Attention Norwegians! Norway on the Cheap? (Yes, That's cRaZy!)
February 28, 2010 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Six weeks in Norway, (next to) no money, and a 13yo travel companion. How do we see the most educational/enjoyable things in and around Oslo without me having to sell him to a traveling Russian circus by week three?

We are staying with family near Oslo, and perhaps doing some camping. No cost there. We're leaving around May 12, coming back after June 20. (Already bought the tickets.) This trip might be titled "Graduating from 8th grade Homeschool Kick-ass Field Trip that Makes Your Schooled Friends Jealous"... the point is language immersion and learning and fun.

He'll be attending my cousin's school for a week or maybe two (depending on how he likes it), and the rest is completely open. We are under a *severe* budget, but are scrimping and saving now to get as much to add to that budget as possible. Assume we are poor as churchmice.

We will probably have access to a borrowed car (yes, i know gas is hideously expensive), and I plan on buying food at the grocery store, rather than eating out... like almost ever.

So, what activities/attractions/museums should we seriously look at? What are some free cultural things to do in Oslo? The Resistance Museum and Akershus are on the must-do list. We might do the Viking Ship museum, but the kid has been there already once, six years ago. Please help me find camping trip ideas, cultural places to see, and anything else you'd suggest.
posted by RedEmma to Travel & Transportation around Norway (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I spent a lovely afternoon on Hovedøya clambering around the ruins, and it's only a cheap boat over.
posted by Paragon at 1:55 PM on February 28, 2010

Response by poster: That looks really great, Paragon. Thanks!
posted by RedEmma at 1:58 PM on February 28, 2010

If you're in the area of central train station, you can walk up onto the roof of the Opera House on the harbor. You'll see other tourists doing this all day in the summer. Doesn't take long, but it's nice view, and it's free. When I visited for a couple days I just took the subway out to the end of the line and ended up at a park area where I could hike into the woods. I'm sure you'll have no problem finding camp sites.

I enjoyed the Nobel Peace Museum because of a photo exhibit they had last year, but it's pretty small and probably not worth it on a budget. Especially since the second floor is probably all about Obama now, which won't be news to you. Norway is crazy expensive, but I found some relatively cheap Indian food in the city.
posted by serathen at 2:15 PM on February 28, 2010

Also, I don't know what your travel companion's curriculum is, but I would have loved taking a sketchpad to the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Entry for kids is only 25kr (around US$5), and it will BLOW THEIR MIND.
posted by Paragon at 3:33 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

May 17th is Syttende Mai, or Norwegian Constitution day.

I imagine that cities and towns all over will have parades and/or fireworks; watching those might be a cheap way to pass the day while taking in some culture.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:39 PM on February 28, 2010

Best answer: Hi Norway here for an answer.

(Advice and Links Below) You might as well join the rest of Norway that has discovered the outdoors and some free musuems. Just joking, there actually is quite a bit to do for free in Norway, especially in the Oslo area with a 13 year old.

First things first. Getting around. And I really do mean first. You will need to get a travel card to use the bus, light rail and train services. Even with a borrowed car, filling 1.5 tanks of normal gas for VW Polo you will have paid for a month of collective travel for both. It's safe, pretty clean and extremely reliable. Cost is 570kr 30 days adult, 285kr 30 days child. For a list of all fares, go to The public transport system is big and will get you where any activity is taking place. For planning trips, use

Another option for travel is the Oslo CityBike program. In Oslo we have over a 1200 bicycles for use with a yearly 60kr fee to use. Good enough for a day of leisure, not great for competitive cycling.

Second. How to find all those cheap activities. Living in Oslo myself, a great tool to use is the website for their daily events calender. It's comprehensive and shows everything under the sun including kid events, many of which are free. The site is in English.

Third. Networking. I would recommend as a way to create and participate in activities around the city. Courchsurfing I har you say? Isn't that for doped up communist hippies that still think patchoulli oil is cool? Fear not. The Norwegian couchsurfing community is very popular and diverse. There are many families, expats and fun people to meet. Join couchsurfing, create a profile and then join the group "Oslo" and "Oslo Parties". This is a great way to organise events with others in the area. Plus you will get more of an international feel as Norway attracts a lot of visitors.

Fourth. What to do. The major musuems are free. The best out of the bunch, and based solely on my expert opinion, is the Astrup Fearnley museum for modern art down by the Opera House. The national modern art and national galleries are worth a go as well. Beware though, Oslo lists a lot of attractions that are absolute shit and cost money. Check around online for reviews before committing the money.

Fifth. Exploring. Did you know Oslo and surroundings has many divese bydels (parts of the city) which have unique and interesting architecture, history, cafes etc? Most visitors to Oslo tend to miss a lot. Grunnerlokka, a former artists haven, five minutes from downtown is still going strong with many festivals, stores and art galleries. Majorstua, the west side area, has beautiful architecture combined with a long shopping street great for people watching. There are many more, just pack a lunch and off you go. Easy to fill whole days this way.

You are extremely lucky to be coming for the start of summer. Just late enough to miss the snow and early enough to catch the country come alive for late spring. Norwegian national day, sutten av mai (17th of May) will be a must see and participate. Impossible to miss and very easy to find a schedule for.

On those rainy, miserable days which still will happen, movies are a good bet (65kr matinee, 90kr regular). The site lists everything for every cinema in the city.

On the miscellaneous side, there are a few things. I understand you are on a tight budget. Food and especially booze will drain that pocketbook quicker than you can ask for the nearest ATM. For a general rule, budget around 100kr for a family of four dinner. This is a good guide. Also, take sandwiches with you (called matpakke) whenever out for a stroll at lunch time.

It is possible to save money in stores, look online for grocery stores weekly customer paper. This is great for planning where to buy meat or fish as pricing can vary wildly without reason. Use everyday markets such as rimi, kiwi, rema 1000, Coop. Avoid at all costs having to shop on a Sunday.

There is much more to contribute, but suffice to say, if you need any more information or would like a tour around Oslo while you are visiting, drop an email. I am sure I can find some others that would be keen for a day out showing visitors around.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 10:36 PM on February 28, 2010 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, Funmonkey1. Luckily, my family in the area is rather extensive, so we'll have more than enough couchsurfing on the schedule that involves people I already sorta know. Emphasis on "sorta." It's an obligation I don't mind meeting.

Everything else you mentioned was very helpful. Thanks so much.
posted by RedEmma at 8:16 AM on March 1, 2010

I loved the outdoor Norwegian Folk Museum.
posted by Morpeth at 8:21 AM on March 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, for your answers.
posted by RedEmma at 3:31 PM on March 1, 2010

Best answer: Hello, in case you haven't revisited your thread:
A bit late to the thread... but still:
- buy some fresh shrimps from one of the boats at Aker Brygge, Tuesday to Saturday from 7 A.M. Get some bread, mayonnaise, lemon and paper napkins, and you're set for a picnic - just use on one the many park benches nearby.
- entry to the Vigeland Sculpture Park is completely free for everybody. The guided tour is not free.
- the website Oslopuls has a searchable event calendar. You can for example search for free ("gratis") cultural events.
- if you want to eat out, lunch is usually cheaper than dinner. Most of the year, pizza chains like Peppe's offer all-you-can-eat pizza buffet until 4 p.m. Ask the staff for tap water, there's no reason to buy bottled water.
- the cheapest restaurant are usually in the eastern part of town. One example: the indian restaurant Punjab Tandoori (a five minute walk from Oslo Central Station, previously recommended at MetaFilter) serves their daily special for around NOK 70,-.
- if the weather's nice, take tram 18 or 19 to tram stop Sjømannsskolen to visit Ekebergrestauranten. It's located in an iconic art deco building, visible from large parts of Oslo, and has tables outside during the summer months. Lunch will cost from ca NOK 150,-. The panorama view from the restaurant to the fjord and most of Oslo, is one of the attractions, also: the food is very nice and a good value.

Enjoy your visit!
posted by iviken at 4:55 PM on April 3, 2010

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