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The Norwegian capital city of Oslo is full of art, history, culture, and nature. There are over a thousand years of history spread all over the city, and each place speaks of its particular era and its importance in the city’s history in one way or another.

Whether you’re on a long layover in the city or staying a few days as part of a longer trip to Norway, there are a few sites you really must not miss to get a feel of Oslo’s history and its importance for the country and even the world.

Here’s my list of the top 13 sights to see and things to do in Oslo.

1. Akershus Fortress

Oslo, Norway

Akershus Fortress dominates Oslo’s city center and up until the Nazi invasion during WWII, it was famous for having never been conquered thanks to its ingenious design and strategic location.

The fortress was originally built in 1299 under King Håkon V, but it was later restructured by King Christian IV during the 17th century to look more like a Renaissance castle and royal residence. It was subsequently re-modified in the 19th century, giving it an architectural gradient that spans 700 years of designs and military tactics.

Throughout its history, Akershus Fortress has had an age-old role as the seat of kings and the center of government.

Today, it is often used for public events, and it also houses the Royal Mausoleum. The view of the city from this fortress is just as impressive as the structure itself.

2. The Royal Palace

Oslo Royal Palace in Norway

The Royal Palace is undoubtedly one of Oslo’s most impressive sights. It lies at the end of Karl Johan’s gate, which is Oslo’s main thoroughfare.

It’s actually a relatively new building compared to some of the other historic sites in Oslo, with building commencing in 1825. It was first officially used as a royal residence by King Oscar I in 1849.

The exterior of the building is spectacular enough but if you’d like to visit the inside of the palace you’ll need to go during the summer months, when it’s opened up to the public.

You can also visit the Palace Park which is one of Oslo’s oldest and largest parks and is open to the public throughout the year. It takes around 20 minutes to reach the palace from Oslo Central Station by foot.


Oslo, Norway

MUNCH, formerly known as the Munch Museet, contains 13 floors dedicated to Oslo’s most famous artist, Edvard Munch. It’s home to a huge number of his works.

The exhibitions demonstrate the influence Oslo had on Munch, and how he reinterpreted the city through his art. You can see his artistic representations of the Norwegian Fjords and his abstract paintings of the city streets.

The museum also hosts various talks, movie screenings, and workshops. So, before you visit, check out what events you can get involved in!

4. Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Statue in Oslo, Norway

The Vigeland Sculpture Park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, and it is one of Oslo’s most important open spaces.

It was created by Gustav Vigeland and can be described as his lifework and masterpiece. Between 1924 and 1943, he designed the architectural layout of the park and populated it with more than 200 of his bronze, granite, and wrought iron sculptures.

The main art piece in the park is the Monolith (Monolitten), with its 121 figures struggling to reach the top of the sculpture.  When you look at the base, the figures are dead, and bodies are piled on top of each other. But as the bodies rise, they start gaining life and begin to take action.

Another famous sculpture among tourists is the Angry Boy. Rubbing his hand (apparently) brings good luck. One curious fact is that all the sculptures in the park are naked, except for the one depicting Vigeland himself. Vigeland was also famous for designing the Nobel Prize medal.

5. Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House in Oslo, Norway

Oslo Opera House is home to the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. It’s Norway’s largest performing arts institution and an architectural landmark.

Designed by Norwegian architects Snøhetta, this opera house is the first one in the world that lets visitors walk on the roof. The design is an abstract reinterpretation of an enormous glacier sliding into the Oslo Fjord.

The sloping roofs angle down to the water like a jagged chunk of ice and the white granite combined with the white marble create the illusion of glistening ice. The design connects the land and sea, making the Opera House seem as if it’s rising out of the fjord.

Located in the Bjørvika neighborhood of central Oslo, the building is an integral part of the city’s urban landscape, since it also serves as a plaza where locals and tourists congregate to spend some leisure time.

6. Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall in Oslo, Norway

Its elaborate carvings show the talent of Norway’s finest artists and vividly illustrate the folk stories that form part of Norway’s culture.

It’s situated in downtown Oslo, near many of the other sites on this list, which means you can easily incorporate it into a day of sightseeing. If you’d like to learn more about the history of the hall’s art and architecture, then I’d highly recommend taking one of the guided tours.

Beyond being the city hall, this building is also where the Nobel Prize ceremony is held every December 10th.

7. The Old Town Hall

Oslo, Norway

The current city hall building was designed in the 1930s, yet it wasn’t finished and inaugurated until 1950 (to celebrate the city’s 900th anniversary) after being delayed by WWII. It’s the newest of Oslo’s three city halls.

The Old Town Hall was built in 1641 in the old marketplace in Christiania. It was the first major hall to be built in Oslo and was used as both a space for the city’s officials and a gathering place for the bourgeoisie. After the great fire of 1686, it also became a place of worship for the people of Oslo.

Over the centuries, it has been the Supreme Court of Norway, a private residence, a jail, a museum, and a Freemason’s meeting place. Today, it’s home to a restaurant where you can sample traditional Norwegian cuisine like reindeer meat and lutefisk.

8. Fram Museum

Fram Museum in Oslo
Image by the Fram Museum

This museum is dedicated to the history of polar exploration and, specifically, one of its most famous symbols – “Fram”. This is a polar ship that was first used during Fridtjof Nansen’s North Pole expedition in 1893.

Today, visitors to the museum can witness Fram in all her glory, and experience the decks and tight bunk rooms exactly as the famous polar explorers would have experienced them.

I’d recommend giving yourself plenty of time when you visit the museum, as there is so much to see. There are in-depth exhibits packed with pictures, artifacts, and maps from several different expeditions.

As well as Fram, the museum is also home to Gjøa, which is well-known for being the first ship to navigate the Northwest Passage successfully.

You can get in advance your Fram Museum admission tickets.

9. The National Museum

The National Museum in Oslo

The National Museum is the biggest art museum in any of the Nordic countries. It houses the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the former National Gallery, and the Norwegian Museum of Decorative Arts.

If you want to see the most well-known painting to ever come out of Oslo, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, then you’ll need to make sure you visit this museum.

It’s also home to works by other celebrated Norwegian artists, and international ones such as Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Pablo Picasso.

10. The Norsk Folkemuseum – Norwegian Museum of Cultural History

The Norsk Folkemuseum in Norway

The Norsk Folkemuseum is one of my favorite places when visiting Oslo as it gives you a fascinating glimpse into Norwegian history from the 16th century up to the modern day.

It’s an open-air museum that consists of 160 buildings all knitted together by cobbled streets and surrounded by beautiful countryside. There are plenty of events and activities you can take part in throughout the year including live folk dancing, storytelling, and baking traditional lefse.

11. Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower

Holmenkollen Ski Museum in Oslo, Norway

Built in 2010, this is the only designer, steel ski jump in the world and one of the most modern. Visiting it was named as one of the top 10 things to do in Norway by the Norway Travel Guide.

Inside, you can visit the museum or take an exhilarating ride in the ski simulator. However, the best thing about this attraction is the stunning view over the city you get from the top. This alone makes a visit worthwhile.

12. The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum

Oslo Armed Forces in Norway

If you’re interested in military history, then this museum is an absolute must-visit. It teaches you all about the history of the Norwegian military from the Vikings to the 21st century.

As the Viking Ship Museum is closed for renovation until 2027, this museum is the next best place to learn about these famous ancient warriors.

13. Kon-Tiki Museum

Kon Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway
Image from Facebook

Last on my list is a museum that tends to go under the radar when people visit Oslo, but it’s well worth a visit. The Kon-Tiki Museum contains the original vessels and immersive exhibits about the life and expeditions of the explorer Thor Heyerdahl.

He gained worldwide fame in 1947 after he crossed the Pacific Ocean on a balsawood raft named (you guessed it) Kon-Tiki.

As well as exhibits on his expeditions to Easter Island and the Galapagos Islands, you can also go on the 30-meter cave tour and visit Thor Heyerdahl’s library. This really is one of Oslo’s hidden gems.

You can get in advance your Kon-Tiki Museum admission tickets.

Get More Out Of Your Trip With An Oslo Pass

If you’re planning to visit several of the places on my list then I’d recommend checking out the Oslo Pass. It gives you free access to many of the most popular attractions in Oslo and works out cheaper than paying the admission fee at each venue.

The Oslo Pass prices for 2024 are:


  • 24 hours: 520 NOK (49 USD)
  • 48 hours: 760 NOK (72 USD)
  • 72 hours: 895 NOK (85 USD)


  • 24 hours: 260 NOK (25 USD)
  • 48 hours: 380 NOK (36 USD)
  • 72 hours: 450 NOK (42 USD)


  • 24 hours: 415 NOK (39 USD)
  • 48 hours: 605 NOK (57 USD)
  • 72 hours: 720 NOK (68 USD)

Alternatively, if you’re short on time, there is an Oslo Discovery tour that takes you to most of the mentioned sites in one day. Or, you can also read this other article detailing what to see in Oslo if you just have 24 hours in the city.

Adventure Awaits


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One Comment

  1. Lovely post Norbert, some really good tips here with amazing pictures! Not sure if it covers everything in Oslo but still interesting. Thanks for sharing!