Earlier this year when the Economist Intelligence Unit published its list of the most expensive cities, Oslo topped this biannual survey of 130 locations, edging out the consistently pricey Tokyo. Still, traveling with limited funds doesn't necessarily restrict your ability to enjoy Scandinavia's oldest capital city.
Start your visit to Oslo in the Frognerpark, a 75 acre swath of green populated with over 200 sculptures that sprang from the artistic imagination of Gustav Vigeland. A temperate summer afternoon practically demands a leisurely stroll, so take a detour back to central Oslo through Frogner then head for Universitets gate. A few dozen steps from the steady hum of activity on Karl Johans gate, the grand nineteenth century building on the corner of Kristian Augusts gate contains the largest collection of Norwegian and international art in the country. Luring the uninitiated in with a smattering of known artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Degas, the majority of the National Museum's gallery space is actually devoted to the paintings, sculptures, and drawings of native artists. Munch has his representatives here, but the true highlights are the lesser-knowns: be sure to go and see Johan Christian Dahl's renderings of the endless northern sky.
From the museum, hang a left on Kristian Augusts gate and consider ducking into Cafe Amsterdam to take the edge off your hunger or simply opt for a foamy pint. Rignes, the local brew, is a reasonable US$5.50, while a more flavorful Belgian beer will set back the less-frugal traveler twice that amount.
When you've had your fill, continue northeast to St Olav's gate, turn left, and let this street lead you to the meticulously manicured Slottsparken. Make your way to the center of the park and pause to admire the elegant architecture of the Royal Palace. A constitutional monarchy, the Norwegian royal family has its own regiment of soldiers, and the requisite guard changing ceremony in front of the residence is every bit as impressive as anything you'll see at Buckingham Palace. Arrive a few minutes before 1:30pm for a chance to snap a few pictures of the daily event.
What about transportation? it's possible to get around Oslo (and incidentally, see much more than you would from the underground T-bane) for under US$10 annually. Forget about costly cab fare or public transportation passes; for 60 kroner, you'll be able to bike virtually anywhere within the city limits to your heart's content, or at least as far as your legs will take you.