Day-trip visitors to Oslo can easily see many of the top sights including Munch’s The Scream, Viking ships, Vigeland sculptures, the opera house and museums.
Oslo is a relatively small city so day trippers on mini cruises can see many of the top sights even with only a few hours available. The Oslo Opera House and Akerhus Fortress are directly next to the ferry terminal. Munch’s The Scream in the National Gallery and the statues in the Vigeland Sculpture Park are among the most-popular sights to see in Oslo. The Viking Ship Museum and Open-Air Museum should also be high on the priority list.
Top Sights to See on Mini Cruises to Oslo
This guide is mostly intended for travelers on cheap mini cruises from Copenhagen but as the DFDS ferryboat terminal is a few minutes walk from Oslo main train station and town hall the transportation ideas should also work for most travelers to Oslo.
On the whole, it may be best to concentrate on sights in a specific geographical area – the sights in the city center are within easy walking distance of the ferry terminal while the museums in Bygdøy may be reached by bus.
See more distance sights first and then spend leftover time closer to the boat when it is easier to judge how much time is needed to get back on board. Time and tide wait for nobody, neither does the DFDS ferry.
All the top sights in Oslo can easily be reached on public transportation or on foot but it is of course also possible to book tours and adventures in Oslo in advance.
Top Sights at the Oslo Ferry Terminal
Some of the top sights in Oslo are directly next to the ferryboat terminal where the DFDS Seaways and Stena Line ships from Denmark dock. The following sights can be seen from the boat, and the boat from the sites making for easy navigation back:
The Oslo Opera House (Operaen) is directly next to the ferry terminal and easily seen, and reached on foot, from the boat. Walking (free) on the white marble roof of the building is very popular, although slippery when icy. Sunglasses are almost essential on sunny days. The glass structure between the Opera and the boat is part of the ventilation system of the traffic tunnel under the harbor.
The Akerhus Fortress – most parts and some museums free – is directly next to the ferry terminal. The free Visitor Center (Besøkssenteret) give a good introduction to the fortress but simply strolling around is also fun. The free Armed Forces Museum (Forsvarsmuseet) and Norwegian Resistance Museum (Norges Hjemmefrontmuseum – small charge) are good for spending some left over time.
Top Oslo City Center Sights to See on a Day-Trip
Oslo’s city center is an easy walk from the ferry terminal building. It is possible to walk on the waterside of the fortress to the city hall area, or more commonly, via the Opera house and train station and then along the pedestrian Karl Johansgata.
Karl Johansgate (King John’s Street) leads all the way through the town center to the royal palace. Many of Oslo’s sights may be seen en route including the cathedral (free). (Gata / Gate simply means street, don’t expect any actual gates of triumphal arches.)
Probably the top sight here is the National Gallery (closed on Monday, in a side street) with the most famous version of Munch’s The Scream painting. This museum gives a great overview of Nordic art in only a hand full of rooms. (The Munch Museum has the largest collection of the artist’s paintings but most visitors will enjoy the National Gallery more.)
The Royal Palace is surprisingly modest and only open for guided tours in summer. The surrounding park is open for free and visitors are invited to stroll on the grass and hug the trees.
Oslo’s city hall (Rådhus) is surprisingly interesting close-up with many art works and symbolism both inside and outside (free admission).
Still within walking distance but further along the waterfront past the town hall is the Nobel Center, which is somewhat disappointing, the new Aker Brygge re-development area with many restaurants and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (closed on Monday).
Top Norwegian Museums in Bygdøy in Oslo
The five museums in the Bygdøy area are amongst the most popular sights in Oslo. Bus 30 goes to all the museums here – see below for details. These museums, except the maritime, are usually open seven days a week.
The top museum here is the Viking Ship Museum with the remains of three Viking-era ships. Almost adjacent is the large Norsk Folkemuseum open-air museum.
Three maritime and exploration museums are a short bus ride away: the Kon-Tiki, the Polar Ship Fram and the Norwegian Maritime Museum.
On a first visit, it is a good option to go to the Viking Ship Museum first and then spent left over time in the other museums. Visitors without a specific interest in the maritime museums would probably enjoy the open-air museum best.
These museums may be reach on bus 30 that departs from near the railway station in Oslo – traveling time to the Vikingskipene and Folkemuseet is around 20 minutes and a few minutes more to the other three museums that all use stop Bydøynes.
In summer (late March to mid-October), the Bygdøy ferry provides transportation from in front of the City Hall but note that the regular Oslo public transportation tickets are no longer valid; the Oslo Pass is accepted (and sold) on theses ferries. The first stop at Droningen is around 10 minutes walk from the Viking Ship and Open-Air Museums while the second stop at Bygdøyness is directly at the maritime theme museums.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo
The Vigeland Sculpture Park is one of the most popular sights in Oslo. More than 200 sculptures by the Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) decorate this large park that is open for free 24 hours per day.
The fastest way to the Vigeland Sculpture Park is to take the metro to Majorstuen and then tram 12 for two stops to Vigelandsparken, or a few blocks walk. Using only tram 12 is also an option from the station (and many further stops to the south of the city center) but it is a bit slower than the metro.
Public Transportation Tickets in Oslo
The various public transportation methods – bus, tram, metro and most ferries – use the same ticket but tickets may only be bought (at a surcharge) on the bus and ferry. Tickets are not sold on the tram or metro. The ferry to Bygdøy requires a separate ticket of the Oslo Pass.
Tickets are cheapest at the metro vending machines, most Seven-Eleven stores, or the Ruter’s customer service center at the station. The day-ticket and Oslo Pass may usually be bought on the DFDS ferry too – a great time saver if available.
Single tickets are NOK32 (NOK16 for seniors over 67 / children 4-15) and are valid for an hour with transfers and returns allowed in the period. A 24-hour ticket is NOK90 (NOK45).
Buying a day ticket really simply things and it can pay for itself with three journeys, or two if tickets are bought on the bus,
The 24-h Oslo Pass can pay for itself if a very active six hours of sightseeing is planned. Seeing three of the expensive museums with two or three transportation trips will pay for the pass and even if the savings are minimal, it can save a lot of queuing time, as most venues allow direct entry with the pass. Only of use if staying overnight in Oslo: the Oslo Pass is valid for 24 / 48 / 72 hours from the moment of first use, so by using it only after 10:30 on the first day, it is still possible to enter a museum the final day before 10:30 – once in, visitors may stay until closing time if desired.
For More on the Copenhagen to Oslo DSFD Ferries See Also:
- Book Cheap Mini Cruises Online at DFDS Seaways
- Book Tours and Adventures in Oslo through Get Your Guide
- Public Transportation to the DFDS Ferry Terminals in Copenhagen and Oslo
- Cheap Mini Cruises as Overnight Day Trips from Copenhagen to Oslo
- Taking the DFDS Ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo
- Best Sights to See in Oslo on a Mini Cruise Day Trip