Madison and I are returning from a whirlwind adventure in the picturesque city of Oslo, Norway. How did we end up in Norway after just recently returning from Sydney, Australia? Well, it seems like I cannot stay in one place for too long. Being stagnant plays havoc on my wellbeing. I was browsing around on Google Flights, something that I regularly do, and Norwegian Airlines had amazing tickets to Norway, and since I’ve never visited before, it was the perfect opportunity to book a trip.
So how can you make a trip to Oslo exciting for young kids?
You’ll be surprised at all that Norway has to offer. Madison and I spent the first day just walking around the city and were, first of all, amazed at all the statues that we saw. We have actually dubbed Oslo “The City of Statues,” and ran around playing the game, “Guess how many statues you can count.”
Transport from Oslo’s International Airport (OSL)
Whenever I travel, Uber has always been my transport of choice. Not only do I know how much it’ll cost to get me from point A to point B, but they’re also extremely reliable. Unfortunately, there is no Uber in Norway, and taxis can run as much as $150US to the city center since the airport is outside of the city limit. I just happened to be sitting near a Norwegian businessman on the plane who informed me that it was effortless to take the train (Flytoget) into the Oslo Central Station, and it cost less than $25 (196NOK). Note that children under age 16 are free with a paying adult, and it was a simple one-stop ride and also the way we returned.
Where to Stay?
I can’t recommend the Thon Terminus hotel enough! Whenever I travel with Madison, as I mentioned when going to Sydney, Australia, I always try and find a hotel that’s centrally located to almost all the sights that we want to see/visit, making our transport cost more cost-effective. The Thon Terminus was that and beyond. It is literally less than a 3-minute walk from the Oslo Central Station, so once you get off the train, you’re basically right there across the street. The hotel is very kid-friendly and the staff courteous and always willing to help, and they also speak English as most Norwegians do. What impressed me about booking them as well was that breakfast and dinner were also included in our rate, and the rate was very reasonably priced.
Here’s something to note, food in Norway is EXPENSIVE, so if you’re traveling to Oslo to do a food tour, be prepared to spend a lot of money. Luckily for me, I’m currently trying to lose weight, so opted out of eating as much as I could. However, on our first day, Madison and I decided to run into a Burger King as it was familiar, and she stated she was hungry. While I’m not sure if she really was, or if it was because she knew that Burger King was American food, I obliged and went in. We grabbed a whopper meal, a cheeseburger meal, and 9pc nuggets. We stayed with regular small drinks, and our total was a whopping (catch the pun?) $30US.
How to Get Around the City?
Getting around the city is very simple, and there are lots of trains, buses, and trams that will get you from one point to the other very quickly and easily. Just have your Google Maps handy, and it will tell you precisely what bus/train/tram to take and what time to be there. We rode all three and were beginning to wonder if Norwegian transport was free because we were never once asked to scan our pass, which was included in our Oslo Pass.
Best Way to Do/See It All?
The Oslo Pass, and it’s available in the app store! When I decided that we were going to visit Oslo, I first looked into everything that was there to do and looked at prices. There aren’t many free things to do besides the parks and a few museums which may have free days. The Oslo Pass included most of the museums I wanted to visit and all for one flat price, and it also included transport as well. There are 3 different passes. A 24, 48, and 72hr pass. However, if you’re going to the museums, I suggest planning and activating your pass on a Tuesday as most of the museums are closed on Mondays. I purchased the 72hr pass for both of us, and our total was around $150US. Now I would suggest doing at least 3 things in a day, saving something relaxing for the last before heading back to your hotel, but this is all up to you and how you’d like to experience Norway.
If your kids are into sailing the high seas, then these museums should be on your list. They are all within walking distance of each other (you can visit the Viking Ship Museum; the Fram Museum; the Kon-Tiki Museum; the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, and the Norwegian Maritime Museum ).
What better way to learn about the Norwegian’s Viking History than by visiting the authentic Viking Ship Museum? Not only do they have authentic Viking ships on display, but there are also finds from Viking tombs on show as well. To get a real picture and become even more immersed in the history of the Vikings, consider getting a guided tour. Think “How to Train Your Dragon,” however, no dragons were involved in this one. I suggest spending about 1 ½ hrs here.
I love how authentic these museums are. Once again, this isn’t your replica raft, but the real thing! We saw the video on how the journey came about when Thor Heyerdahl decided that he wanted to show the world that it was possible that the South American Indians could have sailed the oceans to get to the Polynesia islands, and that’s precisely what he did on a balsawood raft named the Kon Tiki in 1947. This museum can take anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes as it’s not very big.
Are your kids into Arctic exploration? Once again, the Fram is on display at the Fram Museum. The Fram is the bigger of the three and can take over 2hrs (but of course you can make it shorter). If you’re up for another Museum, then the Norwegian Maritime Museum (Norsk Maritimt Museum) is right next door as well. From here you can take the ferry back into the city center or take the bus since there’s a bus stop located here.
Or spend some time overlooking the fjords and relaxing on a bench taking in the views decompressing before the next day begins.
- The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology (Teknisk Museum)
You can literally spend hours and hours here. It’s a very interactive museum with lots to do. There are many exhibits dating back to the 19th century, and it’s a great way to show kids how the world survived without the internet back then. I recommend doing this first when planning your day as they close at 4pm on weekdays, and it is also one of the museums that’s closed on Mondays.
- International Children’s Art Museum (Det Internasjonale Barnekunstmuseet)
The International Children’s Art Museum is a collection of children’s art from around the world, and although small has quite a lot for young kids to partake in. You can quite possibly do visit and see all the art in about 30 minutes. We stuck around for just as much and took a few photos on the outside where the kids can also play as photos are prohibited on the inside. Once you’re done, take a relaxing stroll to the Sculpture Park.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park is the largest sculpture park in the world that houses designs by any one artist. This park currently has over 200 sculptures by famed Norwegian Sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Now Madison was a bit iffy about this because, as she exclaimed, the statues were all nudes, as most of the statues in Oslo were. I’m of the impression that the Norse love and embrace the human body. However, the Monolith is a must-see, and so is the statue of the Angry Boy. He’s not as big as you’d think, so you may want to look closely as you can easily bypass him. Once you’re done there, there is a fantastic children’s park next door where the kids can run around and play, and I was fairly impressed as it was much better than the ones we usually come across in the United States.
This was an absolute must, and I recommend saving this for your final day as nothing compares. We learned a bit about Nobel and how one is even chosen for the Nobel Prize. Did you know that it takes 50 years before you’ll know about who nominated whom for a prize? This means that we won’t know who nominated President Barack Obama until 2059 as he won in 2009. The hall of prize winners was spectacular and is definitely worth seeing. Currently, there are exhibits in place for the 2018 winners. Be sure to check out the gift shop as there are a few items that can only be found there, and pick up a peace center tee or two.
(Naturhistorisk Museum) – If your children enjoy stories about dinosaurs, and looking at skeletal remains, then they would love visiting the National History Museum. This museum contains both a zoological museum where you can see remains of animals that are now considered extinct, along with a few that are still present and a geological museum. The Botanical Garden is also located on the grounds and is free to visit. This museum has free entry on Thursdays (except on public holidays and during the summer holiday months) if you’d prefer not to pay to enter.
The name is quite misleading as it’s not a park, but rather a building that houses reptiles alike. It’s also very small, and you can see them all in about 30 – 45 minutes. Filled with lots of amphibians and reptiles alike, you’ll get a glimpse of one of the biggest snake in the world -the Burmese Python (and while taking its photo, I thought of what a cool color it was and how I’d love to have a yellow handbag, without killing it of course), we saw crocodiles, venomous snakes, non-venomous snakes, tarantulas and much more. For snake lovers, you’d enjoy this little reptile exhibit.
Sure there many other activities you can partake in, such as the Ski Jump and Museum, pay a visit to the Royal Palace, check out the Akershus Fortress, walk on the roof of the Opera House, or even take in a game of bowling at Oslo Bar and Bowling. Madison and I found Oslo Bar and Bowling quite by accident just walking around, once again within walking distance (about 4 minutes from the hotel) and spent an afternoon there bowling (where she beat me not once, but twice) then we celebrated later by indulging in Norwegian sorbet. Since the bowling alley is actually an adult bar, there are guidelines as to when kids are allowed, but typically during the day/afternoon is fine, and there’s also a discount if you visit before 4pm.
Shopping can also be a great activity as retail therapy can be loads of fun. Oslo City, one of their biggest mall is opened until 10pm weekdays while the designer stores such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, YSL and many more closes at 7pm, a far cry from the 9–10pm closing time that we’re usually accustomed to in the US. We also took a look around at Steen & Strøm Department Store, one of their biggest department store (quite like our Macy’s) but was a tad disappointed. However, if you decide to shop and spend more than 300NOK on one receipt at any store, be sure to ask for a tax refund receipt so you can get some of that money back at Global Blue, located at the airport, before leaving the country.
So What’s My Overall Impression of Oslo?
It’s definitely not New York City, but its small quiet city would envelop you and might actually entice you to stay. The citizens are courteous and friendly (Madison even got her picture taken with the local police), and from what we’ve heard, the crime rate is low. I would not hesitate to visit again with my family or even as a solo female traveler. There is so much more that could have been done, but I personally prefer to take my time visiting instead of rushing through the day, not enjoying what the city has to offer. I hope to revisit one day as a week is most definitely not enough, and maybe this time incorporate the town of Bergen into my trip.
We hope that our guide would enable you to plan a successful trip with your little ones to Oslo, Noway.