A picture from Karl Johans gate. Showing the royal castle.

The architecture in Oslo, especially downtown, may at first appear a bit “dull”, compared to what you find in Copenhagen or Stockholm, but if you know where to go, it has its gems – they’re just scattered around a bit.

In this post, we’ll show you some of the best architectural sites the city have to offer.


The barcode waterfront, seen from the top of the Oslo Opera House

A recent addition to the landscape, is the Barcode area in Bjørvika (picture above, by Torbus, CC). This is a row of new multipurpose high-rise buildings along the docks, kind of like Oslo’s own seafront skyline. It’s part of the ‘Fjord City re-development’ project. It’s an interesting addition, which stands out from the rest of the city.

The Royal Palace

The Royal Castle in Oslo by night
Photo: Max Froumentln, CC

The Royal Palace is an impressive building, and lays at the start of Karl Johans Gate — it’s the building all the way at the end of the street in the first photo in this article. In the summer it is possible to do guided tours inside. Tickets has to be bought in advance, and can be bought at the Post Office. If there are any vacant spots tickets will also be sold outside, before the tour starts. There is usually a long line for tickets outside of the palace, so I wouldn’t count on that option, unless you’re far ahead in the line.

The University of Oslo

Outside of the main building

Inside universitetets aula at university of Oslo. Artwork by Edvard Munch

At The University of Oslo (also along Karl Johans Gate) you have the beautiful Universitetets Aula, featuring art by Edvard Munch (the painter of ‘Scream’) – though this room is only open on occasion for the public. The University of Oslo is the oldest university in Norway. At the moment, only the Faculty of Law is found in this building– all other faculties are at Blindern.

The Oslo Opera House

The Oslo Opera house outside
Photo: Rodrigo Vierira, CC
The opera house seen from the inside
Photo: Nuno Cardoso

The Oslo Opera House. From Jernbanetorget: take the footbridge from Oslo Central Station. This building was awarded the 2008 prize for the best cultural building at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona, and the Mies van der Rohe award for the best European contemporary architecture in 2009. You can climb the marble slopes of building

Akershus Festning

akershus festning medieval castle
Photo: Anne-Sophie, CC

Akershus Festning is a medieval castle and fortress, dating back to 1299. From here you have a great view of the Oslo Fjord. You’ll also find two military history museums here.


holmenkollen ski jump

Holmenkollen is the ski jump located on the west side of Oslo. It first opened all the way back in 1892, but it has been refurbished several times since (last in 2011). There is also a ski museum here. The surrounding area is also good for walking in the summer.

(Opening photo: Eric the Fish, CC)