Oslo is the capital and largest city of Norway, as well as the third largest city of Scandinavia. The city was originally founded in 1049 by King Harald Hardråda whose son set up a cathedral. In the late 1200s, King Håkon V built the Akershus Fortress in the hope of deterring the Swedish military threat from the east. The city became capital of Norway around 1300, but lost its privileges during the Danish-Norwegian union. In 1624, Oslo was completely wiped out by a fire, and the city was moved a couple of kilometres and renamed Christiania, after the Danish King Christian IV.
As the capital of a new state, Christiania expanded rapidly in the 19th century and the site of the original Oslo became included in the city. But these efforts were nullified by Sweden who unified the 2 countries until 1905 when it dissolved and Norway became a separate kingdom. Christiania went on to flourish as the capital of a new, modern Norway, and reclaimed its original name, Oslo, in 1925. The name Oslo is derived from the words Ás, the Old Norse name for the Norse Godhead, and lo, meaning ‘pasture’, yielding roughly ‘the fields of the gods’.
Oslo Airport (OSL) is located at Gardermoen, just under 50 km north of Oslo. It is the largest airport in Norway, with direct routes to over 140 domestic and international destinations.
Getting from Oslo Airport to the City Centre
The Gardermoen Line runs in a tunnel below the airport, where Gardermoen Station is located below the terminal. There's the "Flytoget," a frequent, fast (about 25 minutes), but fairly expensive train, or the NSB Federal Railways train which is less frequent, slower (about 40 minutes), but more affordable and covered by Eurail and Scanrail. For bus transfer, Flybussen depart every 20 minutes and take approximately 40 min.
There are a number of special airport taxis available with fixed prices to and from Gardermoen but these can be quite an expensive option at around NOK 700 and up. For those driving from the city centre you can follow signs to Gardermoen on the E6 all the way to the exit RV 174. Then from here there are signs to the terminal. If heading from Oslo Airport to the city centre, just follow the signs to E6 Oslo.
Moss Airport Rygge is located around 70 kilometres southeast of Oslo. It is primarily an international, low-cost airport, offering direct routes to over 40 international destinations.
Getting from Moss Airport Rygge to the City Centre
You can take the R20 train from Oslo to Rygge station, which departs every hour. There's a free shuttle bus running between the train station and airport terminal. The Rygge-ekspressen bus service goes directly between Oslo Bus Terminal and Moss Airport Rygge, taking about 1 hour. The bus service corresponds with most international flights.
From the airport: you can go to the taxi information desk in the Arrivals hall. Here they will have information about the fixed rates and available taxis. A taxi to and from the centre of Oslo is really expensive at around NOK 2000. During the night and on weekends the journey will be even more expensive. Drivers can take the E6 between the airport and the city centre, and the journey takes about 45 minutes.
Oslo Central Station is at the centre of Norway's railway system, and serves as the gateway to the rest of the country, with all lines terminating here. It is located in the eastern part of the city centre, by the end of the main pedestrian street Karl Johans Gate.
Getting from Oslo Central Station (Oslo S) to the City Centre
Jernbanetorget tube station is situated between Oslo S/Oslo Central Station and Oslo City, served by the Drammen Line, Gardermoen Line, Gjøvik Line, Hoved Line and Østfold Line. To access the metro, head towards the northern entrance and take the escalators down two floors. The bus terminal is situated in Galleri Oslo. Use the north entrance (towards Oslo City and Byporten shopping centre), cross the bridge and walk through toward Galleri Oslo. Taxis can also be found outside Flytogterminalen towards the seaside or outside the Byporten shopping centre.
Oslo Bus Terminal is the city's main bus station for long-distance coaches and local buses to Akershus. The biggest operators of international buses are Swebus Express and GoByBus, though Eurolines also runs services to Gothenburg and Stockholm. Nor-Way Bussekspress is the biggest provider of local buses to numerous Norwegian destinations such as Kristiansand, Bergen and Trondheim.
Getting from Oslo Bus Terminal to the City Centre
The station is five minute walk to Jernbanetorget, which is served by city buses, metro and tram lines.
Norway's roads are well-maintained and fairly quiet. There are some incredible road trip opportunities in Norway, particularly if you head up to the Fjords i the north. The region boasts diverse landscape, and so ferries and tunnels are common. In general the speed limit for cars on Norwegian roads is 80 km/hour. International motorways E6 (from Malmö and Gothenburg) and E18 (from Saint Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm) meet in Oslo.
Oslo has a comprehensive and efficient public transport network of trains, buses, trams, ferries and underground (T-Bane), mostly operated by Oslo Sporveier. There are two main hubs for public transport inside the city centre: Oslo Central Station (Oslo S) / Jernbanetorget and Nationaltheatret (underground). The Oslo and Akershus public transport uses a zone system where the price for a trip is calculated based on how many zones you pass through.
Oslo is a great city for bicycling, with modest distances between major hubs and attractions. Many streets have separate bicycle paths on the roadway itself. The Markveien, Torggata, Rådhusgata, Ullevålsveien and Frognerstranda streets have been adapted specifically for bicycle traffic and a number of intersections also have separate traffic lights for cyclists.
You can find taxi ranks throughout the city, mainly near the shopping centre, city squares and outside Oslo S station. Taxis can be pretty expensive though and using public transport is generally more common.
Driving in Oslo is fairly straightforward, but the city is relatively small and has excellent public transport, so a car is not really necessary. Navigating around the streets can be difficult, as there is a complicated one-way system. Parking can also be a challenge and prices can be steep. Payment is usually required Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. and until 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays. There are daytime car parks at C J Hambros Plass, Prinsens gate, Christian Krohgsgate, Oslo Plaza, Asker Stasjon and Skøyen Stasjon.
Oslo is very pedestrian friendly and the main shopping street, Karl Johans gate, is a lovely traffic-free, tree-lined promenade. The harbour area is lovely to walk around and you can explore most of the city on foot - though better yet is hiring a bike.
Oslo is the capital and largest city of Norway, as well as the third largest city of Scandinavia. The name Oslo is derived from the words Ás, the Old Norse name for the Norse Godhead, and lo, meaning ‘pasture’, yielding roughly ‘the fields of the gods’.
Must Know: The best way to get around Oslo is by walking to see the sites.
Must See: The Munch Museum in Oslo is home to the famous ‘scream’ painting.
Must Do: Go to the Oslo Opera House, the only one where possible to see views from the roof.
Did You Know: Oslo has one of the smallest populations for a capital city.
The city of Oslo is ideal for walking, as most of the main attractions of the city are within a short distance of each other. Situate yourself at the Royal Palace to start your walk at one of the most important attractions of the city. Norway is a constitutional monarchy and this is one of the homes of the Royal Family. Try to time your visit to witness the changing of the guard. If the royal flag is flying, then the King is in residence. Walk out through the Kings Park towards the old residential area of the city. Look out for one of the excellent bagel and coffee shops in the area and stop for a snack along your way. You will then walk through the new residential area known as Aker Brygge which is filled with modern skyscraper apartment blocks. As you get to the ocean, you will find the Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park and Modern Art Museum. Spend a few hours exploring these unique attractions. A short walk up into the nearby hills will take you to Askerhus Fortress, which was built around 1300. Take a tour of the fort or relax and enjoy the stunning views of Oslo.