5 Reasons Why Oslo Did NOT Live Up To My Expectations

For some people Oslo can be a perfect travel destination. It’s clean with a low traffic, very safe with a low crime rate, easy to get around and it attracts tourists with its impressive nightlife. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it. At least not as much as I thought I would have enjoyed it. I even kind of regret not going to Sweden or Spain instead. To be honest, the only one reason I liked being there was Megan  – a fellow travel blogger who showed me around the city and, together with her boyfriend, invited me for a typical Norwegian meal, which was absolutely delicious!

a girl posing for a photo in Oslo
That’s Mega. We stopped at the Opera House to take some photos

Here are my top 5 reasons why I didn’t like Oslo:

1. Unpleasant Norwegians – It was winter time (early December) when I arrived in Oslo. I knew the weather was going to be freezing cold, but did not expect people to be cold as well. Every time I asked a local for direction, I was ignored. Nobody wanted to help me out with getting from one place to another and when someone finally stopped by, I was advised to take a taxi. Norwegians seemed to be in a hurry all the time and they did not like anyone to interrupt them. They seemed not to like Oslo visitors at all. They hardly ever smiled, always made funny faces when I was struggling with buying a subway ticket and pushed me a few times on the bus when getting off which I found very rude.

Oslo Bay

2. High prices – I need to admit that living in Oslo (even when doing couchsurfing) for under $25 was nearly impossible. I spent a half of my daily budget on a daily metro ticket and the high prices just knocked me down. I always knew Oslo is the most expensive city in the world, but realize how expensive it is when you go to the supermarket, see the price of a yogurt and start screaming “Whaaaaaaaaaat!?” Honestly, it’s really expensive. I have never ever in my life paid nearly $10.for a breakfast roll and small fruit yoghurt  It was a joke for me!

Norwegian brewery known for its julebrus, or christmas soda , which has a golden brown color, and a taste reminiscent of champagne. Delicious!
Norwegian brewery known for its julebrus, or christmas soda , which has a golden brown color, and a taste reminiscent of champagne. Delicious!

3. No appetite for food – because of the high prices I hardly ever dined out. I simply could not afford it with my budget. I was doing some shopping in a supermarket and cooked at my host’s place. I prepared some Chinese food for us two on the second day of my stay and it was my one decent meal of the day. The meat and fruits are very expensive so I tried to avoid them as well. Unfortunately, I had no chance to try out many Norwegian dishes and I felt very disappointed with that.

Norwegian chocolate fingers
Norwegian chocolate fingers. I still remember their kind of coconut and mint flavor.

4. Feeling bored and depressed – My host was working all day and I was on my own for most of the time. For the first day I felt lost and lonely until I met Megan. This girl made my day. She took me for a proper walk around Oslo and spent the whole two days with me. We had an awesome day, plenty of food, laugh and shopping.

Oslo city center

5. Dark winter days – It got dark very early at 4 pm and it was freezing cold. The cold weather made everything even worse. I struggled with taking photos as my hands were freezing, my feet were always cold (despite my winter shoes and a couple of warm socks) and my face skin was getting purple. I am Polish and I am used to extreme weather conditions but Oslo was too much for me.

Sinnataggen, Vigelandsparken
Sinnataggen, Vigelandsparken

The taste of Norwegian hospitality and cuisine

As I mentioned earlier, Megan and her Norwegian boyfriend named Andre invited me for a traditional Norwegian dinner consisting  fat meat with bones called Pinnekjøtt (cured, dried lamb ribs), Norwegian sausage, potatoes and salad followed by Christmas soda. Yummy!

 Pinnekjøtt (cured, dried lamb ribs)
A Norwegian preparation of lamb or sheep ribs that’s often served at Christmas dinner. The ribs are brined, air-dried, and sometimes smoked. It takes forever to make them and they are very salty and chewy.
A plate of Pinnekjøtt
A plate of Pinnekjøtt

The table looked just perfect for us three with little candles.

Two people sitting at the dinner
Megan and Andre
My huge plate !

SONY DSC

The dinner was yummy, but Norwegian cuisine is way too fat and salty for me. I would either put on weight or have to work out for hours to maintain my weight when living in Norway. That night made my day and the guys cheered me up!

To sump up, for an out-going person like me living in Oslo was very difficult. I found extremely hard to meet and get to know others, especially Norwegians and didn’t get any help from locals when being lost. The high cost of living scared me off and the weather made me feel even more depressed.

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109 Comments

  • Aw :( It does sound a bit depressing! I have heard many times about how expensive it is in Norway. I wonder if those living there have higher salaries that offset the cost? But yeah, not for the budget traveler I guess! Glad you managed to find a couple bright spots with Megan.

    • Yes, the salary is much higher that offset the cost, but even Norwegian people find it difficult to live comfortably.

      • I’m surprised at this, as I’ve never met a Norwegian worker saying it’s difficult to live comfortably. They just don’t know how well off they are compared to most Canadians at least! In Norway full-time salaries even for someone working in a grocery store is $ 50,000 a year. I’m going back to Norway after living in Canada studying, as I find salaries in Norway offset the cost way way more than what I can find in Canada. In Ontario groceries cost just as much as in Norway for instance, while the salaries are half, or less for a recent graduate!

      • I met some people complaining about their income and live standard. Maybe they expect too much from their lives :) Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m really sorry to hear that Oslo didn’t meet your expectations Agness; how disappointing! Being alone during the day and the sun setting earlier would definitely have affected my mood and brought me down a little so I’m not surprised you felt like that. How great that you met Megan though – she sounds like a lovely person :)

    • Thanks Toni. Megan made my day at that time. Maybe next time it’s gonna be a better experience, but right now I don’t feel like going to Norway again.

  • I really appreciate the honesty with this article. It seems most travel writing is always about how great a place is even if it is not. Especially in regards to the locals.

    We have no plans to visit Oslo on our upcoming global trip and now I don’t have to feel like I am missing something.

    • I try to be honest. If I don’t like the place I’m not gonna say it’s been a fantastic experience. It’s a blog, not the National Geographic magazine :):)

  • I can totally relate to this. When I travelled through Norway, Denmark and Sweden, I thought Oslo was the least attractive city. For some reason I just didn’t feel welcomed and and found it dreary and dull. One day I’ll return as I hope to change my first impression of the city.

    • So glad someone felt the same. I agree – it was dull! I also hope to change my first impression of the city next time.

  • Sorry to hear you had an unpleasant time, Oslo sounds exactly like I would imagine it to be in the winter. I’ve always thought of Scandinavia as a very cold (and expensive) place in general, but I wonder if it would be better in the summer. Love your honesty, Agness. :)

    • Thank you Sarah. I am planning to explore Norway again in summer and see if my first impression will change or stay the same. Norwegians were very disappointing though.

      • By writing a blog like this you have a responsibility. Describing a people and a culture you do not know like this is very rude. A shallow meeting with very little knowledge of the country you visit really do not make you an expert, and give you no premise writing the truth about the country and people you are visiting. You should be wiser.

      • No. This is a blog, her blog, and therefore she can write her opinion, were you like it or not. Don’t take it personally, it’s her point of view based on her experience after all.

        ps. I lived in Oslo for more than 2 years and I TOTALLY agree with her :)

      • Thank you Mireia for sharing. You’re right. Whatever I post here is based on my experience and it’s my point of view only. I didn’t enjoy Oslo and I am not going to lie to my readers that I did :).

  • I had the same situation in Finland and even in New Zealand. The high prices together with the lack of public transport and the cold weather can distroy a pleasant experience. Maybe next time, we should try to visit in summer (though I was in NZ in summer, lol)

  • Maybe it was just the weather? When I visited Oslo it was April and people were rather nice. When I first got to Oslo my credit card wasn’t working so I couldn’t get money out but a guy who owned an internet cafe let me come in and use a computer for free so I could contact my bank!

    • That’s nice. I’m happy to hear Norwegians were much nicer in April. Looks like Norwegian winters make people grumpy and unpleasant :):)

  • I have a friend who’s daughter is going to Oslo next year for a term of university. I’m not sure whether to shoot her this link -as forewarned makes a difference. I’ve never been to Norway – but think if I went it would be in the summer. I know how it is with prices putting you off though. Very lucky you met someone of a generous spirit to show you around. Chalk Oslo up to experience.

    • Of course you should share this link with her. She should know that not everything is always perfect. Oslo didn’t work out for me, but she might fall in love with the city and Norway at the first sight, you never know. Besides, university experience might be absolutely different from my budget travel experience. Wish her all the best!! x

  • Hahahha I’ve been waiting on this post for a while ;) And I completely agree with you on sooo many levels when being a traveler into Oslo.

    When I first visited this city (long before living here) I had the EXACT same views of it. It’s unattractive, no charm, no personality. It’s overpriced and the people are not friendly. After moving here, I enjoy it much better. The people are still rude. And the place is still unattractive…but there is actually way more to do here than in Bergen. And it is the most international city in Norway. So it is definitely more suiting me.

    Thanks so much for the super kind words you wrote above about me <3<3 That made my morning when I woke up and read it! I sure hope you give Norway another chance (not Oslo b/c I don't think it will ever impress most travelers haha), but other places! It really is the most beautiful place I've ever stepped foot on and I'd love to show you the scenery of western Norway!!

    Miss you girl!

    • I still remember your stories about Norwegians being so rude, but you have an amazing man by your side to keep you happy all the time :):):). Send my love to Andre!!! I also miss you guys a lot. I will give Norway another chance, but no way I’m gonna go back to Oslo, maybe just to meet you again x

  • and Norwegian food is WAY too fat and bland for me. I don’t like it. despite having gained a good 20kg since moving here from the boiled potatoes and bread :(

    • I know, it’s absolutely crazy. I guess Norwegian food is fatter than American, but people in Norway do a lot of sport to keep fit :)

      • Norwegians usually don’t eat that type of fatty food except for during Christmas ;-) We mostly stay away from sugar and fast-food (during the week), and eat lots of vegetables!

      • Really? My travel fellow who has been living in Oslo for more than 6 months (as far as I remember) and she has put on weight drastically since her first day in Norway.

    • I know. She was awesome, I felt like home having a dinner with her and her boyfriend. You definitely need to meet her when you get to Oslo one day x

  • I’m sorry you didn’t have the greatest experience in Oslo. I’ve never been to Oslo but I’m sure it probably has redeeming qualities in the warmer months. I think weather makes a big difference with some our experiences. How great that someone was there to help you.

  • That meal looks awesome! I live in Stavanger and we seldom ever go out to eat – or go out to do much of anything, actually, because of the costs. The VAT just kills everything. Megan and I talk a lot online but have yet to meet in person, sadly. So glad you had her there in Oslo to welcome you.

    • You definitely need to meet Megan in person. She’s an amazing person!!! She’s the best tour guide ever :):). So true the VAT kills everything :(:(

  • Sorry to hear that it was such a bad experience for you. I made my first trip to Norway in January when I went to Mandal in the South. My experience with the locals was totally different. I found them very friendly and helpful.

    Maybe as a big city Oslo sees people lost in their own world. You tend to see it a lot in capital cities and us Northerners of the UK think people in London are generally rude and unfriendly.

    I have to agree on prices though. Norway is not cheap.

    • I know I shouldn’t judge Norway by visiting only Oslo. I’m definitely going to explore more places in Norway and climb the beautiful mountains there. I’m so happy to hear the Norwegians were nice and helpful to you. I was unlucky :) …

  • Great post! I have been in Oslo once. It was late summer, but already cold for an end of August. It was 10 years ago, we took a car from France, and then the ferry. We were students so everything seemed really expensive in Oslo. We camped and left Norway after 3 days only, because we didn’t have the budget to stay longer. I regret not visiting Bergen.

    • No, don’t change your plans. Maybe you will like it, but Norway is not a great place to explore in winter. Wait till summer comes.

    • I know that. I need to ask this question to fellow bloggers who have been somewhere in the countryside to say something more about the difference.

  • Ahh, Oslo. I’ve never been, but have never seen a travel blogger write an entirely glowing report of the city – most of them have had a similar sentiment to your post here, Agness. I’m really surprised at Norwegians being unfriendly, though. Maybe it’s a capital city thing? As a Brit from northern England, I generally think of Londoners as rude and unfriendly. I’ve lived in South Korea for 3.5 years, and people in Seoul are generally a lot less kind and approachable than people who live in the southern area of the country. I wonder if there’s any capital city that has a reputation for people being kind and friendly? Hmm…

    • Hey Tom! That’s actually very interesting what you’re saying here. That might be the reason actually, however I met people who generally complained about Norwegians being cold to travelers. I also agree with Londoners being a little bit rude sometimes :), but I guess Polish people are not the friendliest ones either ;-). I also found Beijing people being less friendly and kind than locals living in smaller provinces such as Hunan.

  • This is a part of the world I have yet to venture to, and I appreciate your perspective before I moved it to the top of my travel list!;-) Happy that you were able to make a friend to make the trip a bit more pleasurable!

    • You should definitely make it to Norway and find out how this place will like you and how you will like this place. Good luck!

  • Came across your blog while researching on Oslo as I’ll be there for a month in June-July as a summer exchange university student. Preparing myself for the expensive prices that you’ve mentioned. :/ Being a student, I’ll have to find means to save on food as well. Nonetheless, interesting blog post! (:

    • Hi Elaine. Thanks for stopping by. I agree, Oslo will be a challenge city in terms of cheap food, but you can easily make it cheaper by asking your parents to send you some food parcels with your favourite food you can storage in your room such as cereal, any kind of biscuits, canned food, etc. I was there travelling and I guess it’s different from living there as a local. Good luck!!! Hope you will enjoy yourself a lot x

  • I haven’t been to Oslo, but my sister visited not too long ago, and I was horrified when she told me how much she was spending daily on food alone! The cost of living there kind of scares me off from visiting.

    • I know, it’s crazy and taking into consideration how much you like to experience with food on your travels, Oslo would be way too expensive :)

  • Too bad Oslo didn’t deliver (and was horrifyingly expensive!). Props to you for not sugarcoating it, though. Sometimes a destination is just not quite right – nice to read an honest post about why a place doesn’t do it for you. Megan and Andre sound great though!

  • I just had to leave a comment here, since reading all these negative comments.

    Very sorry to hear you had such bad experience in Oslo. I can totally understand why you did not like it. I think it would have been different if you spent more time here, got to know people better, their culture. Sometimes people you randomly meet on the bus/train station are not great representatives of the overall culture, especially if you have only been here a few days.

    Me personally, I think it is a great place to live, with little stress about unnecessary things, great salaries, and kind people. I guess I had way too many home cooked, candle lit meals with amazing Norwegian friends (and not necessarily fatty food, it s all up to you what you cook), many incredible walks out in the wild, many great concerts. I myself come from a big city, London, and after moving to Olso a year ago, completely fell in love with this place. I fell in love with Norwegian love of all things simple , its pace of life. I guess it was a great break for me after being surrounded by many materialistic and seem-to-be-always-busy Londoners. I love that everything works here, hardly any traffic, t-bane delays etc. Norwegians are not the type of people who would chat to you on the streets, I agree, but once you get to meet them somehow, you can be certain, they will stay your friends for life. It is just that you have to invest more of your time into getting to know them, but the result will be a more valuable that can grow into more meaningful relationships, rather then just ‘another bunch of people you know’ :)

    • Hi Tash. Thank you so much for your comment. A few friends of mine have recently moved from Poland to Oslo and they are very happy about the change. They don’t complain about Norwegian people anymore and they seem to be enjoying themselves. You are right, I was in Oslo way too short to make general statement about people, its culture and traditions. I had only a few days to get to know the place and I know the weather was not the best. I will give Oslo another go in the future and I am planning to see other places in Norway.

  • By the way, December isn’t the greatest month to visit if you really want to experience the true Norwegian snow and its whiteness. Best months for winter are late January and February. You can go skiing or sledding in Holmekolen, which is just 30 minutes from central Oslo by metro (t-bane). Sledding down the hills of Oslo, for about 20 minutes non stop, is something you have to experience if you decide to come back here at some point :) Some wintery photos are on my blog http://scandinavian-wanderings.blogspot.com/ , they can maybe inspire you to come back at some point. And if you want to experience Norway in its full beauty, it is better to come here with a much bigger budget too, that is for sure :)

    • I know, it’s true. The weather can change a lot. Next time I will travel with a bunch of friends and we might go skiing together :):). Thanks for the link. Will check it out x

  • Wow, sounds like Oslo is one place to avoid at least in winter – expensive, rude and dull, three strikes, you’re out! And like others commenting here, I love your honesty. If you don’t like it, say so. You do no one else any favors by being dishonest, better to tell it the way you feel it.

    • Hey Greg. I guess being honest when blogging is extremely important. That’s true, Oslo is not the best option for your winter getaway, especially when you travel solo.

  • I got the opportunity to go to Oslo a couple of years ago and I thought it was okay. I do think the things you pointed out — like the COST — really does make it a hard city to enjoy if you’re trying to save money.

    Luckily, I got to go there at the end of summer, when the days were longer and the weather was much better. Perhaps SOME of the coldness you experienced from the Norwegians had to do with that. I know that cloudy days make me really grumpy.

    One place you might want to check out sometime is Brazil, if you’ve never been there! They are soooo outgoing and friendly and talkative. I’ve never been there but I’ve met a lot of Brazilians and they may just be the opposite of Norwegians. ;)

    • Although I’ve never been to Brazil, I feel like I would love this country! My best friend went there for a 3 week holiday and she fell in love with the country and with a guy. It’s on my bucket list so I hope to get there soon, hopefully next year :). I agree, the weather can make you feel depressed and grumpy. I’ve learnt my lesson the hard way and will never ever explore any country alone during the winter season :)

  • I know this reply is a little late. Sorry you didn’t enjoy your stay. I am an US expat who moved to Norway 14 years ago. It IS a challenge, especially in the winter. People are much more friendly in the summer.. In the winter they are just sour and dour. They dont talk to strangers and even when I ask people for directions in Norwegian, they sometimes ignore me.. There are a few places to eat that won’tnbreak you, but I am glad you got a Nowegian meal. You didn’t miss too much not eating out as most of the restaurants are mediocre at best, but if you want one good Norwegian meal, save up for a fish dinner at Aker Brygge.. Yes it’s horribly cold, ugly to visit, in the winter. You have to come back in the summer when everything’s is green, people are happy and life is better

    Ad then go to the ACCN (American coordinating council) for advice. Or just visit Megan, but it rains I. Bergen almost all the time.. Nice city though.

  • I have lived in Oslo for almost three years! And I can’t wait to get back to my home country! The people here are so rude, it’s horrible! It’s not any different in the summer time! And if you get polite answers from someone or help they always seems to be Swedish. I would go to one of the other Scandinavian countries next time (however not in the winter time).

    • Hi Karin,

      I’m sorry to hear that. I have also noticed that Norwegians are not the most friendly people in Europe, but I am sure there are some nice people around. Check out other Scandinavian countries during the summer and see how you like them :).

    • This blog was funny, in the sense it reminded me of the time I spent in Helsinki… I ended up dating a guy who was an exchange student from Iran of all places. I found it nearly impossible to befriend finns, I can remember only a few old retired folks being normal/courteous (though they didn’t speak any english). The younger crowd specially seem totally uneducated/disrespectful. So, Karin, if you’re planning on visiting neighboring countries of Norway where people aren’t rude, make sure to stay awa from Finland too!
      p.s. Nice blog Agnes, on the bright side, you didn’t get all the male unwanted attention I got in Helsinki, guys there are creepy! Norwegians on the other hand, look absolutely yummy!

  • I live in Norway, I don’t like Oslo either. It’s an embarassment to me. If you ever travel here again, please stay out of the capital. The southern – mid western coast is better and the winters are milder, despite being further north. There is more to see and do, and more natural wonders. I definitely recommend doing this. And if you do, don’t just stay in one place. Take the train or the ferry (hurtigruta) between cities. Northern Norway is also nice. Summer in Lofoten is beautiful.

  • Living in western Norway (Bergen), I would not encourage any foreigners to visit Oslo. It is a town we are not pleased with, and do not feel familiar with (unless you are from Oslo). If you want to meet good hearted folks, go visit Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim or Tromsø. Oslo is sadly our capitol, but Norway has much MUCH more too offer.

  • I was shocked at the food prices in Oslo when I went last month! Everyone says it’s expensive, but I thought they must have had bad luck and not found the cheap places. Nope – they just don’t seem to exist. And the beers were terribly pricey.

    I actually packed food in my suitcase to go to Oslo, which turned out to be an excellent decision.

  • You sound like you know everything about Norwegians but you don’t. you just probably had bad luck. and when you are responding to the person who got help when she needed it, it was not because “norwegians are nicer in april” its because they are nice with both strangers and when you get to know them. and i also think complaining so much about the weather and prices is unnecessary, you knew that when you came, it doesn’t stop norwegians to enjoy life to the fullest.

    • I spent in Oslo a few days and perhaps I know nothing about the local food and people, I totally agree. I was unlucky indeed, bad timing! However, I will travel across Norway soon and I am sure this country will surprise me!! :)

  • Great and very honestly post Agness!!!
    I am from Luxembourg and lived in oslo for 14 years and totally agree with you. Most norwegians are indeed very rude and cold. I am a doctor and even with my salary i found it far too expensive ( a car cost three til four times more than for eks. in Germany). I managed to stay here that long just because of my lovely wife who is norwegian, but i never got any real friends here. So i moved back home last year and never ever recret a moment. I live a happy life now.
    Your post really touched me as i felt excactly the same many,many times.

  • I wonder if the high expectations based on the high prices came into play during this experience? I faced similar problems when I visited Copenhagen (though admittedly I found the Danes to be generally pleasant and welcoming) and I think I would attribute it to expecting more from a city that was so expensive. I wonder if you were in a lot of the heavily touristy areas of Oslo? Many German and Swiss cities in particular I found to merely seem to tolerate foreigners around the big attractions but once you branched out to the quieter neighborhoods, the people suddenly become much friendlier and more willing to help. Very interesting post that I enjoyed reading!

  • Hey!
    Go to Norway in the summer! Yes prices are high, but it is a different country. Remember: to a Norwegian, being polite is a defeat! We are like true settlers! Never ruled by an Empire. Not even the Americans can claim that!

    • Ahem… Norway was run by Denmark for over four hundred years and then Sweden for nearly a hundred years. The Nazi Germans took over between 1940-1945. And post WW2 due to the Marshall plan, Cold War with Russia and Oil exploration Norway takes it’s orders from London/Washington. I agree entirely however with your being polite equates to defeat assessment. It’s a real shame that most Norwegians have to be so small minded and stubborn when it comes to this point as spreading good vibes and letting others go before you just makes the day so much more enjoyable. I appreciate that these cultural norms have taken hundreds of years to aquire and consequently will not go quickly… damn!

  • Well, it’s a country in North…nothing can be compared to South countries with vibrant colorful cultures and warm people

    • Not necessarily, I’ve heard icelanders are a rather friendly and quirky colorful folk. I wonder if it’s true, but I’ve never actually met an icelander nor anyone who has ever actually gone there either.

  • Norwegians are wonderful people you just have to take the time to understand them. They aren’t like Americans. They take their time to see what you’re like before they warm up to you. But once you have made a Norwegian friend they will be your friend for life. Norway is a cold place, true, but that only makes you cherish the warmth of a friendly smile, a hug, a kiss all the more so when you are lucky enough to find a friend. So don’t write Norway off just yet.

  • I have been Stuck in Norway since 2010… I cant wait for The day that I can leave this over priced, borring and rude country. Just a couple more years :(

  • I totally agree. Oslo is not the best travel destination at all. I have been there so many times, and it always seemed like a grey day for me. Nothing to keep up the mood.

    Oslo is only a place to be if you have a job that pays well. Then it’s absolutely fine!

  • Hi Agnes. I am really sorry Norway did not live opp to your expectasions. As you are saing, Norway are FREEZING during winter. And most people here are getting little depresive. We are all kind of waiting at summer to come. and when the spring is here we like wake upp. I strongly reconmend you comming back her at summer. Oslo is really a beautuful city during summer. and almost every people are in a better mod. Everyone i know at least. But the prises here are the samme. So you HAVE to bring a lot of money. And just to mention it,I have meet tourists and gived them directions. And i have even talkt, to an american lady from LA, who lived her for a cuple of months, and she said that, she loved this county and the people here. But she did not like the winter. (sorry for bad English)

  • I’m Norwegian, and sadly I have to agree Norwegians can be rude & cold. But it’s more so like this in Oslo! Bergen is so much friendlier! My mother’so family come from central part of Norway where people are so much warmer, smile & are helpful. Stay away from Oslo! Just see the main sites & head out!

  • Thanks for the honest article. My experience is different but that is really because of a different mindset about Oslo and Norway overall. I have been in love with Norway since I was a kid. I have traveled a fair amount and can likely find a mix of pros/cons for every place that I have been. Often times, by the second visit, the magic has worn off (e.g., Tokyo, Sydney) and I uncover more negatives and positives. But not Oslo. For me this city, and this country, are as good as it gets. They say Norwegians are like coconuts, hard on the outside, soft inside. Sometimes it takes longer to get to the interior.

  • Great post. You nailed it Agness. It’s so refreshing to read a real review and not the usual fake reviews where everything is apparently awesome!!!!! Ignore the nationalist bullies who are telling you that you know nothing. I had the same experiences as you (worse to be honest) after a few days and I’ve been living in Oslo now for nine years and you are absolutely right. Oslo is insanely overpriced (even for many locals), the weather really is hellish during the winter. It can be -20C, pitch black dark 18+ hours a day, slipping and sliding around with grey slush up to one’s shins. And the locals ARE nearly always unfriendly and act ‘rushed’ all the time. It doesn’t matter if you speak Norwegian or English. Norwegains will admitt that they can be standoffish, which I would agree with but they are also very mean. I’ve been verbally assaulted more times than I can remember in both Norwegian and English and I am charming, honestly :) It’s also common to barge straight into people and not apologize just a heads up. If that happens it is customary just to grunt or to say “tulling” or “for en idiot!” under one’s breath. Also central Oslo is kinda weird as most of the kids working in the shops and kiosks are not from Europe and seem to have a really bad attitude towards Europeans. A lot of them will give you strange looks and try to talk American English even when your Norwegian is much better than theirs. It’s weird. If I was to put together a ‘best of Europe’ trip for non Europeans, Oslo would not even make my top 200 list of cities. Lol. Stockholm, Copenhagen and Gothenberg are all better, but still your not going to get much cheap and spontaneous fun. It’s Scandinavia not S.E. Asia or S. America. It also depends on personal interests and having good hosts/friends there. I’ve know some Norwegians for nearly fifthteen years and they NEVER give compliments so you’d be lucky to get that on a three day trip :)

    Anyway, if you have to come to Oslo then you really should try the corkscrew up on Holmenkollen. The views of the fjord and the city are lovely and it’s a lot of fun. They have helmets but you have to bring serious gloves and a scarf for your face and neck otherwise you will be entering a world of pain, trust me ;). On a sunny summer’s day Vigelandspark is special with it’s naked sculptures. Taking a boat out to one of the Islands, or going up to Sognsvann and sitting in a circle around a fire and singing kumbayah whilst getting hammered on Tuborg, Hansa, Rignes, Aas and Borg, and devouring bacongrillpølser med ost i lompa med rekesalat, sennap, ketsjup, agurkmiks, potetsalat og sprøstekt løk. The real Norwegian experience. If you want to eat out on the cheap and to live like a local then simply grab a coffee and a ‘bølle’ from Deli De Luca/7-11/Narvesen and for lunch/dinner check osloby.no e.g. https://www.aftenposten.no/osloby/sulten/Her-far-du-billig-og-bra-mat-i-Oslo-7689819.html. There are lots of ethnic restaurants that offer cheaper food.

    Having travelled extensively around Norway I can assure you that Norway does not offer great value for money. It’s best if you know locals who have access to cabins and boats. You could try hostels if you’re in a group. The fjords are stunning on a clear, sunny day. But it’s smart to pack for rain.

    In closing, regarding the fashion, the seventies style never went out of fashion in Scandinavia. A lot of the young guys were wearing a kind of cross between a fisherman’s hat and a baseball cap as a homage to fish-hop which is the main musical and fashion style in Norway ;) In Oslo people work out a lot and hence it’s common to see a LOT of people wearing training gear. Females tend to dress well but nearly always on the safe side, while the males either look like they are homeless or copies of manikin displays. Tends to be an all-or-nothing approach.

  • I’m sorry to read that Oslo disapointed you, but I understand why. I’m from the west coast, from Norways second biggest city called Bergen (its not that big though, 250k). The prices are in general high in Norway, but the nature is pretty and calm here with the mountains and the sea. Bergen also has a lot of history and old houses and alleys. You should google it! The transportation is very easy, but the best part is that almost everything is close by so you can walk! One negative ting with Bergen is that it rains a lot, since its located between mountains, so I would recommend you to come during late spring, summer or even in the end of August!

  • I moved to Norway 8 months ago and I can completely relate to your blog. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who feels this way about Norway. I’m so depressed that I can’t wait to go back home. As a Colombian, this place is as boring as watching paint dry! The Norwegian attitude is rude, cold and not welcoming at all. Whenever I go to a bar/concert/bus station, I get pushed or treated with disrespect. The food is absolutely tasteless and as you, I can’t even go to a nice restaurant and afford a “normal” meal everyday. The prices are crazy, I haven’t got a haircut since I arrived (I refuse to pay over 1000kr). I live in a city called Bergen and it rains 90% of the time, no sunlight and loads of freezing wind. It’s just been a very, very hard experience for me.

    • For Paula (btw, if someone monitors this thread please send this to Paula’s email), en Bergen existe un grupo de colombianos grandisimo llamado Club Colombia. Entiendo lo que estas pasando pues yo soy colombiana y estuve en Helsinki; la gente alla es muy grosera tambien. No se si estas sola, pero trata de ponerte en contacto con otros latinos y ellos te podran ayudar a sentirte mas a gusto alla. Mucha suerte <3

  • I just moved to Oslo, my friend is coming to visit today and I had to Google what to do in this city. I know it’s quite boring place, but I don’t think that this article is accurate. You seem to have been really depressed and negative at the time you visited Oslo. Also, a good research about the place you’re going to wouldn’t hurt. ;)

  • Totally not true what you wrote about Oslo. Also, about the 25 dollar per day budget… I would have a hard time with this budget even in a small German city, where food is relatively cheap. Besides,’food’ is a subjective term. Some people don’t eat sausages and cheap chocolates from the super market. So if you want to visit a city next time, maybe you can check how much these things cost and not complain about it when they don’t correspond to your budget. Sorry to be so direct, but I think it’s not so cool to write this, given the fact you were totally unaware of what to expect.
    I am sure that 25 per day would be more than enough in some city in Thailand, but I wouldn’t go there blindly, without knowing how to get from point A to point B or how much this will cost, for example…

  • I’ve lived in Oslo for exactly two years now and I must say it’s a huge dissappointment. We’re quite well off and can afford to go out to dinners etc., but it’s just so lame here. Such a boring culture. I must say that it’s much more fun in the summer…but still expensive as hell.

    • Thanks for sharing, Nicole. Everyone has different experience. My first visit in Norway was quite disappointing as well. You can read about it on the blog.

  • I grew up in the UK but am half-Norwegian, and lived in Oslo for 11 years in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and it was the best place I’ve ever lived. You can’t judge people after a short visit to a place, and whether they have “good manners”. People in the UK say “sorry” and “please” every 10 seconds, but they’re anything but nice or hospitable, ask anyone who has lived here. I learnt Norwegian and fitted in perfectly, never short of company, whether it was a friend to go out with, or a neighbour asking me in for coffee and cake. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, as you can be SO wrong. As I say, easy come,easy go. I’m still in touch with the friends I made in Oslo.

  • I am born, raised and also currently living in Oslo (despite having traveled extensialso in my life to get away) and I couldn’t agree more!! I LOVE this article. Thanks for saying it how it is!! A lot of tourists go “oh but Norwegians are so friendly?” Sure maybe in the summer time. loved loved loved this. Have shared! :)

  • A wonderful article that is thought provoking and just true to its nature. I will share this with my family and friends. I wish I had read this article a few years ago. I have visited Oslo quite a few times now – and I can now say that its become one of my least favorite cities. Wish I had felt this way long before. Now, i’m married and living in Norway. We live in a small town outside of Oslo, where everything closes early. We might end up moving to Oslo, although its overpriced and finding a job will be tough. It is painful to live here due to the weather, extreme isolation, people, food choices and prices. I need to find a way back home. I will never be accepted here. The days are getting darker, grey, and cold. There is no one to talk to, beside my Norwegian husband who is awfully busy. It is always good to believe in first impressions when visiting a city or country. I wish I had done a bit more of that, but whats done is done. I can only find a way to carve out a path from here. I don’t belong here and its slowly rotting my soul. Once again, thank you for your well written article. I am proud of you for not shying away from writing how you truly felt in that city. No need to glamorize a country or its city. Everyone should be able to share their opinions and observations. Take care! :)

  • I find that the Germanic countries generally do not have the best food or weather. The countries of Northern Europe tend to have better infrastructure, and more willingness to build infrastructure, but simply lack the population that would use the said infrastructure.

    The high cost-of-living is a symptom of high salaries, which a lot of Norwegians themselves would find to be completely acceptable/normal – it’s notable that foreigners make up an extraordinarily large segment of the low income workforce.

    Oslo itself lacks grandees amounts of architecture and culture, but it’s important to note that Norway doesn’t centralize itself into capital cities like Paris, but it rather FAR more poly-centric like Germany, but with major investments in even small cities and towns.

  • Hi Agness,
    Sorry to hear about your bad Oslo experience. I’m Norwegian and living in Oslo, and I think you should come visit again. However, there are a few things that aren’t easy to change:
    1. Costs
    Norway is expensive, but salaries are also very high. Travelling here on a tight budget means planning. That being said, it’s easy to find cheaper restaurant offers. Eating out isn’t necessarily more expensive here than Stockholm or Copenhagen. What is expensive here is alcohol.
    2. Weather
    Norway is far north. Of course the snow (or sleek) or below zero temperatures can be challenging in winter AS it can be in Berlin, Warzaw, Riga, Stockholm, Copenhagen or any other Northern European city.

    Oslo is not a grand city with huge castles and grand buildings. Oslo is a multifaceted city in the making. A city that grows and develops. Over the last 5 years the city has changed immensely. There’s a vibrant art scene, there’s an ever changing cityscape, the food scene is booming, the nightlife is great. Oslo has more concerts a year per capita than any other European city. Did I mention shopping? Try high end shopping in the Kvadraturen area or hunt for retro gems in the Grünerløkka district.

    As a Norwegian I often hear from foreign visitors that we come across as rude. I’m Sorry about that. Our culture may be less polished than in many other countries.
    However, Norwegians are more than a somewhat exaggerated myth of unpoliteness.

    I hope you come visit during spring or summer. Get an Oslo pass. Explore the city. Get on a ferry. Take a swim in the fjord, it’s usually quite pleasant and often 20 C. Go to a park. Buy a cheap delicious meal. Go to a park again. Get off the high streets downtown. Go wandering in the forests. Go to a club. Do research.

    I’ve grown to love and be proud of Oslo. It’s the rebellious little sister to Stockholm and Copenhagen. Unpolished but buzzing with potential. It might not be to everyones taste, but which city is? Hope to see you here again, and adjust your travel budget a little bit. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed :)

  • I live in Oslo, and I think this blog post partly is true, but partly also shows the importance of doing the home work.

    It is, unfortunately, true that Norwegians can come across as rude or cold. More, precisely, as somewhat distant, we spend some time getting to know people and “let them in”. I have heard fellow students from abroad say the same. If you go to North or Western Norway, people are generally more open, warm and direct.

    Yes, Norway in general, and Oslo in particular is very expensive. It corresponds with high income level. The reason is partly our oil. But if you come from a country with lower income level (which is most), it can be a challenge. My best advice is to look out for reasonably priced restaurants run by immigrants in central-east Oslo, or grocery stores. During the summer, you can camp in the woodlands around the town, and even on some islands in the Oslofjord. Around the country, Norway is one of the few countries where you legally can camp almost anywhere in nature.

    Norway during winter can be very cold and dark, and also many Norwegians get winter depression. But that’s geography. If you come back in the summer, there is light nearly 24/7 even in Oslo, and you will find people enjoying summer on the beaches and harbour front. Welcome back!

  • If you have a chance, explore Oslo. Do not let someone’s or people’s opinions stop your future experience and opportunity. Everyone has his or her own opinion. The best you can is to listen. Believing others’ opinion without experiencing things first-hand is quite foolish.

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