Oslo, the Norwegian capital, is the center of the country’s trade, shopping, and industry. Its Harbour is the largest and the busiest in Norway and a famous destination for tourists and locals. Stretching around nine kilometers, the Harbour Promenade is home to top-notch museums, art galleries, restaurants, and iconic buildings. These include the City Hall, the medieval Akershus Castle, National Museum, the Nobel Peace Center, and many more.
Endless and boundless experiences await you in the capital of Norway, whether you’re interested in beach activities, winter adventures, architecture, or the urban sauna culture. Oslo has plenty of free things to do too! But no matter your interest, make sure you set aside a day or two of your schedule to tour the best museums in Oslo. Apart from their displays of unique artifacts, many of the city’s cultural centers are renowned architectural masterpieces worth exploring. So, leave your bags with luggage storage in Oslo to start your adventure worry- and burden-free!
The Kon-Tiki Museum was founded in Oslo after the world-renowned, dramatic 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition by Thor Heyerdahl. He is one of the most famous explorers in history after crossing the Pacific Ocean on just a balsawood raft, Kon-Tiki. It was his first voyage documented on film, awarding him an Academy Award for best documentary four years later in 1951.
The exhibitions at the Kon-Tiki Museum feature informative texts in various languages detailing Heyerdahl’s trips and expeditions. You’ll also get to know him more, his work, see the vessels, and watch the 1950 documentary film Kon-Tiki. Guided tours, school visits, and events are also something to look forward to as you visit the museum, which remains open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM year-round.
Location: Bygdøynesveien 36, 0286 Oslo, Norway
A stone’s throw from Kon-Tiki Museum is another Oslo museum you should see while in the area. It’s the highest-rated museum in Bygdøy, a peninsula close to Oslo City Centre. At the museum, visitors can board the wooden polar vessel and see how the crew survived in the most dangerous and coldest places on the planet, the Antarctic and the Arctic.
Of course, the highlight of your visit is the mighty Fram, the world’s most famous and strongest wooden ship ever constructed and a symbol of the city’s participation in the age of exploration. You can see the cabins, cargo hold, engine room, and lounges. Another permanent exhibition is the Gjøa, the first vessel to sail through the Northwest Passage. The Fram Museum also offers a new featured exhibition each year, offering visitors something unique and fascinating to explore whenever they visit.
The museum can be reached by ferry from the City Hall quayside or by bus. Apart from the Kon-Tiki Museum, it is also close to the Norwegian Maritime Museum. The Norwegian Folk Museum and the Viking Ship Museum, with their preserved Viking ships, are also within a short walking distance.
Location: Bygdøynesveien 39, 0286 Oslo, Norway
National Museum (Nasjonalmuseet)
For those who want to experience Oslo’s culture through its arts, the National Museum is the best place to be. It holds Norway’s most extensive collection of artworks, crafts, and architecture from the past to the present, amounting to over 6,500 artifacts. This includes Norwegian fashion, imperial porcelain, landscape paintings, politics, and contemporary art. You’ll also see works from famous artists like Pablo Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh.
The new National Museum prides itself as one of the Nordic countries' largest art museums. It’s a place to appreciate modern and older art, contemporary art, design, and architecture under one roof. Its collections are arranged chronologically, making it easy for visitors to follow Norway’s history and for immersion and active learning. While it requires a ticket to enter the National Museum, members of the museum are privileged to free admission, as well as those belonging to particular groups, as indicated on their official website.
Location: Pb. 7014 St. Olavs plass N–0130 Oslo, Norway
Oslo City Museum
Get an insight into the city’s colorful past and rich history through various exhibitions at the Museum of Olso. It is housed in the majestic Frogner Manor, which can be explored on guided tours during summer. The museum has been in the Manor House since 1905, featuring gorgeous interiors, portraits, and landscape photos from Oslo when it was called Christiania in the 1800s.
The Oslo City Museum chronicles the dynamic past of the city through thematic exhibitions. They depict the city’s development and commercial and cultural activities through the centuries. Its leading exhibition is “OsLove,” focusing on the people who lived in Oslo and created its unique atmosphere. It features digital storytelling, films, interviews, photos, and paintings. It is open daily except for Mondays, from 11 AM to 4 PM.
Location: Frognerveien 67, Oslo, Norway
Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum)
The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, known as Norsk Folkemuseum, is one of Europe’s grandest and oldest open-air museums, established in 1894. It boasts more than 160 Norwegian buildings, giving you a first-hand experience of how people lived in the country in 1500. It's undoubtedly one of the top museums in Oslo, with impressive objects and artifacts from different periods of Norwegian history.
Visitors can go around the village-like open-air museum to see the historic building and centuries-old houses up close. When going there, you must not miss the famous 13th-century Gol Stave Church, renowned for its all-wood structure and fighting dragon carvings.
The Norsk Folkemuseum is open daily, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with access to its permanent exhibitions, children's playground, museum shop, and Café Arkadia. On weekends, you can check out its other programs and locations like Baking Lefse, Greet the Animals, The Grocery Store, Fairytales, Washing Little Brother’s Shirt, Peel Potatoes, and The Blacksmith.
Location: Museumsveien 10, Bygdøy, 0287 Oslo, Norway
The Historical Museum (Historisk museum)
Discover Norwegian history from the Stone Age and Viking Age to the Medieval period at the Historical Museum in Oslo. It is situated in the central city, housed in a magnificent Art Nouveau building. It is part of the University of Oslo and the Museum of Cultural History, boasting the country’s largest collection of ethnographic and archaeological objects.
Some of the artifacts you’ll find at the Historical Museum include two of the world’s best-preserved Viking helmets and Egyptian mummies. There’s also a collection of Classical antiquities, Norwegian items, a Santal collection, coins, and many more. If you’re visiting with a group, you can organize special guided tours for up to 30 people. The guide will take you through the exhibitions for sixty minutes.
Location: Frederiks gate 2, 0164 Oslo
Nobel Peace Center
Almost everyone has at least heard about the Nobel Peace Prize, and Oslo’s Nobel Peace Center houses the ideas, works, and causes of the laureates or awardees throughout the years. The museum was established in 2005 to promote the Nobel Peace Prize winners’ stories and ignite a spark of change in peoples’ thoughts and actions.
Just 5 minutes from Oslo Central Station, the Nobel Peace Center has also served as a center for politics and a platform for starting debates and educating the masses about peace, conflicts, and war. It’s ideal for those who want to deepen their understanding of current peace topics and for educators and students in general. The museum is open daily from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and admission is free for children up to 11 years old, those with an Oslo Card or City Card, main sponsors, and employees with their families and friends.
Location: Brynjulf Bulls Plass 1, 0250 Oslo, Norway
The Munch Museum offers the grandest exhibition of Edvard Munch, a Norwegian artist famously known for his work, The Scream. The over 42,000 collection comprises Munch’s paintings, drawings, sketches, graphics, motifs, and sculptures he donated to Oslo in 1940. Also included are his original photographs, printing plates, lithographic stones, handwritten texts and letters, and personal belongings.
The new Munch Museum is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Wednesdays to Sundays until 9:00 PM. Admission is free for those under 15 and Munch Museum members and guests with their companions. Members of certain groups may also be eligible for free tickets, as indicated on their official website. However, there could be limitations due to venue capacity.
Location: Munchmuseet Postboks 3304 Sørenga, s0140 Oslo, Norway
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
One of the most renowned contemporary museums in Europe is the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. So if you visit Oslo, it should be on your go-to list. It was founded in 1993, and the collection has grown and become more popular over the years. Besides the exhibition, the museum offers guided tours, art talks, family workshops, and art clubs. All these activities were established to provide more background knowledge about art and the artists’ perspectives.
To visit Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, go to the museum during its opening hours, from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, until 7:00 PM on Thursdays. It’s also open from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekends. Members of the museum and visitors under 18 can enter for free.
Location: Strandpromenaden 2, 0252 Oslo, Norway
Technik Museum is Norway’s largest museum dedicated to natural science, medicine, technology, and industry. It features permanent exhibitions, interactive installations, and a one-of-a-kind educational experience. It also has activities for physics and natural phenomenon experiments, 3D printing, and programming, among many others.
While Oslo’s Technik Museum is open and ideal for visitors of all ages, kids may have the most fun with the museum’s displays and activities. It’s also educational, such as in their exhibitions like Life and Death, Lødingen Telegraph Station, and The Heat Treatment. They can even hear one of the earliest recordings ever made with the Studer J37 tape recorder, which was used by many in the mid-1960s, including The Beatles.
Location: Kjelsåsveien 143 0491 Oslo, Norway
Intercultural Museum (Interkulturelt Museum)
Deepen your understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity at Intercultural Museum. It includes displays about immigration history, prejudices, and culture. It currently has two exhibitions: Hjertebank and Typical.
Hjertebank is an exhibition focusing on love, marriage, and passion in Oslo’s diverse city. It features stories about love from the locals across tradition, generation, and age. On the other hand, the ‘Typical’ exhibition invites visitors to reflect on various crucial subjects, including bias in daily life, racism, and xenophobia.
Location: Tøyenbekken 5, Oslo, Norway
What are the best free museums in Oslo?
Norway is known as one of the world’s most expensive countries to live in and visit, so visiting Oslo doesn’t come cheap. But it doesn’t mean you should skip the Norwegian capital entirely on your travel plans. You can still visit numerous art galleries and museums in the city on a budget by taking advantage of its free offerings. Intercultural Museum is one of the free Oslo museums you can check out, while Oslo City Museum offers free admission every Saturday.
Which are the best museums in Oslo City Centre?
You’ll find yourself surrounded by top Oslo museums, award-winning buildings, and iconic landmarks in the city center. The Munch Museum and the Nobel Peace Center are definitely worth a visit, offering plenty of photo opportunities, exhibitions, music, and fun experiences.
Are there any cheap museums in Oslo?
So, you’ve already been to the free museums in Oslo and still want to explore other cultural venues and art centers on a budget. Thankfully, you can still stick to your budget while discovering the city’s history, art, and culture at its inexpensive museums. Check out the Historical Museum and Fram Museum.
Learn and Connect with Norway’s Past at the Top Oslo Museums!
With more than fifty museums in Norway’s capital, you’re sure to find whatever piques your interest in Oslo. The city has everything from natural history museums to specialty museums focusing on ships, animals, Vikings, arts, and photography. It’s a good idea to obtain the Oslo Pass to maximize your trip, giving you free access to thirty city museums and sights!