Oslo, what can I say? There are SO many gorgeous places in Norway - the ones that I visited like Saltstraumen or the Lofoten Islands, and the ones that are still on my bucket list like Bergen and Stavanger. Oslo though has never really been in my list of top places in Norway.
I visited the city for 4 days back in 2014 and although I totally enjoyed the sights like the Opera House and the peninsula Bygdøy with its many museums, I also found the city incredibly expensive, touristy and overall not like the Norway I knew from Trondheim and Tromsø.
To me, Oslo was kind of lacking the Norwegian charm that I had experienced in other places and I was almost glad to leave the city again. Since then I've always told people that if they visit Norway for the first time, they should avoid Oslo.
In my view, it's the least Norwegian city of all and it's also the most expensive and overrated one.
But then I was planning my Easter vacation this year. The plan was to meet my family halfway between my home country Germany and my current residence Tromsø, which left us with two places: Central Denmark or Oslo.
To be honest, I didn't look forward to the thought of visiting Oslo a second time. It felt like I had seen everything there is to see already and I was so afraid that the trip would just totally exceed my budget.
However when my parents discovered cheap flights to Oslo, we thought that Oslo might be the better option after all and I started to research things to see and do in the city that aren't on any touristy must-see list.
What I ended up with was an itinerary to Oslo off the beaten path, perfect for second-timers to the city, which I thought I'd share with you today!
Now in the end, we decided to head to Denmark after all so I haven't actually gotten around to use my own itinerary yet, but if you've been to any of these places, let me know in the comments if they're actually worth it!
So without further ado, here's what to do and see in and around Oslo if you've already seen the major sights - or Oslo off the beaten path:
Drøbak and Oscarsborg
Oscarsborg festning! Kun 45 minutter fra Oslo. Flyfoto: Einar Ingvaldsen. #oscarsborg #oscarsborgfestning #aftenposten #akershus #visitnorway #forsvarsbygg #forsvaret #drøbak #akershusreiseliv #visitoslo #båt #Båtliv #seilas #historiskehoteller #amtaland #follo #hurum #rekreasjon #barn #ut #natur #kultur
Drøbak is a little town situated at the Oslofjord, about 1 1/2 hours by boat and 1 hour by bus from the city. It's a popular summer destination for locals and tourists alike and apparently it also is known as the "Christmas town" as it hosts a Christmas house with all kinds of christmassy souvenirs and nick-nacks, and of course Santa's Post Office.
I think I would love all the wooden houses you can apparently find in Drøbak and just the more Norwegian atmosphere that I found Oslo was lacking.
The major sight of Drøbak however isn't the town itself but the fortress Oscarsborg which is situated on an island just across the fjord. Medieval fortresses, old Norwegian houses and gorgeous sceneries? This seems to be the place that has it all!
The city of Lillehammer is situated north of Oslo and it takes about 2 hours to get there by train. It's most known for its winter sport facilities and was the host city of the Winter Olympics in 1994.
It thus hosts the Norwegian Olympic Museum today which I would just love to visit. I might suck at skiing and it will probably take me a few more winters to properly get the hang of snowboarding, but watching winter sports is something I've always enjoyed.
Besides, who can resist visiting a Norwegian mountain town in winter?!
Hovedøya is one of the many islands in the Oslofjord but it's the one that's closest to the city, meaning that it'll just take you 5 minutes to get there by boat. It's a really small island but besides amazing views and scenic nature, it hosts one sight I'd love to see:
An old monastery!
The monastery on Hovedøya dates back to 1147 and today you can find its remnants and even a small exhibition there. So if you'd like to learn more about Norwegian history and enjoy the country's nature but find Bygdøy too crowded during the summer, this place just might be the perfect alternative!
Damstredet and Telthusbakken
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Now this is an area of Oslo I'm absolutely dying to see. The two streets Damstredet and Telthusbakken date back to the 1700s and 1800s and feature absolutely stunning and colourful wooden buildings - exactly the kind of Norwegian charm I've always missed about Oslo!
I don't know why I didn't hear about this area when I visited Oslo for the first time but this neighbourhood is a hidden gem that might just change my view on Norway's capital completely!
I mean look at these buildings!!!
Now you might have never heard of Fredrikstad or you might have seen it on the map as being the last bigger town before the border to Sweden. If you're however using Pinterest, I can guarantee you that you have at least seen one picture of Fredrikstad: its old town!
Old Fredrikstad is one of the best preserved fortress towns in the whole of Scandinavia and it's special mostly because of its star-shaped size. Of course, you won't really be able to see the shape unless you're bringing a drone, but I'm sure that the old town is just as lovely from aground.
Besides, Fredrikstad apparently offers you the best chance of some sunshine and summer temperatures in all of Norway and even hosts the biggest miniature railroad exhibition in all of the Scandics.
If that's not enough reason to visit, I don't know what is!
Budget Tours and Activities in Oslo:
Have you been to any of these places? What other hidden gems do you know in Oslo?
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