Oslo, Norway, is a great place to begin or end a trip to Norway and the fjords. This mid-sized city is built up around Oslo fjord and has beautiful harbor views. Oslo is easy to navigate, with great public transportations options. Norway's independence from Sweden is recent history (1905), and the pride Norwegians feel in their country is evident. The city is clean, safe, and friendly.
If you are visiting Norway, make time to stop for a day or two in Oslo. I recommend the Oslo Pass. The Oslo Pass was a good bargain for us because we popped into five different museums for quick visits in a 24-hour period. The Oslo Pass can be purchased in 24-hour increments, so we were able to use it one afternoon and the next morning, which was handy. The Oslo Pass includes over 30 museums and all public transportation in the city.
Top 10 Spots for Families in Oslo, Norway
Frogner Park is a beautiful, free park that must top your list to visit in Oslo. If you are traveling with children, this park is a great place to play and run around between museum visits. The highlight of the park is over 200 sculptures made by Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland. Vigeland's art focuses on human interactions and relationships, and we loved the detail and emotion in each different sculpture.
Frogner Park is open year-round and is well lit at night. Enjoy a picnic along the river, an outdoor swimming pool, the largest playground in Oslo, Norway, and thousands of beautiful rose bushes. Take a picnic or in the summer, grab a meal at the cafe open in the summer.
The Vigeland Museum, the Oslo City Museum, and Frogner Manor House are located within Frogner Park if you have time for more exploring.
How long? 1 hour for a quick walk through. All day if you want to relax, picnic, and enjoy the park.
Norwegian Folk Museum
The Norwegian Folk Museum is an open-air museum featuring 160 buildings that is a perfect place for families to explore and learn about Norway's history. The buildings represent different regions and time periods in Norway, and in many buildings and homes there are guides dressed in traditional folk attire to answer questions. The Gol stave church, dating from 1200, is housed in the Norwegian folk museum and was the highlight of our visit.
In the summer, the museum hosts many outdoor folk festivals with traditional dancing, cooking, and activities. We spent a few hours exploring this museum and could have stayed all day if we had the time.
How long? 2-4 hours. You need a minimum of 2 hours and could probably stay all day if you had time.
The Fram Museum is dedicated to Norwegian polar explorers and is built around the world's most famous polar exploration ship, the Fram. Between 1893 and 1914, the Fram made three historic expeditions to the North and South poles. The Fram is a wooden ship that was engineered to withstand freezing in the artic ice during winter as it sailed over the North pole. This ship set records as the wooden ship to go the furthest north and south of any ship and was the first to reach the South pole.
The Fram Museum is packed with information and amazing stories of explorers like Roald Amundsen. We spent over two hours reading the details of these Norwegian explorers who took to the seas to explore the poles.
How long? 2-3 hours.
Viking Ship Museum
The Viking Ship Museum houses the world's best preserved Viking ship, dating from the early 800s. This museum will not take long to visit, but is a must-see when you are in Oslo, Norway. The wooden Viking ships featured in the museum were burial ships for prominent men and women, which helped in the preservation of these historic ships. The woodworking detail on the Oseberg ship will astound you.
Nobel Peace Center
A stop in the Nobel Peace Center in the middle of Oslo, Norway, should be a high priority. When I was planning our trip, I almost skipped this one because of time constraints and I am so glad I didn't. The main gallery features exhibits on that year's Nobel Peace Prize winners. The 2014 winners on display were Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi for their work for education rights for children. The upper floor of the museum showcases past winners and their accomplishments.
Norway's Resistance Museum
Norway's Resistance Museum has interesting information about the German occupation of Norway during WWII, but I have to admit this museum felt a little tired to me and was my least favorite of the museums we visited in Oslo. If you love WWII history, this museum is a must. If you've got time, I still recommend it, but I think in retrospect I would have rather spent taking the guided tour of Askershus Fortress, which is the fortress where the Resistance Museum is located.
How long? 1-2 hours.
The Kon-Tiki Museum, named after a six-person balsawood raft that crossed the Pacific Ocean in 1947, is dedicated to the work and explorations of scientist Thor Heyerdahl. I didn't have time to visit this museum but hope to catch it next time I am in Oslo, Norway.
How long? 1-2 hours.
Holmenkollen Ski Jump
Stretching high up into the sky just above Oslo sits the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, the most modern ski jump in the world. At the base of the ski jump, you can tour the Ski Museum for 4,000 years of skiing history and exhibits on Norwegian polar explorers. There are wonderful views of Oslo fjord from the observation booth at the top of the Ski Jump.
How long? 1-2 hours.
Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House was designed to resemble a glacier rising out of Oslo fjord, and the sloped white marble and glass windows make a stunning picture on the harbor. We only had time to walk around the outside of the Opera House, but many tourists enjoy concerts or backstage tours (available on weekends). Check out the performance schedule if you want to catch a concert or tour.
How long? 30 minutes to enjoy exterior.
Karl Johans Gate
Oslo is a very walkable city, and the main city street is Karl Johans Gate. This street is filled with tourists and locals enjoying dinner, shopping, bars, and tourist attractions. Hotels near Karl Johans Gate would be a great location for your trip to Oslo, Norway.
Planning a Trip to Norway?
Check out our Europe Pinterest board for more great blog posts about Norway. You may also like the following Tips for Family Trips posts:
- Photo Essay: Beautiful Photos of Norway my husband took of our trip in May 2015.
- Land of the Fjords: Tips for Planning a Trip to Norway
- Bergen, Norway: 4 Must-See Destinations and Planning Tips
- Driving the Sognefjell Mountain Road