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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Oslo might be the host of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, but there is more to do besides trying to catch a celeb sighting. Oslo, being situated perfectly between the breathtaking fjords and the pristine Norwegian forests, is the perfect place to land this summer, even if you’re travelling on a budget.

Oslo, and all of Scandinavia for that matter, has a reputation for being unaffordable for budget travellers. It is a city reserved for elite shopping, pricey lattes and hotel rooms costing a pretty pence. But if you’re just a little bit creative and you don’t mind missing some of the bigger museums, you’ll be surprised how much there is to do in this Scandinavian capital with just a few kroner, especially in the summertime. There is enough to do in the city centre and out to fill up a good few days worth of sightseeing and walking tours.

Free (or almost free) things to do in Oslo:

  • Mette-Marit’s park: wander through the palace gardens which are especially pleasant on a summer afternoon.
  • Nobel Peace Centre: the place  to read about past winners, present contenders through exhibitions, displays and other media. (Cost: NOK80, but there is a great student discount).
  • Aker Brygge: the place to window shop in Oslo is along the dockyards behind the city centre.
  • Akershus: opposite the dockyards is this fortress. Its free to go up and offers some of the best views of the city.
  • Island hopping: grab a ferry pass and island hop along through the fjord or spend the day at just one, its up to you!
  • Kvadraturen: step back to the 18th c. in this Oslo district. Head on to Gemblebyen to really see the medieval side of the city.
    Prinsens Gate in the medieval district (img: jaime.silva / cc)
    Prinsens Gate in the medieval district (img: jaime.silva / cc)
  • Opera house: this new and quite stunning piece of architecture is in the fjord harbour. It’s free to walk up onto the marble roof.
  • Vegeland sculpture park: more than one million people go to this park each year to admire the larger-than-life bronze statues by Gustav Viegland.
  • Grünerløkka: the “Greenwich Village” of Oslo, find flea market bargains by day and trendy music bars by night. Its essential to any Oslo experience.
  • Grønland: the immigrant neighborhood of Oslo. This is the place to find cheap ethnic food, vegetable and food stands, jewellery markets and more.
  • Bygdøy: spend a day at the beach either sunbathing  or watch the ships passing by, go hiking through the nearby woods. Follow the signs from Sognsvann station.
  • Holmenkollen: of course you should at least walk by the man-made ski jumping slope.

As for getting around, the city has a fantastic metro and public transport system. Don’t bother with the single-journey tickets, that’s the easiest way to drain your savings. Instead get a 24-hour ticket (which pays for itself after only 3 rides) or if you plan on staying in Oslo a little longer, take the 7-day pass. Of course the most economical way to see the city is by bike, rent one from Citybike for about NOK 70 per day.

If this list is not enough to add Oslo to your itinerary of European travel destinations this summer, check out the cheap flights available! Fly from London to Oslo for as little as £8 (fares found April 21st, 2010). Have you ever been to Oslo? Do you have any recommendations? Share them below!

Image source: Stellas mom / cc

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