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When you first think of Oslo, and perhaps Norway in a general sense, it is likely to conjure up images of the glorious yesteryear of Vikings, fjords and alpine sports. But whilst there’s still plenty of that on offer, there’s a lot more to Norway’s hop capital.
It is now a serious cultural and foodie hot spot. It is also the gateway for many travellers wishing to travel east across the country to Bergen, on what is universally acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, to access the glacial majesty of the fjords.
Best Things to Do in Oslo
48 hours in Oslo is just not enough, given how bustling and vibrant the city is. But is that such a bad thing? It will just mean you have to return.
Oslo continues to invest heavily in preserving and showcasing the best of its artistic and historical treasures. You are not short of museums and galleries to choose from.
The latest cultural addition is the National Museum, which is designed to showcase art, cultural and historical artifacts. There are plenty of artifacts the famous Viking era which is vital if you are looking for a Viking fix. Unfortunately, the Viking Ship Museum is now closed until 2025 / 2026. If contemporary art is your thing, then the new Munch Museum on the waterfront is the one for you.
Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip
The Oslo Opera House opened in 2008 with the intention of being the cultural hub of the city. It is THE place to be seen for a sunny evening, whether that’s enjoying a drink in its waterfront bar or walking up its angular sides to take in the views of the fjord.
For a more active way to explore the lesser-known parts of Oslo, take a cycling tour with Viking Biking. The roads are light on traffic and very cyclist friendly. You also won’t find many hills, so it’s accessible for all levels of fitness. Head over to Ingens Gate to explore this trendy art quarter. Then, follow the river upstream to catch a glimpse of jumping salmon.
Tired after a busy day exploring the city and want to relax like a local? Take an early evening dip in the fjord followed by a relax in the sauna at Oslo Badstuforening just around the waterfront from the Opera House.
Read More: 6 Must-See Places to Visit in Oslo, Norway
Where to Stay in Oslo
As you would expect from a capital city, there are plenty of accommodation options to meet all budgets. You may find yourself opting for a more modestly priced option to counterbalance your food and drink expenditure!
City Box Oslo offers a good budget option only 5 minutes’ walk from the main train station and shopping streets. The Radisson Blu offers good mid-range accommodation right in the centre of Oslo. It also has a restaurant and bar on the 34th floor with commanding views over the city.
For a more upmarket option, plump for the chic Amerikalinjen Hotel, which comes complete with its own intimate jazz bar.
What Should You Eat in Oslo?
Whatever kind of cuisine you are in the market for, Oslo has plenty to offer.
For lunch or a mid-afternoon snack, check out Mathallen Food Hall, which is part food hall, part food market. You really must try “brown cheese” when you are here from Ost & Sånt, which is a local delicacy.
‘Cheese’ is a bit of a misnomer when you taste it, as its colour, texture and flavour are more akin to soft toffee. For the best ice cream in Oslo, you really need to try Paradis, which is available in Mathallen and in the central shopping district.
If you are feeling in an indecisive mood, head to Oslo Street Food where you can gorge on small plates proffered from the gastronomic melting pot of over a dozen different cuisines in its indoor industrial chic central location.
For a slightly more upmarket experience, there are plenty of options down on the Aker Brygge waterfront, and Jarmann Gastro Pub is particularly good. If it is a special occasion and you are in the market for an opulent regency style dining experience, head to Statholdergaarden (but make sure to book months in advance).
Where to Drink in Oslo
Oslo boasts a plethora of bars that will suit all tastes. However, it is important to know that food and drink in Oslo is notoriously expensive.
Whilst in Oslo, you really must try the national sport…well, bar sport at least…shuffleboard. You are spoilt for choice of venue but Tilt Bar is one of the most popular with the hip trendy crowd.
If cocktails are your thing, then you really must try Himkok, which aims to embody Norwegian culture in the cocktails it serves in the bar… the spirits for which may well have been distilled in its own distillery on site.
For good beer, a relaxed vibe and often live music, head to Crow Bar & Brewery
Best Places in Shop in Oslo
The main shopping district in Oslo is centrally located running down the semi-pedestrianised Karl Johans Gate from the central train station to the Royal Palace 1.5km away, and on the streets adjoining it.
Here you will find a mix of chic boutiques, small independent retailers, luxury and mid-range brands and the 7 floor Steen & Strøm department store, which has been an Oslo institution since it first opened its doors in 1797.
Frequently Asked Questions
What currency do they use?
What language do they speak?
Norwegian, but English is almost universally spoken
How much should I tip?
Tipping is becoming less common in Norway. But if you wish to recognise good service in a bar or restaurant, then anywhere between 5% – 15% is considered the norm.
What’s the time difference?
1 hour ahead of the UK
What’s the average flight time from the UK?
2 – 4 hours
How should I get around?
Oslo prides itself on being green, so driving in the capital is less commonplace (taxis / Uber are still available). You can walk or cycle to most of the main attractions near the city centre. For attractions slightly further afield, the public transportation system (notably buses, trams and metro) is excellent.
What’s the best view?
To partake in people watching around the hip waterfront area, climb to the top of the Opera House or the viewing level in the Munch Museum . For a view of the greater Oslo area and fjord, take the metro to Holmenhollen Ski Museum & Tower and ascend in the lift to the top of the ski jump (but make sure to enjoy the interesting ski museum whilst there).
The quickest and most cost-effective way to get to downtown Oslo from the airport is via the Flytoget airport express train which departs every 20 minutes.
Read More About Norway
Author Bio: Tom is a freelance travel journalist based on Jersey in the Channel Islands. His passion is getting off the beaten track to explore places that are misunderstood or not on the average traveller’s radar. He loves immersing himself in the local culture so that he can provide readers with an informed narrative about the local quirks of everyday life.
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