A Weekend in Oslo
– Hidden Gems of the Norwegian Capital
By: Margrethe Knudsen
(who has been living in Oslo - and loving it - since 2009)
When I first moved to Oslo, I did so intending to move away again one day, just like many other people. The years at university came and went, punctuated by a couple of trips abroad, and the city that was supposed to be a short-term fling became a long-lasting love affair. Oslo is a city many people love to hate, but it’s also a city that, in my opinion, actually has everything you need to have a good life. So here are my tips for an absolutely amazing weekend in Oslo, whether you're visiting for the first time or, like me, you're lucky enough to live there.
Dinner – Peloton
The Peloton is an Italian, bicycle-inspired bar which is right next to the Jakob Culture Church and has one of the city's most interesting pizza menus. The menu isn't that big, but the pizza is excellent and well worth a visit.
With its dimmed lighting, this is a popular "hang out" for those who want a slightly more relaxed feel, but who don't want white tablecloths and too fine an ambiance. An absolutely classic restaurant at one end of Torggata.
Entertainment – Duckpin
As the first Duckpin restaurant in Europe, Duckpin is a fun addition to Oslo's nightlife. Mini bowling is mainly played in nine states on the East Coast of the USA, but has now made its way into the nightlife of Oslo city centre. Play by yourself or bring along all your friends – mini bowling is entertaining for everyone!
You can either book a table in advance or just drop in.
Breakfast – Godt Brød
Take the tram to Olaf Ryes plass (Olaf Rye's Square) and enjoy a delicious and filling breakfast that the locals just love - bread with assorted toppings. The Norwegians love bread, and with good reason - there's nothing quite like the heavenly taste of freshly baked bread.
This is the place I go when I'm in the mood for an exceptionally good breakfast. I always have trouble choosing what to go for, but most of the time I end up with a cheese, ham, and salad baguette, and a cup of freshly brewed black coffee to go with it. A perfect start to the day!
Sightseeing – Grünerløkka
This is often hailed as Oslo's trendiest neighbourhood, and perhaps not without reason. Here you'll find quirky little shops that sell really interesting merchandise, perhaps some of the city's best cafés, and parks where artists practise juggling and tightrope walking. The neighbourhood has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, and it's no wonder that The New York Times has named it one of the coolest places to be in the whole of Europe.
Lunch – Creperie de Mari
This is one of Oslo's hidden gems when it comes to a really delicious lunch. Here you'll find authentic French crepes and galettes, and you can choose between sweet, savoury, vegan, and gluten-free options.
If you ask me, this place serves the best pancakes in town. Every time I eat here, I wonder how many I can actually eat before I end up having to roll out instead of walking.
Sightseeing – Sørenga, Bispevika and the Norwegian Opera House
Oslo's newest neighbourhood has transformed from being a place people used to observe from a distance to somewhere they actively seek out to visit. Here you'll find bathing spots during the summer, doughnut shops serving hot chocolate on colder days, and exciting new stores that are unique to this part of town.
Make sure you also visit Oslo's recognisable landmark - the Norwegian Opera House. Wander around its foyer, walk up onto the roof, and check out the city's finest and cleanest public toilets.
Dinner – Vippa
In recent years, Oslo has truly grown into a city with a wide selection of fantastic eateries. One of the places that contributed to this remarkable transformation is the food court at Vippa. The food court is located in the old warehouse building of the silo on Vippetangen (the southern tip of the Akersnes peninsula in central Oslo and overlooking the Oslofjord) and can offer food from almost every corner of the globe. Try out food from Aleppo in Syria, pierogi from Poland, or authentic Chinese noodles.
During the summer, Vippa offers possibly the city's most stunning outdoor terrace, with the sound of waves and a view overlooking the islands in the fjord.
Entertainment – Salt Art & Music
Salt is situated in a cod-drying rack in the city centre with views over the Oslofjord and the Norwegian Opera House. A cod-drying rack is a traditional wooden structure used in the process of drying fish and is constructed using a series of wooden frames. Over the years, the people of Oslo have seen various exhibitions hanging in the drying rack. These have become fun photo backgrounds for our Instagram pictures.
Salt has become one of my favourite places to go for concerts, a sauna, or just to soak in the atmosphere for which Salt has become so well-known in recent years.
Breakfast – Backstube
Backstube is a bakery with a European touch that has taken the city by storm. This is largely due to how accessible the chain is, with its numerous outlets, relatively low prices, and large selection of products. Here you can indulge in cookies, croissants, and open sandwiches!
I won't say no to a Turkish Bagel with brie and salami, and a cappuccino whenever I stop by. And maybe also a little pain au chocolat for dessert.
Sightseeing – The Sunday Market at Blå
Over the years, the Sunday Market which, as its name suggests, is held every Sunday on Ingens Gate, has become one of Oslo's most well-known and popular weekly markets. Here you will find a mix of regular market traders and newcomers who are plying their goods for the first time. You'll find everything from hand-knitted mittens, handcrafted ceramic mugs, vinyl records, art and jewellery here.
Lunch – Oslo Street Food
Feel like something tasty, but not quite sure what? Then OSF is the place for you! Located in the former premises of Torggata Public Bathhouse, the OSF offers food from around the world.
Vegan? No problem! Asian, Eastern European, something sweet, or just some really delicious chicken wings? You'll find all this and more. It's perhaps not that surprising that this is one of the favourite places for locals to go to!
Sightseeing – Deichman library in Bjørvika
Oslo's new main library has become one of the city's best places to hang out, with its six floors of books, study spaces, and cinemas. There are different themes on each floor. On the first floor, you can read newspapers on the mezzanine or enjoy the art that is accessible to everyone. The second floor accommodates the kids’ section, the third floor offers a public workshop equipped with sewing machines, for example, and the fourth floor provides reading spaces. But perhaps the highlight of all is the view from the fifth floor - which is one of Oslo's finest.
Head for Oslo
Oslo offers so much more than just the Royal Palace, Karl Johans gate, and Frogner Park. If this is your first time here, and you want to see the biggest and most well-known attractions, you should of course go and see them, too.
However, for those looking for some authentic and memorable Oslo experiences, the places mentioned above are a great place to start. Because I hope that one day everyone will love Oslo as much as I do.