Travelling to Oslo, you don’t really have to bring anything. You can buy most anything you’ll ever need here. However, you’ll probably pay more than you’d like, so below is a list of a few items to bring for your summer visit to Oslo. (Remember to save the receipts if you do buy – and take advantage of the VAT-refund when you leave.)
What to pack
Clothes: The most obvious item to bring to Oslo is warm clothing, even in summer. A warm day can turn into a cool (in more ways than one) evening on the fjord, so bring a sweater and a wind- and waterproof jacket. Norwegians often use all-weather jackets, handy both in summer and winter. The old sou’wester has become fashionable as well; a rain hat with a long brim at the back, guiding rain water away from your neck.
Trainers/tennis shoes: While you don’t have to walk in Oslo, why wouldn’t you? The city’s close proximity to nature is a major draw for any visitor to Oslo. And locals walk everywhere. So bring good shoes. A pair of Wellingtons (rain boots) are useful as well. If you’re going to hike, bike, canoe or just hang out in our great forests or mountains, mozzie repellent is a good idea.
All that said, don’t forget to pack t-shirts, summer dresses, and – unless you prefer sunning au naturel – your bikini!
What not to pack
Formal clothes. Most locals don’t bother. Even business meetings are rather informal. And girls, leave the large make-up bag at home. If you’re looking to play with a Viking boy, your hiking- or skiing skills will be far more relevant than lip gloss.
Endangered plants or animals: Since 1976, Norway has been party to the CITES convention governing trade in endangered species, so you can’t bring endangered plants or animals into the country, including things made from them, so leave the croc-leather shoes behind, as well as any ivory, corals or leopard fur coats you might have laying about.
Also, be careful with pirated goods. All over Europe, customs authorities have severely cracked down on fake Gucci sunglasses and Louis Vuitton handbags the last few years. But whereas in the EU, you might be heavily fined, the harshest penalty you risk in Norway is having your fake Rolex confiscated.
Handy things you might not think to pack
Drugs (and by drugs, I mean the legal stuff): Many Norwegians are reluctant, or even downright sceptical, to pills of any kind, including meds for head aches, indigestion, red eyes, hangovers, etc. If you swear by Advil, NightNurse, Tylenol, Peptobismol or other horrid-looking concoctions, be aware that these types of meds may require prescriptions (and thus a visit to the doctor). Non-prescription drugs are available at the apotek (chemist/drug-store). Only a few basics, like paracetamol and nose spray, are available in supermarkets, in a locked cabinet by the cash register (along with the cigarettes). And they’re all rather expensive, so bring your own (in the original package).
Booze and ciggies: Very expensive, so buy tax-free on arrival to save money (but remember the limits).
Electrical adapter: If you’re coming from Britain or America, you’ll need a power adapter. We use 220 – 230 v and prongs with two round plugs, same as continental Europe.
What does the typical Oslo resident always have in their bag?
The typical Oslovian seems to carry a mini computer in her backpack. Other than that, a debit card (locally known as a minibank card) is the only real necessity. Many never carry cash. In fact, the only ones not accepting minibank cards are beggars on the streets. And they often joke about getting a machine.