Oslo. What can I say? This city is a special place, because it’s still very young and has so much potential. Lots of regeneration and energy is transforming this city so I’m excited to see its progress. On our short trip here, it rained pretty much every day with one of the days having torrential rain! Not so different from London then…
Oslo is mainly renowned for the Nobel Peace Prize and most recently the Freedom Forum. So lots about humanity and helping others. We got the chance to make our way around and see a bit of old and new Oslo and I have to say we really loved it.
Operahuset Oslo — In other words the Opera house. This was like the Southbank Centre but much bigger and all about the design of the building. Both the inside and the outside of the building can be used — the inside for Ballet and Opera in a clean and contemporary setting with the roof providing amazing views of the city from all angles. We met with someone who led the project of redesigning it several years ago and they explained the thinking behind it all. The design came from the essence of being on a journey, so you can walk all around the roof of the building and have a different experience from each point which will of course be different to someone else. A truly phenomenal place even if it was raining!
Ekebergparken — The national park overlooking the city. Like the other Scandinavian cities we had to explore the outdoors. Ekebergparken was literally on the edge of the city and was a really nice trail to walk around, with lots of sculptures and contemporary art hidden along the path ways. We had the smell of wet woodland at twilight hour and it was really nice. Lots of runners and evening walkers.
Nobel Peace Centre — Of course we had to visit! This world renowned award has a house for all of its beliefs and achievements so I was extra excited to visit. Funnily enough, they had a temporary exhibition on about something that I feel heavily about: Refugees and displacement. Lots of video, photography and installations that reflected their stories and feelings about being torn from home which was actually quite emotional. The history of the Nobel Peace Prize and all that had won it was eye opening to the amazing people and their efforts to better the world. Truly amazing.
Sognsvann — As usual we went on our hunt for the beautiful outdoors that Scandinavia is so known for. It was rainy and drizzly and we’d already got soaked the day before so had to psych ourselves up for another wet day. A place very popular with runners, it’s a massive lake with lots of woodland around it and just a calm and serene view from all angles. There’s a few places dotted around for picnicking and bathing, so you can imagine how nice it is when it’s warm and sunny. Just a really nice outdoor place to walk, talk and get in the way of runners.
Holmenkollen Ski jump and Museum — We don’t ski, neither have we ever tried but we just decided to go and learn about it at the very least. The ski jump is a little bit outside the city by train and quite a hilly walk up so not the nicest thing on a drizzly day.
To Eat and Drink
Stock — This was a random find whilst out and about in the wind and rain. In Oslo, most places will stop serving food between a certain time to separate lunch and dinner and to prep for the evening. We managed to catch this place serving just in time and so glad! I don’t remember anything I ate apart from the Fish soup. It was literally mind-blowing — bite sized pieces of white fish, prawns, squid and mussels in a light soup. It was so fresh and wholesome, just what we needed after being wind chapped! They also do great gin cocktails.
Restaurant Eik — This little place was right around the corner to where we were staying another small plates type of place. The menu changes weekly along with the wine selection that can be paired with each meal. We went for a good mix of food and each was put together really well and equally well presented. We asked a lot about the wine pairings and the lady looking after us was really knowledgeable about which regions the wine was sourced and why it complemented that particular dish. The restaurant was buzzing and quietened as the evening went on, but the overall ambience felt like we were in a slightly modernised restaurant scene from a 90s film.
Fuglen — Breakfast was normally the time to visit specialist coffee places and Fuglen was no exception. A long and thin coffee shop with dark, glossy wood interiors and golden lighting features. It had a classical feel but still contemporary in its design. Of course a strong coffee and cinnamon bun, we were good to go!
Tim Wendelboe — This micro-roastery houses a small coffee shop that serves up specialist coffees and that’s it. You choose coffee by what kind of flavours you like and then how you’d like it made. Their wholesale business is run out of this small space and all coffees are available buy by the bag. Serious coffee at its finest.
Mathallen — Food halls are clearly a thing so we visited this one down the road to Tim Wendelboe. It’s a good 15–20 minute walk so maybe down the road is an understatement. Lots of choice here so we went for Nordic fish and chips, dumplings and gelato to finish off. If you’re a foodie this is yet another haven to try!
Baker Nordby — We kept walking past this place every day and stared at the cakes and pastries in the window. When we did go in we went full throttle and got three whole pastries. Sugar fiends much? Coffee was good, pastries even better. We found it was quite a popular lunch place for nearby office workers for toasted sandwiches and coffee.
Grand Cafe — We came to this place the day before and they were fully booked so booked for the next evening. The food was vary similar to Restaurant Eik in that they served up small plates with unusual combinations of ingredients. The presentation was also similar but a bit more quirky, with a side coming in a tiny saucepan, bread and butter in a wooden box and cutlery stacked neatly in a special holder. We got talking to the lady looking after us who turned out be a Scotswoman living in Oslo with her Norwegian husband. She gave us a really honest insight into life in Norway and how it differed from the U.K — let’s just say she’s glad to be in Oslo!
General tips and experiences
Opening times — Most places stop serving food by 10pm so it’s quite hard to find food that’s fresh and healthy after this time. That’s not to say they’re not open, they just don’t serve food.
People — Again this is a diverse city but maybe not as much as Stockholm and Copenhagen yet. There’s a shared love of the outdoors and quite a homely feeling about everyone we interacted with. The city in general isn’t crowded at all, with most streets free of cars by 8 or 9pm!
The City in general — Oslo feels like a young city in the middle of change and innovation with lots of energy. Yet it has a global status through the Nobel Peace prize and most recently the Freedom Forum.