Where to Stay in Oslo First Time: 7 Best Areas & Neighborhoods

In this guide, we will be looking at Where to stay in Oslo for first time, best areas to stay in Oslo for tourists (with a map), and best hotels in Oslo for all budgets (including the hotel where I stayed).

Located at the head of Oslo Fjord on the country’s southern coast, Norway is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the Scandinavian, and the capital city Oslo is full of fascinating history and myriad different cultures. With its unique architecture, stunning cultural attractions, excellent food, diverse shopping experiences, beautiful scenery, Oslo is definitely well worth a visit.

Norway is one of the most expensive countires in the world and as the capital, Oslo will cost more. You can find a cheap Norwegian hotel and backpacker hostels in the city centre with small room and basic amenities.

From Oslo Gardermoen Airport you the regional Vy train instead of the Flytoget Express Train for cheaper price. Food is also expensive but you buy cheap food from grocery stores and limit the amount of time eating in restaurants.

Oslo is generally considered a safe city for tourists with a low crime rate. But, like any major city, it’s essential to exercise caution and common sense while traveling, such as being mindful of your belongings, be aware of pickpocketing, and avoiding poorly-lit or isolated areas at night.

Where is the best area to stay in Oslo?

The best areas to stay in Oslo for tourists and first-time visitors are Oslo City Center, Aker Brygge, Frogner, Majorstuen, Bislett, Grunerlokka, and Game Oslo. These are popular and safe neighborhoods, offering a wide range of attractions and amenities.

Oslo City Center is the best area to stay in Oslo for tourists, especially for first-timers due to its central location and proximity to major attractions such as the Royal Palace and Oslo Cathedral. Staying here offers easy access to those sights, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.

Oslo City Centre is very compact and walkable. It’s easy and safe to explore Oslo on foot, by bike, metro, trolleys, buses, trams, and ferries.

To book hotels, I recommend spending at least three days in Oslo to explore the city, which is enough to see major attractions, enjoy local food an drink, and get the feel of the city. If you have more time, you can see the city in a more laid-back pace, or visit Bergen- gateway to the fjords.

Where did I stay in Oslo?

When I first visited Oslo, I stayed for 3 nights at the 4-star Karl Johan Hotel. It is a very popular hotel in central Oslo, located right on Karl Johans Gate, which is Oslo’s main street. It was a short stroll from the Metro Station and the Central Station. I had a pleasant stay with lovely breakfast and comfortable bed.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Sentrum (City centre & Downtown)
💎 Best luxury hotel:Grand Hotel
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo
💰 Best budget hotel:Citybox Oslo

Map of the best areas and neighborhoods in Oslo:

Map of Best Areas & Neighborhoods in Oslo
Map of Best Areas & Neighborhoods in Oslo

Best areas to stay in Oslo for tourists and first-timers are:

1. Oslo City center

Sentrum, where to stay in Oslo for first-time tourists

Oslo City Center (Sentrum) is the best overall area to stay in Oslo for first-time travelers due to its super central location. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of everything, within walking distance to the major sights, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.

Sentrum is the downtown area of Oslo, the oldest neighborhood and the heart of the city, located next to the northern shore of Oslo Fjord.

Oslo city center has highest concentration of tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. Staying in the city center will give you easy access to all amenities that you need for your stay.

Sentrum is home to numerous historical landmarks. One of the most prominent landmarks is the Oslo Opera House, located right in the head of Oslo Fjords. You can buy a ticket to watch a performace here, or climb up to the roof and enjoy panoramic view the city.

There are also several green spaces and parks in the city center. Studenterlunden, for example, is a beautiful park in the heart of the city, surrouned by Frederiks gate, Storingsgata, Karl Johans, and Universitetsgata gate. You can take a stroll during summer, and enjoy ice skating in winter.

Within walking distance from Studenterlunden park lies Oslo Concert Hall, a beautiful location for music and culture. The building has an unique design, and is home to Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, and Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.

Art lovers can also check out The National Gallery to see collections of art works of Norwegian and international artists.

For history buffs, be sure to visit The Norwegian Folk Museum to see how people have been living in Norway since the 16th century. There are also Norwegian Maritime Museum, Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, Munch Museum to explore.

You will also find landmarks such as the Royal Palace, the medieval Akershus Castle and Fortress, containing banquet halls and the Oslo City Hall, Norwegian Parliament, and Kvadraturen.

There is also shopping and dining experience at Oslo’s main street, Karl Johans gate, stretching from the Central Station through the central shopping district and up to the Royal Palace.

There is also an artificial beach and island being constructed near the opera house as a further tourist attraction.

If you’re a fan of shopping, check out Paléet, Byporten, Oslo City, and Steen & Strøm. There are also plenty of family-friendly, quirky attractions such as the mini bottle gallery and Royal Palace Park.

The central location with easy access to public transport as well as the range of attractions makes Sentrum a great family location. Sentrum is home to Oslo’s Central Station, making it very convenient to get to.

With the ferry port in the south of Sentrum, you can take ferries to Kiel in Germany, Copenhagen, and Frederikshavn in Denmark.

This bustling downtown area is filled with a great range of hotels from budget backpacker hostels to luxury hotels. Oslo Sentrum is the best area for tourist, for first-timers, and for those only stay in city for one night.

Stay in Oslo Sentrum if you’re visiting Oslo for the first time; you enjoy a bustling downtown atmosphere; you want the best location for historical landmarks;

Best places to stay in Oslo City Centre for first-timers:

luxury ($$$): Grand Hotel, 5-star family-friendly hotel located within walking distance from Karl Johan high street, Royal Palace, Stortinget Metro Station, the National Theater and its train station. it features rooms with a flat-screen TV, and views of the Karl Johans Gate in many rooms.

mid-range ($$): Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo, 4-star hotel located in the heart of Oslo, close to Oslo Rail central Station, making it one of the best place to stay in Oslo for first-time visitors. It has family rooms, rooftop restaurant, a sauna, swimming pool, and billiards. You can stay in a room with views of Oslo Fjord.

budget ($): Citybox Oslo, a popular 3-star hotel, one of the best places to stay in Oslo on a budget, located in central Oslo within walking distance from Oslo Station and Karl Johans gate shopping street. Also close to the Opera House, Royal Palace and the nightlife of Aker Brygge.

mid-range ($$): Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Oslo, 4-star eco-friendly hotel located within walking distance from Aker Brygge, Oslo City Hall and Oslo Central Station. It has a fitness centre, tour desk and luggage storage.

See Also: How Many Days in Oslo is Enough?

2. Aker Brygge

Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen, beautiful waterfront district
Aker brygge @Giannis Pitarokilis

Aker Brygge was transformed from a shipyard site to a bustling pier and waterfront promenade. This modern waterfront area is a well-known tourist destination, best known for its fine dining options, surrounded by cozy shopping alleys filled with clothing stores.

As well as fine dining, the area is dotted with many high-quality food trucks where you can pick up some lovely street food throughout the day or as you walk along the beautiful and bustling promenade.

This is a lovely neighborhood to visit for couples, as the opportunities for strolls along the bustling promenade and romantic meals in the evening are almost endless. A great destination for a fun and lively date is the bar Lektern which serves drinks right out on the Oslo fjord, offering stunning views as well as delicious food and drink.

The architecture of the area is famously unique and beautiful – an attraction in and of itself – and there are many nationally and internationally renowned art galleries as well as many outdoor art installations. Popular attractions nearby are Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park and Nobel Peace Museum that you can explore.

Aker Brygge is also the departure area for the yellow ferries for fjord cruises or to the Bygdøy peninsula.

Stroll along stroll along the boardwalk at Aker Brygge, you will reach Tjuvholmen (the thief islet). Tjuvholmen is one of the newest developments in Oslo, connect with Aker Brygge by a bridge.

The Tjuvholmen area is home to quality restaurants, rich, architectural diversity, art galleries, a sculpture park, and the Astrup Fearnley Museum.

Stay in Aker Brygge if you love shopping and dining; you are a foodie; you fancy a little romance; you wan waterfront area;

Best places to stay in Oslo near Aker Brygge:

Luxury ($$$): The Thief, 5-star stylish hotel located just a 5-minute walk from Aker Brygge. It features a spa with a Turkish Hamam bath, sauna, and swimming poo, the chic rooftop terrace, and enjoy contemporary Norwegian cuisine at the Thief Food Bar.

budget ($): Baltazar Apartments Tjuvholmen Beautiful budget apartment located close to Royal Palace Park, Royal Palace and Color Line Ferry Terminal Oslo. It has free WiFi, a fitness centre and a garden.

3. Gamle Oslo / Old Town

Located just east of Sentrum, Gamle Oslo, or Old Town is a large district which includes the site of the sadly destroyed old medieval city. It is a great destination for those who want to get a real sense of the history of Oslo. 

The area also includes a range of attractions and lanmarks dating back to the 17th century including the 17th century Old Oslo City Hall, the 12th century Old Aker Church, and the the Oslo Opera House.

Other popular point of interest are the Oslo botanical museum, the Ekeburgparken sculpture park, and the Edvard Munch museum, as well as several beautiful parks. 

Gamle includes a few smaller areas, including Tøyen and Grønland, two of Oslo’s most exciting boroughs, and where you’ll find some of the best Middle-Eastern and Asian restaurants and shops. Gamle Oslo is likely to be a little cheaper than other areas.

Gamle Oslo provides various shopping experience, with both modern shopping centers and vintage boutiques stores such as Fretex Vintage and Frøken Dianas Salonger. You can find vendors selling local products at Grønland Market.

Gamle Oslo is is also home to many restaurants, cafes, and bars, with all kind of cusines include traditional Norwegian dishes and craft beers.

Stay in Gamle Oslo if you are interested in local culture and history; you want a mix of modern and traditional area; you enjoy trying food from different cultures;

Best Places to Stay in Gamle Oslo for first-time visitors:

mid-range ($$): Clarion Hotel Oslo, 4-star hotel, located in the bustling Barcode district of Oslo, this hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and room service for guests. Opera House and the new Munch Museum are Clarion Hotel Oslo’s closest neighbors.

budget ($): Bjørvika Apartments, great apartments in Operakvarteret by the Barcode buildingsas, as well as Sørenga an area by the waterside, located within walking distance from Oslo Central Station and the Oslo Opera House. Also close to Karl Johans Gate and the Medieval Ruin Park.

4. Grünerløkka

Grünerløkka, coolest place to stay in Oslo

Grunnerlokka, also known as Green Hill Slope, or Løkka, is a residence for many young professionals and artists. It is conveniently located on the east of the Akerselva river and the northeast of Downtown Oslo.

With its pretty tree-lined streets and selection of Independent art galleries, this borough is an aesthetic and cultured option.

Originally a working-class neighborhood, it underwent a transformation in the late 19th century as an area for artists and intellectuals, and today, Grünerløkka is a vibrant neighborhoods with trendy place for shopping, dining, and drinking.

Grunerlokka is close enough to walk into the city center but offers the best value accommodation for the great location. For a little more money you can enjoy one of the city’s many stylish converted loft apartments, or choose between the area’s range of affordable hostels and hotels.

Full of hip cafes and eateries, Grunerlokka is also great for foodies and those who enjoy the trendier things in life such as vintage shops and flea markets. A walk along the river through Bla takes you through parks, food courts, and the city’s counterculture center, a route taking you through the neighborhood’s industrial past.

Grunerlokka also has plenty to keep you entertained after dark; there is a huge selection of alternative theatre and music venues for a cultured and exciting evening.

The neighborhood’s very active music scene means that many cafes are open late into the night. While not the best district for partying, there is a lovely, relaxed nightlife to be had in this trendy area of Oslo.

The Munch Museum, RAM Galleri and S9, Sofienberg Park, Kuba Park, Rockefeller Music Hall, Labour Museum are some of the attractions in this area to explore.

Stay in Grunerlokka if you want authentic neighborhood; you’re looking for reasonably priced accommodation.

Best places to stay in Oslo in Grunerlokka for first-timers:

mid-range ($$): Quality Hotel Hasle Linie, 4-star hotel that has an on-site restaurant, free WiFi and a bar. Featuring family rooms, a terrace. Close to Munch Museum and Botanical Garden. Staff can help with English, Spanish, Norwegian and Swedish.

budget ($): Anker Hotel, 3-star budget-friendly hotel, located a 15-minute walk from Karl Johans Gate. It offers a lobby bar with a small garden, free Wi-Fi and colourful rooms with flat-screen TVs.

5. Frogner

Frogner, the most affluent and upmarket area of Oslo
Frogner park Oslo

Frogner is the most affluent and upmarket area of Oslo, with some of the most expensive real estate in Norway. Here you will find high-end shopping, luxury apartments, swish restaurants, the British Embassy, the Embassies of Indonesia, India, Russia, France, Sweden, Egypt, Finland.

Located between the Royal Palace and the Vigeland park, it’s only a short bus or tram ride away from the city center and filled with lovely walking routes and a healthy choice of restaurants and bars.

Frogner park itself covers almost half a million square meters, and is a wonderful picnic spot as well as being home to the largest sculpture park in the world, the fabulous Vigeland Installation.

At the corner of the park near the Majorstua neighborhood, you will find Frogner Stadium and the popular outdoor swimming pool complex Frognerbadet. On another side of the park, you can find Frogner Manor House and the Museum of Oslo.

The park has a café, a restaurant, and the biggest playground in Oslo for children. Family-friendly group tours also run in the area, making Frogner a versatile destination. 

There is also Viking Ship Museum nearby to visit. You can learn more about the Viking Ages through its exhibits and artifacts.

For shopping, head to Frognerveien popular shopping street with lots of fashion stores, Hegdehaugsveien with high-end stores, Frogner Design with Scandinavian-inspired goods.

Frogner is a wonderful destination for families, couples, solo travelers as there is lots to explore, and is fantastic for anyone looking to enjoy a cultural experience during their visit to Oslo.

Stay in Frogner if you’re looking for beautiful walks and picnics; you want easy access to the city center; you like a choice of bars and restaurants.

Best Places to Stay in Oslo in Frogner for first-time tourists:

mid-range ($$): Saga Hotel Oslo, 4-star hotel, situated in the best-rated area in Oslo, Frogner, within easy walking distance to the Royal Palace, Briskeby Tram Stop, Vigeland Sculpture Park. Restaurants and trendy boutiques can be found on the fashionable Bogstadveien Street, a 3-minute walk away.

mid-range ($$): The Apartments Company – The Sweet, 4-star family-friendly hotel, located in the Frogner area of Oslo, short walk from the Royal Palace park.

luxury ($$$): Sommerro, 5-star hotel Conveniently set in Oslo, offering air-conditioned rooms, a fitness centre and a terrace. Popular points of interest nearby are Oslo Central Station, Akershus Fortress and The Royal Palace.

6. Majorstuen

Majorstuen, where to stay in Oslo for shopping
Majorstuen @Jorge Franganillo

Located on the northwest of the city center, Majorstuen is a lively shopping area and an important public transport in Oslo with plenty of shops, trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants.

Near Majorstuen station is the cute and quirky Majorstuen transport museum, a wholesome family attraction.

Majorstuen neighbors Frogner, sitting on the northern side of the Vigeland Park. Close to the city center and with one of the most major metro stations in the city, it’s one of the most popular areas of Oslo.

It’s also a fantastic neighborhood for shopping, boasting the most popular retail street in Norway, Bogstadsveien street, which also leads straight to the beautiful Castle gardens.

You can also buy fresh local products at Majorstuen Farmers’ Market, or at the Majorstuen Shopping Center and the CC Vest shopping center.

The Vestkanttorvet vintage market, the Bymuseet, and the Colosseum Kino are well-worth places to visit while staying in Mahorstruen.

Out in Oslo west, Majorstruen is also fantastic for nightlife which, combined with the great shopping, makes it a great location for a hen weekend or city break.

Stay in Majorstuen if you’re looking for fantastic nightlife; you need a bit of retail therapy; you want to explore the whole city easily; you want to visit the International Museum of Children’s Art.

Best Places to Stay in Majorstuen:

mid-range ($$): Cochs Pensjonat, great family-friendly hotel, located in a fantastic location, close to everything, Karl Johans Gate street, Homansbyen and Dalsbergstien Tram Stops. It offers a breakfast for a discounted rate at Kaffebrenneriet and Espresso House, right outside the hotel.

mid-range ($$): Thon Hotel Slottsparken, 4-star hotel, that has family rooms, located next to the Royal Palace in Oslo, a 5-minute walk from Karl Johans Gate shopping street and National Gallery. It offers rooms with a kitchenette.

luxury ($$$): Radisson Blu Scandinavia, located within short walk from Royal Palace and National Gallery. It has free WiFi, wellness centre with an indoor swimming pool, well-equipped fitness area and saunas. The 21st-floor Summit Bar offers impressive city and Oslo Fjord views.

7. Bislett and St. Hanshaugen

Bislett and St. Hanshaugen, where to stay in Oslo for quiet holiday
ST. HANSHAUGEN @Wilhelm Joys Andersen

Slightly north of the city, Bislett and St Hanshaugen is a popular destination for young professionals to live in and, due to the large student population, it’s a lively area. 

With a booming restaurant and bar scene as well as lovely places to walk and explore, this is a great destination perfect for young couples looking for a mixture of nightlife and daytime activities.

St Hanshaugen is a charming and quiet neighborhood north of Sentrum offering a fusion of old and new buildings, as well as an outdoor cinema that runs throughout the summer.

The main sights in this area are Bislett Stadium, St. Hanshaugen park, Mathallen food market, and Hendrix Ibsen coffee shop.

Bislett Stadium is a famous sports arenas in Oslo and the host of the annual Oslo Bislett Games international athletics event. The outdoor track and the stadium’s indoor running track is open to the public.

Hotels here are much thinner on the ground than elsewhere in the city, making this a tranquil base to retreat to after enjoying the bustling delights of the main city during the day.

Stay in Bislett and St. Hanshaugen if you’re looking for a peaceful base away from the bustling center; you aren’t set on staying in a hotel; you enjoy a less touristy atmosphere.

Best places to stay in Oslo in Bislett and St. Hanshaugen

luxury ($$$): Hotel Continental, 5-star elegant Hotel, centrally located in Oslo, easy walk from Oslo’s main street, Karl Johan. The historic Theatercaféen has been the Oslo’s most popular dining and meeting place for over 100 years

mid-range ($$): Hotell Bondeheimen, 3-star family-friendly hotel in central Oslo, located near the National Gallery, Tinghuset Tram Stop, and Karl Johans Gate.

The Apartments Company – Bislett, modern apartments, conveniently located in the Bislett area of Oslo, featuring fully equipped kitchen. Stensgata tram stop is just 100 m away. Close to Bogstadveien shopping street, Royal Palace and cafes, restaurants and bars and grocery stores.

Where should I stay in Oslo for the first time?

Oslo City Center is the best area to stay in Oslo for first-timers due to its proximity to famous attractions and a wide choice of accommodation. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of everything, within walking distance to major sights, restaurants, bars, and shops.

What are the best areas to stay in Oslo for tourists?

Sentrum, Aker Brygge, Gamle Oslo, Grünerløkka, Frogner, Majorstuen are some of the best areas to stay in Oslo for tourists because they are the most popular and safe neighborhoods for tourists that offer a wide variety of attractions and amenities.

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In conclusion, Oslo City Center, Aker Brygge, Frogner, Majorstuen, Bislett/ St. Hanshaugen, Grunerlokka, and Game Oslo are some of the best places to stay in Oslo for tourists and first-time travelers. They are safe central neighborhoods, offering plenty of hotels for all budgets.

Oslo City center is my favorite area to stay in Oslo due to its central location. It offers easy access to the top attractions, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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