The public transport system within the Norwegian cities is generally good — especially in Oslo. The system consists of trams, trains, a metro system (‘T-bane’) and boats. The entire network is administered by Ruter.
At Jernbanetorget (just outside the Oslo Central Station), Gardermoen airport and Aker Brygge, you’ll find Ruter Service Centers, where you can get maps, information, and also buy tickets. The timetables, maps, a route planner for Oslo and the other counties in eastern Norway, along with other useful information can be found at Ruter’s website (linked above).
The two main hubs: Oslo Central Station (‘Oslo S’) and Nationaltheateret, are connected to all metro lines. All trains will pass Oslo Central Station, and most trains (including the Airport Express Train) will also pass Nationaltheateret – which is a more convenient stop for most travelers, as this is near tourist sights such as the Royal Palace, the National Gallery and Oslo Concert Hall.
In the counties of Oslo and Akershus, a simple zone system is used; you pay depending on how many zones you are passing.
The same fare applies, and the same ticket is valid for all means of transport. As of writing this, a one zone ticket will cost you 30 NOK when bought in advance, and 50 NOK when bought from the driver.
Once the ticket is validated, it’s valid for 1 hour.
Options such as a rechargeable traveler’s card, where you prepay a certain number of trips, 1 day tickets, 7 day tickets, one month and even one year passes are also available. Discounts apply for students, children and seniors — so remember to ask about this.
The Oslo Pass may be a smart investment if you’re planning to travel around and see a lot. Not only can you travel freely on the public transport network, you will get admission to several popular tourist attractions.
Tickets are sold at most kiosks (Narvesen, Deli de Luca and 7-11), at metro stations and a few of the tram stops.
Oslo has one of the largest metro systems in Europe — called ‘T-bane’ in Norwegian. Stations are easy to spot, just look for the blue and white signs with and circle with the letter T inside. All six of the metro lines pass through the same tunnel into the city center (Majorstuen through Jernbanetorget to Tøyen), and branch out to the suburban areas.
The system is really easy to figure out, it’s fast and reliable, and is one of the best way to get around Oslo.
Buses and trams
The buses and trams are sort of an extension of the metro network. As mentioned above, the same ticket system is used for all means of public transport; when you leave the metro, you can just continue the journey on a bus or tram.
The Network covers pretty much the entire city area, and it operates from 5 in the morning until just past midnight. Certain bus lines run 24/7.
Trams run every ten minutes throughout the day, and every 20 minutes in the evening and early in the morning. All tram lines converge at Jernbanetorget.
Instead of explaining which buses go where, as these can change, your best bet is to use the trip planner at Ruter’s website to figure out your route.
The local trains cover Oslo and neighboring cities.
Just a quick warning: the orange doors on the cars, marked ‘Ubetjent’ are usually not staffed. You can only use these if your ticket is validated. If you use these without a ticket, or with a non-validated ticket, you can be fined 900 NOK! If you’re unsure, just use the normal cars marked ‘Betjent’.
The main train station is Oslo Central Station (‘Oslo S’), the second one being Nationaltheatret. Oslo S is where you will find more long distance trains to; Sweden, Kristiansand, Bergen and many other destinations. Read more about getting in and out of Oslo here.
Be aware that trains can be unreliable in winter time — though the network has been improved slightly over the last couple of years.
Please note that the ticket you buy at a local train (NSB) is not valid on the airport Express (this is operated by a separate private company).
If you’d like to go out to the Oslo Fjord, you can take the boat from Vippetangen nearby the Akershus Festning. Boat lines also operate between Bygdøy and Aker Brygge. Make sure you check out the schedule, the departures vary from season, and can be infrequent.
Cheap cruises on the Oslo Fjord are also running from Aker Brygge.
You can get a public bike card for 80 NOK (not optional during the middle of the winter — due to snow), valid for a day, at the tourist office. Seasonal cards are available, but you need to book these online.
It’s simple, just use your card and grab a bike from one of the many bike stalls. You can keep the bike for up to three hours before returning it. Right after, you are free to take a new one, so technically, you can bike around for 24 hours, as long as you switch it out every three hours.
(Opening photo: Holger, CC)