Oslo on a Budget: Insider Tips for Affordable Trip And Free Things To Do in the Norwegian Capital

Can you travel to Oslo on a budget? Yes, you can! After living 6 years in Norway’s capital I have tons of tips on how you can save money and still have a great time in Oslo, despite it being one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Oslo on a budget

When you think about coming to Oslo, I’m sure one of the first questions you have is the budget. Oslo is not exactly the cheapest European destination, and it’s not really cheap to visit Oslo, but you can easily minimize the costs when you follow some of the rules, that many locals know (and now, also me, since I live here!).

I’ve previously written Norway on a budget guide that has already many tips in it, so make sure to give it a read as well!

While the city may be known for its high prices, there are still plenty of free things to do in Oslo that can help you make the most of your visit without breaking the bank.

Below, I share with you the best tips to travel to Oslo on a budget and also the best free things to do in Oslo.

There are also a lot of places to visit around Oslo with cool day trip ideas that you can check out here.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More details here.

*Map of the best places around Oslo*
After living in Oslo for 6+ years I’ve created a map with almost 300 marked places on Google Maps, organized in categories, with details and photos, and unique spots around Oslo. From the best hikes to the most cozy cafes through camping places, museums, attractions, viewpoints, and more. Save yourself long hours of research and start exploring! Get your map here!

Is Oslo expensive?

Oslo was named one of the most expensive cities in the world, especially when it comes to places where you can get a pricey beer. But not only beer is expensive in Oslo. Living costs in Oslo are on the higher side, with apartment prices skyrocketing. This one, however, shouldn’t affect you as a traveler that much.

Here are some example prices of items in Oslo:

  • Loaf of bread: 25-35 NOK
  • Litre of milk: 15-20 NOK
  • Dozen eggs: 35-45 NOK
  • Local cheese (200g): 40-60 NOK
  • Chicken breast (per kg): 100-150 NOK
  • Fresh apples (per kg): 20-35 NOK
  • Bottled water (1.5L): 15-25 NOK
  • Local beer (0.5L) from a store: 30-50 NOK
  • Imported beer (0.33L) from a store: 30-60 NOK
  • Bottle of mid-range wine: 120-180 NOK
  • Movie ticket (standard): 120-150 NOK
  • Basic meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 150-200 NOK
  • Fast food combo meal: 80-150 NOK
  • Local transportation ticket (single trip): 40-75 NOK
  • Train Oslo Bergen – from 300-1000 NOK

Oslo on a budget – the best tips on how to have a cheap trip to Oslo

1. Traveling to Oslo on a budget

How expensive is it to get to Oslo?

Depending on where you come from airfare to Oslo Norway can vary.

Flight tickets from Europe can be relatively cheap, but the cheapest ones are definitely from Poland. This is due to the fact that many Poles live in Norway and travel a lot back and forth.

How to find budget flights to Oslo

The best place to find budget flights to Oslo is the flight comparison tool. My favorite is Skyscanner.net.

norwegian plane

2. Arrival from Oslo airport to the city center

Oslo has two airports, TORP Airport located and Oslo Gardemoen Airport located closer to the city. The first one typically has cheaper flights arriving to is, since budget airlines like to use it. But it takes more time and money to get from there to Oslo. The Gardemoen is the biggest Oslo airport, and it’s well connected to the city by train (see below for transport in Oslo).

If you travel from Oslo Gardemoen airport to the city center, make sure to take the regional Vy train to the city. NOT Flytoget. The journey time is almost the same, but Flytoget costs double. Flytoget takes around 20 minutes and costs 200 NOK ($20) one-way (with a 50% discount for students). The Vy train takes around 23 minutes and costs around 118 NOK ($10) one-way (with 25% off for students).

However, if you arrive very early or very late, Flytoget might be your only option.

For arrival from Oslo TORP to Oslo city center, I recommend taking a local bus, or a Vy train (the train includes a bus ride from the airport to the train station in Sandefjord).

3. Finding cheap accommodation in Oslo

How expensive is Oslo accommodation? Oslo accommodation can range from 40$ per night to hundreds and hundreds of $. In this post, I explain where to stay in Oslo, together with the cheapest options and the best areas.

vintage shops in Oslo Grünerløkka

Where to stay in Oslo on a budget – Oslo budget hotels

Despite the high accommodation prices, there are some budget hotels in Oslo you can use to reduce your holiday spend.

Anker Hotel is the most popular Oslo hostel and also the cheapest hotel in Oslo. The location is quite central, although a bit further than the other ones. The prices for beds in the dormitory rooms start from around 230 NOK. They get booked quickly, so remember to book them in advance! Check out a stay in the Anker Hostel in Oslo here.

Another budget hotel in Oslo is Saga Poshtel in Oslo. This hostel is also centrally located, which is perfect for Oslo sightseeing. The bed prices start from around 370 NOK. The hotels get some of the best reviews from travelers and provide a very good breakfast. Check the best prices and book a stay in the Saga Poshtel in Oslo here.

Club 27 is another cheap stay in Oslo. With the bed prices in dormitories starting from 350 NOK with free cancellation, this Oslo hotel is worth looking at. The location is central, near the Gronland area, close to the park and train station. Check the best prices and book a stay in the Club 27 Hostel in Oslo here.

Oslo Youth Hostel Haraldsheim – This youth hostel in Oslo is perfect for travelers who want to try some Oslo hiking trails, as it is located at the start of the hikes into the neighboring woodlands, 4 kilometers away from the city center. The Oslo Youth Hostel Haraldsheim offers over 200 beds and creates a sense of community. Check the best prices and availability here. 

Other popular and cheap hostels in Oslo are Smarthotel Oslo and CityBox.

Other options for budget accommodation in Oslo

Airbnb in Oslo

Especially if you travel with a big group, renting a big apartment through Airbnb in Oslo might make sense. For single travelers, this option usually is quite expensive.

Cabins (hytte)

If you are traveling in Oslo and want to explore nature, staying in a traditional cabin “hytte” in Norway is the best (and relatively cheap) idea. The prices vary depending on the standard, but the cheapest ”hytte” can be found for around 200 NOK per person when shared with more people. It’s my favorite accommodation during Norway’s winter. But, in some cases, expect the outdoor toilet and no running water. 

You can find good deals for hytte in Norway on Booking.com, or finn.no. Here is the list of the best cabins in Norway, I’ve tried myself.

Another popular way is using one of the DNT cabins. Some of them can be found around Oslo. They are often located on the hiking and skiing trails, so are a perfect stop after a long day of trekking. You can find the locations of the cabins and hiking trails here. Watch out: for the unmanned cabins, you (or someone from your group) need to be a DNT member in order to get a key. 


Couchsurfing is a great concept that allows for staying on strangers’ couches and creating meaningful interactions. I’ve used it multiple times all around the world. It also works in Norway. You have a better chance of finding a Couchsurfing host in the bigger Norwegian cities like Oslo or Bergen, but you can also try in the smaller areas. I stayed through Couchsurfing in Stavanger and Lofoten and I made great friends that way.

Camping in Oslo

It’s possible to camp around the Oslo area for a short amount of time. One option is to go to an organized camping site, such as Topcamp Bogstad Camping, which has cabins, caravan sites, and tent sites. It’s located a bus ride from the city center and it’s open the whole year.

Alternatively, you can go wild camping. Thanks to the “Allemansretten” law (Right of access), everyone is free to roam and enjoy nature.

One place where you could freely camp is Langøyene Island, where you can camp for a maximum of two days when following the rules. It’s also possible to camp near some lakes and in the forests of Oslo, as long as you are away from the houses, and you hike a bit into the forest. Some of my favorite Oslo hikes are described here.

Camping near Oslo, Norway
Camping near Oslo, Norway

4. Using cheap public transport in Oslo – Oslo public transport on a budget

# How expensive is Oslo transport?

Oslo public transport is not the cheapest, but it can be made cheaper! When you plan to travel a lot by public transport, I recommend you get a daily ticket for Zone 1.

However, even with single-use tickets, if you buy through the Ruter app, you get some discounts. Tickets are usually valid for a longer time (Zone 1 for 1 hour, 2 zones for 1,5 hours, etc), and in that time you can change modes of transport.

The tickets are valid for all public transport in the city that includes buses, trams, trains, and boats.

# City bikes / electric scooters

City bikes or electric scooters are a good alternative to public transport for short distances, or to see the city from a different perspective.

There are many places in Oslo where you can rent a bike or a scooter for several hours or a full day. You will see bikes located on the streets and scooters lying around. There are 262 stations for the Oslo city bike. A single ride is 35 Nok and a 24-hour pass is 69 NOK.

You can also join this 3-hour bike tour that takes you around the main attractions with a guide.

# Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus

If you want to see a lot in a short amount of time, you can take Oslo: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour and enjoy panoramic views of the city of Oslo on board an open-top double-decker tour bus.

# Walking

The cheapest way to visit Oslo is by walking. And actually, the city center is pretty walkable – I usually prefer to walk to places and see the city on the way.

A fun alternative is joining an Oslo walking tour and checking off the main attractions at the same time.

# Oslo Pass

Oslo Pass is a great option when you plan to visit many of Oslo’s attractions and use public transport, as it saves you money. It gives you free access to many museums, and galleries in the city and includes free public transport on buses, trams, trains, and boats.

There are three options for the Oslo Pass:

  • 24 hours – 395 NOK (40 EUR)
  • 48 hours – 595 NOK ( 60 EUR)
  • 72 hours – 745 NOK ( 77 EUR)

# Budget car rental in Oslo

While I don’t think it makes sense to rent a car just for your stay in Oslo, for a trip around Norway, a car rental is essential. You can find the best budget car rentals through Rentalcars.

5. Eating cheap in Oslo and where to buy food on a budget in Oslo

# Where to buy food in Oslo – The cheapest supermarkets in Oslo

Rema 1000 and Kiwi are the cheapest supermarkets in Norway for any type of food.

Even cheaper are the Asian food stores. They also have a much bigger choice of products imported from abroad and the freshest vegetables. You will recognize them by outside stalls full of fresh fruit and veg. The popular one in Oslo is Grønland Frukt Og Grønt.

A shop called Meny is a bit more expensive, but it has a bigger choice. The same goes for Coop. Very often, you can find items that are close to the expiry date and are on discount.

Prices of items sold in small convenience stores are much higher, so avoid those.

# Eating out in Oslo

Eating out in Oslo is not cheap. There are some cheaper options though.

Oslo street food or Mathallen are good options to try out international cuisine for OK prices.

Cheap options include Deli de Luca or Narvesen – shops where you can get some sandwiches.

Circle K petrol station hot dogs are also cheap. However, the cheapest hot dogs you will find at IKEA, but that’s out of town.

In the Grønland area, you will find many smaller places selling cheaper items such as kebabs, falafel, or Indian. Oslo Mekaniske Verksted allows you to bring in food if you buy drinks.

In the summer it’s really popular to make picnics in the parks or BBQ by the water. Just ask a local where you can light a barbecue, as sometimes due to the dry weather, there might be limitations.

# Tips to find cheap food in Norway

When you try to find cheap food products in Norway there are a few tips that you can follow.

  • Store-brand food is normally the cheapest. So if you go to one of the grocery stores like Coop, the Coop branded food is the cheapest, and so on. In other shops, you will see products marked the “First price” brand that is also very cheap. They are normally located at the very bottom shelves, so look out for them.
  • For coffee drinkers – the coffee from small Narvesen shops is normally the cheapest, and not as bad as for filter coffee. Narvesen also often has an offer for a sweet bun for 10 NOK when you buy coffee for 20 NOK. If you install the Narvesen app, you will get every 5th coffee for free, and a free coffee on your birthday.
  • Do not throw away plastic bottles and cans – in the shops, you can get money back for them in the special machines.
  • When you shop, look out for “Tilbud” – it means “discount”

6. Don’t buy bottled water

Tap water in Norway is perfectly drinkable and also very tasty. Bring a reusable water bottle (help the environment at the same time) and save money! You can fill it up at any tap. Make sure the water is cold – let it run for a bit, then it has the best taste, yum.

Norwegian gifts and souvenirs - local craft Norwegian beer from Svalbard

7. Avoid alcohol in Oslo when traveling on a budget

Alcohol is extremely expensive in Norway, especially in pubs and restaurants. Even in the shops, alcohol prices in Norway are crazy compared to other countries. In a restaurant or a bar expect to pay from 60-120 NOK for a small beer and more for a glass of wine. In a shop, the beers start from around 30 NOK.

Wine and stronger alcohol can only be bought in special liquor shops (Vinmonopolet). The alcohol buying times also are regulated – you cannot buy alcohol any time you want. You can buy beer in supermarkets, but not after 20:00 on weekdays and not after 18:00 on Saturdays. On Sunday you can’t buy any alcohol in the stores (and many shops are closed anyway)

Skip the booze, or buy it duty-free after you land – it’s much cheaper. Here are the limits.

If you really want to try some local alcohol, I recommend you visit some of the Oslo microbreweries Nydalen Bryggeri og SpiseriOslo Brewing, or Crow Bryggeri

8. Use a currency converter card

I never travel without my Revolut or Wise cards. They have the best currency conversion rates and I don’t pay anything for using them abroad, even for withdrawing money from an ATM (up to a limit).

Tip: You don’t need cash in Norway, everything can be paid by card.

9. Use the ToGoodToGo app for cheap meals in Oslo

For discounted takeaway meals, check out the TooGoodToGo app. It saves you money and saves food waste too! It shows you the deals on food that is leftover from cafes or restaurants. Very often you can get perfectly fine food for a very cheap price. For example, a bag of sandwiches, tortillas, or even some leftover food from an Indian restaurant can be bought for around 35 NOK.

10. Get Narvesen and 7Eleven apps

If you visit Oslo for a few days, I recommend you to get free Narvesen and 7Eleven apps. They both are small corner shops where they sell snacks and coffee.

The apps let you register whenever you buy coffee and after a certain number, you get one free.

Also, on your birthday you get free coffee and a snack (so fill it up when you register!).

11. Travel off-season

The most popular time to visit Oslo is in the summer. That’s also when the prices are the highest. However, Oslo in the winter is a wonderful place to be (check my post about it). The city is magical, prices are lower and you can see the city’s attractions without the crowds.

Usually, travel during the weekends is more expensive than during the week.

12. Use student discounts

If you have a student card, bring it with you. In Oslo, you can get discounts of up to 50% for transport, entry tickets, and more.

13. Reduce the number of nights spent in Oslo

Of course, if you want to save money in Oslo, the shorter time you spend in the city, the better. In general, with a good itinerary for 2 days in Oslo, that’s enough time to see most of the capital. I usually recommend spending more of your time out in Norwegian nature, like checking out some of Norway’s hikes, which is what this country is famous for.

14. Check out Oslo’s free attractions – free things to do in Oslo

If you’re on a budget, you might be wondering what free activities there are to enjoy in Oslo. Fortunately, there are plenty of free things to do in Oslo that will allow you to experience the city’s charms without breaking the bank.

Free attractions include the Opera House, Akershus Fortress, Radhusset (city hall), and Vigalands Park. Moreover, there are some free museums in Oslo open on specific days.

Another free activity in Oslo is walking around Slottet (Royal Palace). You can also see the changing of the Guards at 1:30 pm.

Great free things to do in Oslo are in nature. Take a walk in “marka”, which are the forest areas in Oslo, take one of the Oslo hikes with great panoramic views, or sit by the beach.

Island hopping in Oslo fjord is another idea for cheap things to do in Oslo since it’s included in the public transport ticket.

There are many free events in Oslo you can check out here.

Vigeland Park, Oslo, things to do in Oslo in winter, Norway
Vigeland Park, Oslo

Read more: Check out the best day trips from Oslo here and the map of the best places around Oslo here.

More free things to do in Oslo

1. Opera House

Explore the Oslo Opera House. The Oslo Opera House is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city, and it offers stunning views of the Oslofjord. You can explore the building’s unique architecture and climb to the rooftop for panoramic views of the surrounding area. The best part? It’s completely free!

2. Vigeland Park

Wander through Vigeland Park. Vigeland Park is a must-see attraction in Oslo. The park is home to more than 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, and it’s the largest sculpture park in the world made by a single artist. You can wander through the park and admire the sculptures, including the famous Monolith, completely free of charge.

3. Munch Museum

Visit the Munch Museum on a Wednesday. The Munch Museum is dedicated to the life and work of the famous Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, and it’s definitely worth a visit. On Wednesday evening, admission is free, so you can explore the museum’s collection of paintings, drawings, and prints without spending a single krone.

4. Oslo City Hall

Check out the Oslo City Hall. The Oslo City Hall is a stunning building that’s home to the city’s government. It’s also open to the public, and you can check it out for free. You’ll get to see the beautiful murals that decorate the walls and learn about the history of the city.

5. Akerselva River

Take a stroll along the Akerselva River. The Akerselva River runs through the heart of Oslo, and it’s a great place to take a leisurely stroll. You can admire the waterfalls, bridges, and historic buildings that line the river, and there are plenty of benches where you can sit and enjoy the view.

6. Akershus Fortress

Discover the Akershus Fortress. The Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle that’s located in the heart of Oslo. You can wander around the fortress and take in the stunning views of the city and the Oslofjord. There’s also a museum inside the fortress that’s free to visit.

7. Nordmarka

Take a hike in the Nordmarka Forest. The Nordmarka Forest is a beautiful natural area that’s located just outside of Oslo. You can take a hike through the forest and enjoy the stunning scenery completely free of charge. There are plenty of trails to choose from, so you can tailor your hike to your skill level.

8. Oslo Botanic Garden

Take a stroll through the Oslo Botanic Garden. The Oslo Botanic Garden is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, with a diverse collection of plants and flowers from around the world. It’s a great place to take a walk, have a picnic, or just enjoy the tranquility of nature. The garden is open year-round, and admission is free.

9. Oslo’s viewpoints

Enjoy the view from many Oslo viewpoints, such as Ekeberg Hill, Grefsenkolen, and more. Read more about views and hikes around Oslo here.

Oslo hiking trail - Grefsenkollen, Oslo Norway

10. Royal Palace

See the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace. Every day at 1:30 pm, you can witness the changing of the guard ceremony at the Royal Palace. It’s a colorful and festive event that’s worth seeing if you’re in the city.

11. Sorenga

Take a bath or sunbathe in Sorenga – a popular place for hanging out by the water on the wooden decks near the city center, and have coffee in Bjorvika, a new Oslo floating neighborhood.

12. Bjorvika Library

Visit the newest Oslo Bjorvika Library and a perfect hangout spot, just next to the Opera. The entrance is free and the view from the inside is great. There’s also a cafe you can grab a bite at.

There is more! Check out this Oslo in Winter guide for more ideas on what to do in the city in the winter, this Oslo hikes guide is for the best hikes and views.

As you can see, there are many ways of traveling to Oslo on a budget. You can find cheap hotels in Oslo, or camp, eat at affordable restaurants, and have a big choice of free things to do in Oslo. So don’t worry too much and book your trip to Norway’s capital now!

Do you think Oslo is expensive? Do you have any more tips on how to travel to Oslo on a budget? Let me know in the comments!

Read more about Oslo and Norway:

Where to stay in Oslo – best Oslo hotels on every budget + Oslo district explained

Hikes in Oslo with the best views

19 Most Interesting Day Trips From Oslo

Norway on a budget – Local tips for cheap Norway travel

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