A Weekend in Oslo, Norway — a City Guide
Our first trip of 2019 landed us in Oslo for a few days. We travelled with friends who had family living out there so some of our time was spent partying with them but we also managed to cover plenty of ground (and coffee shops!)
The temperatures didn’t rise above 0 degrees but we were well wrapped up (thermal underlayers and high wool content on anything over are the key FYI) and somehow didn’t fall over once, despite ice/snow EVERYWHERE. We had a load of spots noted on our map thanks to Mat & Jordan who visited the Norwegian capital in December and found a few of our own too…
We’ve journaled them here as one long day but we had 3-and-a-bit days in total.
We made our first coffee spot the espresso bar of Tim Wendelboe and went for the tasting menu; as we were a group of 4 we managed to all try the 8 coffees on offer and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Coffee culture is huge in Oslo (as with most places we visit tbh) and this place has won pretty much every award going. They also offer a subscription service and ship to anywhere in the world.
Rumbling stomachs lead us to Nighthawk Diner not too far away in Grünerløkka where we enjoyed an incredibly hearty brunch. The interior of the eatery is a living tribute to painter Edward Hopper and the sun seemed to know it too… We loved the relaxed atmosphere and the attentive staff as well as the excellent menu selection.
If you aren’t yet familiar with Hopper’s work we’d really recommend it - he sure knew how to work with colour.
Kollekted By was on our list because we love being surrounded by considered design be it interiors, furniture or something as simple as a mug. We are dedicated aesthetes and not ashamed to admit it. Kollekted By is a design studio and shop that works under the Frama CPH umbrella and paying a visit made us very happy indeed. We are big fans of the Frama handwash and wish we had more sinks in our house to enable us to use it.
Supreme Roastworks have their own on-site roastery which makes for great smells and visual entertainment. They serve excellent cinnamon buns and care about tea as well as coffee which is always a good thing in our book. Much like at Tim Wendelboe, the shelves were adorned with various coffee awards so they must take it quite seriously!
We saw the Stockfleths sign all over the city but only ventured into one; they have 12 (we think) different locations and we found ourselves in one where the walls were adorned by British artist Chris Ofili. Great pastries too, super quick service and also really nice to know that the experience is different in each location - but with the consistency of a good coffee.
In most cases it’s quite tricky to find more traditional architecture within the middle of a city but we managed to feast our eyes on a few examples by walking through Damstredet. Damstredet is a very short (160 metre) cobbled road of 19th century houses that showed us a glimpse of what Oslo might have looked like back in the day. We now know that we want to explore much more of Norway and see more wooden houses. It’s worth noting that if you do follow in our footsteps and visit here please be mindful and have respect for those that live there as the buildings are inhabited and it’s only polite to tread quietly.
A major success of an activity that we chose to do was a boat tour of the fjord. We paid 315NOK each (about £30) for 2 hours on the water in a babe of a ship called Helena. It was admittedly a super touristy move but it gave us a completely different view of the city and we LOVED it. We took loads of pictures so will share an additional separate post on that just in case you need some more convincing.
On our 3rd full day we took a tram ride and ended up in a winter wonderland. Just 20 minutes from Sentral station is Sognsvann Lake and this place was absolutely our highlight of the whole trip. We walked around the frozen lake as others chose to make their way straight across the water on cross-country skis, we even saw a guy doing it completely topless. It was actually snowing at that point too.
We loved it here because it looked magical, it was a hive of physical activity and it was a breath of fresh air from the city and yet ridiculously close by… Kind of like our home in Sheffield.
Next up is something that every single article we read told us to do; stand on the roof of the Opera House. We did it a fair few times actually because it just feels so good to a) climb a hill on the side of a building and b) get an incredible sunset view that costs absolutely nothing. As we travelled in Winter the sunsets were around 3pm each day and we decided we quite liked to see them from up on that roof.
We’d also recommend heading inside too - the architects Snøhetta, worked with artists like Olafur Eliasson to create a stunning experience for visitors that reference the Norwegian outdoors. Plus it’s a great place to warm up!
All of our walking meant that we earned a doughnut (in fact we earned a few) so we stopped at Talor & Jørgen to recharge. They have different doughnut offerings every day and roast their own coffee too - which is available online as well as in store.
It’s pretty important for us to find ways to have a breather from the city centre; at home we live in the leafy suburbs and can choose to walk into the city or out into open countryside depending on the direction we choose to travel and we like to seek out ways of doing something similar when we visit new places. The Akerselva river runs through the centre of Oslo and makes for a beautiful walk. We joined it at the Beierbrua, a bridge over a spectacular (frozen when we saw it) waterfall, just north of Supreme Roastworks in Grunerløkka. We then followed the river downstream, crossing wherever we fancied and ended up at Vulkan/Mathallen where we stopped for food at Døgnvill Burger.
It wouldn’t be a Haarkon adventure without a greenhouse and we sheltered from the cold for an hour or so in the University of Oslo’s Botanical Garden, specifically in the Victorian/Palm Houses actually because the garden itself was covered in a blanket of snow!
Although we did take the tram up to Holmenkollen/Frogner, we spent our time up the hillside getting to know our friends family so when we emerged from their house it was too dark for us to have a go at the taboggan run but we did enjoy the view of Holmenkollen’s Olympic ski jump… Next time we visit we will absolutely head up the hill because the views were incredible (even in the dark!) and we were itching to throw ourselves down the hill.
Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri is an underground pub with great vaulted ceilings and intimate seating that serves different beers created in its own micro brewery. We thoroughly enjoyed a few hours sat in the warm glow of the huge fire there and tasted fruity sour tipples alongside smooth malty white beers. It wasn’t the cheapest but everything on the menu is craft and we’d rather spend a little more on a premium product than pay for something we can get at home. Well worth a trip in our eyes.
Holy Cow was a place that we had no prior knowledge of but discovered on a wander… We enjoyed a reasonable-priced thali (our bill was 350NOK for both of us) of vegetarian and meat curries, daal, salad, rice and naan. We LOVE Indian food and this place had a great atmosphere and the menu boasted plenty of sharing street food dishes as well as full main meals.
Another of the many coffee shops we visited was Fuglen because everyone sent us messages on Instagram telling us to! We went in the evening so some of the hot drinks menu was limited but we sat for a while in corner nursing our teas/coffees and admired the surroundings. Fuglen has an interesting story and celebrates cocktails and midcentury design as well as home-roasted coffee. We would have loved to revisit in the daytime to enjoy a chai staeamer (is there anything better in cold weather?!) but liked what we saw and have made a note of the Fuglen shops in Tokyo to visit when we head there later this year.
Ramen is fantastic soul food and an ideal way to combat the sub-zero temperatures outside. We found great comfort (and equally great service) at Koie and filled up before heading home. Koie translates as ‘little hut in the woods’ and we think that is a very charming and poetic name for a business!
Last but not least on our Oslo to-do list was Henry & Sally’s - the Mikkeller bar in Grunerløkka. We liked the menu, again a world of craft beers, guest ales and some special extras like Empirical Spirits and Orval. The interior was a beauty too and showcased the illustrations of artist Keith Shore - again another place we’d love to have seen in the daylight so a summer trip might be required!
Here are those places again in simple list form:
Tim Wendleboe — espresso bar, roastery, coffee retail
Nighthawk Diner — brunch and beyond
Kollekted By — interior design studio & shop
Supreme Roastworks — coffee shop & roastery
Stockfleths — coffee shop with 12 locations (all different!)
Damstredet — cobbled street with traditional Norwegian architecture
Sognsvann Lake — breathtaking nature just 20 mins from the city SEE OUR BLOG POST ON THAT HERE
Oslo Opera House — beautiful inside and out… and FREE to enjoy
Talor & Jørgen — coffee and doughnuts
University of Oslo Botanical Garden — beautiful greenhouses to warm up in and FREE ENTRY
Akerselva River — a lovely walk through the city SEE OUR BLOG POST ON THAT HERE
Holmenkollen — incredible views, ski jump & plenty of winter sports activities
Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri — craft ales in a cosy underground setting
Holy Cow — very tasty Indian street food
Fuglen — coffee, cocktails and midcentury design
Koie Ramen — comforting ramen bowls & excellent service
Henry & Sally’s — Mikkeller bar with craft beer & guest ales
Not pictured but very much enjoyed:
Døgnville (Vulkan) — great burgers