How to Spend One Day in Oslo: Oslo Itinerary, Travel Tips, & More

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On my way from Boston to Prague the first time, I purposely chose the flight that gave me one day in Oslo as my layover. I’d never been to Norway before, so of course I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to check out its capital city. And I used every minute of that 24-hour layover.

I saw many of Oslo’s top sights, had tons of fun, and really got a good feel for this incredible city. So now I’m here to help you do the same. This post covers everything you need to know to spend one perfect day in Oslo, Norway and really feel like you got the whole experience.

Oslo City Hall

Why visit Oslo for just one day?

Ok but why visit the city of Oslo? If you’re wondering if it’s even worth it to spend just one day in Oslo, lemme lay it down for you. There are many reasons why you may have to spend a day in Oslo, like:

  • On an extra-long layover, like me
  • As a jumping-off point to a longer trip through Norway
  • As a stop on just about any Scandinavian cruise

There are also several reasons why you should spend a day in Oslo, even if you can only visit the city for a short time, like:

  • It’s the capital of Norway and you want to be worldly by visiting world capitals
  • There’s a lot to see and do, even in just one day
  • Experiencing the long daylight hours in the summer is a treat
  • It’s super easy to get around

One day in Oslo, Norway: At a glance

Even if you don’t have the luxury of unlimited vacation time, you can still see a ton of cool (and very weird) stuff with just one day in Oslo. The Oslo one-day itinerary below points out all the best things to see and do. And yes, also the weirdest.

Your one day in Oslo is going to be fast-paced but still super chill. It’s going to be exciting and beautiful. There’s going to be sticker shock. Oslo’s an expensive city; mentally prepare for this now.

ALSO READ: How to Plan Better Day Trips: 26 Insanely Helpful Tips

How to get from Oslo airport to the city center

The first thing you need to know for spending one day in Oslo is how to get from the airport into the city. Luckily, this is super easy! The answer is Flytoget.

Flytoget Oslo

Flytoget is the express train that runs between the Oslo’s Gardermoen international airport and the city center. My trip from the Oslo airport to the city’s main train station was a swift 22 minutes and cost just 22 USD (230NOK). Coincidence? No idea, but thanks for keeping it simple, guys!

You can buy your Flytoget tickets in advance on their website, through their app, or at one of the ticket machines at the airport. Follow the signs (and the color orange) through the airport to the Flytoget area. There are a handful of turnstiles, several ticket machines, and one lady whose job it is to make sense of it all.

This train was one of the nicest I’ve been on and I’ve ridden the Hogwarts Express, so that’s saying something. Also, according to their website, they guarantee their service even in the event of a T-Rex invasion. Good to know. (I told you Oslo was weird but cool!)

Get the Oslo Pass

The first thing you need to know about rocking your one day in Oslo is: You’ve got get the Oslo Pass! (To clarify: you don’t have to, but you definitely should.)

The Oslo Pass is the official time- and money-saving city pass that gets you:

  • Free access to all the top museums and attractions in Oslo
  • Free travel on all public transportation (including the ferry)
  • Discounts on other things like sightseeing, restaurants, bike rentals, and more

They come in different increments, but the 24-hour Oslo Pass is what you want. You can buy yours in the Oslo Pass app or at a few different places around town when you get there, like I did. (Pro tip: The Oslo Visitor Center sells them and it’s located right outside the main train station.)

The 24-hour Oslo Pass costs way less than you’d pay for all the separate admissions and transportation. Plus, it saves you so much time by not having to wait in lines everywhere, search for ticket booths, figure out how to speak Norwegian, etc. This is priceless, unless you really want to hear what sounds like my worst Swedish Chef impression.

One day in Oslo: On a map

This map contains all the places mentioned in this post—what to see and do, where to stay, where to eat, all the important logistical stops, and more.

Click on the star ⭑ next to the map’s title to save it in your Google Maps. To use, open Google Maps on your phone, click “Saved” at the bottom, then click “Maps.”

How to get around in the city

The beauty of spending one day in Oslo is that everything you’ll want to see and do is all pretty close together. Everything else is equally as easy to get to.

To see and do everything in this Oslo itinerary, you’ll walk between most sites, ride on the ferry to get to others, take the tram to one more, and then use the Flytoget shuttle between the city and the airport.

Besides the Flytoget airport train, don’t forget that the Oslo Pass also includes free public transportation in all forms, including the ferry. Here are the information pages you need to get around during your one day in Oslo:

Our cute Oslo coffee shop

1-day Oslo itinerary

Now that you’ve made it into the city, let’s get started on your 1-day Oslo itinerary. I’ve based the following on my own personal one day in Oslo, but I’ll include several other options so you can amend it to your liking. Enjoy!

But first… coffee

If you’re here in Oslo on a layover like me, chances are it’s super early in the morning and you’ve just flown over the Atlantic Ocean. Before any good, jam-packed 1-day itinerary, there should always be coffee.

Coffee culture is huge in Norway, and Oslo has a ton of awesome places to get some. If you like interesting coffee joints, start your one day in Oslo here: (All are less than a 10-minute walk from Oslo Central Station.)

Oslo National Museum

In 2022, Oslo combined three of its museums and opened the grand new National Museum. Needless to say, they have an enormous collection of art, design, fashion, and everything else. But the reason I’m recommending you go here is: this is where you’ll see The Scream by Edvard Munch.

The Scream is arguably the most famous artwork in all of Norway so it’d be a shame to come all the way here and not see it! Your friends and family would be like 😱. This museum has way more than an hour’s worth of artwork, but that’s really all you’ll have time for if you want to fit more into your one day in Oslo.

  • Time spent at the National Museum: 1 hour
  • Admission: Free with the Oslo Pass
  • Highlights: The Scream by Edvard Munch
  • Need to know: Closed on Sundays, Mondays, and certain holidays
  • Photos taken for people screaming in front of The Scream: 2
  • More information: Here

PRO TIP: Info here

Ferry ride to Bygdøy (Bygdøyfergene)

From the National Museum, it’s just a 5-minute walk to Rådhusbrygge 3, also known as City Hall Pier 3—the spot where you’ll catch your ferry to Bygdøy, the peninsula with all the museums. Ferries depart every half hour.

The ferry to Bygdøy was supposed to be just a means to an end, but I think part of doing Norway means riding on a boat at some point anyway. Rather than just a means of transportation, accept this ride for what it is—a relaxing and scenic boat ride along the beautiful Norwegian coast.

I do consider this one of the must-do Oslo things. Even if we weren’t headed somewhere specific, I’d still recommend catching a boat to somewhere while in Oslo. Plus, it’s included in the Oslo Pass.

What is Bygdøy?

Bygdøy is a peninsula near the city center where you’ll find some of Oslo most popular museums. You must take the ferry to get here (at least for time-saving purposes). Which museum you want to visit depends on which ferry stop you get off at. Your choices are:

  • Norwegian Folk Museum – 1st stop / Dronningen
  • Viking Ship Museum – 1st stop / Dronningen
  • Fram Museum – 2nd stop / Bygdøynes
  • Kon-tiki Museum – 2nd stop / Bygdøynes

I personally got off at the first stop to visit the Norwegian Folk and Viking Ship Museums, but my friends continued on to the others. The choice is yours. (But with just one day in Oslo, you might not have time to visit them all, so choose wisely.)

  • Time walking from the National Museum: 5 minutes
  • Time spent on the ferry: 10 minutes to the 1st stop, 15 minutes to the 2nd stop
  • Cost: Free with the Oslo Pass
  • Need to know: The Bygdøy ferry only runs between April and October
  • More information: Here

Norwegian Folk Museum (Norsk Folkemuseum)

Officially called the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, the Norwegian Folk Museum is an open-air museum that presents visitors with a look at Norwegian life from the year 1500 to today (but mostly 1500).

The main attractions here include the full-size Gol Stave Church, sod-covered houses, a working farm with live reenactors (and the best freshly baked bread and butter you’ve ever had!), a pharmacy museum, and an exhibit on Norwegian WWII history. There are tons more exhibitions in the buildings around the main square, so head to what interests you the most.

  • Walk from the ferry to the museum: 10 minutes
  • Time spent at the Norwegian Folk Museum: 45 minutes
  • Cost: Free with the Oslo Pass
  • Number of farm animals I swooned over: Infinity +1
  • More information: Here
This is so delicious

Viking Ship Museum / Museum of the Viking Age

Because what do you think of when you think of Norway? That’s right, Vikings. Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum displays the two best-preserved wooden Viking ships in the world (from the 9th century). You can (and should) also check out their vast collection of other Viking artifacts including smaller boats, tools, household items, and much more.

The boats here are the best part (imo) and you can get the best views of them from the balconies. Otherwise, this museum won’t take up too much of your one day in Oslo.

  • Walk from Folk Museum to Ship Museum: 5 minutes
  • Time spent at the Viking Ship Museum: 40 minutes
  • Cost: Free with Oslo Pass
  • Time spent singing Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant SongThe entire time

IMPORTANT! The Viking Ship Museum is currently closed for renovations. It will reopen in 2026/2027 as the brand new Museum of the Viking Age. More info here.

Akershus Fortress (Akershus festning)

After taking the ferry back from Bygdøy to Oslo City Hall, you’ll find yourself at Rådhusbrygge 3 again. From there, it’s just a 10-minute walk to Oslo’s hilltop castle.

I initially allotted an hour for our visit to Akershus Castle and Fortress but, since we self-toured the place ourselves, we made it through in less than half an hour. Maybe we just walk really fast? Did we actually miss an entire section? This kind of feels like when you’re the first person in class to turn in an exam. Like, this can’t be right.

Regardless, what we did see was fascinating. The building of this place began in the year 1299 and just a mere 714 years later would inspire the castle in Arendelle. (From Frozen? Anybody?)

This fortified castle was built to defend Oslo and today it houses the representation rooms of the Norwegian government. The grounds are also popular as a recreational area and for concerts, holiday celebrations, and as a venue for other major events. So, yeah, just like in Arendelle.

They do offer guided tours, but since you’re attempting to see Oslo in one day, you may want to opt for the super-fast self-guided method like I did. You should still have plenty of time to see it all anyway.

FUN FACT! Akershus Fortress also inspired the castle in the Norway pavilion at Disney World’s EPCOT theme park.

  • Walk from ferry to fortress: 10 minutes
  • Time spent at Akershus Fortress: 30 minutes
  • Cost: Free with Oslo Pass
  • Times I quoted Game of Thrones while here: 15
  • More information: Here

Vigeland Sculpture Park (Vigelandsparken)

Vigeland Sculpture Park is the lifework of Gustav Vigeland, a native Norwegian who also designed the Nobel Peace Prize medal. He completed most of the park between 1939 and 1949 and it’s located within the much larger Frogner Park. You’ll find 200 sculptures here and (what I’m guessing is) countless dropped jaws.

His sculptures showcase human existence in every imaginable form, starting from your beginnings as a tantrum-throwing baby to that time you and all your friends got naked and made that human tower. Yeah, it’s weird here.

Vigeland Park is consistently among the top things to see in Oslo and for obvious reasons. Well, the most obvious probably being that it’s a free thing to do in a city of $5 bottled water. Regardless, this is one endlessly interesting place.

  • Tram from city center to Vigeland Sculpture Park: 5 minutes
  • Time spent at Vigeland: 40 minutes
  • Cost: Free to everyone, 24 hours a day
  • Need to know: Blue tram #12 is how you get here from the city center
  • Number of statues that freaked me out: I lost count
  • More information: Here

Where to eat in Oslo

Now that your one day in Oslo is winding down, you’re probably wondering about dinner. If you’re looking for some quick, affordable eats, you might be out of luck; Norway isn’t exactly known for being budget-friendly.

One way to combat this is to dine at one of Oslo’s food halls. I personally love food halls because everyone in your group can get what they want and you can try a bunch of different (small) things if you want. Perhaps you’d like to check out:

  • Oslo Street Food – Food stalls from all over the world
  • Mathallen in the Vulkan neighborhood if you’ve mastered Oslo’s public transportation
  • VIA Village for great eats all day and night, conveniently located in the Aker Brygge neighborhood
Aker Brygge in Oslo
Aker Brygge

How else to spend one day in Oslo

The itinerary you just read was my personal 1-day Oslo itinerary, but I know everyone has their own preferences and must-sees. That being said, here are more of the most popular things to see and do in Oslo that you can swap in as you please:

Oslo Opera House

Oslo’s Opera House is located right on the water in the middle of many things you’ll do here. (You’ll see it; trust me.) It’s the home of the Norwegian Opera and Ballet and you can visit it even without seeing a show. In fact, they encourage you to “Please walk on the roof.” You can get great views of the Oslofjord and join the locals in one of their most popular hangouts.

  • Cost: Free to everyone, 24 hours a day
  • More information: Here
Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House

Karl Johans Gate

Karl Johans Gate is Oslo’s main shopping and entertainment street. It leads all the way from the central train station to the Royal Palace. If you came to Oslo to spend money, well you’ve surely accomplished that even if unintentionally. Take a walk up and down the street and/or hang out at one of the cool bars if you’ve got some time left in your 1-day Oslo visit.

  • Cost: Free to stroll, not to shop
  • More information: Here
Colorful buildings along Karl Johans Gate in Oslo
Walking down Karl Johans Gate

Kon-Tiki Museum

Also located over on Bygdøy is the Kon-Tiki Museum which showcases the life work of Thor Heyerdahl, famous Norwegian adventurer. This museum was built around the Kon-Tiki, a raft he used to sail from Peru to Polynesia in 1947. (It comes up on Jeopardy! a lot actually.)

  • Cost: Free with the Oslo Pass
  • More information: Here

The Fram Museum

Also located on Bygdøy is the Fram Museum – dedicated to more Norwegian boat history. This time, think polar expeditions.

  • Cost: Free with the Oslo Pass
  • More information: Here
The Royal Palace at the end of Karl Johans Gate

Visit the Royal Palace

Oslo’s Royal Palace is the official royal residence of Norway’s current monarch. It was originally built back in the early 1800s for King Charles III John (aka, Karl Johan). There’s a changing of the guards every day at 1:30pm and guided tours are available during the summer (usually June to August).

  • Cost: Around 17 USD, but check the latest in the link below.
  • More information: Here

Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower

Another popular Oslo attraction is the Holmenkollen Ski Jump—location of the first-ever ski jump competition. If panoramic views of Oslo and the chance to experience a heart-pumping ski jump simulator are what you’re into, this is the place.

  • Cost: Free with the Oslo Pass
  • More information: Here

A Norwegian Forest Cat… in Norway… named Frost. Be still my heart!

Great Oslo day tours

Another one of the best things to do here is to simply let someone else handle your 24 hours in Oslo by booking some guided day tours. Take a look at these great Oslo day tours to see if any of them work for you:

Thon Hotel Opera room in Oslo
Comfy room at the Thon Hotel Opera

Where to stay for your 24 hours in Oslo

Even with just one day in Oslo, you’ll probably need a place to stay the night. Here are some well-reviewed, centrally-located hotels for your quick visit:

  • Citybox Oslo – Super convenient, budget-friendly hotel. I enjoyed my stay here!
  • Thon Hotel Opera – Right there between the train station and the Opera House, in the middle of downtown Oslo, super hip, excellent reviews.
  • Amerikalinjen – Excellent location right in central Oslo, amazing reviews, beautiful, modern property.

What to pack for your one day in Oslo

While most of these are things you’re probably already packing for wherever you’re going, here’s what you should bring for your one day in Oslo:

  • Good walking shoes – Whatever that means to you. In the summer I travel with either my Tevas or my Chacos. In the cooler months I always wear Sorel boots.
  • European outlet adapter – If you want to charge any of your devices while you’re here.
  • Norway guidebook – For all your sightseeing needs.
  • Norway customs and culture guide – I bring these pocket-sized books on all my trips. There’s no easier way to learn what to expect in a new city or destination.
  • Refillable water bottle – Don’t let the $5 bottled waters sneak up on you!
  • Anti-theft purse / bag – Even though I felt perfectly safe in Oslo, I still travel exclusively with gear from either Pacsafe or Travelon. I will not travel anywhere without an anti-theft purse anymore.

I hope I’ve been able to help you make the most of your short time in Oslo. It’s such a cool city and so accessible when time is limited. Have fun in Norway!

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