5 Reasons Why Oslo Did NOT Live Up To My Expectations

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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 !

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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Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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117 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Oslo Did NOT Live Up To My Expectations”

  1. Rika | Cubicle Throwdown

    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.

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

      1. 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!

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

  2. 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 :)

    1. 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.

  3. Daryle Dickens

    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.

    1. 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 :):)

  4. 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.

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

  5. 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. :)

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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 :)

      3. Agness Walewinder

        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 :).

  6. 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)

  7. 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!

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

  8. 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.

    1. 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

  9. 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!

    1. 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

  10. 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 :(

    1. 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 :)

      1. 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!

      2. 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.

      3. A day late and a dollar short (actually, 7 years late), but I just ran across this post when looking for live culture yogurt in Norway (wtf?). I am an American living in Norway, and have been for 4 years now. And, yeah, as Kristi said, that type of meal that you had is really only eaten at Christmas. My (Norwegian) boyfriend and his family actually do not like it because it is too fatty for them as well. However, I love that meal! Most of the Norwegians I know prefer clean food – lots of fish, vegetables, and fruits, which is what they would normally eat on a daily basis. And, I agree, Norwegians are VERY hard to get to know and it is a huge problem as a foreigner in this country. They are very much in their own world and “think they’re ghosts”, as in, they try to get on public transport when they should be waiting for people to exit, they walk right into you and say nothing, take up the whole grocery isle with their carts, many walk on the left side of the sidewalk (wrong side!!) and challenge you to a game of chicken as they refuse to move (even if it means bumping shoulders)… but I don’t think that they are actively trying to be rude, I think it’s more that they are EXCEPTIONALLY spatially-impaired and absolutely do not notice others around them. And I saw a comment on salaries being higher to make up for the higher cost of food — that is true for jobs like grocery store cashier, post office worker, waiter, etc. There is much less variability in wages between skilled labor vs. unskilled labor. For my particular field, I would get paid much, much more if I were to move back to the States and work the same job. As you said, it’s nearly impossible to live in Oslo off of $25 a day when you also need to purchase public transport tickets, which is more than half of that $25 per day. Anyway, I am surprised you came to Oslo in the winter! Pardon my french, but fuck that. When I have friends visit, I always say the summer (even though flights are significantly more expensive). I HATE HATE HATE the winter, I don’t care if it’s Wisconsin, Norway, or the North Pole with Santa. I hate it. So I can imagine that you probably didn’t have a good time, because I do not either. Come try back out to Oslo in the summer months! I’d be happy to show you around too!

  11. Julika of Sateless Suitcase

    I’m sorry you had such a disappointing time in Oslo! But it’s so great that you got to meet Megan! She sounds like an awesome insider tour guide!

    1. 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

  12. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    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.

    1. Definitely! The weather does seem to affect moods. And you have explained it already in saying you are Polish and used to cold weather bit couldn’t endure Oslo cold. Even from Viking times, the cold was a reason the Vikings were berserk most times.

  13. 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.

    1. 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 :(:(

  14. 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.

    1. 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 :) …

  15. 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.

  16. Becky Padmore

    That’s such a shame, I was seriously considering a visit soon but I think I’ve changed my mind now. I’ll be going to Stockholm instead :-)

    1. 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.

  17. TammyOnTheMove

    I have never been to Norway, but I wonder if people in the countryside are more friendly. City people are always quite rude I find (esp. in Paris and London).

    1. 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.

  18. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    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…

    1. 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.

  19. Ramakant Pradhan

    The post doesn’t paint a pretty picture of Oslo. Good that you made a friend and enjoyed your stay in the city.

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