3 Days in Oslo on a Budget: the Perfect Winter Itinerary

Bell   |   1 December 23

Oslo, the city of beautiful architecture and design, has some sort of inherent “coolness” about it. From the picturesque islands of the Oslofjord to the artworks lining every street to the people themselves, Oslo is Norway’s vibrant capital and a must-visit destination.

3 days is the perfect amount of time for a visit to Norway’s capital. Oslo is on the smaller side and hence all highlights can be discovered over a long weekend, from museums to Vigeland Sculpture Park to ferry rides over the Oslofjord. 

Oslo is consistently ranked among the most expensive cities in Europe, but don’t let that stop you from visiting on a budget! From free to low-cost activities, affordable restaurants and more, I will show you exactly how to visit this city without breaking the bank.

This guide will give you the ultimate 3-day itinerary for your visit to Oslo in winter as well as tips and tricks on how to do it on a budget:

The perfect 3 day Oslo itinerary

Day 1:

Explore the Aker Brygge neighbourhood

Aker Brygge neighbourhood Oslo sculptures - traveloffscript
Aker Brygge neighbourhood Oslo - traveloffscript

Possibly my favourite neighbourhood in Oslo, Aker Brygge is located right by the harbour. It is known for its upscale restaurants and cafes, art sculptures that can be found around every corner and an interesting mix of historic and modern architecture. 

Head to Akershus Fortress for 360 views over Oslo

View over Oslo harbour from Akershus Fortress - traveloffscript

Right in the centre, you will find a piece of Oslo’s history. Completed in the 1300s, the fortress is strategically located and hence provides scenic views of Oslo’s skyline and the Oslofjord. 

Wandering the grounds is completely free and a beautiful break from the bustling city. There are QR codes all around the fortress that tell you more about its history too.

Vippa Market for lunch

Vippa is a well-known international food court in central Oslo where you can find lots of delicious meals at affordable prices (for Oslo anyway). 

The market offers dishes for anyone and is located right by the water, making it a beautiful stop for lunch. 

Visit Ekeburg Sculpture Park

Located about 20 minutes by tram outside of Oslo, right in the forest, you will find Ekebergparken. The park features 45 classic and contemporary sculptures from world-class artists such as Salvador Dali and Matt Johnson.

Ekeburg Sculpture Park is free to visit and full of hiking trails that are dotted along the stunning artworks.

Wander the Christmas Market for dinner

Oslo Christmas market lights - traveloffscript

From 11 November – 31 December, you will be able to find Jul i Vinterland in Spikersuppa in central Oslo. The Christmas Market is full of lights, delicious local treats and rides and the perfect end to your first day.

There is also an ice rink in the middle of the Christmas market that is free to use. You can rent skates for 200NOK for the whole day.

Day 2:

Visit Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park Oslo, traveloffscript

Vigeland Sculpture Park is possibly one of Oslo’s most fascinating attractions – after all, it contains Gustav Vigeland’s lifework. It features more than 200 sculptures made of bronze, granite and cast iron. Best of all, it is completely free and open all year round

Vigeland spent his entire life fascinated with the human form and the different stages we go through, both physically and emotionally. The park heavily showcases this, from the fountain that is literally the circle of life to The Monolith which is meant to represent humanity’s spirituality and the idea of resurrection

I highly recommend reading up a bit on the monuments in the park prior to visiting, to truly understand the depth and meaning behind them. This one is an absolute must-visit while in Oslo!

Hunt for bargains in Oslo’s thrift shops

To warm up after Vigeland Park, I recommend checking out some of Oslo’s thrift shops. UFF is the most well-known secondhand shop, featuring tons of brands, but there are many more dotted around Oslo.

Explore the islands around Oslofjord via ferry

Ferry B1 will take you on a tour around the islands of Oslofjord for no more than the cost of a single public transport ticket (literally – you buy your ticket on the Ruter App for the best price).

From the ferry, you can spot the colourful fish boat houses that line the islands. Getting to the main Island Hovedøya takes just 10 minutes, but I recommend staying on the ferry to see all of the islands, which takes about 45 minutes. You can get off at any of them, but I would recommend Hovedøya – the ferry stops there again all the way at the end.

It’s a very low-cost and beautiful tour of Oslofjord that many tour companies charge much more for.

Get off and explore Hovedøya island

Oslo Boat Tour B1 ferry- traveloffscript
Oslo Boat Tour lighthouse - traveloffscript

Once you have seen all the islands, the last stop before Oslo is Hovedøya  Island. Here, you can go on a walk amongst the ruins of Hovedøya Abbey, a 12th-century Cistercian monastery built by English monks. 

The island features several beautiful walkways around its perimeter, going past several historic buildings. You will also get beautiful views over Oslo and Oslofjord.

Visit Edvard Munch or the National Museum

If you find yourself with some time and energy left in the evening to explore, I can highly recommend Edvard Munch (most famous for “The Scream”) or the National Museum, which features an impressive collection of art, design and architecture. 

Treat yourself to a drink at HIMKOK

HIMKOK describes themselves as “an institution that strives to embody Norwegian culture through the expertly crafted cocktails and spirits distilled on-site”. HIMKOK’s drink menu is truly one-of-a-kind and they commonly feature in the World’s Best Bars list. 

Cocktails cost around 10-13€, but you can get draft beer for around 7-8€.

Day 3:

Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower

View over Oslo from Holmenkollen- traveloffscript
Oslo Holmenkollen ski jump - traveloffscript
Oslo Holmenkollen Church - traveloffscript

Holmenkollen has been known for skiing, ski jumping and really any winter sport for many years, hosting the Winter Olympics in 1952. In  2011, an architectural competition was held to design a new ski jumping tower in time for the World Championships, making it truly worth visiting to marvel at the design and height.

To get there, simply take Metro 1 from the city cetre. I recommend getting off at Voksenlia, one stop after Holmenkollen. From there, it is a short walk to the top of the ski jump and museum, from which you can slowly make your way down back towards Holmenkollen station. It means you don’t have to do the walk up the hill and the views are stunning.

While there, I recommend visiting the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, the oldest of its kind in the world. Entrance costs 160NOK for adults and you will also be able to visit the top of the ski jump via elevator. 

On your way down, a short detour to Holmenkollen Chapel is also more than worth it. We weren’t able to go inside when we visited, but the chapel is beautiful against the snowy backdrop.

Go for a walk in Frognerseteren forest

Once you have seen everything at Holmenkollen, head back to the station and take the same metro all the way to the end where you will find Frognerseteren forest.

Multiple picturesque walkways will take you through the snowy landscape with views of frozen lakes. I would recommend using Google Maps to orient yourself so as to not get lost, or download an offline map if you don’t have data!

Marvel at the Rose Castle

Rose Castle Art Installation Oslo- traveloffscript

Right by Frognerseteren station, you will see the imposing Rose Castle jut into the sky. It is laid out in a spiral design (hence the Rose) and features around 300 artworks that tell the stories of war and the fight for freedom.  Admission is pricy at 180 NOK, so we chose to admire the beautiful golden installations from outside. 

Late lunch at Frognerseteren Cafe and Restaurant

Frognerseteren View over Oslo from restaurant - traveloffscript
Frognerseteren View over Oslo - traveloffscript
Frognerseteren View over Oslo from restaurant 2- traveloffscript

Frognerseteren Cafe and Restaurant is an absolute highlight of a lunch spot. The views over Oslo and Oslofjord are incredible and you may even catch a breathtaking sunset (they are around 3.30pm in winter anyway). 

When heading into the building, it first looks like only the à la carte restaurant has window views, but turn right and head all the way up the stairs for the best café views, right by the windows.

The café is self-serve and pretty expensive. Sandwiches cost around 10€, proper meals more around 15-20€. We got the soup of the day for also around 10€ and it was delicious. I think you mostly pay for the view and it’s definitely worth it!

Relax in a Sauna and take a cold dip

Urban Sauna is Oslo’s hottest trend and there are several places right by the Oslofjord that offer you the experience. 

You can book private, floating saunas for a staggering 110€ or the shared experience for just 20€ (prices based on KOK Oslo Sauna).

In between your Sauna sessions, you get to take a cold dip in the Oslofjord, making this a truly unique experience.

Best Cheap Eats in Oslo

On average, a cheaper dinner in Oslo will still cost 20€ per main. No matter how you spin it, that’s pretty expensive. 

If your budget is tight, I cannot recommend enough to get accommodation with a kitchen. Cooking your own dinners will save you a ton of money overall.

That being said, here are some affordable restaurants we found and enjoyed while in Oslo:

  •  Backstube – this is a breakfast/lunch place where you can grab pastries, sandwiches and coffee for a really affordable price. I especially recommend their Chai Latte – it’s delicious. They have locations all over the city, so just search the one closest to you on Google Maps.
  • Munchies Frogner – delicious burgers for (for Oslo standards) cheap prices. It is more of a takeaway but you can sit down. The staff is also lovely!
  • Yokoso Restaurant– when we first walked in, we were terrified as it looked way too fancy for our budget. However, their prices are on the cheaper end for Oslo and you can get an incredible bowl of Ramen for 17€. It is also a beautiful restaurant right by the harbour of Aker Brygge.
  • Gazakjøkken – delicious food at an affordable price, such as Kebab, falafel and burgers. Lots of vegetarian options too!

Affordable accommodation options in Oslo

Oslo is certainly on the higher end of the spectrum for “budget” accommodations, but it can be done.

Here are some I’d suggest:

  • Anker Hostel Oslo – the reviews are average but the prices for solo travellers are good and it’s very centrally located
  • If there are 2 or more of you, I would highly recommend checking AirBnB. The places are much nicer than most hostels in Oslo and can be as cheap as 30€ per person per night.
  • HI Oslo Haraldsheim – HI Hostels can be found all over the world and are usually pretty decent. This one has slightly better reviews than the Anker Hostel but is a little more outside the city.

Tips for visiting Oslo in winter:

  • Bring warm clothes! Wear lots of layers, including thermal ones as it does get very cold, especially during the evenings.
  • If you are on a tight budget, get an accommodation with access to a kitchen, such as AirBnB or a hostel. Restaurants are EXPENSIVE in Norway and this was one of our biggest expenses.
  • Pack winter boots that have a good grip. The streets will get snowy and icy which means they are insanely slippery. Wear the boots on your flight if you are just travelling with hand luggage.
  • Get a multi-day transport pass if you are wanting to maximise what you are able to see. From 3 trips a day, the day or multi-day pass is worth it. Download the Ruter App to check your options and buy tickets.

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Hi, I'm Bell

Bell from Travel Off Script

My blog is here to show you that there isn’t one correct way to travel the world. Together, we can figure out what that means for you. Learn more about me here!

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