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Summer Travel Tips: How to Do Scandinavia on a Budget

Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway

Oslo; Image: Atli Mar Hafsteinsson/Getty

Oslo is a familiar name on Europe’s top 10 most expensive cities, but thanks to a recent oil price collapse, the Norwegian capital is again within reach to travelers, meaning it’s a great time to explore the capital city’s diverse history and rugged surroundings. Still, it’s by no means a cheap city, so the best way to keep the cost down is to keep your visit to a few days at most.

Getting There: Low-cost airline Norwegian Air has several flights between Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo daily for as low as $40 each way between cities and the high-speed train Flytoget gets you from tarmac to city center in a breathtaking 19 minutes.

What to Do: The capital of Norway was once the stronghold of Vikings, but is now a diverse, bustling city with a growing immigrant population. Art buffs can check out the Edvard Munch museum, while those looking for an injection of old Norse tradition can swing by the Viking Ship Museum. But with nearly 14 hours of sunlight in June, it’s best to stay outdoors. The free Vigelandsparken within the city’s Frogner Park is a popular destination, showing off a staggering 212 of Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland’s human creations, including a towering 50-foot monolith carved from a single stone. A trip to the ultra modern opera house is a must, if only for the incredible selfies you can take after scampering up the building’s sloping walls (trust us, that’s what it was designed for).

Oslo, Norway Opera House

Cityscape with Opera House to the right; Image: Mats Anda/Getty

Where to Stay: Airbnb and other home-sharing sites are great options here, though the prices can still be steep if you’re looking for an entire apartment. Instead, we like moderately-priced hotels like the historic Hotell Bondeheimen, which offers not only an impossibly central location close to the main square, royal palace and plenty of sights, but a complimentary and delicious breakfast.

Food for Thought: Remember when we said Norway is expensive? A typical meal out, even a simple lunch, can cost upward of $25 to $30, so it’s best to eat a big breakfast at the hotel and snack throughout the day. Be sure to check out great spots like coffee legend Tim Wendelboe’s eponymous shop in the ultra hip Grünerløkka neighborhood and be on the lookout for street fairs, which offer more affordable eats. If you’re bent on trying some at-home Norwegian cooking, head to a place like Elias mat & sånt or stick to Norwegian imports like Chinese, Thai or kebabs.