Overnight in Oslo: 6 places to see at the city center

After 2 weeks of covering the 2nd Winter Youth Olympics, we left Lillehammer to start our trip around Scandinavia. It was a trip that my fellow Young Reporters and I have been planning and saving up for for 6 months.

We were such a diverse group of travelers – 5 young journalists from Guam, New Zealand, Bulgaria, USA, and the Philippines. It was quite amusing to explain where we were from and how we met whenever we meet fellow travelers and locals.

One of the many statues in the park between the National Theater and the Storting.
One of the many statues in the park between the National Theater and the Storting.

We left Lillehammer at 11 am and arrived in Oslo’s City Center around 2.5 hours after. The thing about Norwegian trains is that they leave and arrive on the dot. Plus, the scenery you pass by is beautiful so you really don’t notice the time.

A few hundred meters from the train station was our apartment, which we rented via AirBnb. Having spent two weeks in Lillehammer, we decided to spend only a night in Oslo so we can visit other countries. We had less than 24 hours to spend in Norway’s capital so we had a packed itinerary.

We dropped off our bags in the apartment, and took the train to the city center, where most of the places we planned to visit were.

If, like us, you have a short time to spend in Oslo, you can go to these places since the city center is a short 15-minute train ride from the airport.

1) Royal Palace of Oslo

This palace is home to the Norwegian royalty
This palace is home to the Norwegian royalty

Fee: Free

Train Station: Nationaltheatret

After a hearty late lunch at a restaurant near the National Theater, we walked to our first destination. The Royal Palace, located right at the heart of Oslo, is home to King Harald V and Queen Sonja. Despite its historical significance, I found the building very simple compared to the royal palaces we visited in other countries and the ones I visited in Southeast Asia.

There were no guided tours when we were there since the palace is only open to visitors during summer. Nonetheless, the palace is scenic and a must-visit for first timers in Oslo. The surrounding park, Slottsparken, is also worth a stroll. I found it beautiful during winter so I can only imagine how lovely it looks like during spring.

2) The Vigeland Park/ Frogner Park

Tourists can stroll around Vigeland Park for free.
Tourists can stroll around Vigeland Park for free.

Fee: Free

Train Station: Various

From the Royal Palace, we took a train to Vigeland Park, another must-see sight in Oslo. The Vigeland Park is the largest sculpture park in the world created by a single artist – Gustav Vigeland, a Norwegian sculptor who also designed the Nobel Peace Prize Medal.

There are more than 200 sculptures in the park and the biggest, most visible one is The Monolith. Although we went there at twilight, we were still able to snap a few good photos.

Right beside the Vigeland Park is the Frogner Park, which is also a good place for a stroll, although it looked dead when we were there because it was winter. We saw some people jogging and doing yoga when we passed by so maybe this is where locals do physical activities.

We headed back to our apartment since it was already dark and there was nothing left to see. We cooked our own dinner, invited some friends over, and drank until midnight – a perfect end to our only night in Oslo.

3) Storting area

The Norwegian Parliament House at the city center.
The Norwegian Parliament House at the city center.

Fee: Free

Train station: Stortinget

I had to wake up early the next morning, despite the obvious hangover, to meet with a Filipina living in Oslo. After we had breakfast and a short chat, she offered to walk me and another Filipino friend around so we were able to see the other places on my itinerary.

Near the restaurant where we ate was Storting, home of the Norwegian Parliament, which has been in use since 1866. Beside the parliament is the Oslo Grand Hotel, where the Nobel Peace Prize Banquet is held every year. The street in between, Karl Johans gate, is where Nobel Peace prize laureates do the torch march. The Filipina recalled how many people were present when US President Barack Obama was awarded a Nobel.

The buildings, a big part of Norway’s rich history, were very aesthetic. I had infrastructure envy just looking at them.

4) Oslo City Hall

Fee: Free on summer

Train station: Kontraskjaeret

Radhuset, where the Nobel Peace Prize is annually awarded.
Radhuset, where the Nobel Peace Prize is annually awarded.

Oslo City Hall or Radhuset as the locals call it, is a few minutes walk away from the Storting. It’s another iconic building of Oslo, because aside from its characteristic architecture, this is also where the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held annually.

We didn’t have time to enter the city hall but according to various websites, the city hall offers free tours to visitors with no booking needed. This is definitely one place in Oslo I have to go back to.

5) Oslo Harbour

Oslo Harbour on a sunny winter morning.
Oslo Harbour on a sunny winter morning.

Fee: Free 

Train station: Kontraskjaeret

Have you ever seen Edvard Munch’s famous “The Scream” painting? The backdrop of Oslo Harbor or Oslo Havn would look familiar if you have. Just across the city hall, yachts and ships are docked in one of the oldest ports in the world.

Whether you’re planning to see Norway’s fjords, go island-hopping, or just take a scenic stroll, this is the place to be. Try to be here during sunset, I heard the view is awesome.

The Nobel Peace Prize Center is just a few meters away from the city hall.
The Nobel Peace Prize Center is just a few meters away from the city hall.

On the right end of the port, facing the sea, you’ll see the Nobel Peace Center, where laureates’ works are presented. Again, because of the time constraint, we weren’t able to enter but tourists can see the exhibits inside for NOK 100.

6) Akershus Fortress

The walkway on top of the Akershus Fortress' walls.
The walkway on top of the Akershus Fortress’ walls.

Fee: Free on summer

Train station: Kontraskjaeret

One of the many buildings inside the Akershus Fortress
One of the many buildings inside the Akershus Fortress

On the side of the harbor, opposite the Nobel Peace Center is Akershus Fortress, a castle on a hill originally built to protect Oslo which has also been used as a prison.

It is estimated that this castle is around 700 years old, going back to the days when Oslo was still called Christiania. Some buildings inside the fortress are still in their medieval style and there are museums inside that you can enter for free.

The top of the fortress gives a magnificent view of Oslo and Oslo Harbor. Make sure you bring a good camera when you go there.

Takk, Oslo!

After visiting Akershus, my friend and I took a train back to our apartment. Trains and trams in Oslo are very efficient although – like everything in Norway – it is expensive. If we weren’t short on time, I would have preferred to just walk.

When we got to our apartment, we immediately packed our stuff and headed to the bus station. We were headed for Gothenburg, Sweden that afternoon.

Aside from its historical significance, Karl Johans gate is also one of Oslo's shopping districts.
Aside from its historical significance, Karl Johans gate is also one of Oslo’s shopping districts.

Although I spent a lot of time in Norway, there’s a lot of reasons for me to visit Oslo again. I didn’t get to enter any museums – a must for me whenever I travel – see any of Edvard Munch’s paintings, or even got to party.

As is often said, this Norwegian capital has been here for a thousand years. After 24 hours in the city, I can cite a thousand reasons more why I should visit Oslo again.

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