Oslo is a city in the midst of a rebirth. No longer in the shadow of Scandinavian neighbours, it exudes a palpable energy breathing new life into the city. Nestled between forested hills and the Oslofjord, it’s refreshing affinity to nature is one that few capitals can match. Mixing cutting-edge architectural design with a Neo-Nordic gastronomic scene on the verge of global acclaim, it’s an understated city that has become more than a stopover. For 24 hours in this picturesque compact city, we’ve crafted an itinerary to appreciate every nook within.
Waking up in a city like Oslo means waking up slow. The crisp morning air mixed with the low light that blankets the city, especially in winter, invites you to sleep in that little longer. But, for when you’ve dragged yourself out of bed, start your day at Tim Wendelboe, a café and award-winning barista using the finest beans from Africa and Latin America. Coffee devotees should head for Supreme Roastworks, a no-fuss cosy space and roastery serving velvety cappuccinos and fruity artisanal blends.
With a deluge of breakfast options that skew from hearty eats to Instagram-ready dishes, don’t worry if you feel inundated with choice. If you’re looking for the former, Gunnars Generasjonsbar’s bacon-fried Brussels sprouts with a side of scrambled eggs is certain to please. Beyond the signature dish of this industrial-cum-retro space, their artisanal blend of coffees and tea complements the indulgent food, mixing comfort with the heart-warming feeling of home.
Now that you’ve had your energy levels revitalised, it’s time to start exploring and what a better place to get into the psyche of the city than the surreal Vigeland Sculpture Park. Only a short tram ride from the city centre, the park is filled with over 200 creations by Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Monoliths rise and scenes play out, across the park you’re bound to find a sculpture that resonates, that makes you ponder and stare in awe.
Head to the eastern end of the downtown harbour and stroll along the revitalised waterfront promenade. While the area is still in the process of completion, Havnepromenaden now houses the region’s most striking architecture and design. The globally famed, Snøhetta-designed Oslo Opera House is a glacier-like white marble theatre with a roof that can be traversed while the once derelict Sørenga Bridge has been turned into a Highline-esque park offering views of the architecturally quirky Barcode District.
For when you’re looking to immerse yourself in the multiplicity of the country’s cultural highlights, head to the National Gallery, home to the Scream, the celebrated masterpiece of Norwegian native Edvard Munch. If you’re looking for spaces establishing Oslo as a bona fide art destination, venture to Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, a contemporary art institution attracting global renown. The breadth of its permanent collection ranges from a Pop-art, polka-dot Yayoi Kusama installation to the poignant photographs of Kåre Kivijärvi.
LUNCH AND AFTERNOON
Owing to its history as one of the region’s busiest ports, Oslo’s Vippetangen area is now home to the waterfront food hall, Vippa. Established as an initiative dedicated to supporting young, immigrant entrepreneurs, its halls teem with the piquant wafts of food oozing with flavour that runs down the chin. The street food connoisseurs at Aleppo Behebek serve a succulent chicken shawarma that fuses Syrian flavours with Norweigan produce while the Eritrean flatbread with an organic vegetable stew at Injera Palace is comfort food for the soul.
Head to Grünerløkka, the city’s trendiest neighbourhood, a pocket bursting at the seams with Scandinavian cool. This once-gritty industrial district has transformed into an area that’s both eclectic and vibrant with an edge that Copenhagen and Stockholm lack. Browse through its innumerable boutiques to discover something special at the epicentre of Nordic design.
While Oslo can’t offer the majesty of northern fjord experience, a round-trip ferry from Vippetangen will allow you to explore the vastness and tranquillity of its archipelago for the price of mere 22 kroner. Be sure to stop by Talor & Jorgen before you go. Be enticed by their strawberry pistachio doughnut filled with gooey hot pink icing; it’s enough to satisfy any rumblings of hunger.
DINNER AND NIGHTLIFE
Favouring an artisanal yet innovative approach to their menus, Oslo’s restaurants exude cutting-edge confidence steeped in local food tradition and ingredients. With a focus on the complete dining experience, Maaemo fuses ingenuity with locally sourced produce for an exciting gastronomic immersion. That acidic, lemon-like flavour in your food? It’s ants, not the fruit itself.
If you’re looking for something more casual, try Arakataka, a stylish neo-Nordic bistro where the eclectic selection of natural wines is on par with its sumptuous cuisine. The creamy king crab salad melts on the tongue while the cured trout and roe provides a Nordic-kick to the senses. You’d be wrong not to select several small plates to share to get a real sense of the country’s food.
Whether your night is ending or only just beginning, head to Torggata Botaniske, a lush botanical bar adorned with plants that climb the ceilings and drape the walls. Their cocktails favour floral palettes but it’s also a menu that evolves with the seasons. Our pick? The spicy Jalla Jalla which is a blend of mezcal, chartreuse and jalapeño syrup among others. For those who favour a brew, nearby Oculus is a 20-tap craft beer bar serving the best from the city’s Cervisiam brewery.
WAKE UP AND REPEAT
With your day winding down to a close, we hope that this article helped as a guide to exploring the myriad of possibilities within this Nordic haven. If you’re looking to stay to venture further afield then a Sixt car rental is the perfect solution to explore the rest that Norway has to offer.