The Nordic Nomad

Oslo, Norway

The 21 best design-forward things to see and do in Oslo

An insider’s guide to unmissable things to see and do in Oslo

Oslo challenges expectations. Far more than just Norway’s political heart, the city pulsates with innovative design, avant-garde art and cultural nuances that can’t be boxed into mere tourist attractions. For travellers seeking to move beyond the generic and into the heart of the city’s vibrant spirit, this guide offers a distinct list of things to do in Oslo. Whether you’re drawn to architectural masterpieces or engaging urban spaces, prepare to see Oslo in a light not showcased in conventional guides. Dive in, and let the Norwegian capital redefine your notion of urban exploration.
Oslo Opera House Oslo Norway sights activities
Oslo Opera House Oslo Norway sights activities

01

Oslo Opera House

Stepping into Oslo without treading the angular slopes of the Opera House roof? Rookie mistake. As the city’s avant-garde emblem, this audacious structure, conceived by design mavericks Snøhetta, demands more than mere admiration. It’s an urban pilgrimage, where the unspoken rite of passage involves traversing 36,000 Carrara marble slabs, with locals sunning themselves or snow-sliding daredevils in winter. Dive deeper, and you’ll find an interior swathed in Baltic oak, echoing with pristine acoustics. Forget your standard opera experience; this is where Norway’s fierce musical legacy collides with architectural audacity. Here’s the drill: walk the roof, catch a performance, and join the Oslo in-crowd. You in?

Oslo Opera House
Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Oslo Opera House
Munch Oslo Norway museum

02

Munch

Edvard Munch, the visionary behind the iconic ‘The Scream’ (which coincidentally isn’t showcased here, but at Nasjonalmuseet), finds his legacy immortalised in the recently inaugurated of Oslo’s Munch museum. Situated on the city’s resplendent waterfront, this modern marvel spanning 13 floors offers more than just a visual feast; it’s a deep dive into Norway’s art and culture. Not only can visitors marvel at over 200 of Munch’s masterpieces, but they are also invited to step into his world through artefacts, furniture from his Oslo residence and enlightening videos about his life. A highlight? The seventh floor beckons budding artists to craft their own Munch-inspired creation. Furthermore, the museum’s pinnacle gifts visitors with a mesmerising panorama of Oslo’s Sørenga, Bjørvika districts and the expansive Oslo fjord.

Munch
Edvard Munchs Plass 1
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Munch
Vigeland Sculpture Park Oslo Norway sights activities

03

Vigeland Park

Experience the artistic marvel of Oslo at the Vigeland Park, a unique open-air gallery dedicated solely to the masterpieces of artist Gustave Vigeland. In an unparalleled deal with the city in 1921, Vigeland exchanged his artistry for a home and studio, shaping over 200 sculptures for this captivating park. As you traverse the park’s pathways, each meticulously crafted figure narrates life’s journey, from the innocence of birth to the serenity of death. Amongst the monoliths and bronze statues, the standout is undeniably the ‘Sinnataggen’ – an irate toddler whose polished hand tells tales of countless visitors. With every sculpted emotion, Vigeland’s creations transcend stone, echoing humanity’s deepest sentiments and ensuring an indelible impression.

Vigeland Park
Nobels Gate 32
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Vigeland Park

Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art Oslo Norway sight activities

04

Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art

Dive into the avant-garde world at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, a beacon of contemporary art in Scandinavia. Perfectly poised by the Oslo fjord, this museum, marking its 30th anniversary in 2023, is a testament to the ever-evolving art landscape. Curated to commemorate this special year, the museum unveils a spectacular array of artworks spanning eras, spotlighting the likes of Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman, among others. Crafted by the legendary Renzo Piano, the very architecture of the museum mirrors its artistic ethos, aligning with his other masterpieces like Paris’s Centre Pompidou. Beyond the art, the Ventiventi restaurant, the chic museum shop and the serene Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park await, making it an art aficionado’s paradise.

Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
Strandpromenaden 2
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Astrup Fearnley Museum of modern art

Barcode Oslo Norway sights activities

05

Barcode

Journey to the heart of Oslo’s architectural marvel, Barcode. Like a digital imprint on the cityscape, the Barcode features twelve striking high-rises, each designed to emulate the distinct lines of a barcode. Born from the genius of Norwegian firms DARK and a-lab alongside Dutch mavens MVRDV, this geometric wonder stands as a testament to innovative design, prioritising openness, light and space. Despite their collective barcode silhouette, each building flaunts a unique design DNA, crafted by diverse architectural maestros. Beyond its aesthetic allure, Barcode pulses with life, housing over 10,000 professionals, 400 homes and a vibrant ground-level mix of eateries, boutiques and galleries.

Barcode
Dronning Eufemias gate
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of XXX

Nasjonalmuseet Oslo Norway museum
Nasjonalmuseet Oslo Norway museum

06

Nasjonalmuseet

Step into the heart of Norwegian art at Oslo’s Nasjonalmuseet, the grand epicentre of the nation’s rich artistic tapestry. This colossal institution, spanning a staggering 140,000 square feet, stands as the largest museum in the Nordic realm. It’s not merely its size that awes; inside, it seamlessly merges the illustrious collections from the National Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design. Within these walls, visitors can once more gaze upon Edvard Munch’s revered masterpiece, ‘The Scream’. Yet, the museum’s breadth extends beyond Norway’s shores, housing global gems by icons like Louise Bourgeois and Nan Goldin. All bathed in the ethereal glow of the Light Hall, where 9,000 LEDs illuminate contemporary wonders.

Read the full article on Nasjonalmuseet.

Nasjonalmuseet
Brynjulf Bulls plass 3
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Nasjonalmuseet

Vesterkantbadet Oslo Norway sights activities

07

Vestkantbadet

Discover the harmonious blend of historic allure and modern luxury at Oslo’s Vestkantbadet. This iconic bath, with its enchanting Art Deco interiors, has been meticulously restored to its former glory, complete with the shimmering mosaic by Per Krohg, an emblematic piece that influenced the entire visual identity of Hotel Sommerro, which is home to the bath. Beyond its historic charm, Vestkantbadet offers state-of-the-art facilities, from infrared saunas and a cutting-edge gym to a wellness boutique curated by Jan Thomas, featuring both bespoke and renowned brands. This venue is not merely a place for relaxation; it encapsulates Hotel Sommerro’s philosophy of an 8-hour balance, ensuring rest, work and most importantly, recreation.

Vestkantbadet
Sommerrogata 1
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Vestkantbadet
Salt Oslo Norway sights activities
Salt Oslo Norway sights activities

08

Salt

A must in Oslo is Salt, an immersive experience where art, culture and nature converge at a dynamic nomadic art project set against the backdrop of Oslo’s iconic Opera House. More than just an aesthetic wonder, Salt embodies the heart of Norwegian heritage with its architectural marvels inspired by fiskehjeller, traditional fish racks. Dive into an eclectic array of cultural programmes, from captivating concerts and theatre to literature festivals. Whether it’s warming up in one of the six distinct saunas, savouring eco-friendly delicacies from globally-inspired food stalls or enjoying a cocktail by the Oslo Fjord, Salt promises a sensory feast all year round.

Salt
Langkaia 1
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of SALT

Ekebergparken Oslo Norway sights activities
Ekebergparken Oslo Norway sights activities

09

Ekebergparken

Step into the realm of artistic wonder at Ekebergparken, an enchanting sculpture park just a short tram journey from Oslo’s city centre. Marrying nature’s allure with the brilliance of human creativity, Ekebergparken offers not just a visual treat, but also a deep dive into Oslo’s rich tapestry of history. As you wander, encounter masterpieces by luminaries like Damien Hirst, Louise Bourgeois and James Turrell, each artwork echoing its own story against the park’s historic backdrop – from ancient rock carvings to millennia-old cemeteries. Open throughout the year and free to all, Ekebergparken is a timeless retreat, further enriched by guided tours that unfurl its many secrets.

Ekebergparken
Kongsveien 23
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Ekebergparken

Vigeland Museum Oslo Norway sights activities
Vigeland Museum Oslo Norway sights activities

10

Vigeland Museum

Delve into the heart of Norwegian sculpture at the Vigeland Museum, a majestic neo-classical edifice that once served as the canvas and abode for the celebrated sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. As one of Norway’s architectural marvels, the museum guards Vigeland’s legacy, from his early masterpieces to the monumental plaster models that inspired Vigeland Park’s iconic sculptures. A visit offers not only an exploration of Vigeland’s meticulous creative process but also an immersion into changing contemporary art exhibitions. Elevate your experience by stepping into Vigeland’s personal realm: his meticulously designed apartment, replete with custom-made furnishings and a vivid sense of the artist’s daily life. For a journey back in time, arrange a tour and experience the very essence of Vigeland’s world.

Vigeland Museum
Nobels gate 32
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Vigeland Museum

VI, VII gallery Oslo Norway sights activities

11

VI, VII

A visit to VI, VII is a step into the dynamic world of contemporary art. This avant-garde gallery is situated in Oslo’s vibrant Bjørvika district. Since its inception in 2012 by the visionary New Yorker, Esperanza Rosales, VI, VII has been a beacon for young and emerging talent from global cities like Riga to Los Angeles. With a backdrop of over forty exhibitions showcasing more than fifty artists, the gallery’s narrative is as rich as its artwork. Strategically positioned near architectural masterpieces like the Snøhetta-designed Opera House and the new Munch Museum, VI, VII offers not just an art-viewing experience but also insights into curating personal collections, thanks to its shared space with Ytre-Eide & Martin art advisory. A visit is both an inspiration and an education.

VI, VII​
Operagata 75A
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of VI, VII

Deichman Bjørvika library Oslo Norway sights activities
Deichman Bjørvika library Oslo Norway sights activities

12

Deichman Bjørvika

Discover the heart of literary and cultural brilliance at Deichman Bjørvika, Oslo’s gleaming main library. Centrally positioned between Oslo Central Station and the Opera House, this architectural marvel boasts not only an expansive collection dating back to its establishment in 1785 but also offers panoramic views of the Oslofjorden from its topmost floor. The library is more than just a repository of books; it’s a vibrant hub where one can delve into films, art, workshops or simply find solace in its serene reading spaces. A highlight is the Future Library project; a vault storing 100 newly written books for a century, revealing them only in 2114.

Deichman Bjørkvika
Anne-Cath, Vestlys plass 1
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Deichman Bjørkvika

Norsk Folkemuseum Oslo Norway sights activities
Norsk Folkemuseum Oslo Norway sights activities

13

Norsk Folkemuseum

Dive deep into Norway’s rich cultural tapestry at the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo, a window into the lives of Norwegians from the 1500s to today. As one of Europe’s most expansive open-air museums, it boasts rare cultural treasures from across the nation, from the iconic Gol stave church dating back to 1200 to the OBOS-gården Wessels gate 15 that encapsulates city dwelling through the ages, from 1865 to 2002. Founded in 1894, the museum safeguards a vast collection of artefacts, folk costumes, church arts and showcases the intricacies of Sami culture. Its vibrant exhibitions and a plethora of activities attract 250,000 visitors annually, making it an unmissable exploration of Norway’s evolving identity.

Norsk Folkemuseum
Museumsveien 10
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Norsk Folkemuseum

Grunerløkka Oslo Norway sights activities
Grunerløkka Oslo Norway sights activities

14

Grünerløkka

Grünerløkka is one of Oslo’s most vibrant districts teeming with history and a splash of contemporary chic. Once a quintessential working-class region, this pulsating neighbourhood is now hailed as a hub of trendsetters, swarming with eclectic cafes, bustling restaurants and innovative boutiques. Its rich legacy stems from the dynamic ebb and flow of the Akerselva river, echoing the echoes of the area’s industrial past, while the revered jazz club Blå, with its avant-garde sounds, is a testament to its ever-evolving cultural tapestry. At its heart, Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri offers an authentic brew experience, capturing the essence of modern Grünerløkka.

Grünerløkka
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of XXX

Standard Oslo Norway sights activities gallery

15

Standard (Oslo)

Standard (Oslo) stands as a beacon of contemporary art in Norway’s capital, dedicated to propelling Norwegian artists onto the global stage and simultaneously unveiling international talents to a discerning Norwegian audience. Since its inception in 2005, the gallery has consistently showcased a medley of formidable exhibitions, with over 106 in its portfolio. Artists represented have graced prestigious platforms, from Documenta to the Venice and Lyon biennials. With an emphasis on New Gothic Art, Standard (Oslo) frequently features in renowned art fairs, marking a substantial presence in Art Basel and Frieze London. Noteworthy artists like Sigmar Polke and Isa Genzken, ranked in the Top 100, have exhibited here, solidifying the gallery’s stature in the global art community.

Standard (Oslo)
Waldemar Thranes gate 86c
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Standard (Oslo)

Queen Sonja Art Stable Oslo Norway sights activities

16

Queen Sonja Art Stable

At the heart of Oslo, the Queen Sonja Art Stable, previously the Royal Stables, unveils a blend of royal history and vibrant artistry. Set within structures once closed to public eyes, this venue flourished during the interwar period as King Haakon and Queen Maud’s equine abode. Yet, today it heralds a distinct aura, spotlighting exhibitions such as ‘Craftsmanship at the Royal Palace’, celebrating centuries of exquisite craftsmanship. The Art Stable’s transformation began as a gracious gift to Queen Sonja, officially opening on her 80th birthday in 2017. While horses once galloped here, visitors now find themselves amidst an enthralling confluence of art, history and tales of regal equestrian passion.

Queen Sonja Art Stable
Parkveien 50
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Queen Sonja Art Stable
Thief Spa Oslo Norway sights activities

17

Thief Spa

Treat yourself to a rejuvenating escape at Thief Spa, located within the prestigious hotel The Thief, where Norway’s enchanting landscape converges with world-class wellness. Poised at the nexus of Thief Islet and the fjord, this haven transcends conventional spa clichés, extending its allure to not just the ladies but also discerning gentlemen. Crafted by Schmidt Hammer Lassen and adorned by Anemone Wille-Våge’s intricate designs, this spa radiates pristine Nordic aesthetics whilst presenting Oslo’s sole hamam. An expansive 800-square-metre sanctuary, it spotlights masterpieces from globally renowned designers like Phillipe Stark and Claudio Silvestrini. Post-treatment, embrace the Oslofjord’s serenity or explore the nearby Astrup Fearnley Museum, offering a confluence of art, nature and rejuvenation.

Thief Spa
Landgangen 1
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Thief Spa
Holmenkollen Oslo Norway sights activities

18

Holmenkollen

Elevate your Oslo experience with a visit to Holmenkollen, the iconic ski jump hill that boasts unparalleled vistas of the city and beyond. As you ascend from the city centre, a mere 20-30 minute journey, the views from the subway itself set the stage for what awaits atop. From daring ski simulations to an array of unique souvenirs, Holmenkollen offers more than just a viewpoint. It’s a gateway to Nordmarka, a favoured recreational hub, and the starting point for invigorating hikes through Tryvann and Frognerseteren. And let’s not forget the crown jewel: Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Ski Jump.

Holmenkollen
Kongeveien 5
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of XXX

Østbanehallen Oslo Norway sights activities

19

Østbanehallen

Dive into the heart of Norway’s capital and discover Østbanehallen, a historic jewel that has gracefully transitioned through time. Originating as Norway’s first railway station, Hovedbanestasjonen in 1854, this emblematic landmark evolved from fostering Norway’s shift from rural to urban, to becoming today’s prime meeting spot in Oslo. Beyond its storied railway past, Østbanehallen thrived, metamorphosing into a vibrant shopping centre after its last significant renovation in 2013. Today, it stands as a nexus of activity, boasting an eclectic blend of restaurants, quaint cafés and essential stores.

Østbanehallen
Jernbanetorget 1
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Østbanehallen
Kunstnernes Hus Oslo Norway sights activities

20

Kunstnernes Hus

Steeped in rich history and contemporary flair, Kunstnernes Hus stands as one of Norway’s paramount venues for contemporary art. Since its inception in 1930, this artist-controlled foundation has championed both international exhibitions and home-grown Norwegian talents. Architectural aficionados will appreciate its design, a masterclass by architects Gudolf Blakstad and Herman Munthe-Kaas, which beautifully captures the fusion of Neoclassicism and Functionalism in Norway. One cannot miss the iconic staircase adorned with a ceiling mural by Norwegian painter Per Krohg, crafted in 1932. Beyond visual art, the Kunstnernes Hus Kino, established in 2016, showcases an expansive range of artistic films, solidifying its reputation as a thriving hub for cross-disciplinary artistic activities and discussions.

Kunstnernes Hus
Wergelandsveien 17
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Kunstnernes Hus
Kulturhuset i Oslo Norway sights activities

21

Kulturhuset

A pulsating hub of activity and culture, Kulturhuset – Norwegian for ‘the culture house’ – seamlessly transitions from a sunlit café by day to a bustling bar by night. Renowned as Oslo’s go-to venue for debates, concerts and conferences, this multifaceted space effortlessly caters to an eclectic crowd seeking to eat, drink, work or even test their skills at shuffleboard. The commendations don’t end there; visitors rave about the live music, affordable craft beer selections and the delectable Puroslo cakes. Additionally, its multiple levels host diverse bars and nightclubs, each with its own distinct charm.

Kulturhuset
Youngs gate 6
Oslo
Norway

Photography courtesy of Kulturhuset

Share this

Book your stay

Stay in the know

Sign up for the latest hotspot news from the Nordics.

Advertisement
48 h city guides

48 hours in Bornholm, Denmark

48 hours in Malmö, Sweden

48 hours in Copenhagen, Denmark

48 hours in Stockholm, Sweden

Wait!

Did you forget your free on-the-go Nordic hotspot map?

When you sign up, you will also receive a bi-weekly email with additional content. You may opt out at any time.