Oslo on a Budget
Travel on the cheap in Oslo with these money-saving tips
Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but unless you're dead set on drinking $15 vodka sodas all afternoon, there's no reason to blow through your savings. You can have a really good time in Oslo for a fraction of the costs—if you're willing to plan ahead. What follows are my travel hacks for budgeting your time and money in Norway's capital city.
Download the Oslo Pass
Before you even head to the airport, purchase and download the Oslo Pass app for your iphone or android device. Activate it once you arrive on a day you'd like to set aside for exploring the city's museums. The Oslo Pass is your ticket to get into more than 30 museums and galleries including some of my favorites, the Astrup Fearnley Museum, the National Gallery (home to Edvard Munch's infamous work "The Scream") and the Viking Ship Museum.
The Oslo Pass also covers public transportation costs, which makes getting around breeze. I used a combination of walking, taking the bus and catching the tram to get from my hotel in the Tjuvholmen to points of interest across town and had no problems finding my way.
The Oslo Pass is available for 24 hours ($40), 48 hours ($60) and 72 hours ($75). Children and seniors receive a substantial discount. If you maximize your pass while it's activated, it can end up paying for itself fairly quickly.
Oslo is a very walkable destination, with a bustling city center and a convenient tram system. After logging 30,000 steps one afternoon, I decided to put my feet up and take a cab to dinner. I learned the hard way that taxis are expensive as hell in Oslo, even if you're only traveling a couple of miles. (Expect to pay a minimum of $25 per ride!) When you arrive in Oslo—unless you're dragging around heavy luggage—consider taking the bus from the Oslo Central Station to your hotel.
Dine at the Mathallen Food Hall
Going out to eat in Oslo will put a dent in your wallet if you aren’t careful. So head to Mathallen, an indoor food hall featuring a farmers’ market and international cuisine at affordable prices. Sampling is free, and the selection is quite impressive, from Spanish tapas and Japanese bento boxes to raw vegan Thai food.
Become a Coffee Connoisseur
Live like a local and spend time at one of Oslo’s hip, third-wave coffee shops. Some of my favorites are Cafe Liebling (which also sells quirky home goods), Supreme Roastworks and Tim Wendelboe—run by a World Barista Champion and World Cup Tasters Champion. The move here is to order AeroPress brew, which gives each cup a rich, distinct flavor.
Visit Olso’s Free Sculpture Parks
Oslo has not one, but two free outdoor sculpture parks. The older of the two, Vigeland Park, represents the lifework of Gustav Vigeland, who dedicated his talents to this project for nearly 20 years.
Ekebergparken has a very different vibe. The sculptures are arranged in pockets that, at times, can seem hidden. You feel as if you’re the first to discover these works by Louise Bourgeois, Hilde Mæhlum, Salvador Dalí, George Cutts Marina Abramović, Auguste Rodin and many others.
Walking from sculpture to sculpture is actually a decent workout. And as another value-add, you’ll actually get to see the view that inspired Edvard Munch’s infamous painting, “The Scream.”
Now that’s a pretty good deal.