24 hours in Oslo

Oslo in summer is a spectacular city; a place of late night sunsets and pottering about on a sparkling fjord. It’s a city where people park kayaks out the front of cafes, the way others might bikes.

Oslo may have harnessed a reputation for being expensive – particularly if you’re used to travelling in European cities where lager is as cheap as water. But there’s also plenty around that’s free- from spectacular sculpture parks to the pleasure of clambering over the roof of one of the world’s great Opera Houses.

Here’s how to spend a great 24 hours in this beautiful city; from the caffeine you need to get you started, through to the last drink of the night. It was researched and trialled over a glorious long weekend with The Hungry One and his Dad.

For those who like things to be visual, there’s a map at the bottom to help you get your bearings and see how it all fits together.

 Wake upRadisson Blu Sonja Henies plass

The Radisson Blu on Sonja Henies is exactly what you need for a quick weekend away. The best way to get from the airport to the city is via the Flytoget express train. If you follow the signs to the bus terminal in Oslo Central Station, the Radisson Blu will loom tall in front of you- a shiny blue beacon to orient yourself around. It’s clean, modern, and relatively good value with free wifi. And besides- you’re not going to be spending that much time in your room anyway.

Radisson Blu Oslo
Sonja Henies plass 3
0134 Oslo, Norway
22 05 80 00

Coffee- Tim Wendelboe

For many of us a good day starts with a proper coffee. If you fall into that camp, walk north for 20 minutes from the hotel to Tim Wendelboe for what is probably the best espresso in Norway.  To read more about the appeal of Tim Wendelboe’s place, read the full write up here. This is not a place for breakfast. This excursion is all about quality caffeine and a wander through a suburb chocked with small boutiques and nifty galleries.

Tim Wendelboe
Grunersgate 1, on the corner of Fossveien at Grünerløkka in Oslo.
Weekdays: 08:30 – 18:00 Saturday and Sunday : 11:00 – 17:00

BrunchApent Bakeri

Scandinavian pastries shine with flavours like almond and cardamom. In the past decade there’s been a resurgence in the baking scene, with Apent Bakeri at the apex.  There are now five outposts of this artisan bakery across Oslo. This branch at the north west corner of the Royal Palace park is a charming spot, littered with locals wielding strollers and bicycles. It’s a 2 kilometre stroll from coffee.

It’s the place to come to try load up on carbohydrates- from knotted rolls of dough, flavoured with cinnamon sugar and almond paste, through to sturdy sandwiches made with dark seeded bread and stuffed with smoked fish, salad and cheese.

There’s usually a queue of people waiting to order that snakes down the counter of this building marked by stone, glass and steel.  If you’re after a more sustaining meal you’ll also find a kitchen who can prepare you bacon and eggs with toast (89K) or pancakes with berries. For the best bet choose a pastry or two and collect one of the freshly squeezed juices in ready-to-pick-up lidded cups. Carry it outside to eat under the wide cream umbrellas or take it to either the Palace Park on the other side of the road or along with you to your next stop; Viegeland Park.

Åpent bakeri
Parkveien 27
0350 Oslo, Norway
22 71 62 99

 Viegeland Park

Vigeland Park is a must see in Oslo. It’s the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist and the life work of sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Mingled through the gardens are more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron. From cranky toddlers captured in bronze through the elegiac combinations of aging human forms, it’s a glorious spot to spend a few hours, accompanied by the strains of buskers and sheltered by the shade of trees that meet over the middle of the path.

Vigeland Park
Majorstua / Frogner, Oslo west.
Main entrance from Kirkeveien
Open 24 hours. Free.

Late lunch – Cafe Skansen

After Viegeland Park catch the number 12 tram down to the Town Hall, or walk. If you’re after a beer, glass of wine or a late lunch head up Rådhusgata to Cafe Skansen. Sit outside in the dappled light if the weather is fine and order a Nøgne  Brown Ale or a glass of local rose. It’s a casual spot with a menu full of Norwegian classics, from cured meats with potato salad to fat bowls of white wine steamed mussels and a rich cream laden fish soup, busy with chives and shellfish.

Cafè Skansen
Rådhusgata 32
0151 Oslo, Norway
24 20 13 11

Ferry on the fjord to Bygdøy and the Viking Ship Museum

One of the best ways to see the fjord is by a public ferry. For 50K a ticket (bought on the boat) you can catch one from right in front of the City Hall on the harbour over to Bygdøy- which will give you a great alternate view of the city. Over on Bygdøy are most of the museums- the most impressive of which is the Viking Boat Museum with excavated Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune ships.

If more contemporary crafts are more your thing you might want to pop down the road into the FRAM museum and walk on the only ship to have conquered both the northern and southern poles, or the Kon Tiki museum, devoted to Thor Heyerdahl’s adventures across the Pacific on a raft.

The Viking Ship Museum
Huk Aveny 35
0287 Oslo, Norway
22 13 52 80

Pre dinner drink at Lektern

To one side of where the ferry boats return is Akker Brygge. It’s a touristy strip of restaurants, bars and cafes, designed so people like us can sit at and watch boats while the sun slides down the sky behind us. If this is your thing and you like shiny modern style places follow both the noise and the good looking young people to Lektern.

Stretching out over the water, halfway between a barge and a wharf it’s dark slatted wood flooring and arched white sails. The out door area is open from March- September each year. There are DJ’s and long queues for the bar. There’s food, but I wouldn’t necessarily eat here.

Service can be slow, but the spot is good, the people watching priceless and the wine cold. Stay for a drink or two to rest your feet, before walking around to the other side of the harbour for dinner.

Stranden 3Oslo
21 02 36 24
Dinner- Solsiden

If your vision of your evening in Oslo includes an unpretentious meal, where you can watch the sun set over the harbour and eat an embarrassing amount of shellfish, then Solsiden is where you want to head.

Solsiden translates as ‘the sunny side’ and tucked beneath Akershus castle, in an old warehouse on the docks is one of the best spots to be as the summer sky gradually streaks pink around 10 pm.

It’s wise to book ahead and to request a table by the windows- that way you’ll benefit from both the view and the breeze. While there’s a well priced set price three course menu of the day, what most patrons come for is the groaning seafood platter.

At 650 K each, it’s not the cheapest meal out in town. But you also won’t go home feeling hungry or cheated.

Crowning the top are halves of lobster, the claws thoughtfully cracked for you. There are bowls of mussels that come on the side, freshly shucked oysters, whole crabs, langoustines and a creche of prawns puddling on ice at the bottom.

The highlight of it all are the scallops tucked into the side which are served raw. Add some salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime and it’s summer in a shell.

There are no bibs here, but it’s perfectly appropriate to get your hands dirty. The remoulade, tomato relish and mignonette sauces offer more entertainment, but it’s hard to think of a better way to pass a couple of hours than drinking Norwegian lagers and commenting on just how attractive and polite everyone around you is.

Akershusstranda 13, Skur 34, 0150 Oslo.
22 33 36 30

Walk home via the Opera House

After a feast like that, you’ll probably need a walk. If you follow the harbour path around to the left and hug the water, you’ll eventually find yourself back at a spot where you can see the hotel. You’ll also find yourself walking past the Opera House.

The product of a design competition held with 350 entries the Norwegian firm Snøhetta completed the Opera House in 2007. Negotiate your way up the sloped roof, past the canoodling teenagers and skateboarding 30 year olds for one of the best views out over the fjord.

Take one last photo and a moment to congratulate yourself on living out what should have been a fantastic day,  in one of the world’s great (albeit expensive) cities.

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  1. Oooh so jealous of you being able to pop to Oslo for a long weekend – I am off to Beechworth for my next long weekend!

  2. “skateboarding 30 year olds” I love the article, but Victoria, have you actually seen anybody skateboarding on the opera roof? As there is a sign forbidding it and I have never seen anybody there with a skateboard and I go there a lot! I know there is an article in ‘Wired’ connecting the place with skateboards , but it was denied once by an architect in a Norwegian newspaper.

    • Ausfi, I promise you at 11.45pm on a summer Saturday night when we were up there, there were four or five hipsters jangling around on their skateboards. Whether it’s permitted or not, well, that’s a whole other issue 🙂

  3. Tori, it is funny, but now I have also seen skateboarders on the roof once. There were two and I followed them in. One stayed down and left fairly soon, the other went up the roof. I noticed the other one skating down the roof, but too late to get a good photo. Then he started looking for his friend so I told him he had left.

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