Oslo has become a hot travel destination. There is a lot to discover and enjoy in this Nordic city, and you only need to become familiar with the best places to stay in Oslo to make your Norwegian vacation an unforgettable experience.
Norway has experienced an economic boom that is clearly evident to tourists after they visit a few neighborhoods in Oslo.
Oslo is a large urban center that is home to just over a million residents. When deciding where to stay in Oslo, you will not have to worry about renting a car or even finding a taxi; in recent years, city planners have redesigned Oslo to be accessible on foot, bicycle or by means of public transportation.
Some of the best places to stay in Oslo are near transportation hubs that can take you to the main fjord to the southwest and the mountainous forests to the north.
Where to stay in Oslo: Best areas to stay in Oslo
There are plenty of nice areas to stay in Oslo; you just have to decide which one fits your budget and travel goals.
There is also a strong chance that you may have heard about Oslo as being an expensive city; while this may be the case when compared to other European travel destinations, this should not dissuade you from exploring where to stay in Oslo.
Norwegian tourism operators know that fleecing visitors with exorbitant hotel rates is not good for business; for this reason, you are bound to find reasonable accommodations in the best places to stay in Oslo.
As for shopping, dining and getting around, you may get a bit of sticker shock at some places, but this has not stopped backpackers from making Oslo a city in the global backpacker circuit.
With all the above in mind, here are some recommendations to help you decide where to stay in Oslo:
1. Sentrum – Downtown and City Center
Downtown Oslo is the part of the city that sits along the main fjord; it is a waterfront section that starts at the Filipstadkaia, the main railway station, and cuts across the waterfront all the way east to the Operahuset, an impressive feat of architecture that looks like a cross between an old steamship and the tip of an iceberg.
The main seaport and various ferry terminals can be found to the south; the north boundary is defined by the Royal Palace where King Harald V lives.
The Sentrum borough of Oslo is also where the historic Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament, is located, which explains the high concentration of upscale hotels where diplomats and business visitors stay. In a district that only occupies a few square kilometers, more than 100 hotels can be found.
If you are a stylish traveler looking for the best Oslo has to offer, you will want to stay in the Sentrum, particularly at the hotels near the Stortinget. The elegant Nordic design is clearly evident in many of its downtown hotels, and you can choose from the historic to the ultra-modern and from boutique accommodations to long-term apartment rentals located in luxurious condominium towers.
For the most part, Oslo is a low-rise city, but some of the most upscale international hotel chains have built high-rise towers so that guests can get a nice view of the fjord.
Hoteliers in Oslo know that many foreign visitors spend more than what they are used to; for this reason, they are known to go out of their way to provide luxuriant experiences.
When you stay at a high-end downtown Oslo hotel, you can expect perks such as free access to the spa, gourmet breakfasts complete with delicious krumkake (Norwegian waffles) platters, speedy and secure Wi-Fi service, complimentary cocktails at swanky bars, and more.
Long-term apartment rentals in the Sentrum borough can also be quite pricey because virtually all properties in this district are spectacular. While some of the apartment buildings have a historic look, the units themselves are ultra-modern, convenient and stylish.
There are a couple of hostels in the Sentrum, but they are nothing like the backpacker lodges found in other European capitals; being a sophisticated city, you will find the Sentrum hostels quite stylish and reminiscent of an Ikea showroom, but you should know that you will be expected to pay extra for linen.
Since Norwegian society takes pride in respecting equality, you will find lodging to be accessible for guests with disabilities.
As for amenities and attractions, the Sentrum is one of the best areas to stay in Oslo. If you stay a few blocks away from Karl Johans gate, you will have walking access to everything you need; this is a trendy district filled with cafes, bars, pubs, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and dance clubs.
If you enjoy architecture, open-air sculptures and street art, you will certainly enjoy walking around Downtown Oslo.
2. Aker Brygge
This vibrant waterfront district, which can be found within the Sentrum borough, is a slightly more affordable option for travelers seeking traditional hotel accommodations in Oslo.
This is where you can find boutique hotels as well as major international chains, and they tend to be located closer to the waterfront than those in the Sentrum area.
Quite a few long-term apartments can be found in modern high-rise buildings with sweeping views of the fjord, but they can be a little pricier than at the nearby Sentrum. As of 2019, there were no hostels in this district, just a few modest hotels.
The best part about staying in Aker Brygge is the great concentration of seafood restaurants in this district; you have to remember that Norway is one of the world’s largest exporters of seafood, which means that you are guaranteed a fresh catch when you dine at Aker Brygge.
This part of Oslo is more cosmopolitan, thus allowing you to enjoy boutiques and ethnic cafes. Two attractions you cannot miss while staying here include the Astrup Fearnley Museum and the majestic Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park.
Located to the northeast of Downtown Oslo, Grunerlokka is a residential borough that offers family-friendly tourism and far more affordable accommodations. If you are looking to explore the more traditional neighborhoods in Oslo, this is a great place to start.
Grunerlokka is a former industrial district that has only recently discovered tourism; the strategy thus far consists of providing quality lodging and amenities at prices that foreign travelers will appreciate when compared to other parts of Oslo.
This used to be a large working-class district of very modest tenements, many of which have been thoroughly renovated and converted into long-term apartments, hotels and hostels.
The tourism attractions in Grunerlokka are more spaced out than in downtown Oslo, but they are all worth visiting because many of them reflect the more down-to-earth sensibilities of Norwegian society.
The Munch Museum is a fantastic place to visit; it is located in the Sofienberg neighborhood, right in between the immaculate botanical gardens kept by the University of Oslo. Between the Munch Museum and the gardens, you can spend a full day of exploration.
The city parks on the eastern side of the Akerselva River are impressive, and many are located right next outside the Grunerlokka. Miles of hiking trails are waiting for active travelers, and some of them connect to the Sentrum. Even without waterfront views, Grunerlokka is one of the best areas to stay in Oslo
The Frogner borough of Oslo is located northwest of Sentrum. This is where business travelers and visitors considering moving to Norway like to stay. The few hotels in this district cater to business travelers, but they tend to be reasonable in terms of pricing, the only problem is that they book very quickly.
Three-star hotels along the Bygdoy boulevard are affordable and conveniently located near neighborhood restaurants and cafes. In recent years, a few large homes have been converted into long-term apartments, and they offer a more traditional lodging experience.
All visitors in Oslo marvel at the sheer concentration of city parks and their pristine year-round appearance. Frogner Park is one of the most majestic city parks in Europe; it may not rival New York City’s Central Park in terms of surface area, but it is extremely aesthetic and spotless.
Norway is known for its strict taxation system, but it is clear to see that a significant portion of revenue goes into maintaining beautiful spaces such as Frogner Park, where you can not only enjoy hiking but also sculptures, ice skating, football matches, outdoor concerts, art galleries, museums, and more.
The west side of Oslo is where you will find Majorstuen, an affluent borough just north of the Royal Palace. The nicest section of Frogner Park is accessible through Majorstuen, and it is a very chic residential and shopping district. If modern luxury will determine your decision of where to stay in Oslo, Majorstuen is highly recommended.
There are not many hotels here, just a few established chains and a couple of luxury long-term apartments. Majorstuen is not really recommended for backpackers unless they can get a good deal on a long-term apartment during the winter months.
If you are looking for a nice taste of jet-setting nightlife in Oslo, the Hegdehaugsveien and Solli Plass districts will certainly deliver. The boutiques, pubs, fine-dining restaurants, and dance clubs are on par with what you can expect from a cosmopolitan capital, and you could easily max out your credit card here.
If you are traveling as a family, Majorstuen is probably one of the quietest areas of Oslo, and it is home to the International Museum of Children’s Art.
6. St. Hanshaugen
Located northeast of the Sentrum borough, St. Hanshaugen is a residential district located on a hill overlooking the city and the fjord. With only a couple of hotels and long-term apartments to offer tourists, the advantage of St. Hanshaugen is being able to book a room with nice views.
The main attractions are St. Hanshaugen park, the historic Hendrix Ibsen coffee shop, and the vast Mathallen food market, home of the best gourmet offerings in Oslo.
If you are a long-term traveler who enjoys gastronomy and preparing your own meals, a nice apartment at St. Hanshaugen will make for an interesting vacation.
The east side of Oslo is where local residents who are more budget-conscious like to visit, and it is similar to Grunerlokka in the sense that visitors will find it far more affordable than the Sentrum, Aker Brygge and Frogner boroughs.
If you enjoy modern and stylish architecture, you will want to stay in Oslo at a Gamle long-term apartment, although there are not too many. Should you stay here, you will be within walking distance of the botanical gardens kept by the University of Oslo, and they are shining examples of how much character landscaping architects can add to a city.
The summer months are highly ideal for staying in Gamle because of the many festivals and cultural activities at the botanical gardens. Gamle looks and feels like a brand-new neighborhood; everything is clean, neat and orderly.
An advantage of staying in this district is that prices at the local bars and restaurants are considerably more affordable than at other parts of Oslo.