Hoping to head to an interesting destination with tons of activities for those on a budget? Look no further than Oslo, Norway. The capital of Norway, for all its attractions and tourists, is actually a pretty cheap place to visit! Take a day and explore the shopping scene or try a restaurant or two and determine your favorite.
Being the biggest city in Norway and the economic hub of the country, you would expect things to be pricey. But there are many things you can see and do while in Oslo that do not cost a thing. Where do you find the top free things to do in Oslo? Keep reading to see what activities need to be on your itinerary.
Arriving in this unique city and your hotel is not yet expecting you? Find Oslo luggage storage lockers to stow your bags safely. Then, get started experiencing the intriguing attractions. From sculpture parks to museums (yes, some of them are free) to beaches, when you visit Oslo you will find plenty to do without spending a dime!
Check Out the Outdoor Art
One of the best free things to do in Oslo is to go art hunting in all the outdoor spaces you can find. The streets and parks have become art galleries brimming with unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of several different types including sculptures and paintings.
Ekebergparken Sculpture Park
This park opened in 2013 and has become a very popular tourist attraction where you can see a diverse exhibition of artworks as well as panoramic views of the city. See 40 different pieces on display by several renowned international artists including Rodin, Hirst, Dali, and Renoir. There are also works by several notable Norwegian artists including Dyre Vaa, Per Inge Biorlo, Per Ung, Hilde Maehlum, and Knut Steen.
Walking Woman by Sean Henry, a British sculptor, is a breathtaking sculpture of a woman frozen in motion in the forest. Another must-see sculpture is Fideicommissum by Swedish artist Ann-Sofi Sidén. Bring along a picnic and spend a lazy afternoon here.
Aside from the art at Ekebergparken, there are over 40 bird species that make nests here and you will have a pretty good chance that you will cross paths with deer, foxes, and even bats as you stroll through the trails of the park.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park
One of the most famous sculpture parks in the world, The Vigeland Park is home to over 200 sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland. It is the biggest sculpture park made by one artist in the entire world and about one million visitors come to the park each year.
Located in Jevnaker, the Kistefos-Museet is another wonderful sculpture park filled with international and Norwegian artists including Olafur Eliasson, Marianne Heske, Bjarne Melgaard, Magne Furuholmen, Tony Cragg, and Kiell Nupen. There is a great museum, The Twist, in the park as well.
There are seven streets that have outstanding street art in Oslo. You do not want to miss the opportunity to see these seven walls in person when you visit the city. These seven walls were tagged by renowned street artist, Martin Whatson. Whatson has also created amazing murals in Paris, Tokyo, and New York.
Visit a Museum for Free
Most of the museums in Oslo do require you to purchase a ticket for admission. Many of the art galleries in Oslo do offer free admission and there are a handful of museums that offer free admission to certain collections or during certain days and times. Some of the museums offer free entry for those with an Oslo city pass.
National Museum – Architecture
With over 300,000 artifacts that date from the 1830s to the present day, this museum is a terrific place to spend a few hours exploring photographs, drawings, and models of Norway’s architecture. The main building of the National Museum – Architecture is amazing to see; it was designed by Christian Heinrich Grosch and was finished in 1830. Admission is free on Thursdays.
Opened in 1963, this art museum is a wonderful place to spend an hour or so checking out several works by Edvard Munch, a Norwegian artist. The museum used to be at Toven but was moved to Biovika in 2021. There are 13 floors filled with breathtaking and unique artwork that you do not want to miss. Just about everyone, art aficionado or not, knows the painting The Scream by Edvard Munch.
Oslo City Hall
While the Oslo City Hall may not be on the top of your list of must-see places when you are in Oslo, it is a building that you will be glad you decided to explore. Inaugurated in 1950, it is the home to Oslo’s City Council and administrative body. The building itself is decorated in breathtaking Norwegian art dating from 1900 to 1950. The motifs are centered around Norwegian culture, work, and history.
Carillon concerts are held at Oslo City Hall on the first Saturday of each month beginning at 11:00 a.m. During June, July, and August the Carillon concerts are held each Sunday at 3:00 p.m. These concerts are free and right in the middle of downtown Oslo.
Natural History Museum
Located right in the heart of Oslo, the Natural History Museum is filled with interesting things that will grab your attention and make you want to stay for a while. Stand in a tropical storm, stroll through a rainforest, learn about plants from around the globe, and visit with dinosaurs. The Botanical Garden is a part of the Natural History Museum.
Being the largest natural history museum in Norway, there is plenty to see and learn about as you discover the natural habitats of various animals around the world. There are interesting geological exhibits that recently opened. Find four floors to explore and six permanent exhibits including large gems, fossils, gold nuggets, meteorites, dinosaurs, and a crystal cave.
The Botanical Garden was first opened in 1814 but it has grown to include over 5,000 different plant species. It is a popular spot for locals and visitors. Stroll through the fragrance garden, mountain garden, and sensory garden. Visit the Botanical Garden at no cost.
Take an Urban Walk
One of the best things to do in Oslo for free is to take a stroll through along Oslo’s waterfront. The Harbour Promenade is about 5.6 miles long and is the best way to get to know the city. You do not have to walk the entire promenade; you can pick and choose which sections you want to see.
You can also take a free walking tour of Oslo City Centre and admire the amazing sights while you meander through the streets. Take a hike along the river Akerselva for beautiful views of the city and water. The riverwalk along Akerselva River is about 4.9 miles long and you will follow the river from Maridalsvannet Lake to Vaterland Park.
As you explore the riverwalk, you will pass forests, historical buildings, swimming spots, and fishing holes. Look for amazing waterfalls including one of the highest waterfalls near Oslo, located next to the Bejer Bridge.
Plan to walk along Damstredet and Telthusbakken, located in a rather charming section of Oslo with several wooden houses that date back to the late 1700s and 1800s. Take the cobbled street of Damstredet lined with well-preserved wooden houses. It is a rather short street that connects Akersvejen and Fredensborgvejen.
Meander along Telthusbakken. On one side of the street is a large garden, Egeberglokka, where you can stroll along the romantic “Love Trail.” There are more small wooden houses along Telthusbakken.
Tour Akershus Fortress
This royal palace was built in 1299 and is a rather impressive medieval castle that was built to be the main royal residence. The fortress has been the namesake and center of the main county, or main fief in the Middle Ages, of Akershus. Akershus was one of the four original main regions of Norway.
The historical significance of the castle will make it an interesting place to visit. King Hakon V had Akershus Fortress built in a strategic location and it has withstood several sieges. During King Christian IV’s reign, the castle was modernized into a Renaissance castle. Guided tours are available throughout the summer. Stop by the Fortress Visitor Centre and sign up to get informed.
Visit the Oldest Remaining Building in Oslo
The Old Aker Church or Gamle Aker Kirke is the only remaining church that dates back to the Middle Ages. Many historians have estimated that the Old Aker Church was built sometime near 1150 A.D. The building is made of stone and was built in the Romanesque style with three naves.
Enjoy free entry into the church where you can see traces of its rather turbulent past. It has been ravaged by fire and pillages several times through the years. The surrounding churchyard and cemetery date to the 12th century. Take in the tower that was built in 1861 and the baptismal font and baroque pulpit that is from 1715. Visit on Sundays and sit in on the service at 11:00 a.m.
Explore Norsk Folkemuseum
This iconic open-air museum is a magnificent place to visit, but it does charge an admission fee except during specific days of each month. Sometimes, admission is included in a tour package. This is the largest cultural museum in Oslo and has buildings from urban and rural Norway dating back to the Middle Ages.
With 158 buildings creating a miniature version of Norway, this open-air museum is home to several collections from around the country. Learn how Norwegian people lived from the 1500s to the present day. You can easily spend an entire day at this museum and still not see everything that is offered.
Discover the Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House is home to the Norwegian Opera and Ballet and is the biggest theatrical and music institution in Norway. With about 300 shows each year, it is a busy venue but you still want to make the time to discover the intricate design of the opera house. Even if you are not staying for a performance, come take a tour.
The intricate design of the Oslo Opera House includes a rooftop that you can take a stroll on, and a threshold filled with fantastic art. Stand on the roof of the building and look out over the Bjorvika peninsula to check out the city from this vantage point.
Spend the Day at Frogner Park
Frogner Park is the biggest park in central Oslo and is home to Vigeland Sculpture Park. It is free to visit this popular recreational park and you will meet a lot of locals. On a nice day, the park is filled with people jogging, walking, having a picnic, soaking up the sun, playing with their dogs, or even playing badminton.
There is an open-air pool, Frognerbadet, and the Frogner Stadium in the corner of the park. Located near Frogner Plass, in a corner of the park, you can visit the Museum of Oslo and Frogner Manor House. The largest playground in Norway is located near the entrance to Frogner Park and there is also a restaurant and café near the playground.
Visiting Oslo For Free
Check out Oslo Central Station, sign up for a few Oslo tours, say a prayer in the Oslo Cathedral, and stroll by Karl Johans Gate. There are so many fascinating, and fabulous free things to do in Oslo. Staying on budget when you are vacationing in Norway is not a difficult thing if you know where to find cheap or free things to do in the city.
Being a tourist in Oslo is great fun and with these helpful tips, you will not break the bank. Visiting Norway and learning about Oslo's history is a wonderful way to connect with friends or family. Check out the local parks and museums, and be sure to enjoy the contemporary art exhibits at local galleries.