Activities For One Day in Oslo, Norway

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As part of our big miles and points ski trip to Norway my friend and I had one night in Oslo to explore the city before we headed west to the ski resort.  By the time I got settled at the hotel it was just about time for dinner, but luckily my friend had arrived earlier in the day and had a chance to get out and explore a little more than I did (jealous!).  Here are some of the activities in Norway she got to experience as well as our Norwegian dinner destination, all of which were walkable from the Radisson Blu Plaza hotel.  Here is the review of that hotel and the other posts in this series.

Planning a Miles and Points Journey to Norway

Lufthansa First Class A330 Dallas – Frankfurt

Lufthansa First Class Lounges in Frankfurt

Intra-European Flights to Oslo on SAS and Lufthansa

Radisson Blu Plaza, Oslo

One Night in Oslo (this post)

Radisson Blu Resort, Trysil

Skiing in Norway

Radisson Blu Oslo Airport

Lufthansa First Class A380 Frankfurt – Houston

Like most traveling parents I tend to scope out destinations in order to decide if they would be a good spot for me to bring my family in the future (I have a 3.5 year old). I found Oslo to be a great walking city and family destination.  There were a variety of families traveling throughout the city, and it was a place I would come back to again with my child.  At first glance the map the hotel provided made it look a lot bigger than it truly is.  The Radisson Blu Plaza Oslo was a great location since it was close to transportation, but only a 5-15 minute walk from many of the major attractions.

photo 1

When I arrived I went directly over to the Royal Palace. I knew they did a changing of the guards every day at 1:30PM, and I wanted to see that event.  It was not an extravagant affair, but it was fun to see a piece of tradition happening.


I walked the grounds of the Royal Palace but I didn’t find much else to really do there. The flag was raised high so the king was home!

Royal Palace

After making sure to visit the Palace I knew I had a few hours to explore before Summer arrived.  The town was easy and really enjoyable to walk around.  I had a map to reference, but if you stayed on Karl Johans (the main street through the main part of town) then you would hit quite a few of the major attractions.  This street goes all the way to the Royal Palace…


Karl Johans street to Palace

…and all the way back to the Comfort Hotel Grand Central.


Facing that hotel you turn left, then right, and that gets you back to the central train station and bus station (which is where our hotel was located).  There is a big shopping center right next to the train station called Oslo City.  You can also walk through this to get to the walkways that go to the hotel and bus station, but it takes longer.

Walking Karl Johans, you go past the Cathedral, National Gallery Art Museum, Parliament, National Theatre, City Hall, and the major shopping district.  There was a fun ice skating rink in front of City Hall (and I enjoyed watching the hilarious conga line being formed by the skaters.)


Cathedral (no pics inside)



After hitting up some of the attractions on the main street I ventured over to the Akershus Fortress and Castle.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but from a distance I saw the huge fortress wall so I was curious.  The grounds of the castle are huge and you can get some great views of the city and water from up there.


I love hearing the history of a place when I travel, so I like to visit the museums and historical sites even if I only have a few hours. In this case, I am really glad I ventured over to this castle. I walked the grounds and explored the various buildings on site which include stables, old living quarters, various museums, paths around the fortress walls, and the old castle.


   IMG_2013I took the tour of the castle which includes an audio guide that I found helpful. While no flash photography was allowed, I was still able to snap this shot of some armor and my goofy grin.


Within a few hours I was able to visit some of the major attractions in Oslo, and enjoy a good walk around the main part of the city.  Later on that night, Summer and I went in the opposite direction and explored another part of the town for dinner.  Our hotel recommended a restaurant called Olympen that has been a continuously operating restaurant since 1892 and seemed to be popular with locals as well as tourists.  We walked in for dinner around 6PM and they were able to accommodate the two of us, but only if we agreed to be done by 8PM, which we were.  I do recommend making reservations in advance to avoid taking the chance of them being too booked.


The menu at Olympen is based on traditional Norwegian food, and changes many times a year in order to use seasonal ingredients.  You could order a three course set menu or individual items as we did.  If you were a beer drinker, they reportedly have more than 150 different beers available!  We very much enjoyed the sausage and smoked haddock.  Note that they did have an English menu available upon request.  The meal was about $125 for the two of us including entrees, appetizer, and a glass of wine.



One last note, one of the sights I did not get to see but that comes highly recommended on major travel sites was the Viking Museum.  From what I understand you can take a local bus to get there, but I’m guessing it would take at least a few hours to get there and back and enjoy the museum, which was more time than I had to work with on this very short trip.

While we selected Oslo as a destination a bit randomly for this adventure, it turned out to be a great find, and I am delighted that I got to visit.  I may not have thought to visit Oslo if it weren’t for this ski trip to Trysil, but I really enjoyed the city and wish I had had more time to really get to know it better.  Even though we were there in February, even the temperatures were not that bad hovering in the mid-30’s.  The worst part was actually the rain as snow would have been easier to deal with!  I would happily visit again with my family.

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  1. […] Mommy Points spent a day in Oslo earlier this year and spent $125 on dinner for two persons. At that rate, eating one meal out for 13 days would set me back about $800, leaving only $500 for everything else. With breakfast included at most hotels, my food budget would probably be about $1,000 for one person, assuming I ate grocery store food between the hotel breakfast and restaurant meals. […]


  1. I am impressed that 2 people were able to eat dinner in Oslo for “only” $125. Prices for Americans in Norway are truly horrific, and $125 for two would definitely be an expensive “decent” meal.

    Indeed, if I were giving any advice to folks thinking of visiting the country it would be to go somewhere else since Norway’s charms, which do exist, are simply not worth their current price.

  2. BTW, if anyone wants to experience what it’s like to be really poor as a tourist, there are some surprisingly good airfares to Norway right now. Theflightdeal (a great site) has the details, but a late August flight from Newark to Oslo is only about $530 roundtrip all in. It’s even cheaper in winter, but I think it’s worth paying the extra $100 for the better weather.

    That said, I don’t recommend it, due to the really nasty expenses of visiting the Nordic countries. You can try to do it on the cheap, though, by redeeming hotel points. In addition to the Carlson properties discussed in the article, Choice Hotels has a Nordic affiliate that offers even better value for award redemption. Some of those hotels throw in meals (sometimes even dinner!), which is a fantastic deal because meals are so unbelievably expensive.

  3. I spent a night in Oslo last year and I agree, the prices for food are OUTRAGEOUS.

    MCDONALDS -$17-22 for a ‘value meal’
    $30 for a 14″ pizza
    $40 for pasta entree
    $10-15 glass of beer
    $60-80 fish entree


  4. I have traveled to Oslo for business at least 10 times in the last few years. Yes, eating out can be expensive but most hotels have breakfast included, and food & beer bought in the grocery store are not out of line.

    I usually figure that when you are going out food is 2x expensive than a US large city and drinks are 3X.

    Renting a car in Norway is very expensive seemingly because all rentals have CDW and the other rental car insurance mandatory in the price. Petrol is very expensive also, around $8-10/gallon.

  5. iahphx, it was pricey, but honestly it can easily be $125 all in for two with a drink and appetizer in the US many places, too. Not my normal dinner budget, but it was a seemingly nice spot. I wouldn’t stay away because of the prices, but I would try to save in areas like hotel.
    Jim, yeah I stopped by a McDonalds and a Coke was close to $4, but sadly many great cities are pretty pricy.
    eds, I concur that drinks seemed to be marked up even more than food compared to US costs. Good to know about grocery stores. We didn’t do that on this short trip, but would have to on a longer trip or with family.

  6. I actually took my kids to Sweden a couple years ago on that crazy Delta deal where the airline tickets were about $200. Sweden, as you may know, is very, very expensive, but probably 1/3 cheaper than Norway. Honestly, it would be kind of nuts to “plan” a family vacation to Scandinavia, because the expense of doing ANYTHING is ridiculous. We still had a good time, but were in complete cheapskate mode: stuff yourself on the buffet breakfast, take a sandwich to go for lunch (a strangely common practice there) and forage for dinner (like in fast food restaurants or grocery stores — where prices are still shocking, but obviously much cheaper than restaurants). When we did splurge — we got lucky and ran into a discount “restaurant week” — we were pretty unimpressed with what we got for our money. And doing any special type of activity would have been like a mortgage payment.

    Bottomline, there are many dozens of places in this world that are more interesting than Scandinavia at a fraction of the price. These countries lack the blockbuster attractions of their much cheaper European cousins to the south. Until the currency situation changes, I’d definitely recommend heading elsewhere.

  7. @iaphx – sorry to disappoint you, but “the currency situation” hasn’t really changed at all for the last 50 or so years. Scandinavian countries have among the strongest economies of all Europe and they do not use the Euro (except for Finland). The real sights of Scandinavia are not the cities (maybe Gotheburg or Stockholm) but the awesome scenery up north (think Alaska). Lapland in particular is a fantastic place, but such places come at a price…

  8. I don’t think $125 for dinner for 2 at a what looks to be a casual restaurant is normal in the US too. Maybe things are really expensive in Texas! 🙂 Thanks for nice trip report – including the pricing details. It certainly helps us in deciding our future trip plans.

    • Ric, indeed!
      Denise, it really wasn’t a casual restaurant in the sense of like Chili’s or Applebees. It was nicer than anything we have in our city. It was not a terribly different price point than if we went into Houston for a dinner for two at a nicer restaurant (though not a super nice restaurant). Not something we do often, but it didn’t feel terribly off for what we got. Wouldn’t want to pay that every night on vacation, but absolutely worth it for a meal. We did get meals for much less in Norway as we continued on to the ski resort. Stay tuned. 😉

  9. In Paris, looking for places with strong Trip Advisor ratings for very “gourmet” food, rather than just fancy décor, I always manage to keep us under $125. And that always includes a bottle of quality wine, and sometimes aperitifs as well.

    In pricy Berlin, we ate at a wonderful “Argentinian” steakhouse; 3 wonderful courses including filet mignon, with wine, for US $85. Not in the distant suburbs either, it was within walking distance of Checkpoint Charlie.

    Norway is not so expensive just because the economy is strong. It is so expensive because everything is taxed to the max to pay for government services.

    I’ve had locals there complain that Norway runs the entire health care system on alcohol taxes alone. So if you don’t drink, your health care is essentially free. Whereas if you do drink, you are paying the full cost for everyone who doesn’t. 🙁
    It’s not unusual for people to spend the evening at a bar, and nurse one beer for the entire time. That’s all they can afford.
    I fully agree with those who have said that the sights are not anywhere near equal to the cost of visiting there; at least not for more than a few days. See the Viking Ship museum, take a day cruise thru a fjord, and then leave for places with much more to see, at much lower costs.

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