Stroll through the remnants of might Viking culture; consider canvases that changed how we see art; hike through some of the lushest, most viridescent wilds you can think of, all while being less than an hour from a bustling capital. When it comes to things to do in Oslo, there’s a near-endless number of activities to suggest.
If you’re looking for tips for your Scandinavian getaway, then search no more: Orbzii’s guide for the top things to do in Oslo will give you all the information you need to plan a perfect trip.
Defy Gravity at Holmenkollbakken
One of the most famous ski jumps in the world, and certainly the oldest that’s still operating, Holmenkollbakken is now on its nineteenth iteration, but still provides adrenaline junkies with plenty of fun. While the actual jump is reserved for professionals, if you’re around during the right time of year you can ski in other parts of the massive complex, which also includes a museum and other amenities, thus making it an ideal trip for all the family. The Museum and National Ski Centre goes over the history of the complex, and skiing in the Nordics in general.
If you want to experience the thrill of going down the hill, you can zipline from the peak to the bottom. This activity provides so much more than a thrill: the views from the top of the 134m slope are unforgettable.
Unleash your Inner Warrior at the Viking Ship Museum
When you visit Oslo it’s a given you have to do something related to Vikings – so why not get to the heart of this ancient warrior culture and see the best-preserved Viking ships in the world? There are dozens of different ships scattered throughout the museum, as well as a tonne of other artefacts that will teach you about the history of this infamous race.
Aside from marvelling at the technical skill needed to create such hardy ships, it’s enlightening to learn about the artistry that went into a what we’d consider a mostly practical endeavour. If you’re keen to find out as much as you can, the museum runs Vikings Alive three times an hour, a short film that shows the audience just how the ships were made and used.
Visit Frogner Park (Oslo Sculpture Park)
Also known as Oslo Sculpture Park, or The Vigeland Park in reference to the artist whose works fill this vast green space, there’s no doubt this is one of the most iconic things to do in Oslo. The actual park itself is massive, covering 45 hectares, but there’s so much more than grass to lounge on and sculptures to stare at.
The Vigeland Installation is in the heart of the park. There are 212 bronze and granite sculptures, all designed by Gustav Vigeland. ‘Angry Boy’ and ‘Monolith’ are two public favourites, but you can wander through the statues and castings within an hour, so it’s easy to form your own opinion on what you like best.
Aside from the sculptures, the park is home to Frogner Manor (for which it’s named), an old Manor House and home to Oslo City Museum. The institution has an extensive library of art and literature, all pertaining to the vast history of this Nordic capital. On the outskirts of the park is a sports and recreation area too, where visitors can play tennis and even take a dip in public baths. If you’re wondering what to do in Oslo, then Frogner Park will have a little something for everyone.
Take in History at Gamle Aker Kirke
The oldest remaining building in Oslo, this Lutheran Church is awash with history, yet still in use today. Nearing a millennium of existence, there’s also an attached cemetery that is pleasant to walk around on a warm evening.
The church itself has been pillaged and burned several times but has always bounced back stronger. While there are services there every Sunday at 11, for the most part it remains a quiet place of solitude, so maybe not one to bring the kids to. However, if you’re big on history, this has to be on your list of things to do in Oslo.
Scream in Delight at the Munch Museum
When he died in 1944 Edvard Munch left everything he owed to the city he spent most of his life in. This included over 28,000 pieces of art, as well as his personal correspondence. The original museum has been expanded upon over the years in response to its popularity, but even so the Tøyen location has proven too small, with a new building in Bjøvika opening in late 2021. This itself is a bit of an architectural marvel, fitting in perfectly with Munch’s legacy as a boundary pusher.
The museum is highly accessible, and even has special times for those with babies to visit. Obviously Munch’s most famous works, like ‘The Scream’ take centre stage, but there’s so much more to see. They also runs numerous creative workshops, so if you’re keen to let your artsy side flourish then a visit to the Munch Museum in Oslo is a must-do.
Kayak around Sjølyst Marina
You can’t have a list of things to do in Oslo and not include a water-based sport. While some visitors prefer their ground solid, more intrepid city-breakers will be happy to know how easy it is to spend a day kayaking around the Oslo coast, through the inlets that make this landscape so unique.
While there are dozens of great kayaking routes, our favourite is the 11.2 nautical mile Oslo Archipelago Route. This takes around four hours and allows for great views of the skyline from the water. While it is a bit physical, you don’t need to be ultra-fit to enjoy it.
Marvel at the Stunning Opera House
One of the many amazing things to do in Oslo is visit the Opera House. Even if you just go to admire the astonishing architecture, it’s worth a trip – especially as it is so close to the station, so can be one of the first (or last) things you do. While opera generally brings to mind images of grand, baroque buildings, the Oslo Opera House is modern and jagged, looking like it’s rising from the water that surrounds it. The flat roof is open to the public and offers great views of the city too, so you don’t need to even see a show to get a wonderful experience.
With that said, if you get the chance to see any show – Opera or Ballet – you should snap it up. The performances are all a world-class standard, and there’s no doubt getting to see one would add an unforgettable memory to your Oslo trip.
Do a Hipster Bar crawl in the Grünerløkka
Head out to the East-end of the city, away from the water, and you’ll find a craft beer paradise. There are dozens of cool bars producing tasty, unique beers, meaning you can drink your way through the district with ease. Don’t worry about going overboard, though: there are plenty of eateries along the way too, serving up homely Norwegian dishes that will soak up the litres of beer. Just make sure to take some of the world-class public transport back to your hotel instead of driving.