This post is all about Oslo vacation ideas for families, including how to get to Oslo, where to stay, where to eat, and things to do. Maybe we are just becoming city people (unlikely) but we loved Oslo. There are tons of great family activities, it’s easy to get around, and it’s cheap and easy to get to.
We’ll give you some tips to stay on budget for your Oslo family vacation. It is an expensive city once you’re there. But if Norwegian Airlines keeps offering cheap flights to Oslo, the overall cost is manageable.
Oslo Vacation Ideas for Families
We did not immediately think of Oslo when we were considering a Europe family vacation. But when looking at flights we found that flying through Oslo was the cheapest way to get to Germany, where we were heading for a wedding.
We decided to stay a few days and we’re so glad we did. Here’s our carefully curated advice for Oslo vacation ideas for families.
How to Get to Oslo
We found it really easy and cheap to get to Oslo. Total cost for flights from Boston to Oslo was $122. Yes, that’s a $122 transatlantic flight from Boston to Oslo.
Add in about $70 in round trip fare on the Flytoget high speed train from Oslo airport to city center and total total transport cost to/from the city from Boston was $224 per person. Not bad.
Fly to Oslo on Norwegian Airlines
Kat is becoming a low fare ninja and scored us those $122 flights from Boston to Oslo on Norwegian Airlines.
Norwegian is a relatively new low cost carrier and the route to Boston just opened up (Editor’s note: this was written originally in April 2016). They fly to several other US cities as well, on both coasts.
Similar to Spirit air in the US, everything is an extra. Your fare is literally just your seat and one small and light carry on luggage.
Heavy carry on? Checked bag? Food? Seat assignment? All extra.
Even water on board is extra.
We planned ahead and kept our carry on bags light (less than 10kg each, about 22 lbs). We also packed snacks and water (after security) so we wouldn’t be tempted by the high on board food prices.
All the Norwegian planes are new, including fancy 787 “Dreamliners” on the transatlantic routes. The 787 is really cool and pretty comfy as far as cramped flying tin cans go. It has fun lighting that’s constantly adjusting with various colors, and electrochromic windows that you can adjust the tint electronically (instead of the old school plastic shade). There is also personal media centers which helped to keep the minis entertained.
Getting from the Oslo Airport to the City
There’s a new looking, comfortable high speed rail link between the Oslo airport and the city center called Flytoget. One way fares are about $17 and kids are free with a paying adult.
The Flytoget train goes to both Oslo Central Station and Nationaltheatret (not all trains) every 10 minutes. The trip takes about 20 minutes.
Getting Around Oslo – Ruter#
Oslo has a pretty well developed and comprehensive public transit system called Ruter (you’ll see the Ruter# signs all over the city). There are subway trains, surface trams, buses, and boats.
Figuring out the tram and bus systems can take a little effort but it is worthwhile. We got off at wrong stops and missed stops several times, but overall were very happy to save some steps and keep warm.
Our best advice is to ask locals if you’re not sure about the route to a certain destination. People at the stops and the drivers themselves were all friendly and happy to help us out-of-towners figure out the network.
Don’t rely on apps with offline directions like Here Maps, as we found the directions often led us astray. Perhaps Google Maps would be better, but we did not have a data plan in Oslo and did not pre-download the Google maps.
Buy your ticket ahead at a 7-11 store or Ruter station rather than on the trams to save some money. Also, if you plan more than 3 trips in a day get an all day pass. Also helps for when you get off at the wrong stop!
The Oslo Pass includes unlimited Ruter so take advantage of that if you get an Oslo Pass (which we definitely recommend – see our post about things to do in Oslo with kids for more info).
Where to Stay in Oslo
We lucked out with our stay at Saga Hotel Central, quite literally. We actually thought we booked a totally different hotel, but realized some time before we arrived that our booking was with Saga Hotel Central instead (language confusion and similar looking websites threw us off).
We’re glad we ended up at Saga, though, because it’s got an awesome location right in the center of downtown and we scored a super rate (about $70 per night for a quad room). You may not be able to duplicate the rate, as we heard from the front desk that our low rate was due to a computer glitch charging per room versus the normal per person (woohoo!), but the location is still phenomenal.
Saga Hotel is referred to as a “poshtel” – a posh hostel. That’s pretty accurate, as the sharply appointed lobby belies the spartan but clean and totally functional rooms. It was quiet and the staff were great.
Best of all, there is a huge delicious breakfast included with the room rate. Eat up at the free breakfast, or you’ll wish you had when you see the prices at restaurants around the city!
Things to Do in Oslo
Check our our whole post about things to do in Oslo, geared specifically towards families and kids activities.
Where to Eat in Oslo
We also have a whole post about places to eat in Oslo, again aimed at families.
Oslo Family Vacation Summary
We loved our Oslo family vacation. The city way totally manageable for our family of 4+ (mom, dad, 2 four-year olds, and baby-on-board).
Have you been to Oslo? Let us know your own Oslo vacation ideas!