Picture the scene. I hit upon a genius idea to buy my impossible-to-buy-for husband a city break for Christmas in November 2015. He wins, I win, and we get to go exploring together, creating a lifetime of memories that a selection box and some aftershave just couldn’t compete with. I turn to Skyscanner to check flights for a long weekend in late January and see that flights to Oslo on our dates are just £9.99. That’s right, less than a tenner each, each way for an Oslo city break.
Well, you’d just book it wouldn’t you?
So I did. And Mr Sparrow was pleased, I was pleased and we were all pleased until it suddenly dawned on me that there might be a reason why the flights to Oslo were so cheap in January. It was going to be -16 degrees. Read that again. It was actually going to be -16 degrees for the whole weekend, and I’m not sure if we really knew what that would feel like.
But we’d booked, we’d committed so off on an Oslo city break we went! Here was our itinerary:
As previously mentioned, we flew for just £9.99 each way with Ryanair from London Stanstead to Moss Airport Rygge (which has since closed in October 2016, but there are two other airports in Oslo with Gardemoen being the nearest but therefore most expensive to fly to). It was really easy to get to the centre of Oslo, with the Flytoget Airport Express train taking us to the nearest train station, and the train taking us right to the heart of Oslo itself. The Visit Oslo website is your friend here, and will help you plan your journey and estimate the price.
Once in Oslo itself, despite the foot of snow and chilly conditions, everything is largely easy to access via foot. I really like walking on a city break because it helps you get a feel for a city and how people live and work, but also it helps walk off the copious burgers/coffees/hot chocolates that are a necessary part of any holiday. However, if you prefer to get about using public transport, Oslo is fairly easy to navigate. All the public transport in Oslo is part of the same ticket and price system, and if you download the “Ruter” app you can buy tickets and look at the timetable.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the very reasonable and extremely basic CityBox Oslo. The room was small but was all we needed and provided a cosy place to rest our heads after cold walks all day. It was also located in the centre of Oslo, 5 minutes walking from Oslo S, train station which meant getting to all the main attractions was super easy!
It’s worth bearing in mind that whilst travel and accommodation can be very cheap, eating out and drinking can be very expensive for an Oslo city break, so saving as much money on where you sleep means you have more money for the other parts of your holiday!
Oslo is packed FULL of amazing things to see and do, some of which would be definitely better in warmer months. Here are some of the top things we did whilst exploring the city.
Nobel Peace Center
Did you know that the Nobel Peace Prize is actually given out in Norway? I didn’t either, but the fabulous Nobel Peace Center celebrates every winner of the Peace Prize and the concept of peace in itself. It’s a small but really interesting museum, and it was incredible moving reading about every winner and their contribution to society.
Cost: 100 NOK per adult.
Oslo City Museum
A quirky museum which tells the history of Oslo as a city, including how Norwegians live and work and a fair bit on Norwegian architecture. It right inside the Vigeland Sculpture Park so definitely worth a visit if you you are heading there.
Vigeland Sculpture Park
With more than one million visitors every year this amazing park is not to be missed. The park itself is full of more than 200 sculptures by the sculptor Gustav Vigeland, and it is incredibly beautiful, if not a little creepy. I’ve got a full post about the park with loads of pictures here!
Viking Ship Museum
Yes, there is a museum dedicated to Viking Ships in Oslo. Situation on the Bygdoy Peninsula where there are several other museums to visit (you could spend more than two days visiting them all!), this museum houses two amazing viking ships from the 9th Century as well as many other small boats and artefacts. You’ll never visit another place like it.
Cost: 80 NOK per adult
Either bravely or stupidly, we went on a morning boat cruise around the harbour. This two-hour guided cruise on the Oslo Fjord gives stunning views of the harbour itself, small islands with summer houses and the opera house. I saw some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever come across, but would definitely recommend doing this from Spring onwards as I don’t think I’ve ever been as cold as I have been on this trip. Check out this post all about the boat experience!
Cost: 285 NOK per adult
Where to Eat + Drink
There is no getting away from it: Oslo is an expensive City to play in. But, being from London it didn’t make me wince too much. Overall what we found was that sit down restaurants provided better value than takeaway/junk food/burger bar type places. But we tried both, for scientific research purposes on this Oslo city break obviously!
Mathallen in Oslo is a diverse and lively food court housed inside a huge warehouse building. Showcasing some of the best food and drink producers the City has to offer, it also has a few bars and scattered seating. Whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner you’ll find something tempting, and the place is packed with cool locals and a great buzz.
Burgers are big business in Oslo, and these burgers are amongst the best. Located close to the harbour (and connected to Beer Palace next door!), this was a pricey meal but ultimately worth it. We tried a California Dreamin’ and a Classic Cheese, alongside some amazing Continental Fries with rosemary and garlic oil. With the counter and kitchen housed inside an old airstream, burgers don’t come much cooler than this.
Right next door to Burger Joint, Beer Palace does exactly what it says on the tin. It really is a palace of beer. Rumoured to have over 300 beers (with some lovely Norwegian selections), sports on TV and shuffleboard it was a great palace to warm up from the cold and try some local brews.
Louise Restaurant & Bar
Louise is an incredible nautical themed restaurant which alongside some of the best fresh seafood and fish dishes serves a range of Norwegian game and other specialities. We went all in for a 3-course dinner with wine which cost us about the equivalent of £100. Pricey, but when comparing to some of the restaurants we’ve tried in London, we thought it measured up.
Despite the serious cold and snow, Oslo is a top choice for a 3 night city break. It has parks, a thriving bar/restaurant scene and so many museums you won’t know where to start. Add the intense sunrises/sunsets across the harbour and the awesomely friendly Norwegians (who thought we were absolutely crazy to be visiting in January) and Oslo was one of my favourite breaks of 2016.
Check the weather…and book those flights for the best Oslo city break ever.