Oslo is one of the best places to visit in Norway if you’re a museum junkie, and what makes it even better is that the major ones are located practically next door to each other! There are six museums in Oslo that focus on Norwegian culture, history and industry are located on a peninsula called ‘Bygdøy’. These museums are must-see’s for anyone visiting the Norwegian capital, but at first glance can seem a bit confusing; I’ve always found it tough to explain to groups, so I decided to sit down and map out exactly what you should see as well as how to do it. This is what I’ve put together.
- About Bygdøy
- Map of Bygdøy
- The Royal Summer Residence & Oscarshall
- The Museums in Oslo at Bygdøy
- Getting to/from Bygdøy to see the museums in Oslo
- Getting Around Bygdøy
- Eating at Bygdøy
- FAQ’s + tips
- Resources for Museums in Oslo
Bygdøy is a peninsula located just outside Oslo’s city centre. The name comes from an Old Norse term that means ‘built district on the island’ as the peninsula was originally an island (the land has been rising). Due to its proximity to the city, real estate here is expensive: a small apartment will cost you $1 million USD, while a house will cost several million. In 2013, a house went on the market for $20 million USD, breaking records.
The most known museums in Oslo are located on Bygdøy.
Map of Bygdøy
An excellent brochure is available in the museums that includes a map of the peninsula. Here’s what the map looks like:
The Royal Summer Residence & Oscarshall
Bygdøy hasn’t just attracted the wealthy; it is also home to the Norwegian Royal Family’s summer residence (you will see it if you take the public bus to or from Bygdøy). It’s believed that the land has been used by Norwegian monarchs almost continuously since 1305. The estate, Bygdø Royal Farm, was originally built in 1733 for the Danish governor, but after the establishment of a Swedish-Norwegian union, King Charles III purchased the land from the government. King Oscar I built the palace Oscarshall (visible from the main highway to Bygdøy & the ferry) on the grounds. King Oscar II constructed residences and also established the Norwegian Folk Museum on the ground. After Norway became independent in 1905, King Haakon VII and Queen Maud lived at the estate while the Royal Palace was refurbished. Since then, it has served as a summer residence for the royal family and is actively used every summer.
Today, Bygdø Royal Farm is one of the best examples of an upper-class 18th-century country house in Norway. It has ceased its function as a royal farm; King Harald handed over the user rights of the farm to the Norwegian Folk Museum, who are actively preserving it.
The Museums in Oslo at Bygdøy
There are six museums you can visit at Bygdøy. Three of them focus on Norway’s seafaring and exploring the history and the other three focus on Norway’s history and culture.
Here’s my quick overview of the museums, numbered according to the map above. I’ve also included some tips about each museum.
(1) Norwegian Folk Museum (Norske Folkemuseum)
The open-air museum contains over 140 buildings, sorted according to their county in Norway. Most notable is the Stave Church, which was relocated from the village ‘Gol’ in the 19th century. The museum has an excellent exhibition on the indigenous Sami population, as well as Norwegian farming culture. During the summer months, actors walk around the museum providing additional information and activities on the old ways of life.
Note- this museum takes 2-3 hours to explore fully and involves walking and hills. Not recommended on a rainy day.
(2) Viking Ship Museum
One of the most popular museums in Norway, the Viking Ship museum lets you get up close to real Viking ships from around the year 800 AD – and they are 96% original! Three ships are inside the museum, and there’s also an exhibition with the goods that were found in the ships when they were discovered in the 19th century. This is an unmissable museum, but keep in mind it’s popularity draws large crowds.
Notes- the souvenir shop is excellent! Bags cannot be taken into the museum. The ticket gives you free admission to the Historical Museum within a 48 hour period. Recommended visiting time: 45 minutes – 1 hour.
(3) Kon-Tiki Museum
The Kon-Tiki Museum is all about the exploration and research of Thor Heyerdahl, who is famous around the world for his crossing of the Pacific Ocean on the balsa-wood raft Kon-Tiki in 1947. Inside the museum, you can see the original Kon-Tiki, the Ra II, as well as artefacts from Easter Island, Fatu-Hiva and the Galapagos. The Academy Award-winning Kon-Tiki documentary is screened every day at 12pm.
Note- Combo tickets can be purchased for the Maritime Museum & Fram Museum. This museum sells ferry tickets back to the city. Recommended visiting time: 30-45 minutes
(4) Fram Museum
The Fram ship is famous for its expeditions to the North and South Poles. The museum has excellent exhibitions about these expeditions, and you can also walk onto the Fram and see how the crew lived and worked together. There’s also an introductory film about the expeditions. This is my favourite museum!
Note- Excellent cafe and souvenir shop, which has an extensive book collection and lots of Arctic-themed souvenirs. Recommended visiting time: 1.5 – 2 hours
(5) Maritime Museum
The museum covers Norway’s maritime history (makes sense) and has exhibitions about the Hurtigruten, maritime art, and the shipping industry.
Note- has a great cafe! Recommended visiting time 30-45 minutes.
(6) Holocaust Center
This is the centre for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities – it’s more of a research centre than the museum. The building is the former residence of Nazi collaborator Vidkun Quisling. There is an exhibition about the Nazipolicy of mass murder with special focus on the fate of Norwegian Jews.
Note- Long walk from the other museums. There is a Jewish Museum in Oslo if you want to learn more about Jews in Norway. There is a Resistance Museum in the city if you want to learn more about World War II.
Opening hours for the museums in Oslo on Bygdøy
|Viking Ship Museum||10-16||9-18||9-18||9-18||10-16|
Prices for the Museums
|Viking Ship||120 NOK||90 NOK||Free|
|Kon-Tiki||120 NOK||90 NOK||50 NOK|
|Fram||120 NOK||90 NOK||50 NOK|
|Maritime||120 NOK||90 NOK||50 NOK|
|Folk||160 NOK||n/a||40 NOK|
|Holocaust Center||70 NOK||50 NOK||30 NOK|
Combination Tickets & Oslo Pass
The Fram, Kon-Tiki & Maritime Museums have combination tickets available:
- 2 of the museums: Adults 220 NOK / Seniors 160 NOK
- 3 of the museums: Adults 320 NOK / Seniors 240 NOK
If you visit the Viking Ship Museum, you can use the ticket for free entrance to the Historical Museum (located in the city centre) if used within 48 hours.
The Oslo Pass covers all the museums as well as public transport. The 24-hour Oslo Pass costs 445 NOK for adults.
Getting to/from Bygdøy to see the museums in Oslo
Option 1: Take the ferry
white line on the map.
The Bygdøy ferry runs from Oslo’s City Hall and stops twice at Bygdøy: Dronningen & Bygdøynes. The journey has incredible views of the Oslofjord, Akershus Fortress & Oslo city. The walk from Dronningen to the Viking Ship Museum may be a little long for some, but the Bygdøynes stop is right behind the Kon-Tiki/Fram museums.
The ferry doesn’t run all year: it runs from 15 March – 13 October. Keep this in mind when planning your trip!
One Way Ticket Cost: Adults 50 NOK (Seniors + Kids 50% off)
Round Trip Ticket Cost: Adults 75 NOK (Seniors + Kids 50% off)
Tickets can be bought on board (10 NOK more expensive), at the ticket office on the pier, or at the Kon-Tiki Museum. If you have the Oslo Pass it’s free – you just have to show the pass on board.
Note – last year some of my groups had issues with the ferry being over-crowded during the high season, resulting in delays.
The pier at City Hall is easy to find: there’s a big sign saying “Ferry to the Museums”. Otherwise, look for pier 3. The Dronningen stop is signed from the Folk Museum, but it can be a little tricky to find (try to use Google Maps or the map). The Bygdøynes stop is also not marked, but you can see the pier from the Kon-Tiki & Fram Museums. The ferry is a pastel-yellow colour.
Option 2: Take the bus
Navy line on the map
The public bus network Ruter operates from the city centre to Bygdøy. The bus you are going to want is Bus 30.
City Centre – Bygdøy
The bus departs from both the central train station (Jernebanetorget) and the National Theatre before heading towards Bygdøy. It will stop four times on Bygdøy: Folkmuseet (Folk Museum), Viking Ship Museum, Bygdøynes (Fram, Kon-Tiki, Maritime) and Frimurerhjemmet (closest for Holocaust Center) before terminating at Huk.
Bygdøy – City Centre
If taking the bus back to the city from either the Viking Ship Museum or the Folk Museum, simply wait for the bus heading to Nydalen and get off in the city at the stop best for you.
It’s a bit trickier if you are leaving from Bygdøynes (Fram, Kon-Tiki, Maritime). The only bus that stops there is going to Huk. Get on the bus and get off at Frimurerhjemmet. From there, cross the street and wait for the bus heading towards Nydalen. This saves time and is better than travelling all the way to Huk and then waiting for the bus to turn around.
The journey from Bygdøy to the National Theatre (and vice versa) takes around 15 minutes. The buses come every 10-15 minutes depending on the time of day.
If you have the Oslo Pass, the bus is free.
If you need to buy a ticket, a single adult ticket is 36 NOK for one hour of travel. Seniors & kids are 18 NOK for one hour of travel.
Tickets can be bought at kiosks and ticket machines. There are plenty of these in the city, but none at Bygdøy – if you are travelling this way, I’d recommend picking up a 24-hour card in the city before coming out. You can buy tickets on board, but you must pay in cash. Otherwise, if you have a phone you can download the Ruter app and use it to buy tickets.
Option 3: Walk/Cycle
green line on the map
The Oslo bike share bysykkel is located throughout Bygdøy and the city centre, and with that, you can cycle to or from the peninsula. To use the bikes, you will need to have the app on your phone.
If you are up for it, walking takes around 1 hour 15 minutes from the Folk Museum to the City Hall. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it. Once you are past the summer residence you walk alongside the main freeway into Oslo, which is noisy and not very nice. You do, however, walk along the water.
Getting Around Bygdøy
Say you start at the Viking Ship Museum and want to walk to the Fram Museum – how doable is it?
The walk between those two museums takes around 20 minutes, and you walk through the neighbourhood, giving you the chance to check out these upper-class Bygdøy homes. It’s not well signed for pedestrians; however if you keep an eye on the road signs, they point towards the museums. It is a little hilly in some places. The public bus follows the same route as the walking path, so as long as you can see where the public bus (or the countless tour buses) is going, you are fine!
If you have a bus ticket, you can also easily take the public bus between the museums.
Eating at Bygdøy
If you are after a quick bite to eat, the best museum cafeteria’s are at the Fram Museum and the Maritime Museum – both have simple sandwiches and pastries. For more sit down cafes, there is a great one at the Folk Museum. However, my favourite place to go to is Cafe Hjemme hos Svigers. Located between the Viking Ship Museum & Fram Museum, this cosy cafe has excellent sandwiches, salads, and small meals. The owner is typically always around for a chat, and the food is incredible considering how quick they prepare it. The cafe also doubles as an antique shop! I’d really recommend it if you need a break from the museums and want to try somewhere more local.
FAQ’s + tips
How crowded does it get at Bygdøy? During the summer, it gets very crowded. It’s not uncommon to see a dozen tour buses outside the Viking Ship Museum as it opens. Most tour groups visit the Viking Ship Museum & Kon-Tiki Museum, and they typically do so in the morning. If you can wait to the late afternoon, I’d 100% recommend visiting then. The Folk Museum can get crowded during the summer break as it’s very popular with kids
Should I use the hop-on hop-off bus to get to Bygdøy? I honestly wouldn’t recommend it. I understand the comfort of knowing how the bus works, having it in English, and it being catered to tourists, but the public bus is cheaper and provides a more local experience.
Can I do Bygdøy in a day? Technically, yes you can. However, you will be rushing through the museums. In 2018 my husband and I got a 24-hour Oslo Pass and did Bygdøy in a day. We started at the Folk Museum and then went to the Viking Ship, Kon-Tiki and Fram Museums – taking the bus to Bygdøy and the ferry to the city. We didn’t really focus on information at the museums and barely saw the Folk Museum. We were also exhausted by the end of the day. But it is possible!
Have a question? Let me know!