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Oslo is the capital of Norway and situated at the head of the Oslo Fjord. About 1/3 of the total population of Norway lives around the Oslo fjord, with roughly 625,000 living in Oslo. The total urban area has over 900,000 inhabitants, while the metropolitan region has almost 1.5 million people living within its limits. Oslo has been ranking high on two lists: it is both one of the most liveable cities in Europe, as well as being one of the most expensive cities in the world. But travellers need not to worry, as there are budget options (even camping) and it's a fantastic place to spend a couple of days.
Oslo, the capital of Norway, was founded around the year 1000 and, contrary to popular belief, was actually originally named Oslo. During the Middle Ages it was situated at the foot of Ekeberg Hill, in the suburb now known as Gamlebyen (literal translation:"Old city"). In 1624, after a disastrous fire destroyed most of the city, King Christian IV decided to rebuild the town within the walls of Akerhus Castle. The king named the town after himself: Christiania, a name that some Norwegians consider the original name of the city.
In 1814, after the Denmark-Norway union was dissolved, Christiania became the official capital of Norway. King Karl Johan started building the Royal Palace in 1825, but financial difficulties delayed the project, and the palace was not completed until 1848 at which time Oscar I was the king of Norway and Sweden. The main street leading up to the Royal Palace from Oslo Central Station is named after the king who started work on the palace, Karl Johans 'gate' (street). This street is the most famous street in Norway. It runs from the Central Railway Station past the Storting (the Norwegian parliament), the National Theatre, the University of Oslo and ends at the Royal Palace. Large parts of it were redone in 2005 and 2006 to make it more friendly for pedestrians.
Starting in 1877, the city name was written as Kristiania, but in 1925 the city retook its original name: Oslo.
Oslo has a number of parks, islands, museums, churches and interesting suburbs to explore. Exploring is easy with excellent public transport and relatively short distances. Within a few hours you can walk through many of the inner city suburbs, sampling the different vibes and flavours each offer.
In the very centre of Oslo there is an abundance of discotheques, nightclubs, bars, jazz clubs and cafés, as well as the usual city centre shops. It is popular with tourists as most hotels are centred around this area and Aker Brygge, Oslo's equivalent to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, is located nearby. Recent years have seen a strong increase in the number of drug users, prostitutes and beggars on Karl Johan, especially at the lower end of the street in front of Central Station. Although generally harmless to their surroundings, it can be surprising to a lot of travellers to experience this as one of the first things in Norway, one of the richest countries in the world. The tourism industry in Norway has called for more action with regards to the situation. Outside of this very limited area in the center of Oslo however, the issue is virtually non-existent.
Majorstua is located towards the west of the city centre. It is one of the more established dining, entertainment and night-life areas in the city and is especially popular with more sophisticated clientele, as well as young people who have been raised in the area. Traditionally in Oslo the more affluent crowd lived on the west side of Akerselva, the small river that roughly divides Oslo, and the working class lived on it's east side and to this day people refer to the west and people from that area as 'Vestkanten' (West side).
Grünerløkka is one of the most trendy suburbs of Oslo and is located just east of Akerselva. Home to a variety of small cafés, restaurants, bars and outdoor establishments as well as several parks, it is popular with students and young couples and families and it is not uncommon to spot 10 strollers outside a restaurant in the middle of the day. There are few nightclubs here, but several bars stay open late, including Cafe 33 on Thorvald Meyers gt. Edvards Kaffebar at Schousplass 1 is a good place for a coffee and used to be the residence of Norway's most famous artist, Edvard Munch who is most famous for Scream.
Adjacent to Grünerløkka, Rodeløkka consists of three parallel streets and is one of the few parts of Oslo where you will still find the original wooden houses that were the foundation of much of Oslo. In the period after the fire that destroyed most of the city, new regulation stipulated that every building inside the city walls were to be made of stone or brick, which was considerably more expensive than wood. This led to a plethora of settlements by Oslo's working class right outside the city walls, where they could afford to live. As the city expanded the walls, boundaries had to be moved and rules had to be relaxed and Rodeløkka's wooden houses were incorporated within the city limits. In the 1970's, when the city tried to demolish the houses in the area, citizens protested and eventually won, leaving a little oasis of around 100 houses in their original style, surrounded by flats, in the middle of the city.
Although not your typical traveller hang out, Torshov is a relatively short (20 minutes) walk up Akerselva from Grünerløkka and the walk is a nice one along the river. The Torshov suburb is known for 'Torshovgård' (Torshov buildings), large residential buildings built in a rectangular shape with huge common gardens in the center. These buildings attract young families, typically with one or two young children, based on their proximity to the city and social opportunities for children due to the common areas and large parks. This suburb also houses Soria Moria, a theater/cinema, and a cozy little gourmet restaurant, Victors.
Grønland is one of the most diverse suburbs in Oslo and is located just south-east of Grünerløkka within a few hundred meters from Oslo Central Station. Quickly gaining in popularity, new bars and cafés are constantly cropping up and you will meet a wide variety of people from around the world here.
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Oslo lies on the same latitude as Saint Petersburg, Anchorage in Alaska and Kap Farvel in Greenland. Despite it's location, the climate is better than one might presume, due to the Gulf Stream bringing warmth up the coast of Norway. Oslo, as much of the rest of Norway, comes alive in the summer and Aker Brygge (the main wharf down town) and the many public parks are packed when good weather arrives. Ferries also offer quick access to a dozen or so small islands in the Oslo Fjord.
Nevertheless the winters in Oslo get cold enough to offer very good skiing conditions for about 3 to 5 months, in the hills right around the city. 'Tryvann', one of the more established downhill slopes can be reached relatively easily by tram from down town Oslo. The same hills offer countless opportunities for cross country skiing and events are regularly held around the base of the world-famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump.
Temperatures throughout the year 
|Spring April - May||4.5 °C to 10.8 °C||-5.4 °C||24.4 °C|
|Summer June - Aug||15.2 °C to 16.4 °C||4.7 °C||28.9 °C|
|Autumn Sept - Oct||6.3 °C to 10.8 °C||-0.5 °C||19.1 °C|
|Winter Nov - March||0.7 °C to -4.3 °C||-20.7 °C||12.8 °C|
1. Oslo's Gardermoen Airport (OSL) is Norway's largest airport and is 45 kilometres northeast of Oslo. Gardermoen is served directly from most European capitals, but most flights from outside of Europe will require a stopover before heading to Oslo, although there are direct connections with New York, Islamabad, Lahore, Doha and Bangkok. All the main European capitals have direct flights as well. SAS Braathens, Norwegian and Widerøe also serve the domestic market and the network of domestic flight opportunities from Oslo is good.
To/from the airport
2. Moss Airport, Rygge, also just called Oslo Rygge Airport, is about 60 kilometres from Oslo and has quite a few flights as well, especially as it functions as the budget airport for Ryanair, which flies to/from Aarhus, Alicante, Barcelona, Paris, Beziers, Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, Eindhoven, Faro, Gdansk, Girona, Ibiza, Kaunas, Krakow, La Rochelle, Liverpool, London Gatwick Airport, London Stansted Airport, Madrid, Malaga, Memmingen, Newcastle, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Riga, Rome, Tallinn, Tampere, Treviso, Thessaloniki, Valencia, Airport Weeze, Wroclaw, Zadar, and seasonal to/from Châlons-en-Champagne and Kos. Norwegian Air Shuttle and a few charter airlines mainly serve some southern European destinations like Rhodes, Crete, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
To/from the airport
3. Torp airport (TRF) near Sandefjord, which is served by Ryanair and WizzAir amongst others, is another option. Ryanair flies to/from Alghero, Alicante, Bergamo, Bremen, Edinburgh, Girona, Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, Liverpool and London Stansted Airport and seasonal to/from Malaga, Pescara, Pisa and Trapani. WizzAir flies to/from Gdansk, Katowice, Poznan, Prague, Riga, Warsaw and Wroclaw. WizzAir Ukraine flies to Kiev, and other destinations with a few airlines include Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stavanger and Trondheim.
To/from the airport
Oslo central station is located near Karl Johan's street and is served by the Norwegian railway (NSB) from throughout Norway, including regular arrivals from Bergen, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Trondheim. The region immediately around Oslo is also served comprehensively, including the airport and travelling by NSB train is notably cheaper than the popular airport express train, but of course much slower and less regular.
International trains arrive in Oslo from the south east, through Sweden. Central station tends to be the main stop, but a lot of trains also continue on to the National theater stop (Nationaltheatret) which is slightly more central.
The NSB website offers Minipris fares to all Norwegian destinations and some larger Swedish destinations they serve, for a discounted rate of 199 NOK. There is also a Comfort version of this popular low cost ticket which includes coffee and some other amenities including a power outlet for an extra 75 NOK. For some of the Swedish lines, the Swedish railway website might be a better alternative with discounted rates down to 150 SEK.
With the E6 and E18 international European highways meeting in Oslo access by car from the rest of Europe is a straightforward affair. You can arrive in Oslo from Copenhagen and Stockholm in under 7 hours and from Berlin the trip takes about 12 hours, including a ferry ride.
The E6 runs north to south and if you are driving to Oslo from Trondheim or Alta, you will most likely be arriving on this highway. Most other towns and cities are served off this highway. The E16 runs west to Bergen and the E18 run south-west to Drammen and Kristiansand.
Direct Ferries and Colorline both travel to and from Oslo from a number of cities in Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Stena Line has ferries between Fredrikshavn and Oslo. DFDS Seaways also provide a daily ferry to Olso from Copenhagen that sails overnight, departing Copenhagen early evening. Check the website of Oslo Harbour for more details about schedules and prices.
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For a capital city, Oslo has a minimal amount of congestion and you rarely find yourself stuck in traffic in the city (although the access ways at certain times of the day get congested). The inner city can be somewhat tricky to navigate by car due to one way streets, but no more so than any other large city.
Public transport in Oslo is very good and allows access to the outer suburbs of Oslo from downtown. In the inner city, trams and buses are generally no more than 5 minutes apart. Tickets can be purchased on board, but a better and cheaper alternative is to buy a 'Flexikort' (flexible ticket) which you stamp every time you take a trip. There are no zones, so you can travel as far as you'd like on one stamp, as long as it is not longer than an hour. Likewise, if you make a few short hops you do not need to re-validate your card as long as you validated the ticket less than one hour ago. Ferries departing from Aker Brygge or to the islands in the fjord use the same system so be mindful that you do not always have to re-validate when getting on board.
If you are planning to use the public transportation heavily within a short period, there are day and weekend passes available.
Distances are relatively short in Oslo so seeing the city by foot is easy regardless of fitness level. From Central Station to the Castle and down to Aker Brygge is no more than 800 metres for example. The more active walkers could certainly see most of the city center and one of the suburbs like Grünerløkka or Majorstua within one day. Within the inner city there is relatively little elevation making walking even more comfortable.
Especially in the summer one will see a lot of bicycles used to get around Oslo. In part this is thanks to a rent-a-bike system that is very popular and allows you to pick up a bike at one of dozens of stands across the city and return it to a similar stand elsewhere. There are some very good mountain bike tracks around Songsvann and for those that do not care to cycle all the way up a tram provides access.
Areas popular for drinks are Grünerløkka (tram 11-12-13 to stops Nybrua, Schous plass, Olaf Ryes plass or Birkelunden), Aker Brygge (tram 12 to Aker Brygge or bus 21-32-33-54 to Vika Atrium or Bryggetorget), Solli/Frogner (tram 12-13 or bus 30-31 to Solli), Grønland (T-bane to Grønland or bus 37 to Norbygata) and the city centre.
Beer in the supermarkets costs between 10 NOK - 16 NOK for a 0.33l bottle or 20-30 NOK for a half litre can. Supermarkets stop selling beer after 8:00pm on weekdays and at 6:00pm on Saturdays (earlier on holiday weekends). It is not possible to buy beer on Sunday except in restaurants and pubs. Prices of beer in bars and restaurants vary from around 45 NOK to 65 NOK (classier places, especially in the main tourist areas downtown and at Aker Brygge) for a half litre, the most common size. Wine is typically in the same price range and stronger alcohol a little more expensive.
It is illegal to drink in public areas and this law is enforced, particularly in the streets. It is generally not enforced at all in parks however, and especially in the summer it is common to see parks filled with groups having drinks and barbecuing. Sofienbergparken, Birkelunden and Kuba at Grünerløkka are good places for a drink in the summer as is St. Hanshaugen park or Frognerparken in Majorstua.
|Anker Hostel||Storgata 55 N-0182 Oslo||Hostel||71|
|Anker Hotel||Storgt. 55 N-0182 PO Box 4674, Sofienberg||Hotel||78|
|Oslo Vandrerhjem Holtekilen||Micheletsvei 55||Hostel||77|
|Oslo Youth Hostel Haraldsheim||P.O.Box 41, Grefsen Haraldsheimveien 4||Hostel||76|
|Perminalen Hotel||Ovre Slottsgt 2||Hotel||81|
|Residence Kristinelund||Kristinelundveien 2 0268 Oslo||Guesthouse||75|
|Sentrum Pensjonat||Tollbugata 8||Hostel||67|
|Clarion Collection Hotel Gabelshus||Gabels Gate 16, 0272 Oslo||Hotel||-|
|Best Western Bondeheimen Hotel||Rosenkrantz Gate 8, 0159 Oslo||Hotel||-|
|Holmenkollen Park Hotel Rica||Kongeveien 26, 0787 Oslo||Hotel||-|
|Radisson SAS/Blu Scandinavia Hotel||Holbergsgate 8, 0166 Oslo||Hotel||-|
|Thon Hotel Bristol||Kristian Iv's Gate 7, 0164 Oslo||Hotel||-|
|Scandic Byporten||Jernbanetorget 6, 0159 Oslo||Hotel||-|
|Radisson SAS/Blu Plaza Hotel||Sonja Henies Plass 3, Oslo||Hotel||-|
|First Hotel Millennium||Tollbugaten 25, 0157 Oslo||Hotel||-|
|Cochs Pensjonat||Parkveien 25, 0350 Oslo||Guesthouse||-|
|Oslo Budget Hotel||Prinses Gate||hostel||74|
|Oslo Hostel/Hotel Apartments||Kjolberggaten 29||HOSTEL||69|
|My City Home||Kirkegata 30||Apartment||74|
|Best Western Kampen Apartment Hotel||Kjolberggaten 29 No-0653 Oslo||HOTEL||-|
|Anker Apartment||Københavngata 10||APARTMENT||-|
|Cochs Pensjonat||Parkveien 25||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Montebello Guesthouse||Sondreveien 9||Guesthouse||-|
|Ellingsens Pensjonat||Holtegata 25||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Villa Frogner Bed & Breakfast||Nordraaksgt. 26||Guesthouse||-|
|Château Apartment||Nedregate 8||Apartment||-|
|Ambiose Bed & Breakfast||Østbyfaret 9d||GUESTHOUSE||-|
It's extremely hard to find reasonable work in Oslo if you don't speak Norwegian, even with the right visa in hand. Although there are lots of skilled jobs available, most travellers, especially other Scandinavians, tend to end up working in the hospitality industry. There are also plenty of jobs available that do not require you to speak Norwegian, typically jobs that Norwegians will not take.
These organizations and agencies are useful when trying to find work in Oslo.
A lot of small cafe's and coffee shops in Oslo offer free wireless internet with the purchase of a cup of coffee. One of the first and still most popular is QBA in Grünerløkka, but since it started many more have followed suit. Freewlan.org Oslo (in Norwegian) lists different areas of Oslo and which restaurants and cafe's give you free wireless internet access with a basic user rating system. There are also a few internet cafe's with paid internet access for those travelling without a laptop and most hotels and hostels also offer a few computers for guests to use (at a fee).
See also International Telephone Calls
Pay phones are located throughout the city although the increase in mobile phone usage has meant their numbers are not increasing. Unlike some countries, local calls are billed by the minute making it even more attractive for travellers staying for longer periods to consider a pre-paid mobile phone. Pre-paid mobiles can be purchased at most convenience stores and these are plentiful in Oslo.
Red mailboxes are found throughout Oslo and post offices are plentiful, with opening hours on most being 9:00am to 5:00pm. Stamps can usually only be found at post offices although some popular tourist venues might carry them. Norway's postal system, "Posten", has a good website with a lot of English information including up to date prices. The most commonly sent format for travellers, letters and cards up to 20 grams, currently require the following stamps:
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Ask Sam I Am a question about Oslo
I've lived in Oslo since 2003, and am always happy to offer advice on one of the world's greatest cities!
Ask Mr. Tobben a question about Oslo
Lived in the Oslo-area for 21 years. Worked in a coffeeshop on Oslo's mainstreet for two summers - pressing me to learn a lot about Oslos sights and how to find valuble information about them.
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