Oslo is my city. I’ve lived here for most of my life and it is a city that is close to my heart. I take a lot of pride coming from a thriving capital where we are surrounded by nature as well as a urban city life. Marka, which is what we call the forest surrounding Oslo, is used by Osloites on a daily basis- for skiing and hiking. If you want to escape the city life, the nature is just a few minutes away.
I’ve put together a guide for anyone who wants to explore Oslo further from a local point of view. Here is a list of some of my favourite places to shop, eat or spend the afternoon.
On friday morning I would grab a quick bite to eat before heading to a guided tour of the city. I love doing guided tours when I am in a new city as it leaves more room for freedom and leisure after you’ve seen the main sights.
If you want to skip the touristic scenes and live like a local, I would take a city bike and go to ‘Frognerparken’ also known as ‘Vigelandsparken’. Stop by the grocery store or cafe and grab a bite to eat before you take your bike to the park, sit down on the grass and enjoy a little picnic in the middle of Oslo’s thriving city life. Be sure to take a selfie with the famous ‘Sinnataggen’.
After you have explored this amazing sculpture park I would ride my bike down to Frogner, which is the posh side of Oslo to look at the houses and architecture. If you are feeling up for the task, I would then ride towards Bygdøy, past the Kings farm and out to the beach side. On your way there make sure to notice the wonderful houses which is one of the most expensive in Oslo. Buy a ‘Softis’ and enjoy your life by a typical Oslo beach where all the Osloites spend their summer days.
If you want to experience a bit of viking history- or the history of the Norwegian explorers, be sure to check out the museums on Bygdøy called ‘Fram’, ‘Kon tiki’ and ‘Vikingeskipmuseet’.
From Bygdøy, you can take the ferry back in to the city which is a wonderful journey if the weather is nice and you can sit upstair. When you are back at the harbor I would do a little stroll through ‘Akershusfestning’ before going out for dinner at ‘Aker Brygge’- enjoying the Oslo fjord as the sun sets and the boats passing by.
Waking up on friday morning, I would take the tram to Grünerløkka and grab brunch and look at the vibrant, hip city life that surrounds the district. This is also an excellent place for shopping, drinking, dining and having a lazy day in the park. If you want to do as the locals- by a bqq at the store and a pack of hot dogs and lay in the sun the entire day in the many parks of Oslo.
After having either a lazy day in the sun or an active one shopping, I would take bus 30 to Nydalen and do one of Oslo’s famous walks down Akerselva. A long the way you get to see a lot of history and buildings that goes way back. When arriving at Sagene and ‘Hønselouvisas hus’ I would stop for a coffee and a waffle, enjoying the river and old buildings surrounding the little red coffe house.
On the way down I would have a stop at ‘Mathallen’, Oslos ‘new’ food market with amazing food and restaurants. If the time allows, this is the place for dinner. Stop by Smelteverket and experience Scandinavias longest bar for a drink or two. Ask for a bucket of free popcorn to go with your drink, it’s amazing.
You could of course skip all this and spend the day shopping, sightseeing and enjoying your life in the city centre.
After a good breakfast I would go island hopping in the Oslo fjord. Be sure to bring a bag of food and a nice blanket to sit on for the perfect picnic. Hovedøya has a lot of history and beautiful nature- be sure to have a look at the closter ruins here and soak in the old days. It’s also worth noticing the houses on the island which stems from the second world war and was used to house the Norwegians who had or asumed to have any romantic relationship with a german military man- whom where seen as an outcast of the Norwegian society.
After exploring Hovedøya you can either sit down, relax and enjoy your meal while looking at the people around you- or you can continue your island hopping. The boat can take you to all of the islands and just sitting on the boat on a hot summer day is a perfect way to spend your day. A guided boat tour with dinner and drinks would also be a perfect way to spend your last day in Oslo.
If you would like to escape Oslo for the day, take the boat to either Nesodden, Drøbak or Håøya.
If island hopping doesn’t resonate with you- take the metro to Holmenkollen and enjoy the view as you reach the top. Make sure to see the ski slope, the princess castle hotel and a slice of the famous apple cake from Cafe Seterstua at Frognerseteren. On your way down stop at ‘Vinderen’ and walk up to ‘Emanuel Vigelands Tomb’ which is Oslos best kept secret. The brother of the slightly more famous Gustav Vigeland and the Vigeland Park in Oslo. The tomb is pitch dark when you enter and you will spend at least 10 minutes adjusting to the darkness before you are able to see his paintings properly. If you are lucky you might be able to catch a didgeridoo concert here. The acoustics are supposed to be magical.