Oslo: an expensive city on a cheap budget

Oslo might not be Norway’s most dazzling tourist destination, but there is certainly enough to make it an attractive destination – if you can afford it, that is…

How:                     Ryanair Manchester – Rygge-Moss, £40 return
Where:                Anker Hostel, Storgata 55, £35 for 2 nights in private room
When:                  Mon 2nd – Wed 4th July, 2012
Weather:            Changeable: warm/boiling, overcast/blinding sunshine.

The flights were booked on a whim after finding a great deal on Ryanair. We didn’t have a huge budget but thought, ‘how expensive can it really be..?’

Vigeland Sculpture Park and the National Gallery

Vigeland sculpture park

Vigeland sculpture park

There are definitely plenty of things to rave about in Oslo, and the Vigeland sculpture park is high up on the list. Perfect for a stroll on a summer evening, the sculptures are beautiful, but also pretty damn creepy. The National Gallery is also one to recommend, if only to see Munch’s The Scream up-close. It seems most people do just that (us included), but there’s a lot more housed in the gallery, including works by Van Gogh. Disappointingly, taking photos of The Scream is not allowed.

The Nobel Peace Centre

Not one to miss is the Nobel Peace Centre. It houses a very interesting permanent exhibition detailing former recipients of the prize, but there also a strong focus on work that needs to be done in areas of the world where people live with limited freedoms. The temporary exhibition we saw was a hugely moving display on women’s rights in Afghanistan, and a photo exposition on war in the country.  If you only go to one museum in Oslo, go here.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo opera house

Oslo opera house

One image you can’t seem to escape in Oslo is the dramatic new opera house. Inspired by icebergs, the opera house is a giant, bright white monolith on the waterfront, backed by snazzy new buildings. You can walk in, over or around the building and the interior is just as dramatic as the exterior. The roof offers some great views, but be warned – in the bright sunshine, the massive expanses of white stone will almost definitely blind you, causing pain if you attempt to open your eyes by more than a millimetre. Sunglasses are a must. I learned the hard way.

Boat trip around the bay

Oslo fjords

Oslo fjords

One of the best things we did in Oslo was an hour-long boat tour around the bay. Though it was completely overcast at the time (although the clouds disappeared and we were fried the minute we disembarked), the views were lovely – hundreds of tiny islands dotted with pretty little traditional red, blue or yellow houses. It’s lovely to feel so far away from the city, despite only being a short boat ride away.


Budgeting in Oslo is hard. There is a choice of about two hostels, neither of which are particularly cheap, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the one we chose, though our twin room came with a mini-kitchen, meaning we did one shop for the three days. This meant we didn’t have to eat out until the last day, saving a fair few pennies. The city is small enough to get by on foot, but just bear in mind the city is exactly as expensive as everyone says – both the National Gallery and the Nobel Peace Centre cost about £10 entrance each.

Overall, our stay in Oslo was good. Though there are some mildly ok things to do, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a lovely city. In a place where a bottle of Carlsberg costs £8, you don’t expect to see decrepit trams, crumbling old buildings and badly maintained roads. I think Oslo is a great place to go, but probably works better as a stop on a larger tour of the country.

Flying into Rygge-Moss requires getting an hour-long train to Oslo central. This was without a doubt the best train journey I’ve ever experienced – incredible scenery and ridiculous comfort – at a price.

Have you tried to do an expensive city on a cheap budget?


12 responses to “Oslo: an expensive city on a cheap budget

    • It was the most expensive hostel I’ve stayed in, though admittedly it could’ve been a lot worse. I think the food situation was a real shame as we didn’t get to try any local food. Hope I’ll go back to Noway with a bit more cash in my pocket!

  1. I have been to Oslo just once. It is just as expensive as any other big city I think. I am a budget traveler (all the time)…I stayed at a friend of mine so I didn’t check the hotels and hostels. We did go out a lot during the 5 days I was there, though. I did carry some extra cash so that was pretty helpful. It is definitely an expensive place.

    • Oslo is definitely the most expensive city I’ve ever visited – not been anywhere else where I’ve had to pay £8 for a Carlsberg. Moscow can be very expensive, but the transport is very cheap there.

  2. Norway is really great destination for visititng and there are many things that you can see. No doubt it is also expensive destination but I think that Oslo deserves to spend money on it! If you are looking dor cheap destinations in Europe I think that we all agree you should visit East Europe (Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria).

  3. I agree Norway is super expensive, I took a trip from Sweden to Trondheim and my Swedish friends advised me to take a pack-up to save money! I would like to get to Oslo one day so these are great tips 🙂

  4. I’ll go to Oslo this summer for a few days and I’m a little thrown off by all the blogs saying how expensive it is. How much did you spend overall, not counting plane and accommodation ?

    • I didn’t keep a record of spending unfortunately, but we did manage to budget quite well by cooking in our hotel and making sandwiches for lunch.

      However Oslo is without a doubt the most expensively place I’ve visited.

      I’ve just written a post on budgeting in expensive cities which might help!

  5. Pingback: 6 of Europe’s most expensive cities on a budget | Continental Breakfast Travel·

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