Oslo city guide

Your indispensible guide to the Norwegian capital

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PUBS & BARS:

CROW BAR AND BREWERY (Brewpub)

Equipped with bar, brewery and kitchen Crow Bar is a one stop shop for beer lovers visiting Oslo. Taps feature beers brewed here, from some of the best Norwegian breweries such as Haandbryggeriet, Lindheim, Amundsen and Voss and also international breweries from Sweden, Denmark and USA. Complementing this selection are the beers brewed on site in the 500L brewhouse; all house beers are served directly from specially designed 1000L serving tanks to keep the beer as fresh as possible. The kitchen features a limited selection of no-frills bar snacks and lunch wraps, but does notably boast a whole roast suckling pig, marinated in Crow stout and accompanied by almond potatoes, greek salad, homemade pickled vegetables, fresh baguettes, BBQ, Dijon and garlic sauces. The suckling feeds 8-10 people and lands pricewise at an approximate £310; it’s a tall order but makes for a novel and memorable feast if you’re travelling in a group and fancy a banquet somewhere fun and informal.

PHOTO: Crow Bar

HIMKOK (Cocktails)

HIMKOK (meaning Moonshine) is a speakeasy that embodies Norwegian culture through the cocktails it creates and the spirits distilled. With a fully functioning distillery producing Aquavit, Gin and Vodka on site, HIMKOK creates drinks and products with a pure Nordic taste by highly sustainable means. To be classified as Aquavit, the well known Scandinavian spirit must be made with caraway (and/or dill) the main aromatic compound in which is carvone, a chemical which behaves very similarly to mint or spearmint. While this minty flavour can be present in Danish and Swedish Aquavits, it is almost non-existent in Norwegian Aquavits. At HIMKOK they 'refine' the flavour of caraway by heating the seeds through the pot and column before passing through the spice chamber, giving it a cleaner and more balanced spiced flavour. Tables and distillery tours can be booked on the company website.

PHOTO: HIMKOK

WHERE TO EAT:

VIPPA (Lunch)

Eating out in Oslo is expensive, so we’re keeping our foodie suggestions fun and accessible; a couple of descriptors that are a perfect fit with VIPPA, a food court situated on the edge of the Oslo fjord, and which features 11 food stalls from various corners of Norway and the wider world. Since opening in April 2017, VIPPA’s focus has been to create an ethical and multicultural environment for both the people operating the food stands, and the guests visiting them. They work closely with sustainable, local farms, and strive to always use produce which is ethically grown. At VIPPA, food is considered a tool for bringing people together, and it’s clear from the facility’s outside that the aim of this collaborative outset is to create a diverse and exciting place.

PHOTO: Vippa

MATHALLEN FOOD HALL (Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks or Groceries)

Mathallen Oslo is situated in the vibrant Vulkan neighbourhood and, aside from being eye-catching inside and out, the artisan food hall boasts more than 30 speciality shops, cafés and eateries that offer high-quality products and dishes. Aside from running short courses on various forms of food and wine, and being a meeting point for cuisine oriented social clubs, the venue features a butcher and fishmongers that supply their own adjacent restaurants- so if you taste something good, you can likely buy the ingredients that will allow you to prepare more at home. 

PHOTO: Mathallen Food Hall

WHAT TO DO IN OSLO:

OSLOFJORD (Nature)

Travelling to Norway’s best known fjord region from Oslo can take anywhere between 4 and 6 hours meaning that, while extremely impressive and well worth the visit, it isn’t always accessible to those who find themselves in Norway’s capital for shorter periods of time. Luckily The 100-km-long Oslo fjord is a scenic gem within an hour and a half’s drive of the city. In the summer, the fjord buzzes with life and activity. According to VisitOSLO, a site with a wealth of information on how to plan your trip, you can go swimming, hike among the colourful cabins on the islands or glide over the waves on a SUP-board. In the winter months, you can still go for a swim – but you may want to step into one of the many fjordside saunas before and after.

PHOTO: Oslofjord © Leifern (CC BY-SA 2.5)

URBAN SAUNAS (Culture) 

The thought of sitting, almost naked, in a boiling hot room filled with strangers might make people in this somewhat-prudish part of the world a little squeamish, but the health benefits of half an hour in a sauna a couple of times a week is well documented. Norway has embraced the sauna culture more historically embedded in neighbouring Finland, with venues now featuring all over Oslo, the most notable of which might be SALT. Deeming itself a “Cultural Village”, the venue hosts concerts, theatre, comedy, a variety of street food vendors and several saunas which can either be attended as part of a public session, or booked privately. The manner in which it is curated, both online and in person makes it a venue well worth checking out if you find yourself in the city. 

PHOTO: SALT Art & Music

NATIONAL GALLERY (Art) 

You might be familiar with the (arguably) most famous piece to be housed in Norway’s National Gallery; the world renowned and endlessly meme’d ‘The Scream’, by Edvard Munch. The gallery’s walls are graced with an extensive collection of the Norwegian painter’s work, as well as exhibitions on the artists and illustrators who brought the original works of Hans Christian Anderson to life, and an eclectic mix of wider European classics. The gallery has been closed since 2019 to allow for its relocation to a thus far undisclosed location in Oslo. With plans to reopen at some point this year, we can only recommend you keep an eye on the website and try to time your visit with the opening of the esteemed gallery’s new doors.

PHOTO: National Gallery © Børre Høstland

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