When I made the decision to move to Ireland there were many goals which I set out to achieve: personal growth, professional development and travel as much as financially possible. There were five countries in particular which were a must: Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.
Opportunities don’t knock twice in this life and I have known all along I would never be able to access the aforementioned countries so easily and cheaply in the future. I refused to return to the sunny shores of Australia with a bucket list left unfulfilled. Having scratched Iceland and Denmark off my list I recently passed the halfway point of my Scandinavian goals by visiting Norway. Needless to say Oslo did not disappoint and though it was a mere taste I am desperate to get back and hike throughout the natural beauty she is known for. But for now I have to work with the time I have.
When you land in Norway you will be struck first by the country’s clean, crisp air. As I waited for my coach to bring me into the centre of town I stood there obnoxiously breathing in the beautiful autumn bloom. I was also slightly out of whack as it was pitch black by 4pm. As an newbie when it comes to European winters, my internal body clock still cannot get used to this facet of winter life in the northern hemisphere. Now having been obsessed with the Vikings history since my Year 8 history class, landing in Norway was quite a surreal experience and even now as I look back through countless photographs and write this blog my time there stills feels like a brilliant dream.
The Quick 5
Who did you fly with?
I was very privileged to experience two airlines throughout the course of my mini break to Oslo, having departed Dublin with Ryanair and returned with Norwegian Air. Having booked roughly 6 weeks in advance my flights cost me no more than 50 euros as I avoided flying at peak times and peak season. If you’re flying to an expensive country and are on tight budget like myself than you need to take advantage of these cheap seats and be organized with your holiday planning, join mailing lists and take advantage of sales. Please keep in mind that if you are travelling with Ryanair and are not a citizen of an EU state you will not be able to board unless your visa has been stamped by the staff at check-in well before your departure time. It’s moments like that I am glad I succumbed to boredom en route to the airport and decided to read the fine print on my boarding pass for entertainment.
How did you get into Oslo?
Oslo is serviced by many airports with Gardemon aka Oslo Airport being the closest to the city centre and Rygge being used by low cost airlines like Ryanair. Firstly, for those either arriving or departing via Gardemon the most effective way into the city centre is with the Airport Express train which operates every twenty minutes and the journey to Oslo central station will take no more than 19 minutes. For those en route to Gardemon from the central station, follow the signs to where the Airport Express train departs as this is where you can simultaneously purchase your train ticket and check in for your flight. A single journey for an adult will set you back 20 euros and though there are other forms of transport like the Flybussen these routes typically take double the time.
For those flying with low cost airlines arriving at Rygge, the journey into town via coach will take an hour and will also set you back roughly 20 euros for a single journey on an adult ticket which can be purchased on board via card or cash or online. Admittedly having read some stories on Trip Advisor I was quite nervous about being stranded at Rygge but the coaches are scheduled to accommodate each arrival. Having passed through customs quickly I wasted some time at the airport and found myself missing the coach by mere seconds. Fortunately, no more than 10 minutes later another coach arrived and I was en route to Oslo city centre. If travelling from Rygge the coach will bring you to the central bus terminal sitting directly opposite the central train station which leads to Oslo’s main street of Karl Johans gate. Given this centrality, finding your booked accommodation would undoubtedly be easy from this point on by either foot or cab.
Where did you stay?
Backpacking options in Oslo are few and far between. The city is relatively small when compared to other European counterparts and notoriously pricey. Taking my budget into consideration I opted for the cheapest option I could find that was still centrally located and stumbled across the Sentrum Hostel via the only search engine I use for all my backpacking needs Hostelworld. Sentrum was perfect in terms of location. If you elect to stay here you will be close to the main thoroughfare of Karl Johans Gate, the main attractions, promenade and most importantly within 5 minutes walking distance of the central bus and train stations.
Despite it not being the most visually appealing hostel I have stayed at, because of its price and location I would definitely stay here again. The rooms were quite spacious, warm and the beds comfortable. Towels and linen are included without deposit and the wifi fast. The complex itself is very secure though the lockers in the room need improving, so be sure to bring your own locks for your luggage. Breakfast wasn’t included and the bathrooms could be cleaner, but were not the worst I have experienced. In terms of atmosphere it isn’t a party hostel or suitable for those looking to socialise. The vibe is quiet and calming and ideal for those looking for a place to relax after a busy day of exploration.
Tips, tricks and advice?
For avid photographers you might want to consider visiting Oslo during the autumn months when the daylight hours are short and the sun remains in an indecisive state. You will be blessed with the magical ‘Golden Hour’ all day making for exquisite pictures. Be sure to climb to the roof of the Olso Opera House, home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet at sunset to capture the best views of Oslo as it is coated in a sea of red, pink and orange. Honestly, I have never seen a more beautiful sunset in my life than what I experienced in Norway.
If you intend to do a fjord cruise during your stay be sure to enquire about departure times and frequency as this varies according to season. For instance those visiting Oslo in late autumn will only have two options available, either a 10.30 am departure of 1.00pm departure due to limited daylight. Oslo is a perfect blend of both modern and traditional architecture and the styles truly compliment each other in this city. If you are more interested in seeing traditional buildings, venture past the Royal palace to the exclusive neighbourhood of Frogner. This charming little area is a great place to source quality souvenirs and presents.
Lastly, be sure to download the free Visit Oslo app prior to your arrival which will arm you with a free city map and sight seeing suggestions. In addition, if you intend to make use of a lot public transportation during your stay and visit several museums and attractions, purchasing the Oslo Pass might be an economical choice. Please note that this pass is not valid on transportation to and from the airport.
Did you feel safe as a solo female traveller?
Though I am quite accustomed to travelling around by myself now I won’t lie venturing to a new city/country always makes me nervous because I am alone and a female… and unfortunately that can attract unwanted attention. With that said, I love venturing to Scandinavia because it a place where I feel incredibly safe, respected and can relax somewhat and Oslo was no different. Compared to other Scandinavian cities like Copenhagen there are some evident social issues that are clearly more visible so be weary of your belongings and surroundings particularly around the central station.