Oslo seems a bit, well, underappreciated. It’s seen as the less cool, less pretty sister to Copenhagen and Stockholm. But we spent last weekend there and found out that its reputation is pretty unfair.
It feels more diverse and cosmopolitan than Stockholm, while the cool and creative Grünerløkka area is a match for any of Copenhagen’s hippest neighbourhoods.
Today, Oslo has come out of its shell, like the quiet secretary shaking out her hair (but leaving on her black-rimmed glasses) to become the most desirable woman in the office.
Here’s a selection of the very best places that made us fall in love with the city…
BEST ‘HOOD: Grünerløkka
Once run-down and pretty sleazy, Grünerløkka is now Olso’s coolest, most exciting and multicultural neighbourhood. There’s hip nightclubs, vintage shops, cafes and bars with revellers spilling out on to the streets. It’s a lot more relaxed and laid-back than other parts of town, and in the summer, the parks host barbecues, softball games and impromptu parties.
BEST SLEEP: THE THIEF
Proof that Oslo finally come of age is this extravagant and luxurious design hotel. Located on a small, newly regenerated island in Oslo harbor (though still central), this playful five-star hotel is as much a meeting place for well-heeled locals as a place to stay, luring people to its modern Scandinavian restaurant and panoramic roof terrace Foodbar. Décor-wise, the hotel is pretty unique. While its public areas match dark wood and leather tones with sparkling, oddball glass chandeliers and floor to ceiling windows, its rooms feature Japanese inspired dark wood screens, high beds piled Princess and the Pea-style with cushions and often stunning views of the city’s waterfront.
BEST EAT: MAAEMO
Let’s be clear: Maaemo ain’t cheap. But it’s worth every penny. Its organic, locally sourced and 100 percent natural ethos makes it a pioneer in the Norweigan gastronomic scene, and provides an unusual, seasonally changing menu that features herbs and berries long-forgotten by most chefs in the country.
BEST THING TO DO: SØRENGA SJØBAD
What’s more, the city has an amazingly central urban outdoor swimming area. Located at the tip of Sorenga, there’s an artificial beach, seawater pools, diving towers and swimming lanes if you’re up for a serious swim. There’s also plenty of space to sunbathe – whether on the cleverly designed spacious jetty or along the waterfront promenade – while enjoying the incredible views of the fjord, Opera House and Akershus Fortress.
BEST BAR: NUMMER 19
Opened by a winner of the award for Norway’s best barman, Nummer 19 makes cocktails that go the extra mile in hunting down excellent niche ingredients such as lavender bitters and rosemary-infused Trondheim Aquavit. Dark and cosy, Nummer 19 has a reputation as one of Oslo’s most welcoming cocktail bars, tucked away discreetly just off Youngstorget. Its candle-lit booths and dark wood interior are welcoming enough, but it’s the drinks that are the real draw here.
BEST CLUB: Blå
Housed within a former factory in trendy Grunerløkka, Blå is both a live music venue and nightclub. Concerts by up-and-coming Norwegian bands and established international acts are followed by raucous parties into the early hours. There are also regular nights hosted by DJs and record labels covering house, techno, jazz and most other dance genres.
For more great tips, check out GuidePal’s freshly updated Oslo guide.