Oslo is a great city for a weekend getaway, as a base for a longer Norwegian adventure, and just to explore on your own. However, there’s no way denying the costs of visiting this Norwegian capital. All though the Kroner (Norwegian currency, btw) is at a low right now, a beer will still cost you a good $10. Time and time again Norway has been crowned the world’s most expensive country, which is fine if you live here on a Norwegian salary. For visitors and travelers, though, it’s not fine.
I’ve put together a few tips on visiting Oslo on a budget, and hope that you’ll be able to pull something useful out of this post.
Before you go, make sure you find the best deals for hotels and flights. I always use Booking.com* when booking a hotel, and search SkyScanner* for flights. That way you get an overview of what days it’s cheaper to visit. After checking SkyScanner I also use the airline’s own websites to make sure the price matches, sometimes it’s cheaper booking directly through them!
Norwegian is a low fare airline flying in and out of most Norwegian airports. It has been my favourite airline for so long, and they were the first in Europe to offer WiFi on their flights! Their WiFi is free, as well, which isn’t too common anymore. Make sure you sign up for their rewards program, as they just relaunched it and made it a whole lot better.
//* Affiliate links
Things to do on a budget
There is always something to do in a capital like Oslo that won’t cost you a dime. Visiting the museums is a natural choice for free activities, and there is also the Nobel Peace Centre. Visiting the Peace Centre costs 100 NOK for adults, and 65 for students (I’m a huge sucker for student discounts). It’s definitely worth a visit, and there is always a relevant exhibition on display.
If you want to try for an activity that’s completely free, I suggest grabbing a coffee and visiting the Frognerpark and Vigeland Sculpture Park. The latter is very popular amongst tourists and locals alike, and make sure you bring your camera for some fun snaps of the statues!
> Read my post about visiting the parks of Oslo here!
Seeing the Royal Palace is a must, and you’ll find it just at the end of the main street of Oslo; Karl Johan. In the summer they offer guided tours (that must be booked in advance), but walking around the castle is free for all. At 1.30pm you can see the Changing of the Guards, another free activity.
> Read my post about the Palace here!
The Norwegian Parliament is located in the building in the photo above; Stortinget. It is only a stone throw from the Palace, and well worth a visit. They offer free guided tours throughout the year, usually in both Norwegian and English. The tours are booked on a first come, first served basis, so make sure you arrive early! The start of the tour is at the guest entrance of the building, just around the left corner from the main door.
I always advise people to go for a walk along Akerselva, the river that splits Oslo in half. The trail is several kilometers long, so you can walk for hours if you wish it. You’ll get to see several areas of Oslo, and it’s a great way to discover the city without spending a dime!
> Read my post about the beautiful Akerselva trail here!
Money saving secrets
As a student living in Oslo, I have a trick or two up my sleeve for saving some cold hard cash. Before you go, make sure to download the free Narvesen and 7-Eleven apps!* Both are chains of kiosk/corner shops where they sell coffee, baked goods and sweets, and you’ll see them all over Norway. On their apps you can register whenever you buy a coffee or a frozen yoghurt or a magazine, and after a certain amount of purchases you get one free! Both stores have different offers on different merchandise, but the coffee stamp card is a saviour! So make sure you join forces with your friends and buy your coffee together, that way you can collect ‘stamps’ on one app and get free goodies!
The main reason I told you to download the app before leaving home is that you need working WiFi and phone signal in order to complete registration. When downloading you are asked to register your birthday, because when the day arrives you’ll be treaded to a free coffee and baked goods! My point is; tell the apps that your birthday happens to fall on one of the days you are visiting Oslo, and you’ll be able to enjoy a cookie and a coffee from both 7-Eleven and Narvesen without paying! Great for when you are going for that free walk, am I right?
Another tip is for those of you who are flying into Oslo’s main airport; Gardermoen. You’ll reach for the Airport Express (Flytoget) tickets immediately, but what if I tell you that it is possible to get into the center of Oslo for half the price?
The NSB (Norway’s public trains) has routes going from Gardermoen to Oslo and back on a regular basis. Not as frequent as Flytoget, but still twice or three times an hour! So make sure you buy your tickets on one of the counters/booths labelled #Ruter or NSB, and not Airport Express/Flytoget.
I may also inform you now that #Ruter is Oslo’s public transport company, and that you can get a ticket for Zone 1 (central Oslo) right at the airport. Get either a 24-hour or a 7-day ticket, depending on the length of your stay. Gardermoen is in Zone 4, but once you have the Zone 1 ticket, all you have to do is buy a one-time additional ticket for the remaining 3 zones! It is so clever, because the system actually recognizes that you have already paid to travel through Zone 1, and won’t make you spend money on doing that again. You can also buy your tickets on the free #Ruter app!*
// *Apple affiliate links
My last tip is for those of you who enjoy going to the cinema. If you are thinking of hitting the movies on an evening in Oslo, make sure you sign up to KinoPluss – the rewards program for all Oslo cinemas! This can be done online, and they actually give you points for signing up and a huge amount of bonus points for buying your first ticket. If I remember correctly, the points you get through signing up and buying one ticket (just the first one, from then on the points are ‘regular’) is enough to buy another! So, if there’s two of you, buy your tickets online but separately, and voila! You’ve saved 120 NOK!
Another super important tip for cinema-goers: buy your sweets at a grocery store! The popcorn and sweets at the cinema are incredibly expensive, and not worth the points you get on your KinoPluss card.
Do you have any money-saving tips for travelers? Have you visited Oslo? Please share your experiences!
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