Dangers & Annoyances
Oslo is a safe city but, as with anywhere, it's best not to be complacent; keep your wits about you, especially in the wee hours.
- East Oslo has a reputation for being dodgy but, while it's true that you're likely to encounter a fair few drug addicts (and sometimes very public drug use), even here the city is still reasonably danger-free at all hours of the day and night.
- If you're planning on taking to Oslo’s waterways or hiking up in the hills, remember that the weather here can, even in summer, change rapidly.
Oslo Pass (www.visitoslo.com/en/activities-and-attractions/oslo-pass; one/two/three days adult 395/595/745kr, child 210/295/370kr), sold at the tourist office and available as an app for smartphones, is a good way of cutting transport and ticket costs around the city. The majority of the city's museums are free with the pass, as is all public transport within zones 1 and 2. Other perks include restaurant and tour discounts.
Embassies & Consulates
Emergency & Important Numbers
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- Manners Norwegians are reserved but unfailingly polite.
- Give thanks A tusen takk (thanks very much) in shops and restaurants never goes astray, even if all else is in English.
- Self-reliance Norwegians assume that you're fine unless you directly ask for help, but once you've done so they are usually more than willing to be of assistance.
- Respect Norwegian men are brought up to be extremely respectful of women; in bars or other social places, women usually have to make the first move.
Norwegians are generally tolerant of the non-hetero community, especially in super-liberal Oslo. Homosexuality has been legal in Norway since 1973, and the country became the first in the world to pass a law prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals. Then, in 2009, Norway became the sixth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage when its parliament passed a gender-neutral marriage law. The new law granted full rights to church weddings, adoption and assisted reproduction to married couples regardless of their sexual orientation.
Oslo has a lively LGBTQI+ scene. Contact FRI for event details, including Oslo Pride.
Do note, however, there have been very occasional attacks on gay couples holding hands in public in the eastern areas of the city.
A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss, medical problems and cancellation or delays to your travel arrangements (due to illness, ticket loss, industrial action etc) is a good idea. Paying for your ticket with a credit card can often provide limited travel-accident insurance and you may be able to reclaim the payment if the operator doesn't deliver.
Note that some policies specifically exclude 'dangerous activities' such as motorcycling, skiing, mountaineering, snowmobiling or even hiking.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you're already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
All hotels and hostels in Oslo provide free wi-fi access and some also have computers with internet for guest use. Most bars and cafes also have free wi-fi for those who are eating or drinking there.
Banks with ATMs found throughout the city centre. Most shops, restaurants, bars and cafes prefer debit or credit cards over cash, even for small purchases.
Tipping on a North American scale is not expected and can be considered embarrassing to do so.
- Service charges and tips are included in restaurant bills and taxi fares.
- If the service has been particularly helpful in a midrange to top-end restaurant, 5% is generally appropriate, while 10% is considered generous.
- If you're paying by credit card in a restaurant, space will be left for adding a tip.
These standard opening hours are for high season (mid-June to mid-September).
Banks 8.15am to 3pm Monday to Wednesday and Friday, 8.15am to 5pm Thursday
Post Offices 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm Saturday
Restaurants noon to 3pm and 6pm to 11pm
Shops 10am to 5pm Monday to Wednesday and Friday, 10am to 7pm Thursday, 10am to 2pm Saturday
Supermarkets 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm Saturday
Vinmonopolet 10am to 5pm Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 6pm Thursday and Friday, 10am to 3pm Saturday
New Year's Day (Nyttårsdag) 1 January
Maundy Thursday (Skjærtorsdag) March/April
Good Friday (Langfredag) March/April
Easter Monday (Annen Påskedag) March/April
Labour Day (Første Mai, Arbeidetsdag) 1 May
Constitution Day (Nasjonaldag) 17 May
Ascension Day (Kristi Himmelfartsdag) May/June, 40th day after Easter
Whit Monday (Annen Pinsedag) May/June, 8th Monday after Easter
Christmas Day (Første Juledag) 25 December
Boxing Day (Annen Juledag) 26 December
- Smoking Increasingly uncommon and forbidden in enclosed public spaces, including hotels, restaurants and bars.
Taxes & Refunds
For goods that cost more than 315kr (290kr for food items) at shops displaying the 'Tax Free' logo, you're entitled to a 'Refund Cheque' for the 25% MVA (the equivalent of value-added or sales tax) or 15% for food items.
Claiming Tax Refunds
At the point of sale, you fill out the cheque with your name, address and passport number, and then, at your departure point from the country, you present your sealed goods, passport and Refund Cheque to collect the refund; ferry passengers normally collect their refund from the purser during limited hours once the boat has sailed.
For more information, pick up the How to Shop Tax Free brochure from most tourist offices and some tourist shops, which explains the procedure and lists border crossings at which refunds can be collected, or visit www.globalblue.com/tax-free-shopping/norway/article117202.ece.
Telekort card phones and coin phones can be found in the city, but are increasingly rare. Coin phones take 1kr to 20kr coins, but you'll need at least 5kr for a local call. Telephone kiosks can still be found, especially around Grønland. Faxes can be sent from post offices and hotels.
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Local SIM cards are widely available, including at the airport, Central Station, 7-Eleven stores and some Narvesen kiosks. There are three mobile-service providers: Telenor Mobil, Telia and Chess A.
There are public toilets in the Oslo S and Nationaltheatret train stations, as well as outside near most of the major sights, but you'll have to pay to use most of them; often payment is only accepted in the form of a credit or debit card.
Oslo Visitor Centre Accessible from inside the main train station and from Jernbanetorget. Sells transport tickets as well as the useful Oslo Pass, and can help with booking activities. Publishes free guides to the city.
Den Norske Turistforening Tourist Information Centre DNT provides information, maps and brochures on hiking in Norway and sells memberships that include discounted rates on mountain huts along the main hiking routes. You can also book some specific huts and pick up keys, as well as buy hiking gear.
UNGinfo The exceptionally helpful and savvy Ungdomsinformasjonen (Youth Information Office, also known as USE-IT) is aimed at backpackers under the age of 27. It can help make (free) bookings for inexpensive or private accommodation and answer any questions you have about Oslo.
Travel with Children
Oslo is a wonderfully family-friendly destination, with most hotels and restaurants and many sights warmly welcoming little travellers. Museums and galleries often have activities specifically for children, but most Oslo parents will tell you that the best pursuits are often the simplest and are free.
There are no rules against climbing the statues here or chasing your little sister around the garden's 3000m mosaic labyrinth.
Cannons and fortifications are always great for sparking the imagination.
Lots of chances to play house and weekend and holiday events are geared towards children.
Need to Know
- Babysitting Well-vetted babysitters can be hired through Barnepasseren (www.barnepasseren.no).
- Museums Most museums will make you use their own baby carriages, so time your visit to start before sleep times.
Oslo is generally well set up for travellers with disabilities and all newly constructed public buildings are required by law to have wheelchair access. Most of the major sights in the city are at least partially accessible for wheelchairs. That said, like in most countries, the situation remains a work in progress.
The Oslo Visitor Centre can help provide a list of accessible hotels and hostels.
The Flytoget airport express train service is fully accessible for wheelchair users – contact a station attendant for assistance with the built-in ramp. Oslo's newer trams have low floors and are easy to access for the mobility impaired. Older trams often have narrow stairways and can be challenging to access without assistance. Most metro stations in Oslo have lifts or ramps that make the trains accessible for the disabled, but watch the gap between the train and the platform. Most (but not all) trains have carriages with space for wheelchair users and many public buildings have wheelchair-accessible toilets.
On the stations, the trains are announced over the PA system and displayed on screens and trains. On the trains, the stations are announced over the PA system. Nearly all street crossings are equipped with either a ramp or a very low kerb, and crossing signals produce an audible signal – longer beeps when it's safe to cross and shorter beeps when the signal is about to change.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
A limited number of volunteering opportunities can be found with local NGOs working with homeless people and recently arrived immigrants; however, the overwhelming number of these positions are filled by locals. Oslo Rød Kors (Red Cross) does accept non-Norwegian speaking volunteers; get in touch via its website (www.rodekors.no).