10 Things To Do With Kids In Oslo

Introduction: Oslo In Winter
Review: United “Polaris” Business Class 787 Houston To Frankfurt
Review: Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt Airport Terminal A
Review: Lufthansa A321 Business Class Frankfurt To Oslo
Review: Park Inn By Radisson Oslo Airport
Review: SAS Museum Oslo Airport
Review: Clarion Collection Hotel Folketeateret Oslo
How To Sled Oslo’s Korketrekkeren Like A Boss
Review: Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion Oslo
Top 10 Things To Do With Kids In Oslo
Review: Radisson Blu Oslo Airport
Review: SAS Lounge Oslo Airport
Review: SAS Plus Oslo To London Heathrow On A 737
Review: United Club London Heathrow
Review: United Polaris Lounge Chicago


Like the rest of Scandinavia, Oslo is an incredibly kid-friendly place which made it pretty easy for us to get out and explore with our three kids aged 5, 4, and 1.

This is a culture of bundling the kids up and taking them out, regardless of the cold weather. The compact nature of the central area makes for good walking, and features like two-track ramps help make even steps accessible to strollers.

Oslo0002
My wife navigating the icy stroller ramp like a pro

We’re an outdoorsy family so we packed our cold-weather gear so that we could get out and explore during the Norwegian winter.

It turned out to not be quite as wintry as maybe I was hoping for, but it did snow a little, making the city beautiful. Otherwise, the high temperature were mostly in the 30s F, not all that different than home.

Oslo0001
Oslo in the snow

The big difference is the lack of sunlight. The sun was rising at about 9:15 AM and setting at 3:30 PM during our stay. That meant that if we slept in — which jet-lag kind of makes you want to do — we could lose half our daylight. But the Norwegians are obviously used to it and don’t even seem to notice when the sun goes down, so there’s still plenty to do.

At any rate, below are the top ten things we did with the kids in Oslo.

Oslo Opera House

Since we were staying in Oslo’s old opera house — now the Clarion Collection Hotel Folketeateret– we figured we should take the short walk over to the new Oslo Opera House which opened in 2008.

OsloOperaHouse4
Oslo Opera House

As with the Sydney opera house which we visited last year, the Oslo Opera House is an attraction in itself, even if you never go inside. The design of the building is such that you can walk up the sloped roof all the way to the top, and it’s quite a popular thing to do. Even in the winter. When the roof could double as a bobsled run.

OsloOperaHouse5
Walking on the roof at the Oslo Opera House

Seriously, I’m a bit of a mountaineer — or at least I once was — and even I was getting a little sketched out at the slippery conditions. In fact, I kept thinking about how there is no way we’d be allowed to climb up something like this back in the states. Liability! Somebody could get sued!

There is but a brief sign at the bottom advising of icy conditions ahead. Otherwise, you are free to head on up. A few people were even brave enough to walk down the middle of the slab without a handrail. I think they must have had diamonds on the soles of their shoes or something.

OsloOperaHouse3
Walking on the roof at the Oslo Opera House

We didn’t go inside, and in fact, I’m not sure it was even open as I didn’t see anyone near the doors. All of the activity is around the sloping roof. It’s free.

The Fram Museum and The Norwegian Maritime Museum

The Fram Museum and the Norwegian Maritime Museum do a great job of chronicling the Norway’s seafaring history. These museums are located next to each other on the Bygdøy peninsula which makes them convenient to see together. There is even a combo ticket that includes admission to both.

That said, if you have to choose, I would definitely do the Fram. After all, it is the best museum in Norway…

FramMuseum1
The Fram Museum

The Fram Museum chronicles polar exploration, and particularly Norway’s influential role in it. The museum is figuratively and literally built around the Fram, arguably the greatest wooden polar exploration ship in history. Multiple Norwegian explorers sailed it, most notably Roald Amundsen when he was the first to reach the South Pole.

I’ve always been fascinated by polar exploration and have read multiple books about Ernest Shackleton’s exploits. Needless to say, I was very interested in visiting the museum. We rode the bus over from the hotel, which, since it was a weekend, meant the kids rode free. The bus ride through the Bygdøy peninsula of Oslo was really pretty. During the summer, there is also a ferry that will take you over from the city center.

The museum itself is very well done and is jam-packed with exhibits. The vast majority of it is in English, although there are often multiple language options available. It wasn’t all that busy for a Sunday afternoon, but not empty either.

FramMuseumOslo
The Fram

The highlight of course is the Fram, and the kids loved exploring it. I was a little nervous about the kids bouncing around on such a historic vessel, but I guess it survived multiple trips through the ice, so it had seen worse.

Travis on the Fram
Travis on the Fram

We didn’t have a lot of time left in the day and our kids were tired, but since we had purchased a combo ticket, we headed next door to the Norwegian Maritime Museum.

The highlight for our kids was the remote control boats on the lower level. I enjoyed my first virtual reality experience on a Norwegian search and rescue ship.

Norway Maritime Museum remote control boats
Norwegian Maritime Museum remote control boats

Ice Skating

I have only ice skated a few times in my life, and those were thirty years ago. But skating on a frozen public fountain in downtown Oslo seemed like a quintessential Norwegian activity so we headed over to Spikersuppa after dinner one evening to check it out.

Spikersuppa is basically a frozen over public fountain located next to the National Theater and Parliament that is transformed into a free public skating rink from November to March. It’s open every day from 11 AM to 9 PM, except for a brief period around 3 PM when the ice is resurfaced. The best part is that it’s free.

Oslo0007
Spikersuppa skating rink

It was a nice 20 minute walk from our hotel down Karl Johans Gate, which is the main drag of Oslo.

The sun was setting by 4PM during our stay, so of course it was long since dark when we arrived a little after 7PM. But the rink and the surrounding area is lit up and really beautiful. There were a good number of people skating, but it wasn’t overly crowded. The ice seemed kind of rough, though I’m not really an expert on these things.

We rented skates from the hut — 100 krone each — and headed out.

Oslo0008
Spikersuppa skating rink

Actually, my wife and I shared a set of skates — not at the same time — such that one of us could corral the 1-year old while the other worked with our 5- and 4-year old, neither of whom have skated much. Yes, that meant I jammed my feet into skates that were about one-size too small when it was my turn.

My daughter, the 4-year old, seems to be more athletic at this age — she does gymnastics — and was quickly walking around the ice. My son on the other hand, wasn’t very happy that they didn’t have the skate trainers like he had used at our local rec center. My wife ended up taking both of the boys back to the hotel early, leaving me to have a nice Daddy-Daughter skate date with my little girl.

Akershus Fortress

We had a nice walk from the Opera House over to Akershus Fortress which is a fun place to wander around and explore for a bit. Apparently there are guided tours in the summer, but given that we were there in the winter, not much was going on aside from a couple of guards in front of the castle and some cannons to see.

akershus fortress cannon
Akershus Fortress Cannon

Still, the views of the city and waterfront are good and it’s free. Otherwise, it wasn’t exactly as impressive as I might have expected.

akershus fortress view
Akershus Fortress view

The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and Norway’s Resistance Museum are also located here. We did not tour the former, but did take a walk through the latter.

While admission to Akershus Fortress is free, admission to the Resistance Museum was 60kr per adult. Our kids were young enough to still get in for free, although exact ages for that privilege aren’t published. The museum takes you on a one-way winding path through the exhibit rooms set up in a chronological summary of Norway’s contribution to resistance against the Nazi regime in World War II. Having recently visited Corregidor Island in the Philippines, a critical location in the Pacific theater, our five-year-old was particularly curious about what went on in this part of the world during the same time frame.

The museum featured artifacts and dioramas that were interesting for the kids and adults alike. Looking at the building from the outside, you might not think there’s much in there, but the exhibits go down into lower levels of the building.

Mathallen Food Court

Some of our activities are planned, but many times we find the most interesting things just by wandering around. This was one of them. We had been walking around on the one snowy night of our trip, looking for a cafe to get a hot drink. We ended up at Mathallen, which was perfect.

Opened in 2012, Mathallen Food Court is a collection of local vendors in what is a restored iron working facility. So it has a cool industrial feel, and some of the old pulleys and hoists are still hanging from the rafters.

Mathallen 2
Mathallen Food Court

The kids enjoyed looking at the many vendors selling everything from fruits and vegetables to whale steaks.

Mathallen1
Mathallen Food Court

Mathallen 3
Mathallen Food Court

Holmenkollen Ski Museum, Tower, and Arena

Holmenkollen is a stop on the #1 metro line, partway between Midstuen and Frognerseteren on the Korketrekkeren sledding run. This makes it a good place to stop to take a break from your athletic sledding.

Holmenkollen ski jump
Holmenkollen ski jump

The ski museum is a bit of a hike up from the Holmenkollen metro station. It’s not terribly far, but it is up a rather steep hill. You are essentially hiking almost to the top of the ski jump. If you have a car, there is a large parking lot right at the museum entrance. There’s also a ski lift that looks like it serves the jump, but which wasn’t running when we were there.

holmenkollen ski jump lift
Holmenkollen ski jump lift

There has been a ski jump located at Holmenkollen since the late 1800s, from a small kick at the bottom of a hillside to the 1952 Olympic jump to the present day jump that was built for the 1982 World Championships. Near the top of the jump, you’ll find the Ski Museum, which is the world’s oldest of its kind.

Admission to the Ski Museum costs 130 NOK for adults and 65 NOK for big kids (age 6-18). Our under-6 kids were free.

The first floor of the museum discusses the history of skiing as a means of transportation for hunting and exploration. There are displays of the skis used by the explorers on the Fram Arctic expeditions, complete with a model of the Fram frozen into the ice. My son really enjoyed this, having just been to the Fram Museum and having walked on the actual ship deck.

holmenkollen ski museum
Holmenkollen Ski Museum Fram display

The second floor of the museum displays information about the history of ski jumping and other competition as well as the history of the Holmenkollen jump itself. From there, you can take an elevator up to the top of the ski jump and peek over the edge.

The elevator itself is a cool ride — it moves slant-ways up the jump slope. Once you are at the top you can get a feel for the butterflies a jumper must experience. I felt like Eddie the Eagle peering over the edge.

holmenkollen ski jump view
Holmenkollen ski jump view

The museum also features a ski jump simulator. Unfortunately, it was closed for upgrading while we were there, so we did not get to try it out.

Holmenkollen ski simulator
Holmenkollen ski simulator

On the day we were there, the National Ski Arena was hosting a cross country ski event, so we stopped to watch the skiers going around and listened to the pops of the biathlon rifles.

holmenkollen ski arena
Holmenkollen ski arena

Viking Ship Museum

As the name implies, The Viking Ship Museum houses the remains of three Viking ships, two of which are very well preserved and restored.

Viking Ship Museum
Viking Ship Museum

There are a few other artifacts from the Viking era, but mostly you come here to see the boats — though our son was also very into the broad axes that the Vikings developed.

Viking Ship Museum Artifacts
Viking Ship Museum artifacts

I don’t think we spent more than an hour here but given its location on the Bygdøy peninsula — Oslo’s museum row — it’s easy to combine with a visit to another museum.

Tickets to the Viking Ship Museum also include entry to the Museum of Culture History within 48 hours, though we didn’t have time for that.

VikingShipMuseum
Travis and his family at the Viking Ship Museum

Folkemuseum

The open air Folkemuseum is an awesome collection of buildings that have been transported from all over Norway and reconstructed in representative settlements. They cover a lot of different eras and really give you a glimpse of what this amazing land at the top of the world was once like.

The snow was gently falling during our visit which made the grounds really pretty. It also meant that we mostly had the run of the place, and that’s a big reason why we travel in the off-season.

FolkeMuseum
Folkemuseum

The highlight of the museum is probably the Stave Church that dates from about 1200.

FolkeMuseum2
Stave Church at the Folkemuseum

You can’t go inside and it’s dimly lit, but with a little luck, you can capture the artistry.

FolkeMuseumStaveChurchInside
Stave Church at the Folkemuseum

We combined a visit to the Folkemusuem with a trip to the Viking Ship Museum and that seemed to work pretty well as they are located next to each other.

We probably spent a few hours here wandering around, poking into buildings, and chatting with the staff who are dressed in period attire. There are also some indoor traditional museum-type buildings that can give you a break from the weather.

Sledding at Frognerseteren

No visit to Oslo during the winter would be complete without some sledding action and arguably the best place to do is at Korketrekkeren, the city operated sledding course which literally translates to corkscrew.

The sledding run itself is free so you just need to rent a sled and buy a metro ticket which will not only get you there, but will also serve as your ski lift. Just be careful as this is a high speed sledding run. We decided that our 5- and 4-year old were not yet capable of riding by themselves, so my wife and I took turns riding with a kid between our legs.

It was a ton of fun.

SleddingKorketrekkerenOslo0006
Sledding at Korketrekkeren

SAS Museum

Located adjacent to the Oslo airport, the SAS Museum houses an amazing collection of memorabilia from SAS Airlines history. Our kids fly a lot and naturally enjoyed the model airplanes and the flight simulator. Since it’s located adjacent to the airport, the SAS Museum would be best combined with a long layover or before or after a flight.

SASMuseumOsloAirport0015
Scandinavian 747 at the SAS Museum

What other great kid activities around Oslo did I miss?

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. The current Ski Jump was actually built for the 2011 Ski World Championship 🙂 Looks like you got to do a lot of great things, but I miss the Vigeland Sculpture Park from your list. However it is a lot better in summer. If you return in summer, island hopping in the Oslo Fjord is a must do!

  2. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Other than the sledding and the ski jump (and chasing the northern lights), I can’t justify a trip to Oslo in the wintertime if these are the best activities for kids. Would rather go in the summer, even if it means costs are higher.

    Did you go skiing at all?

  3. Frogner Park also has a large sculpture installation by Gustav Vigeland, a series of cartoon-like stone figures which portray the human condition. They appeal to all ages. From photos I thought they’d be impossibly kitcsch, but I found them very moving. It’s a must see in my book.

  4. Visiting the Royal Palace. While tours may not have been available during your visit (season openings), they have a changing of the guard…which begin their journey at the Army barracks at Akershus Fortress walking up to the Palace. Very low key compared to Copenhagen.

  5. Great review of things to do. Loved the pictures. Would be especially interested in checking out the Fram Museum. Fridtjof Nansen wrote an incredible book called ‘Farthest North’ about his rough adventures in the Fram, trying to work with nature instead of against it. Still awaiting your review from your childhood trip to Chisasibi. I finally went myself recently. 🙂

  6. Jim Napier — You have an incredibly good memory — I forgot I mentioned that trip on OMAAT! But yeah, I’ll try to write something about it at some point. It might be a while though, haha. I’ll definitely be interested to hear about your trip though. Such an interesting place.

  7. I really enjoyed reading this. We haven’t been to Oslo (yet) but we travel often with our kids and European cities are among our favourite destinations: I love the abundance of museums and cultural sites. The folkemuseum reminds me a little of a similar one in Stockholm, so I know my kids would love it. I better not mention the flight simulator to them or that might steal the show (they are 5 and 6, so anything ‘transport’ is a great hit!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *