I headed to Oslo this past weekend after finding a great deal on the www.skyscanner.net flight search engine I use frequently. I’d never been to Scandinavia before and although slightly apprehensive as to what things would costs having heard and read how expensive Oslo was, I was looking forward to the weekend.
The only reason I could afford to go in the first place was that I had somewhere to stay. Ruben and I convoyed together for the final two weeks of the Mongol Rally from Kazakhstan to the finish line and he kindly agreed to have us on his couch for the weekend.
Oslo is a very green city and with the city centre being small, it’s a city that is very explorable by foot. And with two beautiful days of weather; blue skies and a lovely 20 degrees, that’s exactly what we did! We wandered through the interesting park at Vigelandsparken with over 200 sculptures, admired a collection of Edward Munch’s work at the National Gallery, including a painting I’ve wanted to see for years – The Scream, learnt heaps about the Nobel Peace Prize and its list of prestigious winners at the Nobel Peace centre and got lost amongst the largely spandex-wearing crowd in town for the marathon as we wandered around the harbour.
On a recommendation from a Norwegian friend here in London, we enjoyed a divine sea food lunch at Fiskeriet (on Youngstorget square) and danced away to the amazing sounds of the 12-man Frank Znort Quartet at the Blaa Bar. The band plays everything from Calypso to Rock and they’re on every Sunday night. It’s also free so if you’re in town, I wouldn’t miss it.
One cannot hide from the fact that Oslo is ridiculously expensive even by London standards. A zone two 25 minute train into Oslo costs 50 kroner, £5.50, a 40 minutes night bus 70 kroner, £7.50, and a beer at the bar a minimum of 75-80 kroner, £8! Food is also more expensive than London with even bread and cheese from the supermarket costing £3-4!
Thankfully, there is a lot to do that doesn’t cost anything. The sculpture park is free to visit as is the National Gallery (special exhibitions cost money though). It’s also free to head to the top floor of the Plaza Hotel, the tallest in the city, for great views of the city and surrounds.
The majority of places offer half price student prices so be sure to pack your student card if you have one. And look into day passes for the trains and buses -if you’re going on more than three trains then a day pass would be worthwhile.
Enjoying the natural beauty of the country is also free and this beauty extends to just outside Oslo. Although there are no fjords aside from the Oslo fjord in town itself, the North Field not far from the city is a beautiful ‘foresty’ area with heaps of trails that could keep one occupied for days. We spent an afternoon here and enjoyed a delicious picnic on the lake.
So the weekend was just a very small taste of what Scandinavia has to offer and I look forward to exploring more at some point. I think the best, and cheapest, way would be to cycle and camp so that’s definitely a trip for the summer!
Let me know if you’re heading to Norway and have any questions or if you’ve been and have anything to add for others still to visit.