Norway’s small capital city Oslo might be pricey, but the extra outlay is worth it for the experience. As the green capital of Europe, it often feels more like a large outdoor park – beautiful and enchanting (even when it’s raining). Add to this some world-class culture and art museums and a bustling year-round music scene, you’re sure to have an eye-opening experience if you follow our handy guide!
Must spend time in nature in Hovedøya
Locals refer to Oslo as “the blue and the green with a city in-between” as, despite its intensely urban feel, Oslo city still feels like an afterthought in relation to the vast, beautiful and overwhelming nature that is accessible within minutes, no matter where you are standing.
Hopping on the B1, B2, B3 or B4 ferries from Aker Brygge will take you to largely uninhabited islands in no more than 20 minutes, and from here you can wander off into the woodland, lay out a picnic blanket, or strip off and take a dip. It’s the perfect way to relax and unwind on a warm day before heading back into town for the evening.
Must hike the Aker River until you reach the markets
Sunday is a great day to use your feet, by taking a leisurely hike up the Aker River. Near the top there are two conveniently located markets around Blå and Ingensteds in Grünerløkka are full of Knitwear, jewelry, ceramics, glass, wool, clothes, toys, paintings, bags, and curious antiques you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
The walk encompasses much of Oslo’s industrial heritage – passing over the Aamodt bridge gives a beautiful view over the waterfall into the former factory buildings that are now the campus of the Oslo University Of The Arts.
Must take a selfie in the Sculpture Park
The Sculpture Park in the Frogner Park houses more than 200 athletic and playful sculptures by Gustav Vigeland in bronze, granite, and cast iron. They capture the human form – man, woman, and child – in myriad playful poses and evocative inter-personal vignettes. Most famous are The Angry Boy, The Monolith, and The Wheel of Life. Vigeland was also responsible for the design and architectural outline of the park, which is one of Norway’s top tourist attractions, with more than one million annual visitors.
If you’re looking for good social content, the park is a meme-lovers paradise, with every sculpture, from the humorous to the serious, ready to be snapped. Get lost getting creative and let all your friends back home know that you have time to be cultured AND funny.
Must go shopping – especially records
Ok, we can’t ignore the fact any longer – prices in Norway are eye-watering high, no matter where you come from. Expect to pay between 20% to 40% more than you would expect even in an expensive city like London.
Luckily, if you are a resident of a country other than Norway, Sweden, Finland, or Denmark, you can have the Norwegian VAT (MVA) refunded at the airport when you leave the country. When you make a purchase, you must clearly state your country of residence in order to have the necessary export document filled in by store staff.
That said Oslo has a great selection of record shops too, reflecting its diverse music culture. The largest record shop for new vinyl in Oslo is Big Dipper records on Torggata 16, while Neseblod Records (Schweigaards gt 56) and Katakomben (Youngstorget 6) best represent Norway’s niche but highly regarded black metal scene (try it – you might like it!). If black metal is too niche for you, try Råkk & Rålls (Akersgata 39). Second-hand vinyl of all genres, Pop/Rock, Indie, ’60s, punk, reggae, electronica, jazz, kitsch furniture and accessories sit alongside some other treasures.