The first 5 days of our spring 2016 Europe vacation were spent discovering awesome things to do in Oslo with kids, as well as good Oslo cheap food spots and some beautiful sights. In this post we’ll focus on the kids activities – there are a lot of them!
Oslo has a lot to offer for families, including tons of outdoor spaces to walk and run around, museums to learn and get out of the cold and snow, (moderately) easy to use transportation that is an attraction in itself, and more.
In this post we’ve collected a bunch of our favorite things to do in Oslo with kids. Most are either free or included in the Oslo Pass.
We definitely recommend the Oslo Pass if you plan to see more than a couple of these sights. The pass gives free admission to most attractions and provides unlimited transit use, including the ferry to Bygdøy Peninsula.
Things to Do in Oslo with Kids
In no particular order, below are our recommendations for kids activities in Oslo. Use the table of contents to jump to specific sections – we tried to cram a lot of Oslo kids activities into this post!
Table of Contents
- Vigeland Park
- Riding Ruter – Oslo Public Transit
- Oslo Waterfront
- Akershus Fortress
- Bygdøy Peninsula
- Viking Ship Museum
- Norwegian Heritage Museum
- Fram Ice Ship Museum
- Kon Tiki Museum
- Oslo Fjord Boat Tour
- Oslo Opera House
- Oslo Royal Palace
- Nobel Peace Center – Skip
Touring the Vigeland Park is a great thing to do in Oslo with kids. First, it’s a big open outdoor space so if the weather is nice it’s great for kids to run around. One huge added bonus is there is a giant playground right by the park entrance.
Many life-size sculptures depicting various aspects of the human condition are set along the main pathway leading into the park. The display culminates at a monolith up on a hilltop, with sculpted figures reaching towards the sky.
Sadly for us the weather was less than ideal and we fought through a large snow squall during out visit. Had we dressed appropriately it might have been OK, but with Jasper recovering from a cold, Kat and I wearing flip flops, and Kat unable to zip her jacket due to baby #3 on board – it got cold fast, and we moved on to Plan B.
The park is free to enter and easily accessed via Oslo public transit, either by Metro or tram. The Metro stops at Majorstuen, just a few blocks away form the park. The tram is even better, with the #12 tram stopping directly in front of the park.
We probably spent almost 2 hours but would have stayed longer if the weather were warmer (or we were dressed more appropriately).
Riding Ruter – Oslo Public Transit
Shivering, we boarded the #12 tram from the station right in front of the Vigeland Park. Immediately everyone’s spirits brightened as the tram sped away. We were warm, cruising smoothly along the tracks, and enjoying some beautiful scenery of colorful Oslo.
Perhaps not your first thought for an Oslo family activity, the Oslo trams are a great way to quickly see different parts of the city, all from a comfortable seat. The trams run along surface streets, so you don’t miss anything like on an underground subway.
Sorting out which tram goes where can be a bit of a challenge to be honest and we missed stops and took wrong trains a few times. Part of this was due to construction blocking typical routes, and part of it was us just not knowing the system. We used a combination of posted maps, offline transit directions in the Here maps app (we didn’t get a data plan in Norway), and help from locals. Asking the locals was by far the most successful tactic!
Single-ride tickets are 32 Kroner and a 24 hour pass is 90. It’s more expensive to buy passes with cash on board. Our 4 year olds were free.
The waterfront is picturesque and lively. There are some sculptures in front of the Oslo City Hall, many boats lining the docks, and some food trucks parked around lunch time. Lots of space to run around and be loud – perfect place to hang out in Oslo with kids.
We stopped in at a cafe (Kaffebrenneriet) here for a delicious cappuccino, scones, cookie, roll, and chocolate croissant.
Take a tram to Aker Brygge.
Akershus Fortress sits high on the cliff above Oslo harbor. Inside the thick stone walls there are ramparts overlooking the city, canons, and an interesting museum inside the castle itself.
The grounds are free to explore, but the museum charges for admission (included in Oslo Pass). We spent a couple of hours wandering around. Kids love castles right? Couldn’t draw up a better Oslo family activity.
The complex also houses a Norwegian military academy. They were doing some type of training exercise while we were there, laying down wires, barricades, and setting up armed bunkers. It was a little unnerving actually – felt like invaders were expected in the city at any moment!
We took the ferry to Bygdøy Peninsula for a full day of museum touring. Perhaps not your first thought when looking for things to do in Oslo with kids.
But the museums we went to had enough interactive exhibits and places to run around that Aurora and Jasper stayed engaged pretty much the whole time. The hardest part for them is all of the walking.
We had time for 4 stops during our day trip: the Viking Ship Museum, Norwegian Heritage Museum, Fram Ice Ship Museum, and the Kon Tiki Museum, in that order.
Getting Around Bygdøy Peninsula
We walked from the first ferry stop to the Viking Ship Museum, then walked to the Norwegian Heritage Museum.
We took the bus from the stop right in front of the Heritage Museum to the stop right at the Fram and Kon Tiki Museums, which are also adjacent to the second ferry stop (so you can head directly back to Oslo city center from there).
Viking Ship Museum
Located on Bygdøy Peninsula, the Viking Ship Museum contains the remains of three actual viking ships. There’s not much left of one of them, but the other two are impressive. It’s amazing to think that vikings crossed vast oceans in these open top vessels.
Plan no longer than an hour to see this museum with kids – they won’t last much longer and it’s fairly small. Admission is included with the Oslo Pass.
Norwegian Heritage Museum
The Norwegian Heritage Museum is a really fun thing to do in Oslo with kids. The indoor displays are interesting, but the enormous outdoor area is what kids will really love.
There are dozens of huts, store houses, barns, and other structures from various eras. Some have turf roofs, some are covered with giant slabs of stone, and others clay tiles. Most have walls made of huge timbers – like life size Lincoln Logs.
During the warmer months we understand they have folks dressed up in period clothing and playing the appropriate roles in the different buildings. Unfortunately this wasn’t happening during our visit.
There are more modern buildings too, including one that has a bunch of apartments outfitted from various periods through time.
There’s also a small playground (“can we go back to the playground now?” was a constant refrain). A truth from all of our travels: playgrounds = winning.
We spent about 3 hours here and the admission was included in the Oslo Pass.
Fram Ice Ship Museum
The Fram Ice Ship Museum was the consensus family favorite of the Bygdøy Peninsula day, and one of our favorite things to do in Oslo with kids.
There’s a video to get you started and give everyone the quick summary of what the ships are about. Then you can explore various exhibits related to two big ships designed for travel through icy arctic waters.
The best part is walking on the decks and through the cabins of the Fram, a ship that made historically significant voyages contributing to exploration near the north and south poles.
There is an area with interactive exhibits designed for young kids as well as a short “adventure” onto a ship breaking up on the ice and through a frozen tunnel in the glacier (watch out for the polar bear).
We spent about an hour and admission was free with the Oslo Pass.
Kon Tiki Museum
The Kon Tiki Museum has two rafts used by Norwegian adventurer (and crazy person) Thor Heyerdahl to cross the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Heyerdahl floated across the Pacific from South America to the Polynesian islands on the balsa wood Kon Tiki in 1947. He apparently had no seafaring experience prior to the journey and could not swim well!
In 1970 Heyerdahl crossed from Africa to the Caribbean islands on Ra II, a similar raft made from papyrus rather than balsa wood. This was after the original Ra sank the year before! Whoops.
There’s a short movie in a loop and the kids liked looking at the rafts. We spent about an hour.
Free with the Oslo Pass.
Oslo Fjord Boat Tour
At the same Aker Brygge dock where you pick up the museum peninsula ferry you can get tickets for a 2 hour boat tour of Oslo Fjord.
The tour takes place on a large sailing vessel (using motor power) with seating on the large open top deck. There is a tarp that they apparently cover the deck with when it’s rainy. It was very cold during our late April cruise, so luckily there were faux bear skin mats to sit on and piles of cozy IKEA fleece blankets.
The boat tour was a terrific Oslo kids activity because 1) boats are exciting and 2) no walking required. The no walking was key after a couple days of heavy museum touring.
The cost was 485 NOK ($60) for 2 adults (our kids were free) including a 15% discount with the Oslo Pass. In the summer this tour is included with the 3 day Oslo Pass (3 day pass isn’t offered off-season).
Oslo Opera House
Not to be outdone by Sydney, Oslo has its own architectural masterpiece opera house. The marble-clad wedge climbs out of the water along the Oslo waterfront, and visitors are welcome to climb up the steep slope and onto the roof.
The views back over Oslo are impressive, and the angular lines of the building make for fun photos. A&J got a kick out of climbing on the roof.
Some of the slopes are pretty steep and while there are parapets, keep an eye on little ones near the edges. Otherwise this is a fun Oslo kids activity – and totally free. Free is good, especially in pricey Oslo!
Dronningens Gate and Oslo Central Station (Jernbanetorget) are both within a few blocks walk.
Oslo Royal Palace
The Royal Palace sits atop a hill overlooking Karl Johans gate and a beautiful park. You can’t go inside (unless invited by the King) but the view from outside is pretty nice.
This is just a quick stop for a photo and a look around, though if the weather is nice you could hang out in the park for a while.
The Nationaltheatret tram stop is close, as is Inkognitogata. Nationaltheatret is a bit closer, but the walk from Inkognitogata is downhill, then you can hop on at Nationaltheatret on the way out.
Free to walk around outside.
Nobel Peace Center – Skip
We’d recommend skipping the Nobel Peace Center with small children (though the gift shop is nice and you can use the restrooms without paying for admission). The downstairs exhibit focuses heavily on war and violence, and the upstairs exhibit is too reading-heavy to keep young ones engaged.
Things to Do in Oslo with Kids Summary
There are tons of awesome things to do with kids in Oslo. We easily filled a few days and could have spent much longer – if we could afford it! Much of Oslo is very expensive, but a lot of the kids activities are cheap or free. So if you can find a reasonable place to stay (we’ll help with that in the next post) and find some cheap food in Oslo you can make it work!
Have you been to Oslo? Live in Oslo? Please let us know your favorite things to do in Oslo with kids!!