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Oslo: A Tourist in My Own City

Let me start by saying this is not your typical “48 Hours in Oslo” post because, well, I live in Oslo… and I was born here. While I have lived abroad for a majority of the twenty-two years in between, Oslo is the only place I have always been able to call home. This past weekend, I decided to embrace my inner tourist and set out on a tourist-inspired Oslo adventure. Visit Oslo kindly provided me with an Oslo Pass to explore the city and the adventures of being a tourist in my own city began.

 

Day One

I woke up early Saturday morning, eager to get the weekend started. Since museums don’t open until 10:00, I decided to beat the tourist crowds and take the subway to the Vigeland Sculpture Park first thing in the morning. In the heart of the Frogner Park, there are over 200 sculptures in bronze, granite, and cast iron made by Gustav Vigeland, all of which are in the nude. The park is Oslo’s most popular tourist attraction and in the true spirit of a tourist, I snapped a photo with the most iconic sculpture, Sinnataggen. If you want to see more of Vigeland’s work, the Vigeland Museum is located in the south end of the park.


Next up was Bygdøy, a peninsula that holds the key to much of Norway’s history and is known to many as the museum peninsula. I started with the Fram Museum, also called the Polar Ship Fram, which lets you set foot on the wooden ship used for polar exploration in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Right next door, the Kon-Tiki Museum is home to the original balsawood raft Kon-Tiki, which Thor Heyerdahl used to sail across the Pacific Ocean in the mid-1900s. A bit further inland on the peninsula, the Viking Ship Museum takes you further back in time to the Viking Age, telling the Viking history through well-preserved Viking ships and archaeological discoveries. Around the corner, the Norwegian Folk Museum shows traditional Norwegian houses and crafts from cities around the country, giving you a feel for how Norwegians lived in the olden days.




After a walk through history, it was time to return to the land of the living and find something to eat. I caught the bus to the city center and then another bus to Vippa, a relatively new food hall located at Vippetangen. Inside what used to be a sugar warehouse, a number of eateries stand side-by-side serving street food from different cultures. Vippa is introducing a new concept to Oslo, bringing food, culture, and learning together under one roof. I tried the Vegan Wok from Tunco and was happy to learn they give a meal to a child in Kenya for every meal purchased, a cause that means a lot to me since I lived in Kenya from the age of five to eight.


From Vippa, I took the bus to Jernbanetorget and walked down Karl Johans gate, the main street in Oslo open only to pedestrians. Stores and restaurants line the sidewalks of the street, which takes you past the Norwegian Parliament building to the Royal Palace. If you want to see the changing of the guards, it starts at 13:30 every day and lasts about a half hour. Just down from the palace is the National Gallery, well known for its Edvard Munch collection that includes ‘The Scream’ and ‘Madonna’. You can see more of Munch’s work at the Munch Museum in Tøyen. Next, I grabbed a cup of coffee from Fuglen, a coffee shop by day and cocktail bar by night with a retro vibe that is outfitted with vintage furniture for sale.


I sipped my coffee on the way to Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen, sticking my head into the City Hall and passing by the Nobel Peace Center. Aker Brygge is a lively pier lined with shops and restaurants and just beyond it is Tjuvholmen, a manmade island that sits in the Oslofjord. I walked onto the dock and watched the colorful sunset before stepping into the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, a contemporary art gallery with a unique design. That was enough adventure for one day and finally, I headed home to get some much needed rest before Day Two of exploring.


 

Day Two

I awoke on Sunday to a fresh dusting of snow and excitedly hopped on the subway to the Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower. This is the world’s oldest ski museum and is further from the city center than other sights (roughly 20 minutes by subway), but it is definitely worth the trip. While seeing 4,000 years of skiing history is fascinating, I find the most impressive feature of the museum to be the observation deck at the top of the jump tower, offering views of the entire city of Oslo and the surrounding nature. I even saw the snow-covered mountains of Norefjell where we have our cabin!


From Holmenkollen, I rode the subway back to the city center and made my way towards the neighborhood of Grünerløkka. I walked down Torggata, a street for pedestrians and bicyclists with many popular restaurants and bars, which led me to Akerselva, a river that runs through Oslo. I followed the river’s edge until I came to the Sunday Market at Blå, a one-of-a-kind market in Grünerløkka with handmade crafts and second-hand treasures. Grünerløkka is known as the ‘hip’ neighborhood, filled with street art, vintage shops, and a vibrant night scene. Stores are closed on Sundays so the streets were quieter than usual but it was still a nice place to walk around.




Just around the corner from Blå is Mathallen Oslo, a large food hall with a mix of international cuisines. As an up-and-coming foodie destination, Oslo is in the process of revolutionizing its food scene. Mathallen is a more upscale version of Vippa and houses a range of speciality shops with high-quality goods. In addition, there are a number of cafes and eateries to eat from, making it impossible not to find something you like. I tried the Tofu Sesame Bun from Noodles and enjoyed the trendy atmosphere before venturing to Markveien, the main street in Grünerløkka, where I caught the tram back to the city center.


The final stop of my Oslo weekend adventure was a trip to the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, an architectural gem on Oslo’s waterfront. The Opera House is one of Oslo’s newest attractions with a modern design and unique construction, allowing visitors to walk on the diagonal roof of the building. Similar to the Holmenkollen Tower, the rooftop offers views of the city, the mountains, and the fjords, but from a different vantage point – you can even spot the ski jump in the distance. I took in one last view of Oslo, a city that will always hold a special place in my heart, and began my journey home.


Being a tourist in my own city taught me that there is always more exploring to be done and more adventures to be had. I visited some sights I had seen before and others that were completely new to me. And when I went around, something interesting happened… the city grew. Even though I saw more of Oslo than I ever had before, I was constantly discovering places that I didn’t know existed and that I now want to explore. I encourage you all to be a tourist in your own city, you may find that you’ve been missing out on much of what your city has to offer. And if you are planning a trip to Oslo, please let me know – I would be more than happy to help!

A special thank you to Visit Oslo for hosting me in my own city. As always, all opinions are my own.

48 Comments

  1. I am glad I found your post as I will be in Oslo at the end of January for two nights. I am not usually into museums but as I love boats and ships I must visit the ones you mention. Is there a day tour or walk you recommend for our short stay? After Oslo it is to the Arctic Circle via Trondheim – my third visit there. Super excited!

    • Hi Wilbur, Oh how exciting! I’m not the biggest fan of museums either, but I highly recommend the Fram Museum and the Viking Ship Museum if you love boats/ships – they also do a wonderful job of showing some of Norway’s history. I have never personally been on a tour but I do know there’s a free English walking tour that leaves at 10am from the Tiger at Jernbanetorget every day (http://freetouroslo.com/). Oslo is very walkable and the public transportation system is incredible so it’s easy to get around on your own as well. Enjoy your trip and let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

  2. This was so neat! I love the statue you took a picture with, and I had no idea Oslo was an up and coming foodie destination! The Viking ships are really cool and well preserved- you really had an amazing weekend!

    • I’m so happy you liked it ☺️ oh yes there’s an influx of foods and cultures coming to Oslo and my inner foodie is loving it haha. Thanks so much for reading!

  3. What a beautiful city. I really liked the ski jump pictures. Your story is so interesting!

  4. Great photos! Looks like you had such a fun time in Oslo. I have yet to visit, but hopefully one day.

  5. Okay, that’s it. I HAVE to go. I’ve seen too many beautiful pictures to not see it myself.

  6. So beautiful , I have been there few times, it’s amazing <3 Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Bee Bee

    Oslo is one of my dream destinations to visit! Great story and loved your photos- making me want to go sooner than later.

    • Thank you so much! Sooner is always better than later 😉

  8. A A

    I love the fact that there is so much diversity in the architecture of this place.

    • That’s the result of various architects from many different generations 😛 I love it too!

  9. Allison Allison

    This looks like such a great location to travel to!!

    • Glad you think so! Oslo definitely has a lot to see and do.

  10. What a beautiful city you live in! Thanks for sharing these spots and stunning photos. I have caught the travel bug and will be adding Oslo to my growing list 🙂

    • Haha I’m right there with you – my travel list is quickly growing as well. Thanks for reading, Beth ❤️

  11. Actually I think you had a brilliant idea – I might be stealing it and doing one for my own town, if you don’t mind. The pictures are brillant and it made me want to go to Oslo as soon as possible. Great job!

    • Not at all! I would absolutely love to read about your adventures so please message me when the post is up 🙂 Thanks so much Maria!

  12. Nice! I’m hoping to make it to Oslo next year, so I can really use this list!

    • Oh how exciting!! Let me know if you have any questions if/when you travel 🙂

  13. Loved the eateries near the river. really cool and reminded me a little of London. So much i did not know about Oslo…..

    • Haha I learned a lot about Oslo too during my weekend of exploring. London is a wonderful city as well!

    • I sure hope you will, lots to see and do 🤗 Thanks for reading!

  14. Wow it looks like you had the most amazing trip! I’m so jealous. Your photos are beautiful hun. I love being a tourist in my own city as well. Travelers see the world in its most beautiful form 🙂

    • Aw thank you so much, I’m just getting into photography so that means a lot 😉 Oh I completely agree! Travel is the best way to see the world after all.

  15. Playing tourist in your hometown sounds like a lot of fun! I’m planning on writing a similar post but about Seoul, South Korea.

    • Oh I would absolutely love to read it! Please let me know when it’s posted 😅

  16. I can NEVER get over how enchantingly beautiful Norway is :'””) You’re so lucky to call Oslo your hometown. So.much.GOALS!

    • I’m only now starting to appreciate it after many years abroad but I completely agree with you – Norway is a beautiful country 😂 I will definitely be exploring it more!

  17. I’ve always wanted to go to Oslo and now I want to go even more! Great post, thanks for sharing!!

    • Aw so happy to hear that Katy! Oslo is a fun city to explore and easy to combine with more Norway adventures or other European cities 🙂

  18. KJ KJ

    Traveling there in February and so glad that I stumbled upon your list. It’s fantastic!

    • Oh how exciting!! Let me know if you have any questions as your trip approaches, I’m more than happy to help in any way that I can 😘

  19. This is lovely! I’ve never been to Oslo, but I’m thinking it should definitely go on my travel list <3 Thanks for sharing these glimpses of your beautiful city

    • Thank you Silvia! That’s wonderful, I believe Oslo should be on everyone’s travel list 😅

  20. Your staycation looks amazing! I would love to be able to visit one day. It is fun to play tourist in your own area so much to see and do that we often don’t get to do it.

    • I completely agree! It’s juts about getting into that tourist mindset and going for it 😉 Thanks Lisa, I hope you’ll get to visit soon.

  21. Sophie Sophie

    Great pics and great explanations. I’ll be in Oslo for 4 days at the end of December and I was wondering what you would advise me to do on the evening of New Year’s Eve ? I come from Lyon France and I will be traveling with my mum and my husband. Thanks for your advices ! And great job again !

    • Thank you Sophie! Oh how exciting, I hope you will enjoy your time in Oslo and have a wonderful New Year’s Eve here. I recommend making a dinner reservation close to Aker Brygge, either along the fjord or nearby on Karl Johans gate. Keep in mind that New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday this year so shops will be closed and some restaurants may have different hours as well. Norwegians love to dress up so pack some fancy clothes and don’t worry about being overdressed, there’s no such thing in Oslo 😉 The city center has a lively atmosphere at this time of year with lots of people and fireworks at midnight. You can keep up with the latest updates here: https://www.visitoslo.com/en/whats-on/christmas/events/new-year/ I hope that helps, have a lovely trip and a great start to the new year!

  22. Ryan Lewis Ryan Lewis

    Thank you for your fantastic review of your home city. I really hope to visit one day. What attractions or things to do would you recommend for kids or families?

    • Thanks for reading Ryan, I hope you will visit too! Oslo is a great city for families and children and everything I mentioned in my post is suitable for all ages. The Vigeland Sculpture Park has a nice playground and in the summer, Frognerbadet Open-Air Public Bath is a fun place to swim. During the winter, you can rent sleds at Korketrekkeren, Oslo’s most popular toboggan run, or rent skates at both Spikersuppa Skating Rink and Frogner Ice Skating Rink. All year round, The International Museum of Children´s Art is an amazing place to visit, my parents took me several times as a kid! For more ideas, have a look here: https://www.visitoslo.com/en/your-oslo/children/activities/

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