Hemmed by kilometers of woodland and a fjord (which actually isn’t a fjord, but is pretty anyway), Norway’s capital is an easy-going city with the perfect size for exploring on foot. We were here for just a stopover after our stunning trip to Hemsedal, with just one day left before our plane would take us back home. Even though it was freezing cold back in January we very much enjoyed to stroll around, since no shortage of time is ever a good enough reason for us not to give it our best shot at exploring a new place. So when you pay a visit to the Norwegian capitol, you’ll know where to find the headquarters of vintage heaven, hot bearded men in checkered shirts and some of the best entrecôte in Europe. Forget what you think you know, we’re convinced that Oslo doesn’t have to be expensive, you don’t have to be a (winter) sports maniac nor eat fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner in oder to fall in love with this city. In just 24 hours we’ve spotted some pretty cool cafés, shops and bars in Oslo. Here’s what we found out…
1. The walking tour
Oslo really is not that big a city. There are only around 400.000 people living there, and by foot you can walk across the city in just about an hour. It’s nice to walk around because a lot of the old architecture and buildings are still decorating a lot of corners. Start your tour at the Opera House and join the locals for a walk up the cool, sloping marble roof, enjoying the fjord views from the top. A few hundred metres downhill from the opera, you’ll find Aker Brygge, the old shipyard turned trendy shopping complex west of the main harbor. It’s full of quirky shops and cafes, but it’s also a bit overrated.
We went there in the early evening to watch the sunset over the beautiful little lighthouse at Fishermans Coop. Starting the day we went to the popular Grünerløkka neighborhood to grab a coffee and some breakfast at the Nighthawk Diner, a place with a cool vintage American feel that dishes up a great selection of delicious diner grub, served by cool dudes with neck tattoos.
The Grünerløkka area North East of Oslo has a cool indie vibe to it, with lots of book shops, cafes and many Norwegian designer as well as countless vintage shops. It’s a good place to just hang out and explore. Stroll the two mainstreets: Thorvald Meyers gate and Markveien, but don’t miss out on some of the sidestreets either. For a snack, grab an Italian Sandwich at Delicatessen (Søndregate 8,) where between sturdy wooden tables and big windows you can overlook a riverside park across the street. Other fantastic options for lunch and afternoon coffee alike are Bistro Brocante (Thorvald Meyers gate 40) and Villa Paradiso (Olaf Ryes plass 8).
2. Vintage Heaven
As much as we love the traditional Norwegian Knits we adored the good quality of Vintage Dresses and the tempting selection of high heels at the shops around Grünerlokka area. Fretex (Markvein 51) is Norway’s biggest chain of second-hand shops, and part of the Salvation Army Norway. Their shops get in new stuff every day and prices are constantly subject to comparison with the competition and consequently quite low. The Fretex shop in Grünerløkka sells second-hand clothes but also funiture and accessories.
If you’re a mod girl you should have a look at Robot (Korsgata 22, entr. Markveien), the best place for mod clothing. Just around the corner there’s Trabant (Markveien 56), quite new and specialising in vintage clothing from the 50s, 60s and new, funky T-Shirts. Our favorite out of the bunch was Velouria Vintage (Thorvald Meyers gate 34) which sells an amazing selection of dresses (prom anyone?) with lots of glitz and glam for the fashion-conscious travelette.
3. Best coffee
Did you know that Norway country where more coffee per capita is consumed than anywhere else in the world? This comes at no surprise if you’ve been to Tim Wendelboe‘s coffeeshop micro roastery (Grünersgate 1). Tim has been nicknamed the king of coffee in Norway. He has won pretty much every award a barista can win, including world barista champion, back in 2004. Clearly we came here with sky-high expectations and were not dissapointed. Entering the roastery is an experience in itself and the delicious taste of our cappucchino knocked us right out into higher spheres.
4. A bed for the night
Fashion-forward travelers will appreciate the Grims Grenka (Kongens gate 5), Oslo’s most modern and only design hotel. Situated by Akerhus Castle it’s only five minutes from the central station and close to Karl Johans gate as well as the harbor. It has a very sensual atmosphere and as a guest you get to choose between summer or winter rooms, which actually means green natural rooms or shades of blue and grey.
For the child in you, there is a fun lighting system, which let’s you get your groove on to work, play and catwalk lighting.
There are lamps made from reindeer antlers and a moss garden embedded in the reception desk. A nice touch we enjoyed was also the nespresso machine in the lobby, in line with the above mentioned Norwegian coffee craze, which by the way we completely identify with. The hotel’s restaurant not only looks like right out of a James Bond movie, it is special in the sense that it specializes in Nordic raw cuisine, a concept that refers to both the food here which is mainly served raw but also the cool climate one can find up North. After a great meal here, check out the hotel’s lounge which turns into a club on weekend nights, a favorite hang out amongst stylish locals.
5. Where to take a dip
One nice thing to do is to go swimming in the fjord. The Gulf Stream comes up to Norway so by July the water gets warm and you can go for a swim right there in the centre of town, a girl over at Transit Vintage told me. We were there in January and didn’t really feel like taking off either one of our 3 layers of clothing, let alone ll 3 to get into any outdoor body of water (sorry guys, no ice-swimming for us) but we imagine it to be beautiful.
photo by girlosophy
6. And in the evening?
The city’s best neighbourhood bar scene is along Thorvald Meyers gate and the surrounding streets in Grünerløkka (you know by now that this neighborhood really has a lot to offer). Staring off the evening we went for dinner at the Trancher Entrecôte (Thorvald Meyers gate 78) which was sheer delight for anyone who is known to appreciate a nice slice of meat. If you’re not amongst the meat-eating crowd you’re not left with too many options though. The menu consists of one single main course: a small or a large slice of a slow cooked rib-eye roast along with some sides and sauces. Despite the lack of options, this place is stockfull every evening and quite a few people have recommended this place as their favorite when we asked them.
Later on you can try working your way through the cocktail list at the Café Kaos (Thorvals Meyers gate 56) or, if it’s not too cold out, check out Bla (Brenneriveien 9) for its good music and the stylish locals’ dance moves.
We tried few bars but most enjoyed our time at Aku Aku Tiki bar (Thorvald Meyers gate 32 A) with its unpretentious crowd and the strong cocktails. After going here, we feel like there should be more tiki bars in the world.
We had an amazing time in Oslo and cannot wait to back in summer, when it’s a bit warmer and we can finally go swmming in the fjord. If you have any more recommendations for Oslo, we would love to read about them in the comments.
Text written by Rabea Edel
Photography by Katja HentschelTweet