museum
  • Interculture museum

Akershus fortress and Military museum

This is the first of my list partly because I love visiting historic places especially castles and fortifications. It tells one so much about the history of the city, its struggles and how it survived.

Entrance to the military museum is free and has a variety of exhibits ranging from viking age to current military involvements. I specially liked learning about the viking era and the battles that took place. Exhibit information is also available in english which made it much more user friendly.

Fortress is located in one end of the town and I can see why its built there. Its an amazing piece of architecture and loved walking up and down the cobblestone walkways. Once you are at the highest points (there are 2 sides) and you have lovely views of the city and water. Unfortunately during my visit one can only admire the beauty of the fortress from outside as it was still in winter schedule. It is however free to walk outside but would cost to get in if the inside is open. 

Viking ship museum

Wow, I felt like a kid again! I was truly impressed with the 3 ships thats housed inside this smaller museum. The video documentary is truly awesome and I felt I was part of it. If you have to skip something, let this not be the one. A visit here is a must.

Entrance is NOK 100. Read below to see how you can visit for free.

Fram museum

Having visited Vasa museum in Stockholm I find this to be very similar to it. Fram is a specially built ship for arctic exploration. After much deliberation and drama, they have somehow got the ship together. You can read about its history and how it came about at the museum.

Unlike Vasa, what’s great about Fram is that you can actually get onboard the ship and touch and feel it. I loved the experience so much that I wanted to stay here for longer. 

If you are around Bigdoy area, please visit Fram as its an amazing ship!

Entrance is NOK 100. Read below to see how you can visit for free.

National Gallery

I love art and always take timeout to see the local art culture specially an art museum. Modern or old, both fascinates me and can probably spend a day there of course with multiple breaks. 

As I was on a day pass, I had to rush this a bit but I have covered almost all rooms within 1.5 hours. Its not very big but there’s a lot of art so if you’d like to take it slow and absorb all in, please do so. I know I would if I had the time.

Entrance is NOK 100. Read below to see how you can visit for free.

Holmenkollen

What a beauty this is. Curves are amazing and I see why this has become such a hot spot. 

Blessed with blue skies to enjoy the curves

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You can get glimpses of Holmenkollen from the city but it is when you are there that you truly get to admire the fantastic steel structure. I love beautiful architecture and this is something that I will never forget.

Entrance includes the visit to the top of the tower and the museum. Loved going up the angular lift and is a first  for me. Once you are at the top, you have 360 degree views of Oslo. On one side is the city and the other side is where the agricultural farms are and what a contrast it is!

Entrance is NOK 130. Visited with 24 hour Oslo pass.

Parliament of Norway

I can imagine how centrally located this is. Very close to Stortiget station, it not only beautiful but is very accessible. You can get up close to the main entrant and the whole building.

Unfortunately due to a mixup I couldn’t visit this lovely building but on Saturdays they offer free guided tours which should not be missed (in winter its on saturdays, but in summer its on all weekdays). Please check in advance if you’d like to visit

Entrance is free!

Oslo City Museum

Located very close to Vigeland sculpture park, this small but intimate museum offers historical views of Oslo. Details are fascinating which includes items from the past. Loved the old pieces on display.

As I mentioned, its a small museum so you don’t need much time. If you are in the area, I’d recommend a visit specially since its free. They have wifi and a cafe which is great 🙂

Entrance is free!

Interculture museum

Another small and intimate museum which offers exhibitions ranging from small artists to themes around immigration and civil rights. When I visited, they had 2 amazing exhibitions which opened my eyes and learn that some refugees lived in refugee camps for more than 50 years which is sad.

Entrance is free.

Munch museum

Munch museum is supposed to be extraordinary place which is dedicated to Edvard Munch and his lifes’ work. This is one place I had high hopes for but when I visited, they were busy preparing for a new exhibition. Therefore most of his work has been taken away and only less that 20 paintings were on show. Entrance was free due to this fact which is quite disappointing specially since I have purchased an Oslo card to cover the entry fee.

They are re-opening a new exhibition as of 6th May.

Visiting the museums for free?

Well, it is possible. When I visited the tourist information centre on a Sunday, they had a special day pass which was free. Most of the Oslo attractions are included in this pass and best of all transport is included. So if you plan on doing some sightseeing, please plan ahead. And if you are here on a Sunday, please check at the tourist information centre and ask if they have a free pass for the day. They open late on Sunday and so are the museums 🙂

I visited Viking ship museum, Fram museum and National gallery on a Sunday with my free pass.

I will cover the next set of items in my next post. 

Lofoten Islands

Should you bother? Yes, you should!

My experience was certainly mixed and by the end of it, I would highly recommend taking a trip to Lofoten islands.

Landscapes are magical and none that I have encountered anywhere else before. I would say its a mix between Swiss mountains and New Zealand scenery so it is very beautiful and majestic.

Main reason to get here is for hiking. There isn’t much info available when in town so be prepared and plan well ahead!

How to get there

Best and only way to get to Loften islands is to take a ferry. I have taken the Moskenes ferry from Bodo. Lofoten ferries are operated by Torghatten Nord. Timetable varies between summer and winter, and by each day. It is highly recommended you check the ferry times before taking the plunge.

Ferry times are certainly odd and none that can be taken to suit a day tripper easily. My ferry departed at 0015 hours and arrived at 0330 hours at Moskenes. 

Accommodation

If you arrive in the wee hours of the morning just like me, I highly recommend you book a place for to crash for a couple of hours. I didn’t take the trip seriously and had nothing booked which meant I was outdoors in the freezing cold arctic temperatures from 0330 in the morning. My fingers were frozen and I realise I had done a big mistake. I could have been dead by the time anything opened!

Having learnt my lesson, I would definitely book something well ahead even if its a day just so you don’t have to freeze outside. 

Googling places to stay in town doesn’t come up with much but there are certainly a number of places available certainly around Å town. There were at least 5 places and if you look in Google maps, you can see most of these places. So please do take in some time and book a place to get some much needed rest before you explore.

What to see

Landscape in Lofoten islands are dramatic. They rise high above the seas and is always snow covered giving them them a majestic look. Just look at them…

Picture perfect

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There are a number of small villages, rather towns, scattered along the pointy edge of the archipelago Å being the final village at the pointy edge. Å generally has more accommodation than other areas from what I have seen but I could be wrong :). 

There are 2 museums in the village. As a result of my early arrival in the town and being exhausted, I skipped them in search of more memorable landscapes. Past the car park area, there is a small trail to the right to go up a mountain and I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone. This is an easy hike for everyone and provides great views of the town. Further up, you can get close to the water with even more beautiful views.

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Sørvågen has more options around shops (for quick stop grocery shops) and a restaurant Maren Anna which I had the opportunity to have lunch. If you have the time I highly recommend going there for a meal as I had the best soup in my life! 

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There is always interesting architecture around. I especially like the houses both small and big and always had something interesting about them.

Further up, Moskenes area doesn’t really have much to offer but you can admire the port and the small lighthouses. It is always beautiful coming down from Sørvågen area. Coming down the mountain, you can also see where the seagulls nest which I think everyone misses as they drive.

On the other side of Moskenes is the gorgeous town of Reine which I found impressive against the sleepy snow capped giants. I envy those live around here for having such natural in their back garden! Walk up to Reine passes 2 vehicle tunnels where the pedestrians have a separate path, a scenic path outside of the tunnel with amazing expansive views. 

As I was hiking most of the day, Reine had been the last town I visited and I am glad that was the last as I now carry great moments thanks for Reine and its sleepy giants. 

Planning

If anyone is plan on visiting, I strongly advise that you plan ahead whether its a day trip or couple of days. It also depends on whether you want to get close to nature with hiking or just walk around. 

Most important thing is to check the ferry times. This is not meant to help tourists, especially day trippers as they have weird arrival and departure times. As mentioned earlier. times vary by day and getting there at 0330 hours does not help anyone, so book some accommodation and get some much needed sleep before anything.

Plan where you want to start your trip and whether you want to walk everywhere or get in by car. Hiring a car would be the most practical approach and easy to get around. I don’t recommend walking but of course you can just like I did 🙂

Happy travels!