I was sad to leave Iceland; perhaps a couple of days longer would have done the visit justice, but then we landed at the Avinor Oslo Lufthavn and now I’m in another state of mind!
So, my first impression of Norway was white Lacrosse shoes, Ralph Lauren Polo Tees, tall and beautiful models passing off as regular people, and clean public bathrooms. I mean, look at this one!
We took Scandinavian Airlines from Iceland to Norway and the service was great. SAS offers budget flights to Europe and elsewhere. If you have an expedia account, you can earn points to save more.
NATURE, LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN:
Oslo itself is a very well-built city. Old structures are preserved beautifully and creative design elements are employed to make the best use of various spaces. I was very impressed with their innovative design in structures like the Opera House or the solar charging stations outside of Oslo Central Station, as well as their functional shower stalls to optimize bathroom space.
GEOGRAPHY & WEATHER:
Oslo is located in the south of Norway right on the North Sea. It sits close to Sweden and Denmark. It was cold and rainy for a big portion of our stay, although the sun did come out and make for enjoyable weather at some points. Pack that raincoat for sure and an umbrella if you have the room.
Unlike Iceland, Norway does not have Wi-Fi everywhere you go, although train stations and the airport do.
At the time of this post 1 Canadian Dollar (CAD) is equal to 6.26 Norwegian Krone (NOK).
A ticket for 93 NOK (14.85 CAD) will get you a train ride into Oslo’s city centre (Oslo Central Station) and connecting metro stations. You have 2.5 hours to complete your travel before your ticket expores. You will need to buy this depending on where you are going.
An Oslo city pass for 24 hours is 395 NOK (63.10 CAD). Visit Oslo provides details on additional day pass pricing and discounts. Most museums in Oslo are free with this city pass, and some boat cruises to the Fjords are discounted. This option we found would be stressful when it came to getting our money’s worth because 395 NOK is quite a steep price even by Norwegian standards.
We decided to purchase 24-hour transit passes instead and this allowed us flexibility to see what we wanted on a budget. A 24-hour transit pass for one person was 90 NOK (14.35 CAD) and this allows you passage on trams (blue line), buses (red line), the T-bane (subway and orange line) and ferries to the islands.
Oslo Central Station:
If you have luggage with you, Oslo Central Station has luggage lockers where you can leave your belongings for 24 hours. We paid 70 NOK (11.20 CAD) for a locker that held all our stuff but if you have bigger luggage, the largest lockers go for 80 NOK (12.75 CAD) a piece. Much like the lockers in Reykjavik, these can only be opened with a pin code once after you lock them, so make sure to take whatever you need with you.
A word about getting around in Oslo, download the Visit Oslo app on your phone. This app works offline and shows you details about all the major attractions in Oslo. It has information on restaurants, suggestions for activities depending on the weather, and is a lifesaver when you need to find your way around Oslo. You should also get a copy of the Oslo City Guide which has information on all the attractions (including hours of operation).
Beware of pickpocketers at the Oslo Central Station and make sure you have NOK currency with you because the washrooms cannot be used for free.
The set-up of the transit system is a tad confusing at first but can be figured out the more you travel around the city.
Again, we procured our accommodations through AirBnB. Most AirBnBs that are reasonable are in the suburbs and this allows you to get to know the culture outside of the main city. AirBnBs also offer creature comforts (Wi-Fi) and a homey experience, as well as the opportunity to save big with a kitchen where you can cook your own meals. Prices vary and your budget will determine what you decide to book. I will say that our hosts in both Iceland and Norway were wonderful, absolutely generous and accommodating. You don’t have to, but we carried little jars of Maple Syrup as a thank-you.
Some meal options that you can find at grocery stores like Bunnpris and Kiwi include the following:
With a few of these well-priced items, we fed a family of 5 a nutritious meal for about 241.90 NOK (38.50 CAD). That’s about 7.70 CAD/person! And if you’re a single person or a couple, you can save even more.
Bunnpris and Kiwi are good and convenient store options, although Kiwi is slightly better-priced. Here are some prices of the essentials:
Milk, 1 L: 14 NOK at Kiwi (2.25 CAD)
Bread, different types: 6 – 30 NOK (0.95 – 4.80 CAD)
Eggs, pack of 6: 16 NOK at Bunnpris (2.55 CAD)
Yoghurt, pack of 4: 16.50 NOK (2.65 CAD)
Kaviar spread, 190 g, First Price brand: 8.90 NOK (1.40 CAD)
Baby Spinach, 100g: 18.90 NOK (3.0 CAD)
Orange juice, 1L: 24 NOK (1.80 CAD)
1 big cucumber: 18.90 NOK (1.40 CAD)
Postcards: 8 – 12 NOK (1.25 – 1.90 CAD)
One international stamp: 23 NOK (3.60 CAD)
Stores & Services:
Vitusapotek is one of the pharmacy stores in Oslo
Ruter is Oslo’s transit service
Stockfleths is a coffee shop in Norway that makes great Hot Chocolate!
Narvesen is a convenience store available in a lot of train stations and elsewhere in the city. And if you like to choose from a line-up of ice-creams, Narvesen has got you covered!
DNB is Norway’s biggest financial institution.
Posten is Norway’s postal service with red post boxes at major stations, including Oslo Central.
Vinmonopolet is Norway’s alcohol store.
Pleasebe advised that a lot of stores, services and attractions are closed on Sundays, so plan ahead.
Things to do in Oslo:
Oslo is a wonderfully-entertaining city and as such there is much to do here. The following are just a few of the many things you should get around to:
The Opera House is a must-visit for its stunning views and genius architectural design.
The ‘Barcode’ that is a set of buildings you can see from the Opera House is quite a view!
If you’re an art geek, you should absolutely set foot in the Munch Museum!
The Nobel Peace Centre is a a great visit with its peace exhibitions and display of all the Nobel Peace Laureates since 1901. For 100 NOK (15.95) you can get an individual ticket to tour the centre, or 180 NOK (28.75 CAD) gets you a pass for the entire family. The centre has the added bonus of being on the harbour and an Oslo sunset on the harbour in the summer is simply heavenly! If you have the chance, take a couple of Ferry rides from the harbour with your 24-hour transit pass.
The Royal Palace is worth a walk to, and makes for a beautiful view if you stand on the steps and look down to the street below.
The Sculpture Park in Majorstuen is massive and impressive. It has acres of beautifully-manicured lawns with gorgeous flower beds and then hundreds of intricately carved and detailed statues of naked people. Even if you’re not into naked people, you will want to see this park! I was intrigued with the craftsmanship! You can take the blue trams 12 or 19 to get to the park.
Karl Johans gate, right outside of the Central Station is Olso’s main street and a beautiful street to walk and shop through, much like Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland.
Lastly, Grunerlokka is a must-visit! From Oslo Central Station you can catch trams 12 and 13 or Bus 30 and get off at Schous Plass. Once you do walk over to Markveien and stroll up and down this street. If you’re into hip bars and restaurants and quaint stores with a vintage touch, this will be at least an entire day of exploring Grunerlokka.
I have two suggestions passed on to us by our AirBnB host: Rice Bowl in Youngs gata (and an additional location in Grunerlokka on Sonders gata called Rice Bolle) and Bari Pizza and Grill on Torgata. Rice Bowl serves up delicious Thai food in ample quantity at great prices! Bari Pizza and Grill serves up beautiful platters of Middle Eastern food for really good prices! If you want to try good food but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg (things in Norway are still expensive, even if not as pricey as Iceland), these are your places to go.
Oslo is definitely worth the visit and if you are creative, you can save while having fun. Make sure to have some change on hand because most public washrooms require payment. You may use restaurant washrooms but they have codes either provided by staff or on your bill. If you do end up visiting Oslo and you read this before you go, please let me know how this post may ot may not have helped you plan your trip. Happy travels!
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