We arrived in Oslo, Norway in mid March via the overnight ferry from Copenhagen with our two little kids (3 and almost 6). By the time we got through immigration and got a taxi to our hotel, we had about a half day of sightseeing left. The hotel we picked was the Radisson Blu Scandinavia (not to be confused with the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel also in Oslo). We got a family room with a bed and a pull out sofa. We were able to check in early without a problem, though it not being high season was probably a big part of that. We liked the hotel’s central location a lot.
Our initial walk took us past the Royal Palace (Det Kongelige Slott) through the Palace Park (Slottsparken). We then turned and strolled downhill along Karl Johans Gate, a popular road with many shops and restaurants. Part of it is pedestrian only. We walked all the way down to the Parliament building (Stortinget) where we found an ATM before turning right and walking down Nedre Vollgate to Akershus Fortress (Akershus Festning).
Akershus Fortress was a fun spot to explore. It is FREE and sprawling. We lucked out and entered on the side of the Visitor Center and got some information and a map (though I didn’t find the map very helpful). We had our stroller and wandered around routes that seemed mostly stroller friendly.
Akershus Fortress has buildings and structures from the Middle Ages to present day. It is a national monument in the heart of the city. It is very obvious when approaching by sea or land as it is up on a cliff above the water. You’ll find a penitentiary, chapel, drawbridge, guardhouse, barracks, ponds, stables, towers, bastions, walls, canons, and more. We couldn’t figure out how to go in anything (and I’m not sure if you could anyway), but it was fun to walk around.
From the fortress, we walked to the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum, which is on the same grounds but the far end. It is also free (WOO!) and its flier says its main purpose “is to introduce the visitor to Norwegian military and political history from the Viking period (about 800-1300) to the Cold War.”
The ground floor covered international operations, Afghanistan and the Cold War. Upstairs (there is an elevator for strollers or wheelchairs) had The Union with Denmark (1380-1814), Union with Sweden (1814-1905), Interwar Period, World War II, War Cross, and War at Sea (1939-1945). Most the exhibits were in Norwegian, but they had fliers in each room with English translations for the important things.
My husband really enjoyed the museum. DS3 slept through it. DD was less interested in it, so she and I moved through it at a good clip. They had a coloring area on the ground level near the entrance that she liked. There was also a small cafe with beverages and some food.
By this point we were HUNGRY! We decided to walk towards the Opera House and surely we’d find something everyone would enjoy on our way. It was actually a lot harder than we thought. Our kids aren’t the pickiest of eaters, but they definitely aren’t the most adventurous and most Scandinavian and Norwegian food did not appeal to them.
We finally found a pizza place and sat down for lunch. Kids got a 12″ cheese pizza, DH and I split a 12″ pizza, and we both got salads. Mine was delicious with baked cheese on top. DH also got a beer. Lunch was yummy, but pricy! Over $100 for the four of us to eat! We did appreciate the free wifi so we could get messages and plan the afternoon.
It was just a short walk to the Opera House. This building is so cool because you can walk on the roof! It is built like a series of ramps and offers great harbor views. We saw our boat in the distance (DFDS). From there we wandered back to the Karl Johans Gate road, walked up to the Royal Palace and spent a little time at our hotel.
My cousin, E, lives in Oslo and we had arranged to have dinner at her house that evening. So we refreshed and rested a bit before walking to her place (which conveniently was not that far from our hotel!)
On our way, we explored Our Savior’s Cemetery (Vår Frelsers Gravlund) which had a pretty church, interesting tombs, and some snow! Then we worked our way over to the Council Church of Norway (Kirkelig fellesråd i Oslo), the oldest structure in Oslo! It was built around 1150. The back garden offered pretty city views and the cemetery was fun to wander.
We had a delicious dinner with my cousin and her boyfriend and then walked home. What a fun and busy day 1!
Day 2 in Oslo was our museum day! We started with breakfast at our hotel and enjoyed their buffet. There was a large mix of Scandinavian and more continental options (eggs, bacon, etc).
Many of Oslo’s museums are on Bygdøy, often referred to as Museum Island even though it is actually a peninsula. But many people reach it by ferry. The ferry you want is on Pier F in the picture below, also called Pier 3 (if counting from the east).
Of note, not every ferry running allows strollers, bikes, or wheelchairs! See schedule below.
Ticket options include single way or round trip. You might consider the Oslo Pass if visiting several museums and doing the boat. We didn’t do it, but probably should have for the adults as we did 4 museums and the boat! At the time of our visit, the Oslo Pass cost 445 NOK for 24 hours for adults. Our museum entries were 500 NOK/adult plus the 50 NOK ferry ride. We didn’t do the math ahead of time! Some museums kids of all ages are free and some ages 6 and older cost. Our oldest isn’t quite 6 yet, so we lucked out with no admission charges for her or her little brother!
The ferry ride was only 15 minutes (we got off at stop 2). First museum was the FRAM Museum, which has the FRAM, a large wooden polar exploration ship, and the Gjoa, another exploration ship. The FRAM, Kon Tiki and Maritime Museum are all next to each other and you can buy combo passes. We bought a family combo for the FRAM and Kon Tiki which was 430 NOK (~$50). 2 Adults combo and a family combo was the same price, though technically our kids would have been free regardless.
You get to go into both ships, which was very cool. The kids loved them! There was also a movie at the start which talked about polar history and we all enjoyed that as well. The displays were good and informative.
One challenge to note is that while there are elevators in both buildings (each ship is in its own building), the underground hallway that connects the two has a large flight of stairs and no elevator. There is a wheelchair lift, but nothing for strollers. We had to carry ours.
Next up was across the parking lot to the Kon Tiki Museum. It houses the raft that made the famous 1947 trip. Thor “Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. His aim in mounting the Kon-Tiki expedition was to show, by using only the materials and technologies available to those people at the time, that there were no technical reasons to prevent them from having done so. Although the expedition carried some modern equipment, such as a radio, watches, charts, sextant, and metal knives, Heyerdahl argued they were incidental to the purpose of proving that the raft itself could make the journey.” (From Wikipedia)
There was a kid story told from a crab’s point of view written at kid height under the adult displays. DD enjoyed listening to that as we walked past the displays.
Stroller-wise, there are a few steps, but mostly ramps.
From this cluster of museums, we walked the 15 min (1.2 km) to the Viking Museum. Along the way, we stopped at a small cafe that sold burgers and hotdogs and a few other items. They had a bit of indoor seating and some outside picnic tables. The menu is below. Location: here. Food was decent and it was a good refueling spot!
The Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset) had a number of recovered Viking ships. The museum allows strollers, but only tiny purses. All other bags needed to go in free lockers. Admission was 100 NOK for adults (~$12) and all kids under 18 were free. They had stairs leading up to viewing platforms at each ship so you could see down into them.
They also had displays of various Viking artifacts. For more info about the displays, history, and boats, this website is very detailed.
Nearby was the Folk Museum or the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseet). Adults were 160 NOK, kids 6-15 40 NOK, and under 6 were free. Family ticket was 320 NOK (which really means with 2 adults, all kids are free). In the winter on weekdays, adults are 120 NOK and Family plan is 240 NOK.
We enjoyed wandering around outside. The buildings represent different areas of Norway and DS especially loved finding buildings that were open and he could enter. A few paths were still pretty icy and we ended up going down one that was very snowy and icy, only to find out that the exit was blocked off as no entry (wish they had blocked the other end!) Most of the paths are gravel or dirt and so easily become slushy or muddy. Weekends have more things happening with demonstrations and more buildings open.
After exploring the grounds, we decided to walk to Vigeland Park. This seemed like a good idea at the time. Googlemaps said a 36-40 minute walk. We walked through a really pretty area of woods on a cut-through road that cut a little distance and road busy-ness. But the kids were exhausted. DD fell asleep in the stroller early on, so DS3 had to walk the whole distance. He ended up getting a should ride the last bit. We kept hoping to find a cafe along our route, but there were none. The 40 min walk was easily an hour since we had to move at a 3 year old’s pace. But if you don’t have young kids, or if they are all in strollers, it is a doable walk and the first half is very pretty in nature.
What we SHOULD have done, was take Bus 30 from the bus stop directly outside the museum (Folkmuseet) three stops to Olav Kyrres Plas and then walked 10 minutes north. If you get the Oslo Pass, bus transportation is free.
Once inside Vigeland Park (or Frognerparken? I think one half is one park and the other half the other?), we did find a cute cafe called Anne På Landet (here) where we got delicious beverages and yummy treats. It closes at 5 pm and is closed on Mondays, so keep that in mind. Some inside seating and extensive outside seating.
My main purpose for going to the park was to find the famous Angry Boy (Sinnataggen) statue by Gustav Vigeland. This park is FILLED with his statues. We went to the bridge where the Angry Boy statue is and found a ton that we found humorous. This playground on our way out looked cool, but it was late and we were worn out (should have done the bus!)
On our walk home, we passed this fire station. Seeing the fire truck was probably the highlight of DS’ day! We had a 2 km walk home and were so grateful to get there! The kids (and adults) were worn out! Overall the day was about 5 miles of walking, of which each kid walked about half of it.
We ate dinner at our hotel at a well regarded restaurant called 26 North: “26 North Restaurant & Social Club is inspired by the Nordic countries, their nature, culinary treasures and design. The chef has been inspired by the ingredients found in the Fjords, Farms and Forests of Norway and created a Nordic and unique menu that will trigger your taste buds. We offer Boards from the Fjords, which is an easy way to enjoy a light meal or as a sharing table, as well as mains and desserts.” They had a kid menu–my kids shared burger sliders. I had fish and DH had duck.
The next morning we did a fairly lazy morning. Kids and DH spent the morning watching Netflix and chilling in the hotel room. I took a walk over to Damestredet to take photos of the famous houses and pretty street. I was very underwhelmed. It didn’t seem any prettier than any other street. Maybe when things start blooming?
We left the hotel about 11 am to taxi to the airport for lunch and our flight to Stockholm on Norwegian. The taxi was 1300 NOK from our hotel ($150!!!!!). Maybe we should have looked into public transportation a bit more! We tend to always do taxis because it is just easier with kids and luggage, but whew!
The airport has self checkin kiosks and automated self service bag drop. You scan your baggage tag yourself and stick it on the conveyor! Our stroller (a single BOB), had to be dropped off at over sized baggage rather than gate checked. Security had a separate line for those traveling with kids under 12. Entering security (including the special line) was also automated-you scan your boarding pass. The security check system was super efficient and speedy.
On the other side of security they had strollers and small bag carts with a spot for a small kid (like a shopping cart does). Strollers were Chicco liteways. There were many food choices. We ate near A8 and had burgers and pizza. Our favorite play area was near A12. It had an airplane with 2 pilot seats and controls, a slide, climbing area, and good parent seating nearby.
After playing a while, we went over to C1 to check out its play area (I had scoped out play area locations ahead of time online). It had the same plane as at A12, but no climbing structure and not very good seating for parents.
The airport website listed a play area near E14, but we could not find it without going through what seemed to be gate specific security. Once entering the E gate zone, you cannot return to the A or C gate areas. The international flights (or at least ours to Stockholm) required you to go through immigration and do a long walk through duty free shopping. Make sure to leave enough time for that. However, I suggest staying at the A12 play area as long as possible!