“Does this city of 560,000 inhabitants have enough to offer a visitor? Does it really have to be so pricey? The answer is YES. And NO, not really. But when you take into consideration its fine dining and blissful boozing, its scenic splendors, its potent underground culture and, in particular, its booming live music scene, Oslo is a life-lover’s Garden of Eden, a bountiful feast of immense, sacred proportions. More to the point, they’re blonde, blue-eyed and Norwegian.”

-A poor man’s connoisseur guide to Happy Living in One of the Most Expensive Cities in the World-

Norwegians enjoying a cold beer at Øyafestivalen – pricey but good!

The introduction to the Oslo guide  puts the greatness of the Norwegian capital into words. And the connoisseur knows how to enjoy the good things in life, and will only pay for things that are considered money well spent. Where to have the best coffee, great drinks, concerts and where to go shopping are just some of the things this holy grail of Oslo wisdom will tell you. Great design and the feeling of getting proper insider tips while saving money (for your shopping spree in this fashionable city) makes this book one of my favorite city guides.

Music plays a great role in our lives, I mean, who doesn’t like music right? The connoisseur guide has a great focus on where and when you can take part in musical festivities and parties in the city. The vivid live music scene is one Oslo’s main attraction, and with over 5,000 live gigs and several festivals a year, it can only be rivalled by cities like London, Berlin and New York. Norway is often associated with death metal, but has something to offer for most music tastes (you might have heard about Kings of Convenience (and Erlend Øye), Røyksopp, Kakkmaddafakka, Casiokids and Datarock – if you haven’t, then you should check out their music). Most of the nightlife and concert activity is centered around Youngstorget or in the hip area Grünerløkka (my favorite part of Oslo), which is also great for shopping and coffee.

The Norwegian metal band Insense

When going out, you might notice why people think Oslo is expensive, but your party budget can be saved by a few tips and tricks. Paying up to 80 NOK (ca. 10 euros) for a beer is not all that unusual, so a small pre-party at home might be in place to save a few bucks. Check the guidebook and this facebook page for cheap beer in Oslo if you don’t want to spend a small fortune.

Being a sucker for great architecture and sculptures, two of my favorite places (that you can enjoy for free) are The Vigeland Park and the outside of the Opera House. The Opera House is Oslo’s most prestigious building, and was designed by the international star architectural firmament, Snøhetta. Visitors are allowed to walk on the white sloping stone roof which rises directly up from the Oslofjord. Skate- and snowboarders will also be pleased to know that the Opera House is ideal really a stealth skate park and that snowboarding down the slope isn’t all that bad.

The Vigeland Sculpture Park, also known as Frognerparken, is famous for its 192 sculptures of naked people. The most famous statue is the over 14 meter tall ‘Monolith’, consisting of 121 human figures laying on top of each other. In summertime this is also a popular meeting place, and you will find that a lot of Oslo’s inhabitants meet for a barbecue or picnic in the park. You see, when the sun is out, so are the inhabitants of Oslo.

The Opera House in Oslo

The city’s immediate closeness to nature, can take you out in the green in just a few minutes. So whether you prefer the urban jungle or nature, Oslo is your city. Almost everything is within walking or biking distance, making it a comfortable city to be a tourist in.

If you’re planning a budget travel trip to Norway, make sure you check out my guide to travel Norway on a budget to keep your wallet as healthy as possible. For the best Oslo-experience possible get a hold of  the “A poor man’s connoisseur guide to happy living in one of the most expensive cities in the world” guide book, check out the book’s facebook page to figure out how.

The travelettes offer a copy of this book to one lucky reader, head on over to our facebook page to know how to participate in the contest.


Kathrine Opshaug Bakke Kathrine Opshaug Bakke, editor at Travelettes from 2009 to 2013, wrote this post. Originating from Norway, she has been living in Berlin, Lisbon, and Stockholm the past 6 years.

She loves cities with imperfect facades, photography, traveling by bike, vintage hunting, and everything that comes with cheese. Follow her visual diary at anchoredpaperplane.com.