What to See and Do in Norway: Oslo
We journeyed to Oslo as the final stop on our triangular tour through Norway, after visiting Bergen and it’s surrounding fjords and the fjord towns up near Alesund. We took a scenic train ride leaving from Andalsnes, with a quick pit stop along the way before arriving in Oslo. The full trip was something around 5 hours, and while not as popularized or perhaps seamless given the need for a train change as the similar train ride from Bergen to Oslo, it was an equally scenic and low key way to travel to our final destination. We had a somewhat quick stay in Oslo but we made our time there memorable and enjoyed the more diverse enclaves of the city, and city life itself, that had a nice contrast from the previous destinations. While maybe not as robustly bike friendly or cosmopolitan as nearby Copenhagen, Oslo offered a laid back and scaled down version of its sister city that was warm, welcoming and bustling with development. With relatively inexpensive flights from the US east coast - at least while Norwegian Air is still in business - it should definitely be on your list to visit!
We based ourselves in Gronland, walkable from the train station and in close proximity to the Opera house and the head of the Aker river, in a modern apartment with a cute courtyard complex. We happened to stumble into town during a big outdoor music festival taking part across town including a venue just down the street from our airbnb and also during a very early and unexpected heat wave. Traveling to Norway in May means pretty unpredictable weather, but finding ourselves in 90+ degree heat was not on our radar. Even given the weather, we were able to rent some bikes and explore town via two wheels and foot while avoiding the sun whenever possible.
We found Norwegians embracing the early warm weather, sunbathing across the city and finding recluse in the frigid water and makeshift beach areas nearby. One in particular that attracted numerous tourists and locals alike, next to the modern Astrup Fearnley museum (which is also worth a peek inside). See if you can ‘Look for Lisa’ in the beach scene below!
Oslo had many great dining and drink establishments of which we were able to sample a small few. We particularly enjoyed our meal at Brutus, nearby to our apartment, serving natural wines and food in a hip setting (our server was wearing very bright pink shorts that appeared more like a fashionable bathing suit). We sampled drinks at Himkok, hidden behind a subtle doorway that lead to a labyrinth of rooms and segregated establishments serving different types and styles of cocktails. And of course there was the coffee - an abundance of fine establishments exist across the city but the standout best to geek out about all things coffee was definitely Tim Wendelboe. The flights were an artistic form in the subtleties of coffee and they had all sorts of roasting and tasting classes available for those interested.
We enjoyed hanging with the locals at the reggae stage of Oslo Musikkfest as well as enjoying the live music resounding from various neighborhoods we strolled through, both day and night. If you can catch this or a similar festival while in town it would definitely be recommended.
If you go, don’t miss:
A walk or run along the Aker River, visiting the waterfalls, bridges and small eateries that line the way as well as the Matthallen food hall
Coffee flights at Tim Wendelboe
Dinner at Brutus
Go in the summer months and take advantage of the city coming to life and embracing the outdoors - and lots of people sunbathing on any patch of grass they can find
A walk along, atop and inside the Opera House
Rent bikes and take a sightseeing tour - through an outfitter like Viking Biking which is great just on its name alone but they also have viking helmets available - or guide yourself around the city to check out Vigeland Park, the waterfront and a stop at Vippa ‘food truck’ park - a great enclave of diverse and sustainable food from around the world with indoor and outdoor seating - and a nice selection of beers
A visit to the museum enclave of Bydogy. The viking museum was neat for a quick view but possibly not worth the cost or crowds, you are probably better off visiting some of the more obscure museums on the peninsula and definitely take advantage of the ferry to and from via Aker Brygge for a perspective of the city from the fjords.
It doesn’t seem like first of mind, but do try some sushi! It’s all very fresh and there are lots of places to choose from at different price points. We dined at Alex Sushi and enjoyed a massive boat of things wrapped with seaweed and over rice.