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3 Days In Oslo: Norwegian Fjord Tours and Viking History

Updated: May 17

The common stigma is that Oslo is cold, dark, expensive, and that all the food is pickled, but I challenge you to find out for yourselves. Most travelers want to go to the top European tourist zones like London, Paris and Rome but today, with Norse Airways' cheap tickets to their hub in Oslo, Norway's tourism is booming. Having been there recently myself, I can tell you - there is a lot to discover in Norway. From fjord tours to understanding Viking history, spend three days in Oslo to get the full experience. Here are some ideas on things to do in Oslo to get you started.


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Visit a Museum


Munch Museum

The famous Munch museum is where you can see 'the scream' up close. Optionally, the bar at the top (Kranen) sells natural wine and offers views of the harbor for a well rounded afternoon of art and class.

a black and white image of a building overlooking a waterfront with a statue

Norsk Folkemuseum Fram museum

The polar expedition ship sits right next to the Kontiki museum and Oslo maritime museum, so seafarers and ship lovers rejoice!


The Fram museum has an adorable themed cafe inside along with the ship itself, which can be boarded and explored as part of your entry ticket. This museum is not to be missed!


The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History

This huge open air village brings visitors to the Nordic past of the Norwegian way of life. Walk the grounds, see the homes and the lifestyle that Norwegians lived.


viking architecture

Be aware there are lots of buses and people so plan to go early.



Visit The Local Villages, Neighborhoods and Waterways


Drobak


a vendor sets up her market wares for the sunday market

Coined "the sunday town", this quaint village along the water is host to a weekly market in the main square. With ample parking by the marina or in town by the market, visitors can stroll the boutique shops, have coffee at one of the many cafes, or enjoy an al fresco lunch in the sun. We got there a little early, so I recommend going closer to lunch time.


Vollen

Not exactly a "destination town", but certainly a cute stop for lunch, we journeyed from Drobak to Vollen in search of more cute shops and restaurants and found a lovely marina restaurant serving delicious mussels with waterfront views.


Grünerløkka

In Oslo, find Grünerløkka - a trendy hipster area host to shops, restaurants and drinking establishments spilling out onto the sidewalk. Check out the vintage market at Birkelunden central park on Sundays or take a private walking tour of this hip and historic neighborhood.


Oslo City Tours To Consider


Try a siteseeing bus - bonus: it stops at all the hot spots on this list!


Oslo By Water

You can't visit Oslo without visiting the fjord. This evening cruise aboard a wooden sailing boat is a super cool way to check out the water. They even offer up Norwegian prawns as part of the deal, so snack and sail on!





See The Inspiration for Anna and Elsa's Castle in Frozen


Akershus Fortress, an impressive active fort complex atop a hill overlooking the fjord. It is said to be the inspiring design for Anna and Elsa’s castle in Frozen, so of course we took the opportunity to dress up our two year old in a black and gold Anna dress for some photo ops.

Akershus Fortress in Oslo Norway
Akershus Fortress in Oslo Norway

People looked at us weirdly – I don’t think the connection to the movie is common there – but we had fun with it. We were able to get coffee from the gift shop and enjoyed some fresh air after 12 hours of traveling from the US the night before.


This castle is free to roam and the gift shop offers a nice museum with information on the history of the grounds.


Details: Akershus Castle and Fortress (Akershus Slott og Festning) is free and is a 17 min walk from Oslo central station. More info on Akershus Fortress here: https://www.visitoslo.com/en/product/?TLp=14900



Where To Eat


Oslo Food Halls

Oslo Central Station has a ton of great restaurants to choose from, or perhaps try one of Oslo's many food halls such as Mathallen food hall, or my favorite - Vippa Food Hall.


A short 10 minute walk from Akershus fortress, and just steps from the ferry terminal to Copenhagen, you can find a small sign leading to the waterfront food court called Vippa.


Blog owner smiles in front of Vippa food hall mural
Maria at Vippa Food Hall

This hipster haven on the waterfront offers not only amazing murals on the walls, but tremendously high quality cuisine. Adorned with festive flags from the ceiling, games and puzzles to entertain little ones or lingering parties, this food hall allows you to order from your cell phone without the need to wait in any lines.



From curry to pierogies, Mexican to soup bowls, Vippa offers a globe full of food options, all absolutely delicious. We fawned and gushed over our plates of butter chicken with naan, cucumber salad and rice, our gyoza periogies stuffed with Norwegian coldwater prawns, our warming pumpkin soup, and the unlimited vibes of the super cool food court.


Vippa made repeat visitors out of us for sure.


Are you down with hipster food halls and up for adventure? Check out some serious eats on the alternative culture street food tour.




Frognerseteren Restaurant and Cafe


nordic building with outdoor patio in the sun

Requiring a car, this historic restaurant is located in the mountains above Oslo, looking over the fjord below. If you wish to take dinner in the lodge-style interior restaurant called Restaurant Finstua, then you will need to make reservations in advance.


If you just want to go for the scenic drive and the view, there is a cafe inside serving up pastries, hot dishes, tap beer and wines to enjoy indoors at lobby area tables or outdoors on their breathtaking patio. On a nice day, this is a must-do.


Den Glade Gris

Expensive, but worth it - check out Den Glade Gris for their special pork knuckle and traditional Norwegian dishes served in a hip and upmarket atmosphere.



How To Get Around Oslo


From the airport, take the train heading towards Oslo Central Station. There will be many ticket machines on the arrivals level for different trains. If you cannot figure out the right train, there is a convenient concierge desk there to help you.



Once you have arrived at the Oslo Central Station, you can walk to Akershus Castle and Vippa Food Hall easily. Buses and taxis are also available at the station.


Optionally, you can rent a car at the Oslo airport. This will allow you to see the Polar Ship Fram, or neighboring towns like Drobak and Vollen.


Finally, ferries are also a common method of transportation. From short hops across the water to reach neighboring towns to longer overnight routes going all the way to Copenhagen, ferries are a great way to get around without a vehicle.



Where To Stay


oslo street view of green house and a bicycle

Hotels For 3 Days in Oslo


Modern, artsy, well located and affordable, this is a diamond in the rough in an otherwise very expensive city to stay in.


French antique elegance and an exceptional breakfast are the standouts at this beautiful hotel.


In the heart of Oslo, this tasteful and subdued gem of a B&B has customers raving about how special it is.




Overnight Rentals


For less than $200/night, these beautiful rental properties go for $95-175, which is practically unheard of in Oslo. Check them out!




Olso In A Nutshell


Overall, there are many things to see and do in and around the Oslo area, but the easiest way to explore is with a car. Within the city limits I suggest 2 or 3 days in Oslo before taking the overnight ferry to Copenhagen or hopping on an inexpensive flight like on Vueling to other destinations in Europe.


Outdoor enthusiasts may want to pursue hiking trips and jaunts north in search of the Northern Lights. Further, many will want to board cruise ships from various ports in Norway like Bergen to see Amsterdam, Germany, Sweden and more.


Clearly, Oslo has merits for being a destination of its own, while providing a wealth of options for commuters venturing further afar.


With really interesting food, wonderful museums, art and culture and the history of the vikings, Oslo is a lovely place to spend some time on any Scandinavian holiday. With Norse Atlantic Airways opening the door to Norway for many Americans this year, we can get there faster, cheaper, and easier than ever.


Don't hesitate, book your flight to Oslo today!

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Hi, I'm Maria!

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