We travelled to Oslo for a long weekend with Norwegian Air and arrived pretty late on our first night so decided to stay at the Clarion airport hotel. I say airport hotel but you have to get a shuttle bus and it’s about 10 minutes away. The shuttlebus service is great – it’s super easy to find the departure point (right outside the arrivals door); there are a few buses serving different hotels and the list of hotels is very clearly listed at the bus stops. It costs 70 NOK (c. 7 euro) per person each way and you can buy your ticket on the bus. Not cheap but it’s lesson one on Oslo’s prices…
We took the ‘normal’ train to Oslo city centre the next morning from the airport. I’m really not sure why there were so many people opting for the Flytoget Airport Express Train to be honest. Flytoget is currently 196 NOK per person to the city and takes between 19-22 minutes and the Vy (Norwegian State Railway) is currently 90 NOK and takes 23 minutes. I’ll keep that 10 euro in my pocket thanks! I cannot recommend the croissants and fresh orange juice from ‘La Baguette’ in Oslo’s Central Station enough. Dreaming of them every single day since our trip!!
We stayed in an AirBnB in the Grünerløkka area for the rest of our trip, which is about a 15 – 20 minute stroll from Oslo Central Station. There are trams which can take you to Grünerløkka (super hipster area) but we decided to stroll to get our bearings. There is a CRAZY amount of construction going on in Oslo at the moment, it’s like the whole city is being ripped up. They’re updating the tram system so it’ll be awesome in a few years when it’s complete. We downloaded the RuterBillett app for tram trips around the city but we only used it a few times – Oslo is a really walkable city.
The main purpose of our trip to Oslo was for the Piknik i Parken 2019 festival in the main park in Grünerløkka, Sofienbergparken. We had 2 days before the festival to wander around the city/ensure John could drink ALL the coffee. We had pretty changeable weather but it was mostly warm and the nights stayed SO bright. It’s CRAZY – still bright at 1 a.m. and still plenty of poeple milling about. We definitely felt that it was a really sociable city.
Our first stop when we landed in Grünerløkka was The Nighthawk Diner – an American style diner with huge portions – exactly what we needed! The staff were really lovely and chatty – actually pretty much everybody we met in Oslo was really chatty and friendly. There’s a coffee brand called Stockfleths which are all over Oslo. We stopped here a few times and they have a nice, relaxed atmosphere. John says the coffee was good and I can vouch that they take their time making the perfect cup of tea too! Staying on the coffee train…one of John’s first (and frequent thereafter) stops was to Tim Wendelboe. Takes a while to actually get your coffee in here but these guys are SERIOUS about their work. They don’t offer an Americano as they’re not allowed to put water in their espresso – they don’t want to dilute the coffee as it ruins the notes apparently. The barista actually admitted they were pretentious! Ha!
My absolute favourite stop was Oslo Raw. We went to the one in the Frogner area. Seemed like a really upmarket area; it’s behind the palace and the houses there were very similar to the style of houses in San Francisco – trams running through the area and everything – pretty cool. The food in Oslo Raw was amazing – so tasty, fresh and pretty! The raw balls are to die for!
Vigeland Sculpture Park is also in Frogner and it’s the world’s largest sculpture park. Norwegian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland, created more than 200 sculptures for the city of Oslo and they all sit in this beautiful park. Free entry but go to the bathroom before you get here or you’ll pay 2 euro for the pleasure 🙂
Oslo’s Opera House is just across the road from the Central Station and it’s 100% worth a wander around. It’s made completely out of Carrara marble so there was one extremely happy Italian region when that order went in! The Opera House is right on the water and it’s a lovely place to while away an evening. Probably one of the coolest things you can do in any city in the world is a floating sauna – you can do this overlooking the Opera House and jump into the water to cool down!
The Aker Brygge area of Oslo is a lovely place to spend an evening. It’s full of restaurants with outdoor seating, ice-cream trucks, there’s a shopping centre, supermarket, just lots of people enjoying the long evenings.
Back to food…and Mathallen is an excellent stop if you’re peckish (it’s not open on Mondays). It’s a pretty large food hall with shops, restaurants, butchers, fruit shops, cafes etc. We had grilled cheese sandwiches at Smelt – simply because they serve Harney & Sons Tea – my absolute favourite and it can’t be bought in Ireland 😦
After one trip to Mathallen we wandered up the cutest little street, Damstredet. If you’re interested in seeing famous Norwegian individual’s graves then you can continue to the top of Damstredet and the Cemetary of Our Saviour is right across the road.
One morning we wandered from Grünerløkka through Oslo’s beautiful Botanical Garden to get to the Edvard Much Museum (tickets were 120 NOK per person)- honestly we were only there to see The Scream but the history of the place is crazy. The current exhibition is called EXIT!; the museum is moving in to the city center (next to the Opera House) for 2020. It doesn’t seem like the current building has had much work done in the last few decades – it opened in 1963 and definitely still has that 60s/70s feel. The museum has been held up a couple of times – the Scream and the Madonna were stolen in 2004 but later recovered.