Oslo with Kids: Things to See and Do on a Family Vacation in the Capital of Norway
What are the best ways to spend time in, and the funnest places to take kids to in Oslo? Visit the deck of a real polar ship called Fram, visit the hall where the Nobel Prize is awarded, see and learn about Kon Tiki, Viking drakkars and tyrannosaurus skeletons, record a music album, take a picture next to the Royal Palace guard, go on a Fjord tour, try the ski simulator, and more ideas - in our review.
The Oslo Pass Tourist Card
It is possible to save money on the cost of visiting attractions in Oslo with the help of an Oslo Pass. Using an Oslo Pass, one is able to visit 30 different museums, swim around in outdoor pools, set off on a walking or bicycle tour, and get discounts on purchases in stores, restoraunts and other types of entertainment (such as riding the skiing simulator in Holmen Kollen). Also included in the cost of the card is transit on all types of city transport. For those Oslo Pass holders arriving by car - there is free parking in all municipal parking spaces. The time length of the cards’ validity can be for 24, 48, or 72 hours. In 2015, the cost for the Oslo Pass for adults is between 320 and 590 Norwegian kronas, for children (between 4 and 15 years of age) and for senior citizens (above 67 years old), the cost is between 160 and 295 kronas. For more info on Oslo Pass please visit its official site: http://www.visitoslo.com/en/activities-and-attractions/oslo-pass/
Entertainment for Kids in Olso
The largest park in Norway is the TyusenFryud Theme Park, which is open from May to October. Here, visitors will find 30 different roller coasters, merry-go-rounds, and other attractions, the park also features auto shows with explosions and stunts. For toddlers, there are two entertainment zones: BarnasFryd and Frydskogen. In the summer, the BadeFryd Water Park begins operation, which includes a pool, a “lazy river”, and a large water slide.
In the indoor play center Adventures Factory (Eventyr fabrikken) there is entertainment for children between the age of 1 and 12 years old. There is a soft play room open for small kids, while for older children there is a climbing wall in the form of a volcano, and a large labyrinth with lanes of obstacles, tunnels, slides, dry pools, trampolines and suspension bridges. It is possible to organize a kid’s birthday party in one of the celebrations rooms: princess, knight, pirate, or king. While the kids are busy playing, adults are offered to spend time playing pool or in the café.
The sea-themed play center Child Planet Atlantis is open in the Scandic Hotel Fornebu. In order to get to the labyrinth with the dry pool and netted bridges, kids will have to go through the entrance in the form of a shark’s jaws, and the slides with transparent portholes are covered by octopus tentacles. Directly above the recreation room, kids can climb around and ride down the semi-transparent tubes. And the café has an aquarium installed with different colored fish in it.
Located in Oslo city center is the Reptile Park (Reptilpark) with pythons, chameleons, poisonous, different-colored frogs, tiny plumed marmosets, and large spiders. On Tuesdays, the park hosts a feeding show where they feed snakes, a crocodile, iguanas, and monkeys. After the show, visitors are allowed to pet the python.
The Ekeberg Petting Zoo (Ekeberg Husdyrpark) is open every day, inhabiting the park are horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, geese, chickens, swans, and peacocks. The visitors are invited to come and feed the animals, horseback riding lessons and poney rides are also available here. The park has swings, a café, and picnic venues for visitors to enjoy.
In Oslo there are several farms that can be visited for free. At the Bogstad Estate (Bogstad Gård) farm, year round, it is possible to see cows, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, rabbits, and chickens. The farm holds family events in the summer. Living at Kampen Organic Children’s Farm are horses, miniature pigs, little donkeys, alpacas, rabbits, birds, cats, there is also a greenhouse and a little garden. At Nordre Lindeberg City Farm guests can go for a ride in a carriage or on horseback.
One of Oslo’s main attractions is the ski jump in Holmenkollenbakken. Open at the very top of it is an observation deck and situated at the base is the Skiing Museum (Skimuseet) dedicated to the 4,000-year-long history of skiing, and to the winter Olympic games that took place in Norway in 1952 and 1994. Visitors are invite to try “doing a skiing stunt” of the jump on a 3-D flight simulator.
Located in just a half an hour drive from the Oslo city center is an outdoor recreation park that used to be called Tryvann. Nowdays, there are two parks constructed on its territory – the winter Oslo Vinterpark and the summer Oslo Sommerpark. At the Olso “Winter Park” between November and April, visitors go mountain skiing and snowboarding down 18 slopes with 11 lifts. Meanwhile, in the Oslo “Summer Park”, a rope course is open between May and October with 9 courses, 150 obstacles and cable slides; its is also possible to go for a bike ride. The park features sporting goods rental locations, cafés, and picnic areas. Fore more info on mountain skiing in Norway, please see our detailed review.
In the summer, Oslo visitors can go on cruises along the Oslo Fjord. Tourist ships travel between the City Hall, the National Opera, and the Bygdoy Museum Peninsula. Each mini cruise lasts about an hour and a half. But there are longer cruises available as well. For instance, it is possible to take a ferry to one of the smaller islands, or take day cruises along the Oslo Fjord. The Oslo Tourism Information Center in the Central Train Station (Jernbanetorget 1) and the office of Båtservice Transport Company (Rådhusbrygge 3) have a lot more information and ferry ideas to share.
Attractions and Museums for Children in Oslo
In the western part of the city, on the Bygdoy Museum Peninsula (Bygdøy) it is possible to to take a walk through a pine forest or a beach with a view of the Oslo Fjord. At the peninsula, there are several attractions, which are considered to be the symbols of Oslo: the Viking Ship Museum, the Kon Tiki and Fram ships museums, the Norwegian Sea Museum, and the National Museum.
Three wooden boats from the IX-X centuries are presented at the Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset). Its main exhibits are the Oseberg, Gokstad, and the Tune drakkars, on which the Vikings set off on commercial and military expeditions and later were turned into burial ships for nobility. It is possible to examine the ships from above, from specially built balconies. To top it off, the museum presents saunas, a carriage, weapons, equipment, decorations, figures carved out of wood, and other objects from the Vikings’ daily lives.
The Kon Tiki Museum (Kon-Tiki museet) is dedicated to a famous Norwegian and his travels. Visitors get to take a look at all of the rafts that Thor Heyerdahl and his crew rode, while crossing the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. Presented at the “underwater” part of the expositions are the effigies of sharks and other types of sea animals that swam under the vessels. At the “cave” exhibition, visitors see in what conditions the traveler dwelled on the Easter Island.
Diarams of boats and ships drifting in ice are presented at the Fram Museum (Frammuseet). The exhibition is dedicated to three polar expeditions that this schooner completed. On this restored vessel, guests can stand behind the steering wheel, descend into the crew salon, take a look into the cabins, the galley, the engine room, and the holds. The museum shares photographs of the entire crew, and details of their daily lives: for instance, the daily food portions that members of the polar expedition received. There are interactive exhibits as well: visitors are invited to come try and pull a sled with the same weight that the participants of the expedition had to pull. On the ceiling above the ship, guests can see a projection of the northern lights.
The history of sea faring from the ancient times up to today is presented at the Norwegian Maritime Museum (Norsk Maritimt Museum). There are models of sea ports and old boats, as well as some wooden figures from foreships are hung on the walls. There is a model workshop station with models of sail, military, and passenger ships, and a large pool in the middle of the exhibition hall, where kids can pay coins to play with small radio-controlled ships.
At the outdoor National Folk Museum (Norsk Folkemuseum), visitors can take a walk through the alleys of the different epochs and regions of Norway. Presented in the village are peasant homes (build as far back as the 16th century) with grass growing on the roofs and a cattle yards with cows, horses, piglets and sheep. It is possible to walk inside many of the buildings and in some of them, there are even “hosts” there to greet visitors; they are artists preparing food using old recipies, sewing, or working on their crafts. At this museum, it is possible to virtually go back in time and visit a Norwegian city in the middle of the 20th century, step inside apartments furnished in the style of that time, and even visit an old-fashioned gas station.
The Oslo City Hall (Oslo rådhus) is open to visitors, where the annual presentations of the Nobel Prize are held. The walls of the large hall are decorated by wall paintings and photographs of Nobel Prize winners, and an astronomic clock is installed on the façade. Every hour the clock rings a bell, there is also an observation deck with a view of the Oslo Fjord.
Next to the City Hall is the Nobel Peace Center, where visitors can learn about the winners of the Prize. On thousands of touchscreens, it is possible to see photographs, and read the biographies of various scientists, writers, and activists. There are also temporary exhibitions organized on all kinds of topics, for example – “What Does the World Eat”, displaying the content of refrigerators of the typical residents of various countries, or “Sheroes” - about the movements of women, who fought for peace.
Situated on the shore of the Fjord is the Akershus Fortress, which withstood all ambushed during the Middle Ages. Here visitors can get acquainted with the military history of the Norway: located inside the fortress is the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum (Forsvarsmuseet) with the weapons of Vikings, old cannons, and modern-day tanks; the Norwegian Resistance Museum (Hjemmefrontmuseet) dedicated to the Nazi occupation period. Also, opening up from the walls of the fortress is a view of the harbor and the ships. Entrance to the fortress is free, visitors only have to pay for visiting the museums.
At the Norwegian Science and Technology Museum (Norsk Teknisk Museum), there are over 80 different interactive installations. In the Teknoteket laboratory with tools, 3D printers, laser cutters, and electric devices, adults and children alike get to take on the role of inventors and begin building race cars and setting them off on a special track. In the Science Center, visitors get to study the laws of physics and the abilities of their bodies: it is possible to test the “power of thought”, catch a virtual fish or check the speed on one’s reaction. Meanwhile, in the National Museum of Medicine, visitors will get to find out what kinds of unusual medicine exist, and how life conditions and patient treatment has changed in Europe in the past 150 years.
At the Oslo Botanical Garden (Tøyenhagen), it is possible to take a walk down the beautiful paths, and visit inside the Palm Building, the Aroma Garden, and the greenhouse with gigantic Victorian water lilies. Located inside the garden is the Natural Science Museum (Naturhistorisk museum) with fossils, meteorite fragments, a tyrannosaurus skeleton, and the most ancient primate ever discovered, which scientists named Ida.
Guests are invited to get acquainted with the culture of Norway from ancient times up to the middle ages in the History Museum (Kulturhistorisk museum). There are collections of various archaeological findings, coins, and medals at the museum, and on the third floor, there is the Ethnographic Museum, with exhibits from all over the world brought back from expeditions around Africa, Asia and the North Pole.
A collection of paintings and sculptures from before the 1950’s is presented at the Oslo National Gallery (Nasjonalmuseet). The most famous pieces of are here are the Scream and Madonna by Munch, as well as the works of El Greco, Picasso, and the Impressionists. The Astrup Fearnley Modern Art Museum (Astrup Fearnley museet) is part of the complex and it offers installations and paintings by artists of the second half of the 20th century from Europe and America. Models and sketches of the city’s historic buildings are to be found at the Architecture Museum (Nasjonalmuseet Arkitektur), which regularly holds temporary interactive exhibitions. Old folk costumes, dishes, and furniture are gathered at the Applied Arts and Design Museum (Kunstindustrimuseet). All four museums may be accessed with an all-in-one ticket.
It is possible to record your own song and create an album cover at the Pop Center (Popsenteret). This interactive museum holds a huge collection of posters, audio and video recordings; hits from different eras are played in the halls, and video clips and entire concerts are shown on the screens. In one of the halls, everyone gets the chance to feel like a star, coming out onto a stage in front of a crowd of spectators. It is possible to flip through music magazines on touch screens, going back in time on a journey to concerts of old times.
Temporary exhibitions of kids’ drawings from 180 different countries are held in the International Kids Creativity Museum (Internasjonale Barnekunstmuseet). It also features permanent expositions: doll shows, puppet shows, and mask shows from all over the world; an exhibition of kids drawings from Peru “Rainforests of the Amazon; and a collection of different-colored sculptures of Frederic Lanovsky.
More than 50 different exhibits are presented in the Street Train Museum (Sporveismuseet). Here, street cars from the year 1875 are presented, as well as retro street trains, buses, and trolleys. In some of the street trains, city sightseeing tours are organized, the routes and schedules of which can be found on the museum’s website.
Taking place every day, at the Royal Palace (Kongelige slott) at 13:30, accompanied by an orchestra, is the changing of the guard. During the rest of the time it is possible to come up and take pictures with the guards, as well as go for a walk or a jog around the pond in the park behind the palace.
At the Norwegian Opera Theater (Norske opera & ballet) on the shore of the Oslo Fjord, classical and contemporary musical performances are put on. Besides the good acoustics and technical equipment, the hall is famous for being illuminated by the largest chandelier in the country. Tours are held throughout the building in English and an observation deck is open on the roof of the theater.
Located in Frognerparken, or the Vigeland Sculpture Park (Vigelandsparken), is an aptly named museum, dedicated to the creativity of the sculptor. Presented outside are hundreds of his sculptures portraying his actions and emotions, the most famous of which is “The Angry Boy”. Visitors can just sit on a bench by the pond and feed the ducks. There are also fountains and playgrounds there, and no admission fee for visiting the park.
Where to Go for a Walk in Oslo: Oslo Parks and Kids Playgrounds
At the Ekeberg Park (Ekebergparken) it is possible to go for a walk amongst 35 sculptures and installations made by international acclaimed artists, from Auguste Rodin to Damien Hirst. The park also has a house where kids can make art. The adjacent climbing park is a popular destination for exploration.
The park also features a wast picnic area, a museum, a designshop, two restaurants with beautiful panoramas.
20 sculptures of characters from Ibsen’s plays, created by craftsmen from all over the world have been erected at Peer Gynt Park (Peer Gynt-parken). At the Olaf Ryess Plass Park visitors can have a rest or set up a picnic next to the fountain. And at the St. Hanshaugen park kids and parents can climb up onto an observation deck and feed ducks in a pond.
See what places and events from all over the world we’ve collected in our “What’s On” section.
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