24 Hours in Oslo

One of my good friends from university (Mackenzie) moved to Oslo to pursue her masters degree after she graduated university and has been living there for the last two years or so. My sister and I had the opportunity to meet up with her while we were in Oslo, and she kindly offered to be our tour guide and take us around the city for an entire day. Although we only had 24 hours in Oslo, we were able to see much of the city and get a good feel for the people and culture there. And while it was not my favorite Scandinavian capital city (Stockholm, you have my heart), I enjoyed visiting the diverse array of neighborhoods and enjoying the abundance of nature we found in the middle of a capital city.

READ MORE: A Weekend in Oslo for Budget Travellers

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

View of Oslo from the top of the Opera House

We arrived on the Bergen Rail from Bergen at around 7:00pm on the night of the France vs. Iceland quarterfinal game of the Euros. We dropped our bags off at our Airbnb in Tøyen and headed out to Lekter’n, a bar/restaurant situated on the water in Aker Brygge to have dinner and watch the game. This is a small side note, but I mention it because we ran into this issue several times during our short time there and it seemed rather unusual to us. As we approached Lekter’n, we were asked to show our IDs to verify our age. Granted, we both look young, but I have been to 18 European countries, and my sister has been to 10, and neither of us has ever been carded – not even once. Unfortunately my sister forgot to bring her ID with her, as she had been traveling in Europe for the last couple of months and had become accustomed to walking into bars without having to show an ID, but she remembered that she had taken a photo of her ID with her phone, so she showed the photo to the hostess. The hostess then called a manager over to verify that we could enter the bar, and finally the manager let us in but asked my sister to refrain from drinking, even though she is of drinking age (18 in Norway). As Americans, one of the things we both love about Europe is how relaxed Europeans generally are with drinking, whereas Americans have a higher drinking age and are very strict about enforcing it, so we were quite put off by this exchange.

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

Watching the France vs. Iceland football match at Lekter’n

To make matters worse, after we quickly ate our dinner and left Lekter’n, we walked over to Kontraskjæret, a big open park next to the Akershus Fortress where football (soccer) games are shown, and we were forbidden from even entering the park because my sister did not have her ID on her. I think we were both looking for a much more relaxed vibe than what we found, and that left a bad taste in our mouths for our first few hours in Oslo. Anyway, lesson learned, and just remember that if you visit Oslo, make sure to carry your ID with you everywhere if you plan to visit any bars or events with alcohol.

READ MORE: Three Days in the Norwegian Fjords

Luckily things went uphill from there. The next morning, we met up with Mackenzie at Central Station, and she took us to visit the Opera house, which is an incredible work of art. We walked up to the top of the Opera house and got a great view of the city.

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

Oslo Opera House

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

Inside of the Opera House

Afterwards, we hopped onto a ferry, which took us around the Oslofjord. The ferry ride was free, as we had a 24 hour T-bane (subway) pass. We did not get off at any of the stops but simply rode around a full circle, just to get a view of the islands and enjoy a relaxing boat ride on a beautiful day. I would highly recommend doing this, as it’s free, relaxing, and a great way to see some of the islands in the Oslofjord.

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

View of the Oslofjord and surrounding islands from the ferry

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

A cluster of islands in the Oslofjord

Next up we headed over to the Frogner neighborhood on the west end of Oslo and walked over to the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which features over 200 sculptures of people, all made by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. Both sides of the walkway were lined with sculptures, and at the center of the park was a monolith, a tall statue with sculptures of people wrapped around it. The sculpture park is located within a larger park, and there was a gift shop and restaurant located within the park as well.

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

One of the 200+ sculptures in the Vigeland Sculpture Park

After our stroll around the park, we felt like we needed an afternoon pick-me-up, so Mackenzie took us to a famous Norwegian coffee shop, Tim Wendelboe, in the Grünerløkka neighborhood. Grünerløkka is a trendy, hip neighborhood on the west side of Oslo with lots of interesting restaurants, cafes, and bars. There is also a river that runs through the neighborhood, and we saw some interesting art pieces floating in the river. This was by far my favorite part of Oslo, as it had more of its own personality, and I thought it would be quite tranquil to sit and relax along the river.

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

Grunerlokka – with the wildest looking chandelier I have ever seen

The least impressive sight we saw in Oslo would have to be the Royal Palace, where the King and Queen reside. The building was nice, but you would just expect something more for a palace where royalt.

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

The Royal Palace

Mackenzie also told us about some hiking trails in the city and just outside of it, as well as skiing in the city in the winter. I definitely appreciate the vast amount of nature we saw inside Oslo city limits, which is pretty rare for a big city.

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

Thank you for being our tour guide for the day and showing us your beautiful city, Mackenzie!

Overall, my sister and I enjoyed our short visit to Oslo, but we both agreed that we enjoyed the more relaxed attitude of western Norway more. A big part of visiting a foreign country for us is getting to know the culture, customs, and attitudes of the people who live there. As we are both very casual people, we felt that the people in Oslo were a bit too formal for our tastes and for what we had become accustomed to in Europe, but everyone was very polite and professional in how they interacted with us, and we had a great time seeing this beautiful city.

What were your experiences in Oslo? Did you have similar or different experiences from what we had? Is there anything you’d recommend doing differently with 24 hours in Oslo?

24 Hours in Oslo | MVMT Blog

Author: Diana Chen

Recently left my job as an attorney to pursue the work-from-anywhere/travel-everywhere life. I blog about traveling the world with a full time job, confronting your travel addiction, and pursuing your passions without going broke. Just got back from a 12-countries-in-3-months stint and currently prepping for a month along the Adriatic Coast.

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18 thoughts on “24 Hours in Oslo

  1. I have not been to Norway but definitely want to visit Oslo. Thanks for the tip about the free ferry ride if you have the subway pass. What a great way to see the city.

  2. I haven’t been to Oslo, but Norway is very high on my list. I like the idea of getting a subway pass and taking the free ferry to see the surrounding islands, as I’ve heard most things in Norway are incredibly expensive. I can’t believe you and your sister were carded! I didn’t think Europeans really cared about their very lax drinking age!

    1. Erika – we were just as surprised! My sister and I have been to over 20 European countries and neither of us has ever been carded until Oslo. Just make sure you bring your ID with you when you visit there!

  3. Always wanted to visit Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Good lesson about always carrying your ID with you! Would love to see the Royal Palace and the opera house. And that’s a very interesting sculpture in that one photo. Is there a story there? 🙂

    1. Rebecca – Scandinavia is one of my favorite areas in the world! My favorite city in Scandinavia would have to be Stockholm (although I loved them all), and if you are looking for outdoors activities, I would highly recommend Norway. I did not get carded in any of the other Scandinavian countries though, or even anywhere else in Norway outside of Oslo. As for the sculpture, I’m sure the artist had a story behind every sculpture, but I am not sure what that is.

  4. That’s very good to know about the IDs. When I was traveling through Europe, I still didn’t get out of the habit of bringing my ID everywhere. It’s just a reflex! I’m glad your trip went well in the end 🙂

  5. Wow look at those photos! Oslo looks wonderful! I’m glad to see this because I recently read a negative post about Oslo and I much prefer positive posts. I’d love to visit Oslo and it looks pretty amazing. I also love the idea of 24 hours in a place but agree that visiting a country involves getting to know the culture and customs. Still, if I had the opportunity to visit Oslo for any amount of time, I’d do it!

    1. I think it really helped that my friend was able to act as a tour guide to us. Hopefully this post provides a good guide for you though, even if you do not have a tour guide with you in Oslo!

  6. Good to know that they are a bit uptight about ID for drinking there. It’s probably no longer an issue for me anymore, but I’ll keep it in mind. I love cities that include boats on their transit passes. Thanks for that tip.

  7. Gorgeous photos and wonderful experience. Nothing beats having a “personal” tour guide who knows all the local spots. That is so interesting to read about the I.d. Surprised to read how strict they are on the rules. Overall, it sounds like you had a great time and that’s what counts 🙂

  8. Helpful tips! I’ve never been to Oslo but I’ve read a few similar blogs. I think I would still want to visit just remembering all the formalities and info I’ve been given.

  9. I really appreciate your 24 Hours in series! It is a great message that you really can squeeze in a lot into just one day! Oslo sounds unique – sorry your sis didn’t have her ID – but I think you highlighted some interesting things to see there. My people are from Norway so I would need to spend longer than a day but it is definitely on my list! Thanks for the info!

    1. Thanks, Karla! I really hope to encourage people to travel, even if only for a short time, because there is a lot you can see and experience in just 24 hours! Although definitely if you have the time, I would recommend spending more time there.

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