Why You Must See Akershus Fortress in Oslo

Akershus Castle Norway

Akershus Fortress was my family’s favorite place to visit in Oslo, hands down. My kids love history, weapons, castles and lots of room to run their legs and their imaginations. I love places that don’t cost us an arm and a leg. It was a win-win!

Why Visit Akershus Fortress (Akershus Festning)?

Akershus Fortress is located in the center of Oslo, looking out over Oslo Fjord. It’s got the type of history us Americans can only dream of: buildings dating from the Middle Ages to the present day which have hosted everything from dramatic military events and foreign occupations to military offices and barracks. These days it plays lovely host to concerts and other cultural activities, too.

If you want to get a sense of Norway’s history and culture, make sure to stop at Akershus Fortress.

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Akershus Fortress
I’m not going to lie, I used my kids’ obsession with weapons and their finger-guns to convince them how much fun a visit to Akershus Fortress would be. Here they are preparing themselves for battle at the entrance.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Akershus Fortress?

It’s free to wander around the paths of Akershus Fortress and take the self-guided tour. You can even bring dogs (on leash).

There’s a fee to enter Akershus Castle (Akershus Slott), to visit Norway’s Resistance Museum, or to take a guided tour.

Akershus Castle Norway
If you are thinking my boys would LOVE these cannons defending Akershus Castle…you would be right.

What is there to Do at Akershus Fortress?

The self-guided tour will show you most of what you want to see here. Check in at the visitor center just inside the gate, housed in the Artillery Building, which was built in 1774. Grab a map and try not to spend all your money on their charming souvenirs. Just outside is the Carp Pond, which is the perfect feed-your-kids-snacks spot.

The free self-guided tour is a chance to explore the history of the fort, see the cannons and the medieval walls as well as the more modern (and actually in use) military barracks, and step inside the courtyard of Akershus Castle.

For an entrance fee, you can get a more in-depth exploration of history at Norway’s Resistance Museum and Akershus Castle. We didn’t have time for this, but both places get good reviews.

Norwegian Castle
Norway’s Resistance Museum in Akershus Fortress explores the history of occupation of Norway. History fans of all ages will enjoy it.

Norway’s Resistance Museum is in a building dating from 1691; it was formerly a gun battery until the museum was formed in 1967, to commemorate the history of the occupation of Norway. If you don’t have time to go in, you can still appreciate the history involved at the adjacent Execution Ground, where 42 Norwegians were executed by Germany occupying forces in 1945.

Akershus Castle was built in 1299 by Håkon V. It was converted to a fortress in 1592 and then slowly renovated into a Renaissance palace. Even if you don’t pay for the tour, you can walk through the guarded gates and wander around the courtyard, which is worth a peek.

During the summer in Oslo, you can visit the modern Royal Palace and peek inside. But for us, the castles built for royalty hundreds of years ago take the cake.