Tips to cut down the costs in Oslo
Favorite thing: Oslo is an expensive city, no doubt, so here are some tips that might help you cut down the costs while there:
- If you don't mind sleeping in a dorm-like room with strangers, this will decrease your accommodation costs. Another idea would be to bring your own tent and sleeping bag and use one of the many camping sites. Check out Visit Oslo for more information about camping sites.
- Supermarkets like ICA have stations where you make your own salad and pay by the weight, which makes for a cheap and filling lunch that you can eat at any of the parks or by Akershus Fortress. If you have access to a fridge, buying breakfast foods will also cut down the costs, as you can store your bread, ham, cheese and milk in it.
- Try and group several sights that are located close to each other and allow enough time to visit all of them for the price of one tram/subway/bus ticket there and back.
- See if the sights you're planning to visit are included in the Oslo Pass or if this pass will give you any discount. The pass usually pays itself if you visit 3 of the museums that charge an admission fee, and it will include public transportation up to zone 4 (see my separate tip about it).
- One card that we found to give value for the money is the Flexikort, if you're not visiting many sights covered by the Oslo Pass. Several people can use it, and you can take unlimited trips in all bus, ferries (not sightseeing ferries), trams and subways within 1 hour from the time stamp.
- It's cheaper to buy transport tickets before you get on the vehicle of your choice rather than buying it from the driver.
- Check out Visit Oslo for information on free museums and activities.
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Damstredet- a feast for traditionalsits
Favorite thing: Damstedet is a tiny little street tucked away between Akersveien and Fredensborgveien and if you go to Var Frelsers Memoria Cemetery you will find it quite easily. This is the cemetery where Munch and Ibsen are buried and after toiling up from the centre in the pouring rain, I was more than a little disappointed to find the signposting totally inadequate and the more famous graves, virtually impossible to find. Maybe not impossible if you have loads of time and nice weather but when you've circumnavigated it once on a wet day, you tend to give up more easily.
Leaving despondently and then stumbling across Damstredet made the whole expedition worthwhile. This street of pretty wooden houses looks like it's been plucked from a rural village far removed from the city and it was here that I finally gave in and took out my camera. The photos, taken with one hand from underneath an umbrella, aren't great but they give a general impression of the colourful cottages and the sudden feeling of being in Norway as opposed to Oslo.
After this I was constantly on the look out for older and more traditional building and if you look carefully, you will find them on many of Oslo's streets, tucked in between the bland and the functional as rewards for diligent walkers.
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Karl Johans gate - Oslo's back bone
Favorite thing: Most of what I'd read about Karl Johansgate had been fairly unflattering and I was surprised to like it so much. Yes, it is a long pedestrianised street with many of the same shops and fast food outlets you see in cities all over the world but it also has the best of Oslo nearby in the way of public buildings and the sense of being in a capital city. A lot of Oslo is not very impressive architecturally and it's good to walk through Karl Johans gate regularly to appreciate some of its treasures.
Heading uphill from Oslo S, it is pretty unimpressive but pretty soon you pass the elegant Domkirke and the Parliament buildings and after that KJ gate widens out for the grand sweep up to the palace. The central park-like area here is delightful with large trees shading a walkway lined with stalls, an ornamental lake with fountains and statuary and lots of outdoor cafes. Next is Oslo University on one side and on the other, the imposing neoclassical Nationaltheatret with statues of Ibsen and Bjornson outside. From there it's a short hop to the Royal Palace, built without any walls or boundaries between it and the public.
From Karl Johans gate it's easy to find your way to the waterfront and Aker Brygge or to continue west to Frogner Park . I would recommend it as a good place to start your exploration of the city.
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- Castles and Palaces
Grunerlokka -definitely my favourite place in Oslo
Favorite thing: I'd read so much about Grunerlokka being the 'happening' part of Oslo, that I almost expected to dislike it, as I frequently dislike areas that have been too hyped up by guide books.Happily, that didn't happen and it was here that I spent most time and that I loved most, along with the trips to the hills and the lake.
This is a formerly working class area to the east of the city centre that has been reborn as a sort of Left bank or Hampstead, with an influx of the young, enterprising and arty farty. Once you cross over the Akerselva river and start the long trek up Thorvald Meyers gate, the village atmosphere is immediately obvious. I'm sure there are office blocks and commercial premises here but what you notice are the cafes and bars, the funky shops with vintage clothes, the buildings with murals painted on the sides, small grocery and vegetable shops and the almost tangible feeling of relaxation you get from places that are pleasant to live in.
There are two parks along TM gate: first, the small and pretty Olav Ryes plass complete with fountain and further up, the large Sofienberg-parken with its elaborate pavillion. Parallel with TM gate is Markveien, another really great street for browsing and the best for second-hand shops and behind Markveien, is the riverbank walk dotted with tall redbrick chimneys and mills, remnants of the industrial past.
Because our hotel was just at the entrance to Grunerlokka we ate there most evenings and had long leisurely walks afterwards. There is an other side to life in Grunerlokka apparently, the seamier side I'd read about in the novels of Jo Nesbo, but this is certainly not obvious to the casual browser. We always felt comfortable walking there after dark and If I was working or living in Oslo, this is certainly where I'd go apartment hunting.
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Oslo Rådhus (City Hall)
Favorite thing: The Oslo Rådhus (City Hall) is a prominent building at the Oslo harbour front.
The building is designed by architects Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson in 1918. In the 1920's a part of the old town center, the so-called Pipervika, was rebuild to free the space needed for the City Hall. The construction started in 1931, but was halted by World War II
The official opening was in 1950.
In this building the annual Nobel Peace Price presentation ceremony is held.
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Few words in Norvegian
Favorite thing: Below few words in Norvegian that you can use while visiting Norway.
Where is ...?: Hvor er ...?
How much is the fare?: Hvor mye koster billetten?
One ticket to ..., please.: En billett til ..., takk.
Subway, Underground: T-bane
Train station = Jernbanestasjon
Bus station: Busstasjon
Are there any vacancies for tonight?: Er det noe ledig for i natt?
No vacancies: Alt opptatt.
How much does this cost?: Hvor mye koster dette?
What is this?: Hva er dette?
I'll buy it.: Jeg kjøper det.
I would like to buy ...: Jeg vil gjerne ha ...
Do you have ...: Har du ...
Do you accept credit cards?: Tar dere kredittkort?
Tourist Information: Turistinformasjon
Police station: Politistasjon
Store, Shop: Butikk
Today: I dag
Yesterday: I går
Tomorrow: I morgen
Why think twice before to come to Oslo
Favorite thing: You know, but Paris has history, climate and all things what makes city interesting. What you can show me in Oslo ? Holmenkolen ? Opera and...???
I had accomodation at Radisson Scandinavia...believe me in Japan they have bigger rooms. And definitetly rate was hifger than in 5 stars hotel in centrum of tokyo
Prices,..hmmmmm In Paris I have always chioce. In Oslo not at all.
English...hmmm..that makes oslo more comfortable definitely to ask. BUT ask for WHAT? One cathedral closed because of renovation in the middle of toursit season. Aboud food..hmm I ate the worst sushi in my life. WHY in Norway on duty free all stuffs are more expensive than in a shops in the city?
To sum up I prefer no almost speking people in Japan, France than advance conversation in Oslo.
Favorite thing: I backed from Oslo. And truly speaking I am a bit disspointed. this is a really small city nomore than 400 000 inhibitants..No climate. Except the new building of opera. There is nothing I will remember, in next 5 years.
Anything I liked was De Luca caffe or bar. Pretty nice coffee and chocolates nothing more. BUT the prices are really disguisting! Paris is much chipper.
We ate a dinner in a restaurant ikker brikke ... or omething believe me or not 250 $$ for dinner for two with 2 mohijtos. Oh my goodness. I have no idea what I should eat in Paris to pay such a bill ? 4 seasons maybe....
Petrol in Norway!
Favorite thing: Norway is one of the largest petrol producing nations on earth, one would assume that petrol is relativley cheap. Think again - a litre of petrol set you back over US$ 3 or EUR 2.60 - take this in to consideration when planning a road trip, since fuel is almost double to other countries on earth!
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Oslo have 3 airports, don't get confused :)
Favorite thing: A lot of VTers are confused about the 3 airports around Oslo, and how you can get to and from them, or between them.
And for the record, so nobody gets angry with me, Torp and Rygge is not in Oslo, Torp is actually in Sandefjord and Rygge is in Moss, but they are not that far from Oslo.
The 3 airports are:
Oslo International Airport Gardermoen (OSL) located about 20 minuttes north of Oslo. This one is the major one, so if you are looking connecting to domestic flight this is the airport you want to go to, unless you have several hours before your connecting flight.
Airport website: http://www.osl.no/index.asp?languagecode=9
You can get to and from Oslo using bus or train, there are 2 bus companies that operates this route, Flybussekpressen and Flybussen. Busses are generally a bit cheaper than train, but from Gardermoen I would reccomend the Airport express train, it is a lot faster, and a lot more comfortable, specially if you are going into Oslo City Centre. Airport express train website
Gardermoen also have huge selections of trains and busses to other places in Norway, post a question on the Norway forum if you have any problems figuring it out :)
Sandefjord Airport Torp (TRF) located in Sandefjord about 2 hours southwest of Oslo. This airport also have international flights, specially RyanAir and Wizz Air have a lot of flights here.
Airport website: http://www.torp.no/Default.aspx?Language=EN&pkMenu=131
You can get to and from Oslo using bus or train, there are 1 bus company that operates this route, the Torp Ekspressen. There are also a number of companies that stops close to Torp (Fokserod), but that means you have to find a connecting buss to Fokserod (which is doable, but unneccesary if you are going to Oslo. If you are going down the south coast of Norway, i.e Kristiansand, however this is a good option)
Website of Torp Ekspressen
There is not a trainstation within walkingdistance from Torp, but there is a free shuttle bus between Torp Airport and Torp Trainstation. If you are going from Trop to Oslo Airport Gardermoen (OSL) the train is a good idea, because it goes past Oslo to Lillehammer, Gardermoen is one of its stops after Oslo. Website: http://www.nsb.no/?lang=en_US
Moss Airport Rygge (RYG) located in Moss about 1 hour southeast of Oslo. This new airport is mainly operated by Norwegian at the moment.
Airport website: http://www.en.ryg.no/
You can get to and from Oslo using bus or train, there are 2 bus companies that operates this route, Rygge Ekspressen and TIMEkspressen, the last one also takes you to Sarpsborg, Halden and even Stromstad in Sweden, so be carefull about which direction you embark on the airport.
Website of Rygge Ekspressen
TIMEksressen timetable (PDF)
There is not a trainstation within walkingdistance from Rygge, but there is a free shuttle bus between Rygge Airport and Rygge Trainstation. Website: http://www.nsb.no/?lang=en_US
For more information about Oslo, please visit my Oslo page
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Hotel room shortage, BOOK EARLY!
Favorite thing: There is a general shortage of hotel rooms on Oslo, so if you call a travelers agent and they tell you that everything is full, then they are probably right. So the only thing you can do about it is: BOOK EARLY! Even other cities around Oslo tends to get booked out due to this problem, I have heard of people who had to go all the way to Lillehammer (just so you know Lillehammer is 2 and a half hour away by car or train) to get a room, and that was when they tried to book one week ahead.
A day out in Oslo
Favorite thing: I have taken several groups from work to Oslo on day trips - and all of the suggestions which have been made are good and of course it depends on what you wish to see or do when in the city.
If you started with Akershus, you can capture the City Hall, Nobel Musuem, Aker Brygge and then you could take a short ferry ride to visit, Fram, Kontiki and the Viking Ship Museum - then back into the centre for a snack at the Cathedral or somewhere on Karl Johans Gate.
There is of course all the artistic stuff too - inded Vigeland, but then there is the Munch Museum - or you could travel further and see the Holmen Kollen Ski jump.
Lots to do - but a day is never enough time I have found.
Don't forget to smell the roses
Favorite thing: We hear this saying often when we're too stressed to appreciate the small things of life, but at Frognerpark/Vigelandspark I made this come true as I read what the roses are called. All those roses had different fragrances that were just simply unforgettable.
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Favorite thing: Welcome to the country with many strange rules... ;) Many of the closingtimes can be a bit confusing, so I will try to give some general tips.
They normally have to close at 20, but the last years many have been able to have open untill 23. On saturdays many close at 18 (sometimes 21), and sundays they are closed.
BUT (now comes the funny part) if the store is less than 100m2 they can have open untill 22 every day, including sundays... The chain called Bunnpris have mostly stores like this, and some others too.
- Buying alcohol:
Stores can not sell alcohol after 20 on a normal weekday, and after 18 on saturdays, even if the store is open longer. On holidays and electionday (!) they can't sell it at all. Some days that come before a holiday, they can only sell alcohol early in the day, (until 13-15). Normally they put up signs telling you when you can buy alcohol. Especially in Easter and Christmas you have to check out the times.
- Going out:
Most places downtown close at 3.00 - 3.30 in the night, a few have open untill 6 in the morning. But you can't buy alcohol after 3, no matter how long they are open. Almost all of the places that are not downtown close at 00.30 or earlier, which means that most people head downtown at the same time and it can be difficult getting a taxi. The same happens around 3 o'clock when everyone are going home again. So it might be better going out a bit earlier and heading home before 3 if you don't want to spend a lot of time in the taxi queue.
Favorite thing: Norway is a very expencive country! But there is no need to make it more expencive than you have to. Here are a few advices on how to keep the costs down:
- Alcohol and tobacco:
Don't buy it here! Bring it with you if you can. One packet with 20 cigarettes costs more here than a carton with 200 in Spain, and in other countries it's even cheaper, so bringing it along will save you lots of money. You could even sell and make a bit of money... ;)
There are many different kinds of supermarkets, but there is one general rule; big chains like Ica, Kiwi, Rimi, Rema 1000, Coop, Bunnpris and so on, are normally cheapest. Kiosks like Narvesen, Mix, 7-eleven and many others are more expencive, but open longer.
Check out the many foreign stores too. They are many places around the city, and especially in Grønland and Grünerløkka. Here you find lots of more exotic things, and most of them are a lot cheaper than in other places. Especially fruits and vegetables!
There are many attractions in the city which are free. Some of these places are: Akershus fortress, Vigelandspark (a must-see anyway!), Astrup Fearnley Museum of modern art, Armed Forces museum, Botanical garden, Medievalruins (Gamlebyen), National Gallery, Oslo Cathedral, Parliament and many more.
First of all; buy your ticket before going on board, as it costs more from the driver. You can save lots of money on buying one of the many cards (read more on my transportation-tips) or an "Oslopass" which gives you free transportation, free entrance to museums and much more. Also remember that a ticket is valid for one hour after you bought or stamped it. In this hour you can travel as much as you like. Tickets are valid on all buses, trams, metros and ferries in Oslo.
- Eating and drinking:
You can find everything in the city; from the cheapest to the most expencive. More expencive don't necessarily mean better quality... Read more on another tip.
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