Oslo is a vibrant, self confident city whose urbane, easy going air bears comparison with any European capital. Oslo is also the only major metropolis in country brimming with small towns and villages, its nearest rival Bergen, is less than half its size. This gives Oslo a powerful voice in the political, cultural and economic life of the nation. The other surprise is the Oslo’s size. The center is compact, but the city’s vast boundaries (453 sq km) encompass huge areas of forest, sand and water.

Almost universally, the inhabitants of Oslo have a deep and abiding affinity for the wide open spaces that surround their city:the waters of the Oslo fjord to the south, and the forested hills of the Nordmarka inland to the north – immensely popular for everything from boating and hiking to skiing. Oslo curves round the innermost shore of the Oslofjord, whose tapered waters extend for some 100km from the Skagerrak, the choppy channel separating Norway and Sweden from Denmark.

Where to stay in Oslo

Oslo City Hall Harbour

Arrival and information                          Top Hotels in Oslo

Downtown Oslo is at the heart of a superb public transport system, which makes arriving and departing convenient and straightforward. The principal arrival hub is the area around Oslo Station at the eastern end of the main thoroughfare, Karl Johans gate. Tourist information is available in Oslo S too.

Compared to other European capitals, Oslo is extremely safe, and you’re unlikely to be hassled. However, the usual cautions apply to walking around on your own late at night, when you should be particularly careful in the vicinity of Oslo S (where the junkies gather) and on the tougher east side of town along and around Storgata. Oslo’s public transport system consists of buses, trams, a small underground rail system and local ferries. There  are several ways to cut costs. The best is to buy an Oslo Card, which is valid on the whole network, but only within the city limits:on services which extend beyond them, you pay the fare from the city boundary to your destination.

Train and buses – International and domestic trains use Oslo Sentralstasjon, known as Oslo S sited in the Jernbanetorget at the eastern end of the city center. There are money exchange facilities here, as well as a post office, a tourist office, and two train information offices, one dealing with inquiries, the other selling tickets and making seat reservations. The central Bussterminalen, which is sometimes reffered to as Oslo M, is handily placed a short walk to the northeast of Oslo S, under the Galleriet Oslo shopping center.

AirportsGardermoen, 50 km north of Oslo, is only used by long-haul charter traffic at present. Flybussen (link Gardermoen airport with Oslo’s main bus terminal, running to connect with incoming and outgoing flights. Obviously, the frequency of this Flybussen service will be increased as Gardermoen picks up more flights. In the meantime, timetable details are available inside the terminal building at Gardermoen, at the main bus station in Oslo

Information – The main tourist information office, the Norges Informasjonssenter is housed in what used to be the Oslo Vestbane train station at Vestbaneplassen 1, down by the waterfront at the western end of the city center. It has some glossy visual displays and an extensive range of brochures relating to Norway as a whole, but also specializes in everything to do with Oslo, providing a full range of information, free city maps, guided tours and an accommodation booking service.

Booking Hotel in Oslo

Oslo has the range of hotels you would expect of a capital city, as well as private rooms, a smattering of boarding houses and a trio of youth hostels. To appreciate the full flavor of the city, you’re best of staying on or near the western reaches of Karl Johans gate – between the Stortinget and the Nationaltheater – though the well-heeled area to the north and west of The Royal Palace is enjoyable too. Many of the least expensive lodgings are, however, to be found in the vicinity of Oslo S, and this district along with the grimy suburbs to the north and east of the station is preferably avoided. That said, if money is tight and you’re here in July and August, your choice of location may well be very limited as the scramble for budget beds becomes acute – or at least tight enough to make it well worth ringing ahead to check on space. For peace of mind, it is advisable to make an advance reservation, particularly for your first night. A positive way to cut the hassle is to use the accommodation service provided by the tourist office.

Grand Hotel Oslo

The standard charge at the less expensive end of the market will be around 700-900 kr. For this you’ll get a fairly small and simple en suite room. You hit the comfort zone at about 900 kr, and luxury from around 1000kr. However, special offers and seasonal deals often make the smarter hotels more affordable than this. Most of them offer up to 40% discounts at weekends, while in July and August when Norwegians leave town for their holidays prices everyday tend to drop radically.

***** Grand Hotel – Over 100 years of tradition, comfort and style in the prime position on Oslo’s main street translates into stratospheric room rates. Food and service here are excellent, the lobby opulent and the rooms eminently comfortable – while hefty weekend and summertime discounts make the Grand much more affordable.

**** Rica Victoria Hotel  – is a small, verging on the luxurious hotel. This hotel is just south of Karl Johans gate. Commodious rooms with every convenience. Popular with visiting business executives.

*** Anker Hotel – A large budget hotel in a slightly down at heel high rise block beside the murky river at the east end of Storgata. Caters predominantly for visiting Norwegians rather than tourists. The hotel’s facilities are perfectly adequate – though some of the beds are rickety but the surrounding area is cheerless. Twenty minutes walk from Oslo S or five minutes by tram.

Hostel  Haraldsheim – Best of the two HI youth hostels, 5 km northeast of the center, and open all year except Christmas week. has 270 beds in total of 71 rooms, most of which are four – bedded. The public areas are comfortable and attractively furnished and the bedrooms clean and frugal, with about 40 having their own showers and WC. There are self-catering facilities, a restaurant, washing machines and even a solarium.

Suggested reading:

The Gateway to the North Sea

Booking Hotel in Oslo

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