10 things to do for free in Oslo

In a city where a pint can cost you £8 it's easy to be left out of pocket. Budget traveller Lauren Williams reveals ten tips on how to tackle Norway's capital

6 mins

1. (skiforningen)Embrace the great outdoors

In summer, Oslo is surrounded by the green forests of Oslomarka. Over 200km of marked, hilly hiking trails are just 20 minutes from the city centre. There are also 27 hytters (cabins) in Oslomarka where hikers can stop for food and drinks – some unserviced cabins also offer free accommodation for ramblers on long wanders.

In the Holmenkollen area, locate the 60m ski-jump for unmissable views (and shaking knees) of the city and fjords.

If cross country skiing is your thing, there are over 2,600km of free, powder covered trails that run deep into the forest that are sure to keep your legs burning in the winter. 124km of these trails are floodlit until 11pm every night.

2. A(Harvey Barrison) royal scene

Every day at 1.30pm – even in -20C winds and pounding snow – the changing of the guard takes place at the Royal Palace. In summer, mounted police officers and a Norwegian military band lead guards through the streets of Oslo. If you're in Oslo mid-May, the 17th is Norway's Constitution Day where the changing of the guard becomes a city-wide event with marching bands joining the Royal Family in a procession.

There is also a changing of the guard ceremony every day at the Akershus Fortress, outside of Oslo, at the same time.

3. Vigelandsparken

The Vigelandsparken is probably Oslo's most famous park – and for good reason. Part of the Frognerparken complex, the Vigeland Sculpture Park will provide visitors with hours of tranquil walking and contemplation. The park is home to over 200 sculptures made from granite and bronze of men, women and children tangled together.

Walk across the bridge flanked with women cradling children and a scowling boy, past the fountain – which  is said to show the circle of life' – to the main event of the monolith: a 15 metre statue of chaotic arms, legs and bodies all perfectly carved into one piece of granite.

4. W(bjaglin)orship the sun

Norway isn't exactly well known for its beaches, but Oslo's Paradise Bay (Paradisbukta) didn't get it's name from nowhere. Join the many locals in dipping your toes in the sea or simply just lounge on a towel.

If you're feeling really in touch with nature, Oslo's Huk Beach has a 'clothes optional' policy.

5.(VisitOslo) Scale the rooftops

Oslo's Opera House, built in 2007, is an architectural delight perched on the edge of the Oslofjord. White granite combined with Italian marble creates the illusion of glistening ice – a building designed to reflect Norway's breathtaking landscapes.

Walk up the sloping walls of the glacier-like building to the rooftop, for a view of the city and the giant steel and glass sculpture sat in the middle of the fjord. Titled 'She Lies', this sculpture turns around its axis in line with the tide and wind – you'll never see the same thing twice when peering over the Opera House walls.

6. (Navjot Pawera)Join in the party

On Sunday nights, theFrank Znort Quartet play free concerts to anyone and everyone. The 'quartet' which usually has more than four members, play a mix of music genres that are guaranteed to be a riot of colour and energy.

In summer, the quartet play free outdoor sets from 5.30pm which are popular with locals, before heading back into Club Bla to play from 9.30.

Go to www.blaaoslo.no for more information.

7. (Steven Depolo)A tricky place

If you're travelling with children, the Norwegian Museum of Magic is the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. A treasure trove of playing cards, rabbits and magicians will confuse your eyes into what to look at first. At 2pm, a magic show is put on for the children as well as demonstrations on how to 'do magic'.

This hidden secret on the third floor of an old building behind Aker Brygge will satisfy Harry Potter fans, of all ages.

8. TNobel Peace Centre (Fariha Wajid)ake part in a peaceful parade

The Nobel Peace Prize is held on December 10th – the date on which Alfred Nobel died – every year in Norway's capital. Although the ceremony itself is invite only, a torch lit procession walks through the street on the night of the 10th in honour of the laureate, who greets the parade from the balcony at the Grand Hotel at 7pm.

Grab a torch and take pride in being part of a march that celebrates peace.

9. (Adrian Purser)Cheap-skate

In the long Scandinavian winters of Oslo, the city is home to free ice-rinks dotted all over the city. The skating rink on Karl Johan street is open to everyone daily from December through to March. A winter-wonder that those of us in the UK rarely get to enjoy!

The rink closes from 4–5 to renew the ice.

10. (Christopher Macsurak)Oslo Pass

OK, so this one isn't free but it's too good to be missed. For a 24 hour pass, the £24 will give you free entry to more than 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all public transport (including ferries from the harbour to the islands), free parking in all Oslo car parks, free entry to outdoor swimming pools, free guided walking tours, discounts on sightseeing, car hire, ice-skate and ski rental, and special offers in restaurants, shops, entertainment and leisure venues. Bargain!

If you're lucky enough to be in Oslo on the city's “Tourist in your own city” day, the Oslo pass is free for everyone but only valid for that day.

Go to www.visitoslo.com for more details and dates.

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