Oslo is without a doubt one of the most expensive cities in Europe. It’s one of those places that you hear tales about long before you ever actually visit. Stories of people paying 10€ for a beer and 30€ for a single main meal. When I booked my trip to the Norwegian capital last year, I was very well aware of those stories, but I was determined to experience Oslo on a budget.
My visit to Oslo was only a short one: two nights and just over one day. After doing some research on the average prices for accommodation, transport, activities and food I allocated a maximum budget of 100€, excluding flights. I can tell you right now, that 100€ is NOT a lot in Oslo. If you want to make that sort of budget work in one of Europe’s priciest cities, you’re going to have to budget. The good news is, it’s possible to visit Oslo on a budget. Let me show you how!
Choose the right mode of airport transfer
First things first. If you’re not careful with the choice of transfer to get in to Oslo’s city center, you might blow your entire budget straight away. This pretty much applies to everything from accommodation to eating out.
The cheapest option is the NSB Gardermoen – Oslo train. It runs every 10 – 20 minutes and only takes 23 minutes to get you into the center of Oslo. Tickets cost 10€ each way and can be purchased inside the airport station.
Don’t get mixed up between the NSB train and the Airport Express, as the latter is double the price for a single fare.
Avoid taxis at all cost (literally!). A single fare from the airport to the city center will set you back a whopping 70€.
My Spending: 20€
Hostels are a great budget option where ever you travel. In Oslo however finding the right hostel really wasn’t easy. The first surprise was that there really aren’t that many hostels to choose from. The average hostel prices per night in Oslo are between 30€ – 35€, which is considerably higher than in many other European cities. When I started looking further into the different options, I noticed that many hostels also charge you for bedding and some of them are quite a way out of the city center. Once I had taken all that into consideration, I picked the Sentrum Hostel for 31€ a night in a mixed dorm, including bedding. All I really want to say at this point is that I wasn’t surprised when somebody told me that the establishment will be closing down soon.
Top tip: Check location & potential additional charges when booking a hostel in Oslo.
My Spending: 62€
These boots are made for walking
Oslo is a really walkable city, so pack your comfy shoes and save yourself some Norwegian Kroner by getting around on foot. I did it a whole day of sightseeing and exploring in Oslo without using any public transport or taxis. The city has lots of quirky features and hidden treasures that you really don’t want to miss because you’re stuck on a bus.
My Spending: 0€
DIY Cooking & Street Food
Oslo’s market hall is a budget-friendly and exciting alternative to expensive sit-down meals at a restaurant. Mathallen Oslo is located near the Grünerlokka district, just North of the city center. It’s a modern food hall featuring more than 30 different stalls and cafes offering everything from fresh Norwegian fish and giant pretzels to colourful homemade ice cream. Whether you’re looking for seasonal ingredients for a DIY hostel dinner or a place where you can have some street food and mingle with locals, I’d highly recommend a visit to Mathallen Oslo.
Check out their website for upcoming events, cooking demonstrations and workshops.
Top tip for hot dog lovers: Norwegian hot dogs are the bee’s knees, seriously! Not only are they super tasty, they’re also one of the most affordable snacks available in the city. Expect to pay around 3€ for a hot dog at convenience stores or street food stalls, depending on the type of sausage you choose. Hot dogs are a local delicacy and are sometimes served in what looks like a savoury pancake. In fact I thought they were tasty enough to have 3 (!!!) in the space of 36 hours (please don’t judge).
My Spending: 18€
Take a stroll in the Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Garden in Oslo is well worth a visit and a great place to meet locals, especially at the weekend. Take a stroll along blossoming trees or enjoy the natural setting during a picnic.
The Botanical Garden is a relaxing and budget-friendly place to spend a morning in Norway’s capital.
My Spending: 0€
Climb the roof of the Oslo Opera House
If you’re taking a walk along Oslo’s waterfront you will without a doubt notice large, funky-shaped building. That’s the Oslo Opera House. This place is really surreal. On a show day you can watch well-dressed locals gathering outside the front entrance, while most visitors from around the world come to the Opera House for an entirely different form of entertainment: to climb the roof.
The roof is slanted on both sides, making it possible to climb all the way to the top and enjoy a 360 degree view of the city.
My Spending: 0€
Check out free local Events & Exhibitions
Make sure to check out the local events online before heading to Oslo. The city offers a great range of free events, from markets and festivals to art exhibits.
The easiest way to research free events in Oslo, is by heading to the Visit Oslo event or exhibition calendar. Simply narrow it down to the dates of your visit and check the right column for free events and shows.
My Spending: 0€
Gorge on street art
I always love to check out the street art scene no matter where I go. Most of the street art and murals I spotted were located north of the city center in and around the Grünerlokka district and the market hall.
You can find everything from colourful murals like this one in a busy main street of Grünerlokka, random figures placed in people’s windows and full on bizarre landscapes that look more like something you’d expect to find on a film set as opposed to a city center.
My Spending: 0€
So is it really possible to do Oslo on a budget?
Oslo might be one of the most expensive places you can travel to in Europe, but it’s definitely possible to enjoy your time in Norway’s capital without breaking the bank. I managed to stick to my budget of 100€ without feeling like I’m missing out. I hope my budget tips will help you to experience Oslo for less.
Total budget spent: 100€
Looking for more inspiration on how to visit some of the most expensive destinations on a budget? Then check out Iceland on a budget: 15 tips to help you explore Iceland for less.
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