Oslo on a budget: 8 travel hacks to save on your trip
The capital of Norway, Oslo, is rich in attractions. The Royal Palace, Oslo Opera House, Oslo Cathedral, and the world-famous Viking Ship Museum are just some of the great things there are to do when you visit Oslo. As one of the cultural capitals of northern Europe, Oslo is a fantastic place to visit, full of rich history, cool Scandinavian culture, and great places to eat.
As well as being rich in attractions, Oslo is also just plain rich. A decades-long oil boom has made Norway wealthy, and that, in turn, has made Oslo expensive. The price of attractions, accommodation, and food in this expensive city can make seeing Oslo on a budget a tricky proposition.
Still, there are some good ways to save money when visiting Oslo. Even from the moment you arrive at Oslo Airport, you can take advantage of money-saving tips, such as getting yourself an Oslo Pass for free public transport and free entrance to many of the city's top museums.
Another great tip is to leave your bags behind at a luggage storage so you can explore more freely. Bounce provides luggage storage in Oslo and in hundreds of cities around the world so that you never have to carry more than is absolutely necessary. Traveling light will make it much easier to get the most out of this famous city.
If you look around, there are lots of ways to enjoy Oslo on a budget. Here is your complete guide on how to save money while visiting this expensive city.
Cheap places to stay in Oslo
Generally, finding a place to stay will make up the biggest single item on your vacation budget. That's why finding a cheap hotel is one of the best things you can do to save money when you visit Oslo. Naturally, everyone wants to stay close to Oslo city centre, since that's where you'll find the best restaurants and many of the city's top cultural activities such as the Royal Palace and City Hall.
However, Oslo has an excellent public transportation system that is the key to visiting Oslo on a budget. Staying outside of the city center can save you a lot of money on your accommodation. Plus, it's worth bearing in mind that many of Oslo's top attractions, such as the Viking Ship Museum, are well outside the city center, so you'll need to take public transportation to get to them anyway. Regardless of what you're looking for, one of the neighborhoods in Oslo will be perfect for you.
Another thing to consider when looking for holiday accommodation is food. You can take advantage of a short-term vacation rental through sites like Airbnb and VRBO to get yourself an apartment with cooking facilities. This can save you a lot of money on meals.
However, if you do want to stay in central Oslo on a budget, there are some good options available here too. Here are some of the best:
Thon Hotel Vika Atrium
In a city as expensive as Oslo, you wouldn't necessarily expect to find a four-star hotel available for not much more than $100 a night in the height of summer. But that's what the Thon Hotel offers. Located right by the city's main ferry terminal, this hotel set in a modern glass building offers rooms at $115 a night in the August tourist season.
Just a few minutes walk from the Royal Palace and City Hall, a three-minute walk from the nearest tram stop, and a nine-minute walk to the Nationaltheatret Metro stop, making it convenient for the excellent public transportation network of the Norwegian capital. The cheapest hotel room on offer features a double bed, a television with a Chromecast, a private bathroom, a refrigerator, and air conditioning. It may not be fancy, but it's everything you need and won't blow your Oslo budget.
Located to the west of central Oslo, this hotel is on the way to the popular Viking Ships Museum and the Norwegian Folk Museum. This is a quieter location to stay in away from the noise of the city center, but it's well connected with public transport thanks to the popular museums out here. It's also a great option for cheap accommodation.
Villa Internationals can provide you with a hotel room in August for as little as $75. This is really more of a guesthouse than a hotel, and the distinctive old building offers a garden. The rooms have shared bathrooms, and some even come with a kitchenette and refrigerator so you can cook your own meals.
Tram line 13 runs from close to this hotel into the center of the city. It's even possible to walk from here to central Oslo in around 30 minutes. So if saving money is the most important thing to you when you visit Oslo, this is a basic but tempting option.
Forenom Aparthotel Oslo
More or less right in the center of Oslo with a Metro station right outside, this apartment hotel is a fantastic option for those looking to visit Oslo on a budget. It's classified as a two-star hotel, so you won't get a lot of fancy amenities, although there is free parking and a restaurant on site. But it's the city centre location that really makes this option stand out. Well, that and the price.
The cheapest option is a studio apartment for two which features a double bed and a private bathroom and will cost around $125 per night, even in August. Notably, this affordable hotel room features a fully equipped kitchen with a microwave, oven, stovetop, and refrigerator. You can save a lot of money by not eating out and cooking your own meals. There are lots of grocery stores in the area where you can pick up supplies, so this is an option that can really help you explore Oslo on a budget without feeling like you're missing out on anything.
Cheap things to do in Oslo
It's important when traveling on a budget to make sure that you still get the most out of every destination you visit. Just because you don't want to spend a lot of money doesn't mean you don't want to see the major attractions of Oslo. And while some of them are quite expensive to visit, others are a relative bargain.
The best strategy here is to get yourself an Oslo pass. Not only will this give you unlimited free public transport in the city, but it will also get you into many museums for free. This includes the Norwegian Folk Museum, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, the Natural History Museum, and Akershus Castle.
For the attractions not on this list, you still have options. Keep your eyes peeled for free museum days and reduced entry so you can see some of the best attractions in Oslo without spending a lot of money.
Oslo Opera House
The center of a major urban redevelopment, the Oslo Opera House is one of the cultural treasures of the Norwegian capital and a fantastic place to visit to take in a performance. However, tickets for the opera can be quite expensive. An alternative is to visit the impressive modern building on a guided tour which takes around 50 minutes and costs 130 Norwegian kroner, which is around $12.50 at the time of writing. A great thing to do when visiting Oslo on a budget, the tour will give you an insight into Oslo's regeneration and economic boom and the effects that it has had on the culture of the city.
One of Norway's oldest public parks, Slottsparken is home to one of the houses of the Norwegian royal family. With its walking paths, green lawns, and ponds, it's also a great place to spend a summer day soaking up Norwegian culture. Bring a picnic for a cheap and satisfying thing to do in the city.
Known around the world as the artist behind the painting The Scream, Edvard Munch is one of Norway's most famous artists, and this museum is dedicated to his life and work. It's only 160 Norwegian kroner for a full-price admission, which is about US$15 right now. It's also completely free for anyone aged 17 and under.
Cheap places to eat in Oslo
Norwegian cuisine doesn't enjoy the worldwide reputation of French, Italian, or Chinese food, but Oslo is home to some of the world's best restaurants. This is also a city that is very open to foreign influences, so along with traditional Norwegian food, you'll find offerings from around the world here.
This bright and modern indoor food court is a great place to visit in Oslo on a budget and a place to find the best street food in Oslo. You'll find a variety of vendors here selling everything from traditional Norwegian cuisine to kebabs to Thai food, often at remarkably affordable prices.
This iconic hot dog stand has been in business in Oslo since 1979. There's only one thing on the menu, the Wiener style hot dog, but there's an array of toppings so you can make your hotdog your own. The hotdog itself costs only 20 kroner, which is less than two dollars, but you have to pay extra even for a bun, and each topping comes at an additional charge. However, this means you only pay for exactly what you want and can customize your hot dogs to suit your taste perfectly.
The burgers here aren't actually illegal, but they are so delicious they probably should be. A meal here will cost you less than 130 kroner, even if you order the Gourmet burger with truffle mayo and cheese and a side of oven-roasted potatoes.
Cheap bars in Oslo
Drinking is something of a national pastime in Oslo. And while the up-and-coming areas of this trendy city have their share of expensive and chic cocktail bars, it's not hard to find some cheap happy hours and traditional dive bars where you can have fun for less. Oslo has the dubious distinction of having some of the most expensive beer in the world, but you can save a lot of money by trying some of these watering holes instead.
Bør & Børsen
Dark brown tables and beige wallpaper make this not the most interesting bar when it comes to appearances. But it's certainly a cheap place to drink. Located a 15-minute walk from Oslo Central Station, you can get a glass of beer here for only 54 kroner.
Popular with students and backpackers, this central Oslo bar is close to the train station and provides a lively atmosphere no matter when you visit. A glass of beer starts at 56 kroner, so it's a cheap place to drink and enjoy one of the most vibrant atmospheres in central Oslo.
This sports bar is a great place to catch a game on the many widescreen TVs dotted around the pub. Centrally located, you can get a glass of beer here for 66 kroner, making it a good bargain for this part of town.
Bonus budget tips for Oslo
Use public transportation: Oslo has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trams, and metros. Purchase a day pass or a seven-day pass to save money on transportation.
Cook your own meals: Food in Oslo can be expensive, but there are many supermarkets where you can purchase groceries and cook your own meals. This can save you a lot of money on food.
Visit museums on free days: Many of Oslo's museums offer free admission on certain days or times of the week. Check their websites to see when you can visit for free.
Explore nature: Oslo is surrounded by beautiful nature, including forests, lakes, and fjords. Take advantage of the city's many hiking trails, parks, and outdoor spaces.
Oslo's reputation as an expensive place to visit is well-deserved. However, that doesn't mean you can't find some bargains. Check out some of the free things to do in Oslo and take advantage of more affordable hotels to bring your trip in on budget.
And don't forget to leave your bags behind in Oslo luggage storage. The lighter you travel, the easier it will be to enjoy this intriguing city.