A stay in Oslo doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, there is a lot you can do for free in the Norwegian capital.
The Palace Park is popular with both locals and tourists – you can see the changing of the guard here every day at 1:30 pm. Or check out the Botanical Garden in Tøyen (next to the Munch Museum in the eastern part of town), which was founded in 1814 and is home to some 7,500 species of plants. Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park in Frogner is another good option – the park with its 212 sculptures is one of Oslo’s top attractions, and certainly warrants a visit.
Markets are a good bet if you want to mingle with the locals. The second-hand and antique market on Vestkanttorvet takes place on a square in Majorstuen every Saturday between March and December, while in the eastern part of town the Birkelund flea market in Grünerløkka attracts its fair share of visitors every Sunday.
Christmas markets are also popular and well worth a visit if you happen to be in Oslo in December. The main two are the one on Rådhusplassen (the big square in front of the City Hall), and the one at the Folk Museum on Bygdøy. And if you are interested in food, make sure you check out the Matstreif Festival (also on Rådhusplassen) in late September.
If all this sounds a bit too highbrow, what about going for a swim or a spin on the ice, depending on the season? There are many beaches within easy access of central Oslo. Head to Bygdøy for a dip at Huk, the last stop on the 30A line bus, or Paradisbukta (the aptly named Paradise Bay). Or make for one of the many islands in the Oslofjord.
Alternatively you can chill out by one of several lakes in Oslomarka Forest (of which Sognsvann is probably the most popular).
Visiting in winter? Then you can look forward to ice-skating and skiing. Oslomarka, the huge forest high up on the hills above the city, offers a vast network of cross-country tracks that are free for all to use. Back in the city centre, the Spikersuppa ice rink right by Karl Johans gate is open from December to February, and the rink at Frogner Stadium is open from late January to mid-March. Both have free entry.
Vigelandsparken is one of Norway’s most visited attractions with more than one million visitors every year. The unique sculpture park is the life work of the sculptor Gustav Vigeland and features more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite, and cast iron. Video: Nordic Aerials