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What are Some Non-Touristy Things to Do in Oslo?

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Oslo, the chic, vibrant capital of Norway, is known for its natural and architectural beauty, rich history, and thriving contemporary culture. While the city’s top tourist attractions are worthy of any itinerary, there are plenty of hidden gems and unique experiences waiting to be discovered off the beaten path.

At Discover Scandinavia Tours, our carefully curated Norway private tours and Norway small-group tours are the perfect blend of famous, must-see landmarks and lesser-known sights and activities. In this blog, we focus on some of the best non-touristy things to do in Oslo that will add a special touch to your Nordic adventure.

Scroll down to read our recommendations! And if you have questions about any of our luxury Scandinavia tour packages, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Experience the Unique Vibes at SALT

Nestled on the Oslo waterfront, SALT is an extraordinary cultural hub that blends art, music, global cuisine, and traditional Norwegian saunas. This nomadic art project, with its striking pyramid-like structures made of wood, offers a constantly evolving program of events. From intimate concerts and DJ sets to thought-provoking art installations and film screenings, SALT is a dynamic space that reflects Oslo’s creative spirit.

But what truly sets SALT apart are its unique sauna experiences. Imagine soaking in a hot sauna while enjoying panoramic views of the Oslo fjord. The sauna sessions, often accompanied by invigorating plunges into the cold waters, are a quintessentially Norwegian experience.

Whether you’re there to relax, socialize, or participate in one of their quirky events, SALT promises a memorable and unconventional outing.

Marvel at the Oslo Opera House and ‘She Lies’ Sculpture

While the Oslo Opera House and its world-class program attract locals and visitors alike, there’s more to this architectural marvel than meets the eye. In Norway’s stunning countryside, landscapes are there to be scaled and enjoyed; Oslo’s beautiful opera house satisfies that urge to climb to the capital city!

This iconic building has a striking roof of white marble which gently slopes into the fjord — and it was designed to be walked on! You can stroll all the way up to the rooftop for breathtaking views of the city and the water. It’s a perfect spot for some quiet contemplation and a few stunning photos away from the usual tourist hustle.

As you explore, keep an eye out for ‘She Lies,’ a fascinating sculpture by Italian artist Monica Bonvicini. Floating in the harbor adjacent to the Opera House, this glass and stainless steel installation is inspired by Caspar David Friedrich’s painting “The Sea of Ice.” The sculpture rotates with the tide and wind, presenting a constantly changing perspective.

We also included the Oslo Opera House in our list of the best things to do in Oslo!

Find the Eerie Devil of Oslo

For a touch of mystery and local folklore, head to Oslo Cathedral (Oslo Domkirke) — or, more specifically, the exterior corner to the right of the main entrance facing the Christian IV statue in the square across the street. Hidden in plain sight, you will find an eerie stone carving known as the Devil of Oslo.

This cathedral itself was consecrated in 1697 but, at over 900 years old, the Devil of Oslo is far older. The devilish carving was discovered in the ruins of St Hallvard Cathedral, which fell into disrepair in the 17th century, and subsequently attached to the exterior of Oslo Cathedral.

The carving depicts a man being attacked on both sides by a dragon and a lion, which some say is a reminder of the eternal battle between good and evil. Others believe it was meant to ward off malevolent spirits.

Looking for travel inspiration beyond the capital? Read our blog 5 Reasons Norway Needs To Be On Your Travel Bucket List when you have finished here.


Admire the Medieval Gol Stave Church

Venture into the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum) on Bygdøy Peninsula to encounter the magnificent Gol Stave Church. This remarkable wooden church, originally built in the 12th century in the town of Gol, was moved and reconstructed in Oslo to preserve its unique architectural heritage.

Stave churches are an integral part of Norway’s cultural and architectural history, characterized by their intricate woodwork and towering, dragon-headed gables. The Gol Stave Church is a stunning example of this medieval craftsmanship, featuring elaborate carvings and a serene, otherworldly ambiance. Exploring its interiors feels like stepping back in time, offering a profound connection to Norway’s past that few tourists experience.

We know how much peace of mind comes with expert tips and insights, so we think you will appreciate reading our blog Five Things To Know Before You Go To Norway as you continue to plan your Scandinavian adventure.


Spark Inspiration at the Nobel Peace Center

While the Nobel Peace Center is centrally located, it’s often overshadowed by other attractions. As such, it’s a relatively quiet spot to explore, especially if you avoid the early afternoon hours. This museum and exhibition space celebrates the history and achievements of the Nobel Peace Prize and its laureates. It’s a place where inspiration and education come together to promote the ideals of peace and dialogue.

The interactive exhibitions and multimedia displays provide a deep dive into the lives and works of those who have been awarded this prestigious prize. From Martin Luther King Jr. to Malala Yousafzai, the stories here are powerful reminders of the impact individuals can have on the world.

Our Norway Luxe Summer tour kicks off with three days in the Oslo region, offering plenty of free time to visit the Nobel Peace Center and other highlights on this list.

Immerse Yourself in Art at Vigeland Sculpture Park

While Vigeland Sculpture Park, part of Frognerparken, is one of Oslo’s most famous parks, it offers such a unique experience that it’s worth mentioning for those seeking a deeper connection with the city’s art scene. The park is also open 24 hours a day, so you can always find a quiet time to visit!

This sprawling space is home to over 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, one of Norway’s most renowned artists. Each sculpture tells a story, capturing the breadth of human experience in a range of emotions and situations. The centerpiece, the Monolith, is an awe-inspiring column carved from a single block of granite, featuring 121 intertwined human figures.

As you wander through the park, you’ll discover scenes of birth, death, joy, sorrow, and everything in between, providing a profound and moving artistic journey.

The park’s layout, with its beautiful gardens and walking paths, offers a serene environment to appreciate Vigeland’s work. It’s a place where art and nature seamlessly blend, inviting you to slow down and absorb the creative energy.

Our Norway Luxe Winter tour includes a trip to Vigeland Sculpture Park on a walking tour led by a local guide.

Explore Oslo on Our Norway Luxury Tours!

Now you know some of the best non-touristy things to do in Oslo, it’s time to start planning your vacation! Browse our Norway private tours and Norway small-group tours, most of which visit the capital city. The only exception is our Stories of Norway tour. But if this adventure appeals to you and you don’t want to miss Oslo, we can work with you to include some time in the city before or after the scheduled itinerary. Simply get in touch with our US-based team and let’s talk over your options!

Do you want to explore numerous Nordic countries in a single trip? Check out our multi-country luxury Scandinavia tour packages, all of which visit the beautiful country of Norway.

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