Oslo On the House – 10 great free Oslo attractions

With the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony coming up this weekend, Oslo is the obvious choice for this chapter in Magic of Cities. The focus will be free travel. That’s right: low-budget, or rather no-budget, free Oslo attractions. Norway is not exactly famous for being a budget destination, so you might be surprised how much is free.

The country’s premier attraction is nature, of course, and there are many, many ways to enjoy Oslo’s great outdoors, free of charge. But it’s cold out these days. And not absolutely everyone loves skiing in sub-zero temperatures. So here are 10 favourite cultural attractions, less strenuous and completely free of charge:

1. Frogner Park

free Oslo attractions

Top spot among free Oslo attractions goes to Frogner Park. Ambling around this sculpture park, enjoying Gustav Vigeland’s 212 life-size nudes is a very cool experience any time of year.

Winter Bonus: During the winter months, the adjacent Vigeland Museum – the sculptor’s home and studio – is free as well.

2. Oslo Opera House

The Opera House, Oslo - Norway

I adore Oslo Opera House and my kids do, too. The performances may not be free, but hanging out with the locals on the cool, white marble roof is. If you have small children along, be aware there’s no guard rail where the opera house meets the frosty waters of the Oslo fjord. Running down that sloping roof is just so tempting.

3. The National Gallery

edvard munch - the scream  1893

The The National Gallery is another favourite. This is the place to see Edvard Munch’s iconic paintings Skrik (The Scream) and Madonna, as well as heaps of other works by local and international painters, including Manet and Cezanne.

Winter Bonus: For more works from the hands of the famed painter, head to the Munch Museum. Entrance is free between 1 October and 31 March.

4. Oslo City Hall


If you’re interested in the legacy of wealthy industrialist and humanitarian Alfred Nobel, a visit to Oslo City Hall – venue of the annual Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony – is a must. The hall is beautifully decorated with large 20th century paintings. You might even recognize some of them if you’ve watched the televised event.

5. Akershus Fortress

Akershus Festning Oslo

Practically across the street, is Akershus Fortress. While you have to pay to enter the Castle, strolling around the grounds of this medieval fortress is completely free. Walking along the ridge is quite romantic, especially when snow is falling.

6. Historical Museum

sigurd portal

Another great freebie is the Historical Museum. Housed in a large, handsome Art Nouveau building, this museum is home to a huge collection of prehistoric and Medieval artefacts, including some excellent Viking Era antiques.

7. Botanical Gardens

Botanisk hage, Oslo

The nearly 200-year-old Botanical Gardens, surrounding the Natural History Museums, is free for all to enjoy, and an excellent spot for some peace and quiet among 7 500 species of plants and trees.

8. Changing of the Guards at the Royal Palace

the royal palace in oslo

Hang out in the park surrounding the Royal Palace where you can watch the changing of the King’s Guards at 1330 (1:30 pm) every day, come rain or shine; takes a good half hour.

9. The National Museum of Contemporary Art

Old bank building

Another interesting museum housed in a magnificent building is The National Museum of Contemporary Art, yet another year-round freebie.

Winter Bonus: The wonderful Stenersenmuseet (Museum of Modern Art) is free during the winter months.

10. Armed Forces Museum

Akershus festning - Forsvarsmuseet

If you’re not interested in military history, the Armed Forces Museum may sound a bit dull, but it’s well worth a visit. Highlights are exhibits of the Viking Era and the German occupation during World War II.

Want more? Here’s 5 more free Oslo attractions:

This article could easily be named 15 Great Cultural Free Oslo Attractions. Or 20. But we have to stop somewhere. Instead I’ll just mention a few other cultural freebies:

  • Oslo City Museum
  • IKT, the Inter-Cultural Museum<
  • The Museum of Magic
  • The Museum of Architecture
  • The Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, and
  • The somewhat surprisingly interesting Norwegian Customs Museum

As you may know, I’m NileGuide’s Local Expert for Oslo, and this list of free cultural Oslo attractions originally appeared at NileGuide on Oslo Local Flavor.

Photo credits: Oslo Opera House: Nebbdyret, The Scream: Oddsock, Oslo City Hall: allison harger, Akershus Fortress: Lars T, Historical Museum: Mararie, Botanical gardens: kong niffe, Royal Palace: James Clear, National Museum of Contemporary Art: nafmo, Armed Forces Museum:
Magne G

22 Responses to “Oslo On the House – 10 great free Oslo attractions”

  1. Jason 8 December 2010 2041 #

    This is a great list. I have bookmarked and now I have to find a way to go. Really want to see “The Scream.”
    Jason recently posted..Kids Volunteering In Cusco

    • Anne-Sophie 8 December 2010 2044 #

      Thanks, Jason. The Scream seems to be a big hit with kids, too.

  2. Petter P. 8 December 2010 2042 #

    Well done! Come to Oslo everyone :)

  3. Nancie 8 December 2010 2335 #

    Wonderful list Sophie. I really want to get to Oslo, and Copenhagen after reading your great posts.
    Nancie recently posted..Through the Sandbox Lens 20 — Nighttime Ginza

  4. Ayngelina 9 December 2010 0356 #

    It’s nice to see so many great free activities. A little like London as it’s free to see the museums, just don’t get hungry because the neighborhood cafe prices are astounding.
    Ayngelina recently posted..How to watch football like an Ecuadorian

    • Anne-Sophie 29 December 2010 2017 #

      Good point, Ayngelina. I should probably write a post on inexpensive cafes next :)

  5. Nanette 9 December 2010 2110 #

    LOVE Oslo! Love it so much I named one of my dogs Oslo…”Tusen takk for Oslo”, to be exact. Frogner Park was a highlight of the trip.

    • Anne-Sophie 12 December 2010 1454 #

      Nanette, great dog name :).

      I really like Frogner Park as well. And it’s a great place to walk dogs.

  6. Robert G 10 December 2010 1557 #

    Great Oslo freebies here. Didn’t know about many of them.

  7. Myra 10 December 2010 1626 #

    We have family in Norway, and have always wanted to visit, but haven’t because of the cost. This is a great list of free sites.

  8. Lucia 10 December 2010 1717 #

    Great list! Oslo has never really been on our travel list, but it is now! That opera house is stunning and I love that all of the museums are free.

  9. Camels & Chocolate 10 December 2010 1746 #

    Oslo’s such an amazing city, isn’t it? My biggest regret is I didn’t get to do more because the whole time I was there after Svalbard and the fjords, it was absolute monsoon-like weather!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Photo Friday- Hong Kong

  10. Anne-Sophie 12 December 2010 1458 #

    Thanks, guys!

    @Lucia: just to clarify: The museums listed here are free, but sadly, not all others are.

  11. Robert G 12 December 2010 1647 #

    Oslo is beautiful but so expensive. Great to see this list of free stuff :)

  12. Marie 12 December 2010 2229 #

    I love Frogner Park. Have to come back to see the Opera House.

  13. aby 29 December 2010 1715 #

    thanks Sophie love ur picture and blog. Could u please suggest how many day does it take to see the 10 Great things in Oslo please many thanks

    • Anne-Sophie 29 December 2010 2015 #

      Thanks Abi.
      If you want to see all of them and be a bit relaxed about it, I’d suggest a week. But if you have little time and lots of determination (and don’t mind getting up early), you could do it quicker.

  14. Bluegreen Kirk 6 April 2011 2031 #

    For some reason a lot of the free attraction always get overlooked. I like going to the places that a lot of people fail to notice. Thanks for the list I would really like to visit Opera House.
    Bluegreen Kirk recently posted..Helpful House Decorating Ideas


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