What to do in Oslo when poor?
June 26, 2006 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Where to spend my days in Oslo

I have been planning a trip to Oslo for a couple months so that I can meet up with a friend of mine who recently moved there. It is only now that I have booked the tickets that I realized I have no clue where to visit while I am there.

Cost is an issue, both my girlfriend and I are students and both of us are poor even by student standards.

In addition to any locations you might be able to recommend, if you have any other advice that could help us have a good time it would be appreciated by us greatly.
posted by herting to Travel & Transportation around Oslo, Norway (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You could always, you know, do a little bit of net research. Most everything great about Oslo is well-documented on the web.

Visit the statue gardens. That'll easily consume a day.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:01 PM on June 26, 2006

Best answer: What are you into? Touristy things, concerts, museums? Oslo has a limited selection of all of these, but it's a nice and often pretty city where you can just walk around and enjoy the long, bright summer nights.

As five fresh fish says, the Vigeland Park is great. It's probably Oslo's best attraction in any genre. Watching Americans be socked about the many sculptures of naked men, women and children innocuously sharing intimate contact is part of the fun. Make sure you go all the way up to the great monolith.

The Oslo fjord is particularly charming in the summer. Pack a picnic basket, get some blankets, take the ferry (which leaves from Vippetangen, a few hundred meters east of Aker Brygge, the harbour's main shopping area) out to one of the islands. The ferry is cheap.

One of my favourite island is Gressholmen, 20 minutes by ferry, a small grassy island inhabited by hundreds or thousands of little rabbits. There's a tiny restaurant, some rocky beaches, and lots of space to lie around doing absolutely nothing. Bring carrots.

As far as museums go, I quite like the Kon-Tiki museum, dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl's exploits. You can also take the ferry to the maritime museum, which is really not much to look at (sadly long due for restoration; and please avoid the restaurant), but offers a surprisingly impressive selection of models, artifacts and maritime paintings if you are into that sort of thing. The museum's highlight, though, is the Fram, Roald Amundsen's famous ship enclosed in a triangle-shaped structure.

The Munch museum in Tøyen isn't quite the same after burglars nabbed the Scream, but it's still impressive and worth a visit. The museum has a good restaurant, and is surrounded by the Sofienberg park, which is a nicely hilly stretch of grass popular among the natives. Right next to the museum you will find the modest but well-kempt botanical gardens.

The Henie-Onstad center outside Oslo (reachable by train and possibly by subway, I forget) is a world-class art center.

If you have a whole day to spare, take a trip to Drøbak, which is the closest you will get to a small, cozy Norwegian coastal village without traveling, well, a lot farther.

Let me know what else you are into, and I will try to assist. (I am an Oslo native currently in New York.)
posted by gentle at 9:06 PM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I missed the bunny island? CURSES!

The hiking up the local mountain is pretty decent, too. Crowded as all hell to me, but then I'm used to the solitudes of the out-of-Park Cdn. Rockies. (Oslo's mountain is startlingly similar to some of the hikes I've done in BC, frankly.)

[starts dreaming of owning a lake with an island...]
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 PM on June 26, 2006

Sorry to hear that, fish. I suppose you do not have islands with rabbits on them where you come from?

Oslo does indeed offer good hiking; like San Francisco/Bay Area (but very unlike, say, New York or London), you are constantly about 20 minutes away from the nearest forest. I would recommend buying a map and taking the subway to Sognsvann. To be sure, Oslo offers more subtle and desolate hiking trails, and as five fresh fish points out, you are not necessarily completely on your own in this area, but this is a good place to start.
posted by gentle at 9:34 PM on June 26, 2006

Do see the Kon-tiki, it's astonishingly small to have used to sail across the pacific, possibly combine it with a visit to the Fram, a novel arctic exploration vessel used by Fritjof Nansen, the 18th-19th century Norwegian explorer/scientist/diplomat/humanitarian/nobel peace prize winner. The Fram museum is just near the Kon-tiki museum. I also second the island trip thing, there are a number of islands just off the mainland served by ferry from the city or from Bygdoy (where the kon-tiki museum is located), cheap to get to, you can wander around and laze on the beach all day - just don't miss the last ferry back. Some are nudist beaches if that bothers/interests you.

You would be silly to miss the Vigeland sculpture park, it's also known as Frogner Park, which may be helpful to know if you're getting public transport.

Norway also has one of the best train services in Europe. Consider leaving the city and seeing at least something, the 'Norway in a Nutshell' is the popular tourist trip but you can do something fairly similar under your own steam pretty easily.
posted by biffa at 12:58 AM on June 27, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice.

I had been poking around online for ideas of things to do in Oslo, but have always found that anything other than first-hand suggestions from knowledgeable individuals all tends to point you towards the same touristy rip-offs that will sap a foreigner's wallet the first day.

I will definately see the Vigeland park, the pictures I have seen make it look spectacular.

When I moved to London from the States I found that the most astounding and impressive things in the city were the public things that everyone can go to and see for free (eg parks, squares, nelson's column, big ben).

I like historical places/markers, long walking paths through nice vistas, parks, old timey spectacles to prove the might of man, etc.

Based on your input, gentle, I will definately try to go to Drøbak and Gressholmen. I am certain once I tell my girlfriend about a bunny island she will ensure that we spend at least one of our days there. She will also do her part to bring her own band of torpor upon any enthusiasm I have about going to naked island, but if I manage to slip it past her while she is in a bunny-induced coma, I will promise to let you know biffa.
posted by herting at 10:02 PM on June 27, 2006

For a cheap and tasty dinner, try Punjab Tandoori (Grønland 23, five minutes walk from Oslo Central Station). A chicken or lamb dish with rice, vegetables and nan bread costs around 60,- kroner.

Try one of these online searchable maps to find almost any street adress in Norway: www.finn.no/kart - or map24.com.

For information about how to get from A to B with public transport in Oslo and large parts of Norway: www.trafikanten.no (also available in English)

More information about Oslo on a budget here
posted by iviken at 8:12 AM on June 28, 2006

Thought I'd mention that the National Gallery also has a version of Munch's Scream (he painted several), and there's no entrance fee.
posted by Agent X9 at 5:46 AM on July 1, 2006

Skip iviken's restaurant suggestion. It falls beneath "budget food" into the category of "emergency food".

Rather, if you indeed are in the mood for Indian, go up a few streets from that location and find Darbar (not to be confused with the other, inferior Darbar in Karl Johans gate), which happens to be one of Oslo's best Indian restaurants. The aloo cholay (a variation of chana masala: chickpeas and potatoes in a thick curry sauce) is amazing, and I have never had better shahi paneer (Indian paneer cheese in a tomato sauce); the tikka masala is passable, but the malai kebab and the karahi chicken are perfect. (And if you like mild stuff, try the 23. No, I don't remember the name. It's the creamy almond sauce thing.) And the rice, oh, the rice. Even as I live here in New York, which has plenty of Indian restaurants, I long to eat at this place; NYC has nothing to match it, at least not in that price range/level of authenticity. An entrée is typically around 100-120 NOK ($16-19).

If you want to stay on the 60 NOK-per-meal budget, you should still skip Punjab Tandoori and go to Mister India, which is ridiculously cheap and pretty good, near the central railway station.

If you guys like animals, Oslo doesn't have a proper zoo, but tucked away in a busy street is a tiny but extremely entertaining little one that is devoted, at least nominally, to reptiles: Oslo reptilpark. They have snakes, an iguana, a turtle, some spiders, a bunch of lizards (geckoes and salamanders mostly), brightly-coloured venomous frogs, a parrot, etc. They also have a lovely little aquarium with corals and clownfish. I have been to some big zoos and aquariums in my time, but despite its size, this one is the one I remember the best, perhaps precisely it's so small, so you spend more time on each display, sometimes visually hunting for elusive creatures; but perhaps also because it lets you get so close to the little critters. (They let you hold some of them at feeding time.)

If you want to get a good overview of the city, the Tryvann tower was unfortunately closed to visitors last year (you can see Sweden from up there), but the next best thing is the Radisson SAS Plaza Hotel, whose penthouse restaurant provides a panoramic view of the city.

Good luck, and enjoy your stay!
posted by gentle at 9:51 PM on July 1, 2006

« Older BioDiesel or Veggie Oil?   |   Vonage's Click2Call for Thunderbird. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.