City slicker in Oslo

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

It's a great time to visit Norway's capital and enjoy long warm days and striking natural beauty. Nick Boulos offers a guide for new and returning visitors



Why visit?


Norwegians enjoy the great outdoors and they never stop thinking up creative new ways to tempt visitors and residents alike into embracing active, clean-living lifestyles.

The latest initiative is Sukkerbiten (sukkerbiten.no), billed as Oslo's new "summer island". Located in the city's famous fjord and opened to the public just last week, Sukkerbiten can be accessed via a footbridge from the Opera House and is roughly the size of a football pitch; indeed, it was once the training ground for the city's police team. Today, it's a serene escape for those craving a game of croquet on its neat lawns or some al fresco culture at one of the many concerts throughout the summer.

Now is, undoubtedly, a glorious time to visit the Norwegian capital, with warm temperatures and long sunny days. Just a stone's throw from the fjord and its archipelago of 40 forested islands – a playground for walkers and kayakers – are striking public spaces scattered across a compact city centre, including the rolling grounds of the stately 19th-century Royal Palace. Art buffs will love Vigeland Park, decorated with hundreds of Gustav Vigeland's abstract sculptures depicting human nature. Elsewhere, bars and chic boutiques bring a touch of modern life to the elegant neoclassical avenues.

Don't miss

The Nobel Peace Center (00 47 4830 1000; nobelpeacecenter.org) for a fascinating exploration of the award and its past winners.

The Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture (00 47 2329 2870; doga.no) for a masterclass in contemporary Nordic art. Exhibits change every couple of months but the emphasis is usually on progressive Scandinavian trends, from graphic design to lighting.

A fjord cruise (00 47 2335 6890; boatsightseeing.com) through part of the 100km Oslo Fjord, departing from opposite the City Hall. Sample Norway's natural beauty without leaving the city limits but be sure to alight at the Bygdoy Peninsula for the impressive Viking Ship Museum.

The harbourside pier of Aker Brygge, overlooking the Oslo Fjord. This has become a popular meeting point for locals, who are often seen sitting by the boats eating ice cream and drinking on the outdoor terraces. The many restaurants here, including The Edge and the seafood specialist Sjomagasin and Lofoten, are among the city's best.

The National Gallery (00 47 2198 2000; nasjonalmuseet.no), which features pieces from the romantic period by several significant Norwegian artists, including Adolph Tidemand. Most head straight to room 24 to see Edvard Munch's The Scream – hardcore fans should also go across town to the museum dedicated to the artist (00 47 2349 3500 munch.museum.no).

Kolonihagen (00 47 9931 6810; kolonihagen.no) for a caffeine fix. Norwegians are among the biggest coffee drinkers in the world and Oslo has taken café culture to its heart. One favourite spot is this rustic coffee house in a small courtyard, which serves organic pastries and is renowned for its carrot cake.

Oslo Opera House (oslooperahouse.com). It's impossible to miss this futuristic structure in the middle of the city made from gleaming white marble. Walk up its steep ramp for views over Oslo, its hills and fjords.

What's new?

Grunerlokka

Until the 1970s, Oslo's bourgeoisie barely gave this working-class neighbourhood a second thought. Today, Grunerlokka is described as Oslo's Notting Hill. Trendy eateries, independent fashion designers and vibrant bars line Thorwald Meyer Street and there's a thriving art scene, too. An influx of slick apartments housed in sympathetically resorted factories and breweries have made this one of the city's most desirable districts to live in.

Bar'Deaux

Straight out of 1920s Paris, this romantic bar, modelled on Moulin Rouge, opened its thick red drapes last month. Everything was sourced from flea markets across Europe, from the prints of scantily clad French ladies to the crockery. Bar'Deaux also claims to be the only drinking hole outside Paris to have a bottle of rare Moulin Rogue cognac – the perfect tipple to enjoy by the roaring log fire.

Details: 00 47 9173 2554; Radhus gata 30.

Rica G20

This chic hotel is so new the paint is barely dry. The 96 minimalist rooms are a little small but don't skimp on luxurious touches. Each is equipped with iPod dock, flatscreen TV and extra thick comfy mattresses. Be sure to hire one of the hotel's electric bicycles – perfect for exploring the city's hilly suburbs. Doubles from £107 per night.

Details: 00 47 2201 6400; rica.no

The Nighthawk Diner

Serving high-quality locally reared beef in swish brown and yellow leather booths with Johnny Burnette playing on the jukebox, this popular diner is more gourmet dining 1950s style than greasy burger joint.

Details: 00 47 9662 7327; Seilduks gata 15.

Zuzanna G

Acclaimed local designer Zuzanna Gregorowicz has opened a new boutique in the heart of Frogrer, Oslo's fashion hub. Zuzanna's high-end jewellery – crystal earrings and pendants – embrace old-school glamour, while sunglasses, shoes and handbags can also be found on the quirkily decorated shelves.

Details: 00 47 2255 3140; zuzannag.com

Insider's secret

Tobias Gustafsson, head chef at Sjomagasin restaurant

"For a fantastic shopping experience, head to House of Oslo. It specialises in interior furnishings and has the most amazing kitchen utensils, porcelain, and striking designer fixtures – something's bound to catch your eye. The pieces are very exclusive, very slick and very Scandinavian."

Details: 00 47 2323 8560; houseofoslo.no

Compact Facts

How to get there

Nick Boulos flew from London Heathrow to Oslo with SAS (020-8990 7000; flysas.com), which offers return flights from £158. A double room at Hotel Folketeateret (00 47 2200 5700; clarionhotel .com) costs from £155 per night on a B&B basis.

Further information

Norwegian tourist board (020-7389 8800; visitnorway.com).

Suggested Topics
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions