Located between rolling green hills and the blue Oslofjord, Oslo has undergone a complete transformation over the past decade. Formerly seen as the little brother of Copenhagen and Stockholm, the Norwegian capital has now become one of Scandinavia’s hot spots design and architecture. If you’ve got a love for all things art and artisanal, this one’s for you.
Where to eat
Kick off your Norwegian adventure with an introduction to the city’s culinary scene. Oslo is a bona fide culinary destination with new restaurants are popping up all the time, and many take a creative approach to Norwegian ingredients and gastronomic traditions. Dining options range from trendy food halls to renowned Michelin restaurants and let’s not forget the many award-winning coffee shops.
At Mathallen Oslo, an indoor market brimming with eateries and specialty shops, you can sample an array of Norwegian delicacies. Head to local Vulkanfisk for some local smoked fish or indulge in some creamy Norwegian cheese at Ost & Sånt.
You’re in for a real treat at the three Michelin-starred restaurant, Maaemo. Featuring tasting menus of Nordic passion and precision, the culinary creations pay homage to classic dishes with a contemporary twist.
What makes Oslo’s coffee scene great is the affinity for the brew combined with some serious efforts to prepare it in the best ways possible. World-champion baristas import, roast, and grind coffee beans with great care and enthusiasm. One of them is Tim Wendelboe. Tim is a legend among baristas and roasters and in addition to his own coffee shop, has a coffee plantation in Columbia that is completely organic.
Things to do
First and foremost: rent a bike. Oslo’s city centre is compact and the short distances to major attractions make it a great city to explore on bicycle. With over 50 museums and galleries, including the world’s largest sculpture park and the Munch Museum, you’ll be spoiled for choice, but it’s the contrast between historic sights, such as the Royal Palace, set against modern architecture that makes this ultra-green city a must-visit.
The most highlighted stop of your visit to Olso will probably be the Opera House in the Bjørvika district. Home to the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the impressive structure was built in 2008 to resemble a floating iceberg. Follow the marble slope that leads to the rooftop and from there, you’ll have a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the harbour.
For the shopping enthusiasts among us, Oslo is a true paradise. From the historic streets to the ultra-modern shopping centres, Oslo offers something for everyone. In the heart of the city is the famous Karl Johans gate, where you can stroll endlessly past shop windows of both internationally famous brands and local boutiques. Here, authentic Norwegian style blends effortlessly with the latest fashion trends.
For those looking for unique finds, the Grünerløkka district and the Vulkan area are highly recommended. These vibrant neighbourhoods are home to countless independently run shops and studios, where you can shop for handmade souvenirs and unique finds.
Where to stay
With so many things to explore, we suggest staying at the Grand Hotel Oslo. The legendary five-star hotel is known for hosting the annual Nobel Peace Prize banquet and has, since its opening in 1874, maintained its prominence. Adorned with art pieces, the luxury retreat is located right in the heart of the city, only a stroll away from Oslo’s central station, shopping area and main attractions.
At Palmen Restaurant, you can combine your appetite for Nordic delicacies and distinctive works of art. We, in particular, found Vanessa Martha Baird’s piece consisting of 36 different paintings “I am You are she /he /it is They are” intriguing.
While you’re there, don’t miss out on a visit to the award-winning and full-service Artesia Spa, which is located on the eighth floor of the hotel. Saunas are an integral part of the Scandinavian culture and a visit to the sauna is a must (psst… the cold plunge is optional).
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