How To See Oslo, Norway on a Budget

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Oslo, the beautiful, historic capital of Norway, is known to be one of the most expensive cities in Europe. And not take-the-bus-instead-of-a-cab expensive, rather walk-everywhere-because-you-can’t-afford-transportation expensive.

But not to worry — this doesn’t mean anyone on a budget can’t explore this Scandinavian tourist hub. There are plenty of ways to beat the high prices, if you do a little homework.

Eating

Sorry folks, but eating out is pretty much out of the question if you’re on a budget. A typical meal in Oslo costs between 200 – 400 NOK ($25-$50 USD or €22 -€44 EUR). Multiply that by three meals a day and, well, you get the idea.

The best solution is to visit a supermarket, such as Rimi or Kiwi, and stock up on local goodies you can prepare in your hostel’s kitchen. I managed to scrape by with the basics — eggs, bread, veggies, chicken, yogurt and fruit — and saved tons of money.

With few extra bills in your wallet, you can splurge on one or two meals out without breaking the bank. (If you’re like me and love visiting restaurants in other countries, try simply ordering a coffee or a crescent, then eat a full meal when you get back to the hostel).

Free things to Do


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Frogner Park and Vigeland Sculpture ParkProbably my favorite spot in the city, this 79-acre (32-ha) stretch of land is the largest sculpture park in the world made by a single artist. The 212 life-size sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron depict the human experience and are positioned in parallel lines that guide you through the park. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting the Norwegian capital and entrance is completely free.

Changing of the Guard – Enjoy watching soldiers march, toss their rifles and salute each other? Every day at 1:30 p.m. catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Royal Palace of Oslo for free. Look out for a few ponytails sticking out from under the helmets; many of the guards are women.

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Oslo Opera House – Attending a show may be be a distant dream, but you don’t have to spend a dime to visit the outside of the Oslo Opera House and walk around its artsy exterior. The majestic structure sits on the the Bjorvika waterfront and looks like an iceberg emerging from the fjord. Climb to the top for an amazing 360 view of the Oslo waterfront.

Oslo City Hall – See art for free. The entrance of Oslo City Hall is an art gallery, showcasing modern paintings, sculptures and photographs from Norwegian artists. It’s no Prado Museum, but the small gallery is a free way to get a glimpse of the contemporary Norwegian art scene.

Cheap things to Do

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Akershus Fortress – This medieval castle-turned-fortress is one of the coolest attractions in Oslo. Entrance is 50 NOK ($6 USD or €5.5 EUR) for a student ticket; but you can forgo going inside and walk around outside for free. Walk along the hill outside the fortress and it will take you to an overlook where you can see all of Oslo’s harbor and cityscape.

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Viking Ship Museum – As usual, have your student ID ready. Admission to this museum that features some of the oldest Viking ships and artifacts in the world is 50 NOK ($6 USD or €5.5 EUR) for students. Bonus! Your ticket will also get you admission to the Historical Museum, so save the stub! Learn from my mistake, though: the Historical Museum is closed on Mondays so don’t plan to go then.

Transportation

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Walking or biking will always be the cheapest (and healthiest) option, but for some attractions, like the Viking Ship Museum, you’ll want a lift.

Ruter, Oslo’s tranport system, is *reasonably* priced at 30 NOK ($3.70 USD  or €3.30 EUR) for single use,  90 NOK ($11 USD  or €10 EUR) for a 24-hour pass, and  240 NOK ($30 USD  or €27 EUR) for a 7-day pass. Note: if you’re in Oslo for three days or more, the 7-day pass is the cheapest option.

A transport ticket will give you access to buses, trams, subways (t-bane), local trains and ferries. Yes, I said ferries. Hop on a boat to a neighboring fjord and get a relaxing ride with a great view of the Norwegian waterways and islands.

Olso may be one of the most expensive cities you’ll ever visit, but that doesn’t mean you need a small fortune to be able to see some of the best sights the city has to offer. Follow these tips and you’ll have a few bucks to spare for a few troll doll souvenirs.

 

Welcome to Oslo, Norway: the most expensive city in Europe

Well, the headline pretty much sums up this leg of our journey. After flying out of Schipohl Airport in Amsterdam and landing in Oslo, Norway, Sarah and I were immediately shocked by the horrendously high prices — $8 USD tall Americano at Starbucks? But…why?

We had prepared ourselves for the unpreventable blow to our wallets due to crazy high prices, but we we didn’t expect all of the extra fees we would have to pay. We had to take a train from the airport to Oslo’s central train station ($25 USD for adults, $12 for students if you remember your student ID!) and then from the train station take another street car to our hostel. We decided to forgo the second train and go by foot.

As we wandered through the streets, looking for our hostel, I took in the sights around me. Pained as I was by the high prices, I will admit Oslo is a beautiful city. The buildings stood tall and dark, and something about the architecture screamed power. The wide streets accommodated hoards of pedestrians, cars, buses and trains, but somehow the chaos seemed orderly, purposeful. Though the city is located right on the coast, there was no beachy vibe, rather an industrial, highly urbanized one. It was a place of productivity. And the people were tall, good-looking and surprisingly diverse in appearance.

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After a few wrong turns and a lot of “Didn’t we already pass this?” we spotted Anker Hostel. Again we were taken aback by the expenses. We had to pay for our linens (about $7 USD each) and were told kitchen supplies were to be rented from the front desk with a deposit of 100 NOK (or $15 USD) for three hours.

Welcome to Norway.

We were pleasantly surprised by our room, however. We had an incredibly spacious private room with a private bath, a large wardrobe, a coffee table with two chairs, and big bright, windows. But the best part was the full kitchen, equipped with stove, sink and mini-fridge, and a dining room table. We squealed with delight at the sight. With these amenities, we could avoid high prices at restaurants and cook our own meals – which is exactly what we did.

After settling in, we headed out to figure out the transportation system and find a grocery store. We struggled with both – from discerning which tickets maximized our budget to time ratio, to finding a grocery store that was open past 6 p.m. (weird), but we finally succeeded in both.

We made a healthy dinner of chicken and salad that night with our rented utensils from the hostel and headed to early. So far, Oslo was beautiful, but it seriously was a pain in my wallet.