Where To Stay in Oslo, Norway - Guide of Best Areas and Hotels

Oslo, founded in 1000 AD, is a city with a long history. Most areas of the city have stunning well-preserved buildings as well as great modern architecture.

Oslo ([‘ɔzlɔu], Norwegian: [‘ɔʃlɔ]) is located between the river Oslofjord and forested hills, and its governance is dedicated to conserving these natural areas and reducing pollution. This promise has landed Oslo the title of the European Green Capital of 2019.

The city itself is quite compact, easy and safe to explore on foot, while the well thought out public transportation system makes the entire city accessible with no need of a car.

Oslo’s dining scene is alive and vibrant, known for being innovative and bold. The city has many internationally praised restaurants serving traditional Norwegian food with a fresh twist as well as world cuisine.

Coffee and cocktail culture, and live music are all big part of the city’s identity. Every summer the city hosts numerous concerts, large and small, with all genres of music.

The city has a variety of hotels on offer, all with the unmistakable Scandinavian charm. Being a quite expensive city with pricey food, in Oslo it might be more reasonable to choose rentals that offer good and rich breakfasts, rather than opt for cheaper hotels, and spend more in public eateries.

Table of Content


Part 1. A quick glance at Oslo’s recommended neighbourhoods

Sentrum – the lively downtown area with a lot on offer in terms of entertainment and culture

Frogner – the affluent neighborhood with swish restaurants, great parks and city’s best architecture

Majorstuen – a busy area for shopping and nightlife with city’s most exclusive and expensive real estate

St. Hanshaugen – a relaxed residential area with many quaint cafes and beautiful parks

Grünerløkka – a trendy and hipster area with vintage shops, fusion restaurants and coffee shops

Gamle Oslo – picturesque area with parks, ethnic restaurants and lower priced hotels


Part 2. Recommended neighbourhoods and hotels to stay in Oslo

Sentrum

Pronounced: [,sɛn’trum]

- Overview

This is Oslo’s downtown area – the lively, vibrant and stimulating heart of the city. It is rather compact and can be crossed on foot in 20 minutes, and is the home of Oslo’s central train station. It is busy and crowded as it has so much on offer both for tourists and locals. There are many shopping streets, with both chain stores and luxury brands, numerous cafes, restaurants and clubs, as well as many landmarks and cultural edifices.

Most people coming to Oslo stay in this area – it is close to pretty much everything. If you choose Sentrum, you may be constantly on the go, exploring all that it has to offer. Take a guided tour of the Royal Palace, do some people watching at an outdoor terrace, visit museums or listen to some jazz in a nightclub. The greatest portion of all of Oslo’s hotels is located here, and travelers with any budgets can find something they will like.

- Main Attractions

* Royal Palace (must see)
* Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (must see)
* Herbern Marina
* Aker Brygge
* Latter
* Nobel Peace Center
* Oslo City Hall (must see)
* Pipervika
* Christiania Torv
* Oslo Kunstforening
* Galleri Norske Grafikere
* Galleri III
* Film Museum
* Akershus Fortress (must see)
* Forsvarsmuseet
* Tukthuset
* Oslo Cathedral (must see)
* Stortorvet
* Etnografisk Museum
* National Gallery (must see)
* University of Oslo
* Galleri Aktuell Kunst/ Kunstklubben
* National Theatre
* Stortinget
* Chat Noir
* Ibsen Museum

- Recommended Walks

Discover the main tourist spots, bays and the seafront or enjoy a shopping session together with these guides:

* Sentrum Walk
* Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen Walk
* Kvadraturen Walk
* Pipervika Bay Walk
* Kvadraturen Shopping

- Pros of Staying Here

- Great for shopping retail and luxury
- Exciting nightlife areas
- Many attractions within walking distance
- Incredible views over the city and the river
- A great variety of hotels to choose from for every budget

- Cons of Staying Here

- Noisy and crowded

- Recommended Hotels

Hotel Continental (5*) - a very well located hotel welcoming you with spacious bathrooms, comfortable beds, good breakfasts and varied on-site facilities
Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Oslo (4*) - a centrally located hotel with well appointed rooms, good breakfasts, good gym and pleasant complimentary touches
Thon Hotel Opera (4*) - an up-to-date and clean hotel offering a perfect location, a proper gym, good breakfasts: ideal for business stays and events
Clarion Collection Hotel Folketeateret (4*) - a boutique style hotel featuring quirky decor and intimate lightening, good food and accommodating staff
Thon Hotel Terminus (4*) - a very well located hotel with bold and colorful rooms, yummy breakfasts and varied on-site facilities
Comfort Hotel Xpress Central Station (3*) - a conveniently located hotel featuring a modern design and accommodating balconies in some rooms
Thon Hotel Vika Atrium (4*) - an up-to-date hotel with neat rooms, great breakfasts, comfy beds and modern on-site facilities, good for a business trip and family stay
Citybox Oslo (3*) - a minimalist yet elegant hotel with clean rooms, modern bathrooms, well suitable for a family stay

Other hotels worth mentioning: Hotel Bristol (4*), The Thief (5*), Hotel Christiania Teater (4*), Comfort Hotel Karl Johan (3*), Scandic Byporten (3*), Grand Hotel (5*), Thon Hotel Panorama (3*), ark Inn by Radisson Oslo (3*)


Frogner

Pronounced: [‘frɔŋ,nɛr]

- Overview

This is the posh part of town, showcasing old Oslo at its best. It is home to expensive real estate, foreign embassies and upscale restaurants. Its streets are wide and impressive, while the architecture is well restored. This area is most sought after by expats, businessmen and diplomats, so the vibe here is cultural, refined and warm. If you decide to make Frogner your base during your visit to Oslo, you will experience the sophisticated Scandinavian charm. You can have a picnic in the beautiful parks of Frogner, hunt for treasures in the many antique shops or enjoy the peak of modern cuisine in some of Oslo’s best restaurants. Price wise, hotels, as well as everything else, are in the upper and mid-range.

- Main Attractions

* Norwegian Nobel Committee
* Vigeland Museum (must see)
* Artgate
* Frogner Church
* American Lutheran Church

- Recommended Walks

Find the most interesting attractions and sites in this neighbourhood using this self-guided tour:

* Frogner Walk

- Pros of Staying Here

- City’s most beautiful parks are here
- Trendy and high quality restaurants and wine bars
- Great for high-end, antique and interior design shopping
- Stylish upmarket hotels

- Cons of Staying Here

- Everything comes at premium prices
- Few rentals

- Recommended Hotels

Clarion Collection Hotel Gabelshus (4*) - a swanky hotel offering well-appointed rooms, nice bathrooms, good food, a gym and a relaxing small terrace
Scandic Solli (3*) - an elegant economy hotel with spacious and clean rooms and a small gym with sauna: good for a family stay
Oslo Guldsmeden (4*) - an eco-friendly hotel with a cozy atmosphere, individual and comfortable rooms, varied on-site facilities: good for a family stay


Majorstuen

Pronounced: [‘mʌɪəʃtuən]

- Overview

Majorstuen is one of the most popular areas in the city. A large shopping area attracts many people - however it has a more upscale feel compared to the one found in Sentrum. Overall the vibe here is quite upmarket – it also has some of the highest prices for real estate in the city. And indeed here you can admire some of the most majestic apartment buildings and the area itself is very close to the center. In fact, it is a public transport hub, much like Sentrum – all metro lines, and many tram and bus lines cross Majorstuen.

Spending time in this area is a delight – you can enjoy a stroll in the charming Royal Castle gardens or explore the Saturday vintage market, relax at a cozy café or unwind at one of the great nightclubs. All in all, there is something for everyone and despite being mostly busy, there are some quieter streets. Price wise, there are equally as many upper, mid and lower range hotels to choose from.

- Main Attractions

* Albin Upp Gallery & Art Cafe
* Nor Moske
* The Frogner Park (must see)
* Oslo City Museum
* Vigeland Sculpture Park (must see)

- Pros of Staying Here

- Beautiful architecture
- The city’s beloved vintage market is here
- Royal Castle garden
- Transportation hub keeps you well connected to the rest of the city
- A lot to choose from in terms of nightlife and dining
- Hotels in various price ranges – something for every wallet

- Cons of Staying Here

- Busy

- Recommended Hotels

Camillas Hus - a laid-back rental in a lovely quiet location with clean rooms and comfy beds, and wonderful host: great for a romantic stay
Saga Hotel Oslo (4*) - a homey hotel with elegant and cozy rooms, comfortable beds, and a good location in a residential area
Ellingsens Pensjonat - a neat modern rental suiting all basic needs, with a quiet location, friendly staff ensuring an overall pleasant stay

Other hotels worth mentioning: Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Oslo (4*), Scandic Holberg (4*), Thon Hotel Slottsparken (4*), Thon Hotel Gyldenløve (3*), Cochs Pensjonat (2*)


St. Hanshaugen

Pronounced: [,sʌnt , hʌns’haɪən]

- Overview

This is a residential area with a pleasant mix of old and new buildings. It is a mostly quiet and relaxed neighborhood, where you will find many locals relaxing in quaint cafes and trendy restaurants. St. Hanshaugen also offers great views of the city and amazing parks which are residents’ favorite spots for spending the weekend. The College of Oslo is located in this area, and around it you can find a more bustling atmosphere, with more coffee shops and nightlife hang out spots.

This neighborhood could be great for families with children and for anyone who enjoys a more relaxed vacation and prefers to reduce time spent in crowds of tourists. You can spend your days wondering the streets of St. Hanshaugen admiring its charming architecture and vintage wood houses, and unwind and breathe in the Scandinavian flora in a beautifully landscaped park. There are but a couple of hotels in the area, which are averagely priced.

- Main Attractions

* St. Olav's Roman Catholic Cathedral
* Bergstien Synagogue
* St. Hanshaugen Park

- Pros of Staying Here

- Quiet and relaxed – great for families
- Residential area allows you to live like a local
- Beautiful and lush parks

- Cons of Staying Here

- Very few hotels

- Recommended Hotels

Scandic St. Olavs Plass (3*) - a very welcoming hotel with tastefully decorated comfortable rooms, good gym, helpful staff and gorgeous breakfasts: perfect for a family stay
Thon Hotel Munch (3*) - a very clean hotel with small, cozy and accommodating rooms, friendly staff, amazing breakfasts and treats, good value for the money and a great rental for solo travelers


Grünerløkka

Pronounced: [‘grɪu:nɔlɔkʌ]

- Overview

This neighborhood has been an industrial area before, but starting from the 1980s it has begun its transition into what is now the coolest place in Oslo. Its tree-lined streets are filled with trendy bars, vintage stores, music shops, restaurants and hipster locals navigating all of them. The vibe here is artistic and global – during its gentrification, this area became popular with immigrants, so today there is a beautiful fusion of cultures expressed through food and shops.

There isn’t much in terms of sightseeing – as traditionally this was a working class area. However, being a rather compact city, all the main attractions are within easy reach via public transportation. If you choose this area as your home during your Oslo visit, you will experience the young and artistic Oslo, eclectic, full of color and joy of life. Most of the hotels in the area are quiet affordable, with a couple of ones on the higher end.

- Main Attractions

* Paulus Church
* Botanisk Hage og Museum
* The Natural History Museum
* Oslo Indoor Concert Hall
* Oslo Jewish Museum
* Jakob Cultural Church
* St. Edmund's Church
* Margaretakyrkan
* Trefoldighets Church
* Maria Bebudelses Orthodox Church
* Grünerløkka

- Recommended Walks

Explore Oslo’s historical and cultural heritage while following this self-guided tours:

* Grünerløkka and St. Hanshaugen Walk
* Hanshaugen Religious Walk
* Markveien Shopping

- Pros of Staying Here

- A great variety of original design shops and an open air antique market
- A good selection of restaurants
- Perfect place to observe the Oslo street fashion
- Affordable hotels

- Cons of Staying Here

- Not much in terms of sightseeing
- Can get loud during the night in some areas

- Recommended Hotels

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel (4*) - a Radisson-style hotel offering a convenient location, good service and useful on-site facilities
Thon Hotel Spectrum (3*) - a generally well located hotel with quiet rooms facing the back yard and noisy ones facing the street, comfy beds and good breakfasts
PS:hotell (4*) - a family-friendly hotel with boutique style rooms, comfortable beds and helpful staff: good value for the money

Other hotels worth mentioning: Anker Hostel, Anker Hotel (3*)


Gamle Oslo

Pronounced: [‘gʌmle ‘ɔʃlɔ]

- Overview

Gamle Oslo, which translates into Old Oslo is located to the east of the city center. This was the site where the original medieval city was first founded, and although a large part of it burned down in the 17th century, there are a few spectacular ruins which add to the charm and animate one’s imagination. Today, this is somewhat of a hidden gem – not too crowded although just as convenient as Sentrum. The streets in Gamle Oslo have a more old-fashioned Norwegian charm – making it very cozy and timeless.

There are many attractions in Gamle Oslo – a couple of world class museums, the wonderful Botanical garden as well as many fantastic restaurants. Overall this area is quite multicultural and the prices are somewhat cheaper than in other neighborhoods. All of the hotels are lower priced, making it a great option for those travelling on a budget.

- Main Attractions

* Oslo Opera House (must see)
* Asylet
* Gamlebyen Gravlund
* Oslo Manor House
* Vålerenga Kirke
* Munch Museum (must see)
* Åkebergveien Mosque

- Recommended Walks

Ease your way around this huge neighbourhood with these self-guided tours:

* Gamle Oslo Walk
* Kampen Walk
* Tøyen Sightseeing Walk

- Pros of Staying Here

- Picturesque old town with ruins and old Norwegian charm
- Great places to visit and explore
- Some of the best and cheapest Asian and Middle-Eastern food
- Virtually in the center
- Not too crowded
- Good for those travelling on a budget - all the hotels are priced on the lower end

- Cons of Staying Here

- No higher end accommodation

- Recommended Hotels

Scandic Helsfyr (4*) - an affordable 4-star hotel with a convenient location and varied on-site facilities
Guest House Centrum2 - a clean budget-friendly rental covering basic needs and offering a convenient location

Other hotels worth mentioning: Norwegian Hotel (4*)


Part 3. Getting from the airport to your hotel

Oslo is a relatively compact city. However, it gratifies its citizens with an extensive public transport system. The city is served by two airports, both of them quiet remote, so be aware that it will take you a while to get to downtown.

Oslo Airport, Gardermoen

If this is the Airport you arrive at, you have the options to take the local or express train, bus or taxi.

If you are willing to skip all the hustle and to get directly to your hotel, the easiest solution is to take a cab. Obviously, it is not the cheapest one. You should also know that it is not the fastest way to get to city center, the journey taking about 40 minutes. The Information desk where you can enquire about companies and fares as well as book a taxi are at the Arrivals Hall of the airport. Make sure you get your cab at the taxi rank, which is just outside the arrivals home. The ride to downtown might cost you about NOK 600 (~ US $73.00) between 6am - 5pm on weekdays, and about 900 NOK (~ US $97.30) on weekends and weeknights. Quite a fortune, ha?

Airport Express train, aka Flytoget, is an easy way to get from the Airport to Oslo Central Station (the city’s main railway station). Besides, trains are a lot cheaper than cabs, and are, actually, a lot faster. The journey from the Gardermoen Airport will last 19-22 minutes. All you need to do is turn to the right after you’ve passed the customs and follow the signs. Tickets can be bought via the Flytoget app, but the best ways are either buying from a ticket vending machine, or swiping your debit/credit card through the reader at the gate and tapping your destination. The ride will cost you NOK 190 (~ US $23.20). Students can get discounts for the Flytoget tickets.

Note: If you use your debit/credit card from other stations, you should swipe your card through the reader both when you arrive at the platforms and when you leave.

Bus lines FB2 and FB5 both take you from the Airport to the Hotel Scandinavia station, which is in Sentrum, bordering with Majorstuen. The two line have different routes, so you can choose depending on the neighbourhood of your choice. Prices may rise up to NOK 220 (~ US $26.80), and tickets are cheaper when bought in advance than on the bus. Student discounts may apply.

Local trains are the cheapest way to get to Oslo city center. The journey will last about 25 minutes, and cost just NOK 101 (~ US $12.30). The trains are quite comfortable providing in-seat power plugs and Wi-Fi, being a good option to choose to get to downtown. Local trains are run by NSB, and tickets can be purchased from one of the red vending machines. Student discounts do not apply.

Sandefjord Airport, Torp

This is another airport that serves Oslo. If you are travelling on a budget, it is more likely that’s where you will get, as most low-cost flights land here. In the case of Oslo, we would recommend considering the relatively high prices for transport and comparing the results against ticket prices. It might often be cheaper to get a fancier flight ticket, than fly low-cost and have to pay a lot for the bus or train to downtown. The Airport is situated 68 miles south of Oslo.

One of the options to get to Oslo city center is by NSB local train. The journey to Oslo S (Oslo Central Station) lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes, and costs NOK 281 (~ US $34.22). Student discounts may apply. You can also consider taking the bus. The Torp Express bus service will take you to the Oslo bus terminal in Gamle Oslo, right next to Sentrum. The ride will last about two hours and will cost NOK 290 (~US $35.32).

Besides the possibilities listed above, you can rent a car. There are several companies that offer these services by Torp Airport, and it might be better to choose one and book a car in advance.


Part 4. A Few Tips to Choose the Right Neighbourhood for You

Oslo is a compact city. However, even here various neighborhoods have a distinct feel and flavor. The following is meant to assist you in choosing the area of the city closest to your idea of a perfect vacation.

If you are set on sightseeing, then Sentrum, Frogner and Gamle Oslo are your best bets.

If you want to dive into the unpredictable city nightlife, go for Sentrum, Majorstuen or Grünerløkka.

Visitors preferring a slower and calmer vacation can explore the options in St. Hanshaugen and Gamle Oslo.

If you are up for Scandinavian chic shopping, go for Grünerløkka and Majorstuen.

Foodies, as well as park lovers can choose any area as all Oslo has a great variety of bold dining and stunning green spaces.