Oslo | Ladies What Travel
Europe,  Norway

4 Things That Surprised Me About Oslo

Even though I’d done my research, Oslo really took me by surprise ­– for many reasons. I loved my time there, and there was something special about the place that left me feeling more relaxed than I had in a long time. For those that know me, that’s pretty god darn impressive, as I’m a regular stress bunny.

My visit to the city came about thanks to a chance glance at an email from Ryanair highlighting sale prices of £14.99 return. Having been eager to visit Scandinavia for quite a while I just couldn’t say no!

But even with a few weekends of research and also some insider tips from Visit Oslo, I kept getting blown away by the city during my stay as, like an onion, its layers peeled away and I discovered something new.

Here are the four things that surprised me most…

Oslo | Ladies What Travel

Oslo’s really quiet

I could not get over how quiet and peaceful Norway’s capital city was – even on a bright and sunny Saturday walking down one of the city’s main streets, you still had room to comfortably open your arms wide.

Maybe I’m just used to the jostle of London, but Oslo felt more like a peaceful country town than Norway’s main hub. I did wonder if it was down to a smaller population, but with just over one million living in the wider city area, that’s still quite a lot of people, albeit quite a bit smaller than London’s 8.6m!

As well as not feeling packed like sardines on public transport, the roads themselves appeared much quieter than I was used to too. Few cars appeared to travel the city’s streets and those that do were, well, quieter than I was used too.

This was because, I discovered, Oslo is literally the electric vehicle capital of the world. Norway has more electric cars on its roads than anywhere else in the world, leading to greener, and quieter travel. This is down to incentives by the local and national government making electric cars exempt from tax purchase and VAT and in Oslo electric cars are offered free parking, free charging and free transport on ferries. How cool is that?

Oslo | Ladies What Travel

Oslo’s oh so green

As cities go, Oslo felt like one of the greenest I’d visited in a long time. Not in terms of being environmentally friendly (although it also felt that way), but that wherever you were in the city it seemed that green spaces would be close by.

For example, in between two of the city’s main streets; Karl Johan’s Gate and Stortingsgata, are some beautiful greens and fountains, leading towards the epic 22 hectare Palace Park that’s open to the public.

Oslo | Ladies What Travel

Oslo | Ladies What Travel

Take a stroll along the river and you’re sure come across a park or two and wonder through any of the city’s main areas and you’ll find an inviting green or two to sit in and enjoy. Oh and I can’t go on without mentioning the beautiful Vigeland park and all its crazy statues!

What made things even more special to see was how much these spaces were loved and used by the locals. I got a beautiful 24-degree day during my trip and without fail every park I came across was full of friends and families gathering to have fun in the sun, with picnics galore and portable BBQs in full use.

Oslo | Ladies What Travel

 Oslo is really expensive

Yes, maybe you’ll think me a fool for saying this, given that Scandinavia is known to be pricy, but I just couldn’t get over how expensive things can be in Oslo. To be fair though, they only appear expensive to us tourists because, for the locals, high prices go hand in hand with the country’s high wages and standard of living.

So, although I was prepared for things to cost a lot during my trip, it still kept surprising me by how much more things cost. £10-12 for a burger and chips, £11 for two hot dogs and a bottle of water, £18 for a pizza… the list goes on. On the plus side I liked that if you bought food, restaurants have to provide you with free water, so everywhere we went you’d find chilled water dispensers. At least I can say I kept hydrated on this trip!

I was also surprised by the cost of museum entry – I’m used to free or cheap entry to UK museums, but in Oslo you can expect to pay around £8-10 to no into one of the city’s top museums. It seemed like a lot, but maybe I’m just spoilt in the UK.

For many visitors, the biggest killer cost-wise is probably alcohol. As I’m not a big drinker this didn’t hugely bother me (although I still complained about paying £4 for a small bottle of Coke) but I did try to keep Justin down to one beer a day. £7 was the cheapest pint we could find, and more often than not they’d be around a tenner.

A little insider tip for you though – if you do like a drink, then buy some from duty free at the airport when you arrive. Here you can expect to pay UK supermarket prices.

Oslo | Ladies What Travel

Oslo | Ladies What Travel

Oslo is really pretty

Before I visited I read somewhere that as cities go Oslo isn’t that pretty because it lacks any real ‘old town’. This meant that when I arrived I was expecting some kind of dull, grey city and was instead surprised when I discovered how beautiful it was. Pulling into Oslo Central Station my first views of the city included the sparkling new barcode buildings: modern high-rise offices with unique funky designs. Then during a walking tour I got my first glimpse of the city’s varied architecture from the quirky opera house to the looming city hall.

There were many beautiful old buildings to visit too, including the original city hall and the fortress, which overlooks the gorgeous Oslofjord and the city’s outlying islands. With all the green and nature surrounding you, what’s not to love!

Oslo | Ladies What Travel



Oslo | Ladies What Travel


Wanderful Wednesday | Ladies What Travel
Suitcases and Sandcastles

By day Co-Editor Keri is a freelance journalist and copywriter, but spends most of her free time either travelling or planning her next trip!  A complete travel fanatic, she has a love of tropical climates, wildlife and afternoon tea (hence the creation of her Global Afternoon Tea Challenge!)


  • Cathy (MummyTravels)

    That is quite a bargain – for the flight at least; I’m used to London prices but still wincing at a few of these. Oslo is somewhere I’ve not visited and one of the capitals I seem to read less about, so really interesting to discover a bit more of its atmosphere rather than just the attractions. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • Keri

      Yeah it was so cheap we just couldn’t say no – although I wonder if we’d have given it more thought if we’d known how much everything else would cost! I’m really glad we did visit though, it was such a lovely city and I really did feel so refreshed after that trip!

    • Keri

      Is Stockholm very similar price-wise then Jenny? I’m guessing the whole of Scandi probably is expensive compared to the Uk…

  • Katherine

    I’ve heard that Scandanavia is really pricey, which is why I keep putting it off until I have more saved. I get the feeling I’ll just keep going to other places though, and never get there 🙁 #citytripping

    • Keri

      Oh you should do Katherine. You might have to be careful with money, but it’s still definitely a viable destination for a trip. We kept costs down by choosing different places from normal for food, had big brekkies at the hotel (included in room price) and looked for entry deals etc.

  • Ruth | Tanama Tales

    Oslo sounds like Iceland in terms of prices. I almost cried when I paid $42 for a plate of fish and vegetables. Most visitors buy groceries and survive from that. Even with the prices, I would love to visit Oslo one day. I know it will have to be a short stay but I can’t wait. #citytripping

  • Erin Gustafson

    OMG – that baby sculpture at the end is hilarious! I liked Oslo as well and if you want to lots of museums I would recommend the Oslo Pass which also allows you free public transportation. The Scandi’s are so darn sustainable aren’t they – coming from Copenhagen – I appreciate that! Great overview of Oslo – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • Keri

      Well if you ask nicely Erin, maybe one day I’ll show you the photo of me next to the angry boy pulling the same face! lol.

      And yes, the pass is a good option in some situations – I plan to write more about that soon!

  • Lolo

    That’s so awesome that Norway encourages so many electric cars! I was just thinking on our recent honeymoon vacation how loud it was in every city we visited because of all the cars! How wonderful would it be to take out all that white noise! #FarawayFiles

  • Jonny (daisythebus)

    We absolutely adored the Vigeland Park too – what a monument to one man’s creativity and dedication!! We’ll be passing Oslo later this summer (as you do, like…) so hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to explore it again. We’ll take a picnic with water :o) #FarawayFiles

  • Sarah

    I looooved Oslo! Luckily I wasn’t tooo surprised as I was visiting Norwegian friends and they did warn me about the cost. We only ate out once the whole time!

  • Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)

    Wow, £7 for a pint of beer? That really puts it into perspective! Thanks for highlighting the beauty of Oslo. I don’t have that impression of the city at all so it’s good to stand corrected. I love the look of the building in your last photo and those beautiful statues. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles.

  • Van

    I love how green Oslo is too but it’s by far my least favourite city in Norway as there are just so many others which are even more beautiful 😉 And living in Tromso, I can assure you that even locals find Oslo expensive – especially the housing market there!!

  • Katy Clarke

    We’re recently back from Oslo and I had a few similar reactions and some not so similar. I found the architecture in the city centre to be almost Soviet in that it was really stark and impersonal. The exceptions are the beautiful opera house and gorgeous red huts on the islands in the fjord. Also, I think the Oslo pass was one of the better value passes I’ve used and the transport was really incredible. So interesting to swap notes and compare #FarawayFiles

    • Keri

      Do love to compare – I can see what you mean about the Soviet feel though – especially with the city hall? I didn’t get to explore the Fjords, would love to have checked out those cute sounding red huts!

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