Oslo; it’s the land of hygge, beautiful fjords, and thriving nature. It’s a city of many faces. To some, the perfect destination for a romantic weekend getaway; to others, it’s the ideal place to spend an action-packed summer holiday. To me? Well, it’s a bit of both.
Travelers come from all over the world to experience Norway’s Viking capital, but there’s one question on everyone’s mind – when exactly is the best time to visit? The answer, unfortunately, is not so simple. Oslo is a city that experiences all four seasons, and each has its own unique charm.
The good news is that there really is no wrong time to visit Oslo. But, depending on what you’re looking for in a vacation, there are certain times of year that are better than others. To ensure you make the most of your trip, I’ve put together the ultimate seasonal guide to the best (and worst) times to visit Oslo.
Read on to find out when is the best time for you to travel to Norway’s picturesque capital city!
Hint: See if you can figure out what the missing month is!
H2: Fall ( Mid-August – October)
Say hello to crisp air, beautiful autumn colors, and long walks along the Aker River. Fall is a wonderful time to visit Oslo if you’re looking to escape the crowds but still enjoy all the city has to offer.
There are significantly fewer tourists than in peak season, which means shorter lines at attractions, cheaper accommodation rates, and a more authentic experience overall. Just be sure to pack a jacket – the weather can be unpredictable!
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The fall season may start in mid-August or early September. The average fall temperature is +12C, but it begins to get even colder as October approaches. There’s no doubt that some of the most beautiful months in Oslo, Norway, are September and October, when the sky often glows in warm hues, the air is crisp, and leaves start to turn yellow.
Best things to do in Oslo during the Fall season:
● Visit the Oslo Opera House – One of Oslo’s most iconic buildings, the Opera House is worth a visit even if you don’t plan on seeing a show. The sloping white exterior is made from Italian marble and granite, and offers incredible views of the surrounding fjord. The Opera House is free to visit, but tours cost 120 kroner (about $15) for each adult and 70 kroner (around $8.50) for children between the ages of 4 and 16. Oslo Passholders get a discounted rate.
● Appreciate Art and Nature at Vigelandsparken (Frogner Park) – This is one of the most famous landmarks in Oslo, with thousands of people uploading photos of the sculptures in the park every year. It has more than 900 distinct works of art by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, making it the world’s biggest sculpture park. It’s a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon, especially in September when the roses are in full bloom. If you visit in October, you’ll be able to see the leaves changing color.
● Explore the VÍKINGR – This is an immersive exhibit that transports visitors to the Viking Age and immerses them in the daily life of Vikings. See if you can spot the Gjermundbu helmet while you’re there, it’s the best preserved Viking helmet in the world! Check out my previous article to learn more about this incredible exhibition.
● Hiking in Nordmarka – Nordmarka is Oslo’s green lung, and it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. There are numerous hiking and biking trails to explore, but you’re also sure to find a quiet spot to relax. The hiking trails in Nordmarka are usually well-marked, but a map is recommended for lengthier stretches.
● Sample Norwegian Comfort Food – Kjøttkaker (meatballs) , Pølse i Lompe (hot dog in a potato tortilla) and Vafler (Norwegian waffles) are just three of the many delicious Norwegian dishes you’ll find in Oslo. Be sure to also try out a shot of Aquavit – Norway’s national spirit!
H2: Winter (December – Mid(end)-March
Hibernation mode is real in Oslo during the winter months. From December until March, the city is often blanketed in snow, and temperatures hover around the freezing point. This might not sound appealing, but wintertime in Oslo, Norway, can actually be quite magical.
If you’re lucky enough to visit during the Christmas season, you’ll be treated to festive markets, twinkling lights, and gingerbread galore. However, even if you’re not visiting during December, winter is still a great time to experience Oslo’s unique culture. Ice skating, cross-country skiing, and sledding are just some of the fun activities you can enjoy in the snow.
Best things to do in Oslo during the Winter season:
● Visit the Christmas markets – One of the best things to do in Oslo during winter is to visit the Christmas markets. You’ll find them in various locations around the city. Expect to find handicrafts, gifts, and, of course, plenty of festive food and drink. Check here for 2022-2023 Christmas festival dates!
● Go Skiing, Sledding, or Skating! – Oslo is the perfect place to enjoy winter sports. There are several ski resorts within a day-trip distance, and cross-country skiing is also popular in the Oslo forest. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, go ice skating at one of the city’s many rinks. Some of the most popular downhill ski resorts near Oslo include Winter Park, Tryvann, and Grefsenkollen ski slope. For cross country skiing start out at Sognsvann or Frognerseteren.
● Embrace Nature – Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. One of the best things about Oslo is its proximity to nature. There are several parks and forests within the city limits, so you can easily escape into the wilderness for a day of hiking or cross-country skiing. Nordmarka is a particularly popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts.
● Hibernate With a Good Book – If you’re not a fan of the cold, you can always hibernate indoors with a good book. Oslo has many cozy cafes where you can relax with a cup of coffee and a good read. Deichmanske Bibliotek in Bjørvika is one of my favorite places to curl up with a book. It’s the city’s main public library, and it has an extensive collection of both Norwegian and international literature.
● Rent a Cabin or a Hotel room In the Snowy Oslo Forest – For a truly Norwegian experience, rent a cabin in the Oslo forest. There are many cabins to choose from, and they’re the perfect place to relax after a long day of skiing or hiking. It’s a truly magical experience, and it’s one you won’t soon forget.
From the Voksenasen Hotel, the cross-country ski trails of Oslomarka (the Oslo forest) are directly accessible from just outside the front door.
H2: Spring (April – Mid-June)
As the snow begins to melt and the days get longer, Oslo comes alive. The city is filled with blooming flowers, and the trees are starting to turn a lovely shade of green. Spring is the perfect time to visit if you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere. Easter is particularly lovely in Oslo, as many flock to the mountains.
The 17th of May is our national day and a big celebration in Oslo. The streets are filled with people in traditional dress, and there are parades and celebrations throughout the city.
If you’re planning a trip to Oslo in the Spring, be sure to pack your walking shoes. This is the perfect time of year to explore the city on foot, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take in that fresh flowery air. Spring is also an excellent time for outdoor activities, so don’t hesitate to get out and about. Hiking, biking, and kayaking are all popular activities in Oslo at this time!
Some of the best things to do in Oslo during the springtime include:
● Take a Boat Ride on the Oslofjord – As the weather gets warmer, the Oslofjord becomes a popular spot for boat rides. This is a great way to see some of Oslo’s best scenery; you’ll have the opportunity to see charming landscapes, fantastic city views, and the beautiful hills surrounding it. There are several boat tours to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you.
Find cruises on the Oslo fjord here.
● Explore the Akershus Fortress – The Akershus Fortress is a must-see for any history buff. This medieval castle is one of Oslo’s most popular tourist attractions, and it’s definitely worth a visit. Be sure to explore the fortress grounds, as there is a lot to see.
● Visit the Munch Museum – The Munch Museum is one of Oslo’s most famous museums. This museum is home to a collection of paintings by Edvard Munch, one of Norway’s most renowned artists. You’ll also find several other artworks on display, and you’re sure to learn something new.
● Hike to Holmenkollen – One of the best things to do in Oslo is to hike to the top of Holmenkollen. This is one of Oslo’s most popular tourist attractions, and it’s definitely worth the effort. The views from the top are absolutely breathtaking, and you’ll have the opportunity to see some of Oslo’s best scenery. Oslo Hiking actively plans scenic trips in the area for whoever wants to join; you can book via their website for 75 euros.
● Kayak on the Oslofjord – As the weather gets warmer, the Oslofjord becomes a popular spot for kayaking. This is a great way to get some exercise, and you’ll have the opportunity to take in some of Oslo’s best scenery. Throughout it, you’ll see the beautiful city sights and wilderness highlights like bays, beaches, and islands. No prior kayaking experience is required.
Find available kayaking tours on the Oslofjord here.
H2: Summer (Mid-June – Mid-August)
My personal favorite; Summertime. In Oslo, late Summer is often referred to as “sensommer.” The days begin to get longer, the weather is warm, and the city is filled with people enjoying the outdoors. This is the perfect time to visit if you’re looking for some fun in the sun. Swimming in the fjord, fishing, park life, staying up late, and enjoying the summer nights should all be on your to-do list.
In the Summer, you can pretty much do everything you can do in the Spring, but better. The weather is nicer, so you can enjoy all of the outdoor activities without worrying about the cold. This is also the busiest time of year for tourism, so be sure to book your hotel room in advance.
Some of the best things to do in Oslo during the summertime include:
● Swim in Oslofjord! – As the weather gets warmer, the beautiful fjord becomes a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The fjord is incredibly clean and refreshing, and there are plenty of places along the waterfront to just dive right in! This is a great way to cool off, and you’ll have the opportunity to take in some of Oslo’s best scenery. You can find entrances either from the docks, or from some public beaches. There is one at Bygdøy, one next to the Opera House, or jump off the docks right next to the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art!
● Fjord Galore – Oslofjord is unsurprisingly lovely in the Summer. As I mentioned above, this is a great time to swim, but it’s also awesome for fishing, or just simply enjoying the views. On Oslofjord, you can also take a boat ride, kayak, or splish splash while taking in all of the beauty Oslo offers. Many people also enjoy taking the small ferries out to the islands for swimming and a BBQ!
● Visit the Norsk Folkemuseum Open-Air Folk Museum – The Norsk Folkemuseum, located on Bygdøy in Oslo, Norway, has one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of artifacts from all social classes and areas of the country. It also features a large open-air museum with more than 150 reconstructed structures from across Norway.
● Rooftop Concerts at the Opera – During the summertime, the Opera House hosts a number of rooftop concerts, which are a great way to enjoy some live music. Sit back and relax as you let the sweet sounds of the city wash over you.
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H2: So, Did You Figure it Out?
If you remember correctly, I mentioned that there would be a missing month at the beginning of this post. Did you figure it out?
It’s November! But why November, you ask?
Well, in my opinion, it’s just not a great time to visit Oslo. The weather is starting to get colder, and the days are shorter. There are also fewer things to do, as many of the tourist attractions are closed for the winter. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s often raining. So, in my opinion, it’s just not worth it.
With that being said, if you would still love to visit Oslo and don’t want to wait until December or for the weather to get warmer, then you still have the option to embrace yourself in the history of it all. For example, you can check out two fantastic museums in Bygdøy:
● Kon-Tiki Museum: This museum is about the adventures of the famous explorer Thor Heyerdahl. The museum is located in a beautiful setting, and has plenty to see and do!
● Fram Museum: The Fram museum is also located in Bygdøy, and is a great place to visit if you are interested in the history of polar exploration. This museum has a lot to offer, including a huge ice-breaking ship called FRAM, as well as an impressive amount of artifacts!
You can also take a walk to the beautiful Oslo City Hall, where you can see architecture at its finest and take in the views of the city. Read all about Oslo City Hall in my previous blog, “Visit the Oslo City Hall – A public living room.” Or, enjoy a Sauna by the fjord, which is a great way to relax and bond with your friends or family, and they’re open all year round! Check out my blog post Enjoy Sauna by the Oslo Fjord, to learn more about this remarkable experience.
If you’re looking for the best time to visit Oslo, I would recommend either Summertime or Wintertime. Both have their own unique charm, there is plenty to do, and the seasonal weather is perfect for enjoying all that the city offers.
Thanks for reading! I hope this ultimate seasonal guide has provided you with all the information you need to plan the perfect trip to Oslo. Happy and safe travels!
Traveling to Oslo soon? Check out my YouTube videos for visuals, and tips, and join me on my many adventures!
Maybe we should come and stay for a year!!! but go away in November. LOL Actually your November sounds like our November – just not a fun month. I have to say this is a great article. Kudos to you. Ha en fantastisk Sommer!
haha that sounds like a great plan! I’m glad you enjoyed the article, tusen takk! Hope you’ll have en fantastisk sommer as well