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If you don’t mind putting your walking shoes on and facing whatever weather Norway brings, you can find many free things to do in Oslo. With Oslo located right on the sea, it allows for many pleasant walks along the harbor.
The Oslo Opera House, is one of the most iconic modern buildings in Scandinavia and was built to resemble a glacier floating in the waters of the Oslofjord. The building was designed to enhance the enjoyment of Oslo and allows visitors and locals alike walk on the roof of the Opera House. From here you can see some amazing views of the surrounding Oslo as well as into the harbor. Close to the Opera House lays Akershus Fortress which once protected the city from any impending invaders in the 1300s, but now is a pleasant place to wander around learning about Norway's history- if you’re lucky you may see some people dressed in historical costumes! This building inspired a few of the buildings in Frozen – see if you can recognize the building and architecture in the film!
Located near the center of Oslo is artist Gustav Vigeland’s lifework of about 200 sculptures in properly named Vigelandsparken. Vigeland’s statues are meant to represent life and its many stages. The park’s most famous statues include The Angry Boy (Sinnataggen) and The Wheel of Life (Livshjulet). Continuing into the center of Oslo is Karl Johans Street (Karl Johans Gate). Along this street, you can find many different high-end shops, perfect for window shopping and little cafes to grab coffee and people watch. At the end of the street lies the Royal Norwegian Palace, which unlike Buckingham Palace, you can go right up to it and take pictures. Before arriving at the palace, you'll pass the Norwegian Parliament and National Theatre.
If you need a place to relax, head to Oslo’s Botanical Garden. Here you will be able to walk and enjoy around 1,800 different plants. What’s so cool and unique about this Botanical Garden is that there is a Scent Garden designed for the blind, mentally-handicapped and wheelchair bound so they can enjoy the garden as well. The garden is open only from mid-March until the end of September but is free to enter. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to enjoy a concert in the gardens as they run regularly through the summer.
The final free destination is Oslo’s City Hall. This may not seem like a tourist hotspot at first, but it is home to two famous pieces of artwork, Alf Rolfsen’s “Et bilde av vår nasjon” and Henrik Sørensen’s “Arbeid. Administrasjon. Fest”, both of which depict Norwegian life, culture, and history. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo’s City Hall so enjoy some time walking around soaking up the history. During the summer months, the city offers free guided tours of the City Hall.
There are many different museums to choose from in Oslo, but depending on your time, interest and wallet, you may not be interested in visiting some of them. Here are three of the most crowd-pleasing Oslo has to offer.
The Norwegian Folk Museum is one of the world’s oldest and largest open-air museums and features 155 traditional Norwegian homes from across the country. It’s star resident is the Stave Church from the year 1200. It is recommended wearing comfortable footwear and clothing as the museum is spread out and some walking will be involved. During the summer, you’ll be able to view demonstrations of different farm activities and baking of fresh Norwegian bread and pastries. For students, tickets are 100 NOK ($13).
Right next to the Folk Museum is the Viking Ship Museum. Here you will find some of the most well-preserved Viking ships, as well as other artifacts from Viking age Norway. A student ticket is 80 NOK ($11) and includes entrance to the Historical Museum within 48 hours. Since both the Viking Ship Museum and the Folk Museum are about a 20-minute bus ride outside the city, depending on the time you have in the city, it may be the best use of your time to visit both museums in the same day.
The last museum, the Nobel Peace Prize Museum, is in the center of Oslo right next to Oslo City Hall. Here everyone will be able to find something or someone that interests them. Each Peace Prize winner has a description in the Nobel Field along with the history of Alfred Nobel himself. Check out the website before your visit as they do have rotating exhibits. Entrance for students is 65 NOK ($8).