A summer weekend in Olso – Our 2 day guide!

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If you’re after a city get away with an infusion of ‘Scandi cool’ look no further than Norway’s capital of Oslo. We spent a full 2 days there over Midsommer (22nd-25th of June) where the sun barely sets and the city scarcely sleeps. Think sleek tree lined streets, light linens, flower beds in full bloom and locals sunbaking on any spare patch of grass they can find. This is Oslo summer and it’s a vibe! If it was like this all year round, we would seriously consider moving there. Alas, the 22 hours of sunlight the Norwegians enjoy from June-August is sadly replaced with 22 hours of darkness over winter. Such a stark contrast between seasons however does make the Oslovians experts at making the most of the warmer months while they have them. Almost every venue was overflowing with patrons spilling out onto the street, every park full of picnicking locals, and every corner adorned with inbuilt spots to sit and enjoy the view.  

Olso is definitely a diverse, inclusive and multicultural city. We happened to be visiting during pride month, and we were pleased to see there were pride flags, events and pop-up stalls smattered throughout the city. This was no more evident than in the bohemian suburb of Grunerlokka or ‘Lokka’ as the locals call it. We also noted an array of multicultural cuisine, with a variety of Asian, Indian and European and Middle Eastern restaurants and pop-ups.

If you can’t tell already, we had a great stay and definitely recommend you consider Oslo as a summer destination. Continue reading below to read more about some of the things we enjoyed. This isn’t a ‘complete guide’, but more a sample of some top picks to help fuel your Oslo travel inspiration.

Why we loved Grunerlokka:

For the Victorians amongst us, Grunerlokka is to Oslo what northside suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood are to Melbourne. If that doesn’t mean much to you, we would best describe Grunerlokka as a hive of activity for students and artistic types. This is where you’ll find that one of a kind vintage shirt and thrift your way along the Sondagsmarkedet (Sunday street market). We walked past a handful of DIY clothing sales in the squares, locals battling it out for the title of Ping Pong Champion and ‘too-good-looking-to be-true’ young families enjoying an afternoon walk in the park. We stayed right in the centre of the action just off Olaf Ryes Plass and would definitely recommend staying close by to enjoy everything that Grunerlokka has to offer. The main square of Olaf Ryes Place is an excellent spot for people watching over a picnic.

As if often the case with trendy pockets of big cities, Grunerlokka was once an industrial, working class area of which remnants remain today. There are old factory mills strewn along the riverside (which were once powered by the running water of the river). Now more gentrified, we saw one such factory has been turned into apartments right near our favourite park Grunerhagen. As nightfall approaches (although never truly arrives), head to Grunerlokka’s most iconic music venue ‘Bla’. Apparently its quite the institution, having supported numerous up and coming Norwegian acts over the years and still presents live music acts each week. Great vibe in summer!

The coffee culture is Oslo is incredible

We had high hopes for the coffee culture in Oslo and thankfully we weren’t disappointed. After multiple coffee’s a day, we can safely say Oslo now has a place in our ‘top Coffee culture cities’ in Europe.. it’s that good! A quick google search of good quality coffee in the city opened up a whole network of specialty coffee roasters waiting to be explored. Our coffee bible became kaffekartet.no’s 2024 Oslo Coffee Guide which has put together (in their opinion) the best 12 coffee venues across the city. Whilst we didn’t get to them all in our short stay, we managed to sample at least 3 plus a few of our own finds.

  • Supreme Roastworks: Situated in Grunerlokka this place serves up one of the smoothest flat whites and seems to be a favourite amongst local families in the area.
  • Kuro: Down the road from where we stayed, this would easily become our ‘local’ if we lived there. Sit on the benches outside and people watch on a sunny day or browse the records inside as the weather turns.
  • Lille Oslo Kaffebrenneri: Easily our top pick from the coffee shops we sampled. This place has a darling courtyard out the back where you can set yourself up with a good book or just enjoy the hum of summer.  
  • Tim Wendelboe: Recommended by a fellow Melbourne coffee snob we knew we were in for a treat here. On a summers day treat yourself to their signature Cappucino Al Freddo served in a martini glass.
  • Fuglan Coffee Roasters: On our way out to explore Oslo’s ‘Old Town’ we stumbled across Fuglan’s home made cinnamon and cardamom buns

A couple of other places that we walked past and would have loved to return to, but unfortunately ran out of time were The Coffee Roaster (located in an old fire station) and Papegoye (FKA Neongrut). Ant there’s no doubt many, many more that we missed!

Don’t miss the Oslo food markets:

Oslo’s well established foodie scene draws parallels to that of Copenhagen. If you’ve got money to spend there is no scarcity of high-quality restaurants to enjoy including Michelin Star establishments. While our travel style is more ‘bougee on a budge’ we didn’t get to many of these places ourselves, however a top recommendation from a friend who spent 6 months in Oslo is Smalhans North West of the CBD– likely worth a visit if you’re after something a little more upmarket.

Our go to for tasty bites and (relatively) cheap eats was definitely Oslo’s plethora of food markets and pop-up food truck stalls. We sampled a few bits and bobs from Mathallen’s multicultural indoor food market (think Lisbon’s timeout market on a smaller scale) and enjoyed a delicious falafel wrap overlooking the water at Vippa’s food market on a leisurely walk back from Akker Brygger.

We definitely noticed the foodie scene in Oslo is multicultural and varied, much like the people. Another open air food market we walked past and would have loved to sample but didn’t get around to was Olso Street Food. The beers were flowing and this place was absolutely pumping!

Another good find a 10-minute walk from where we stayed was the aesthetic Babbo Collective Ovrefoss – this coffee shop/bakery by day becomes a lively restaurant/wine bar by night. Sitting in a photogenic pocket of the city we sat outside and watched locals go about their Sunday evenings. As an added bonus, they have a deal on Sunday nights where you can order a drink from one of the open bottles of wine or a main meal using left over ingredients from the week for 100NOK (which at the time of writing equates to just under $15 AUD.) This was a relatively ‘inexpensive’ way to enjoy some of Olso’s finer food scene without the extravagant price tag.

Finally, if we ever have the chance to visit Oslo again we’ll be stopping by Hrimnir Ramen for a feed. We didn’t eat here ourselves but we walked past it on multiple occasions and every time it was overflowing with locals. Our assumption is that if the locals keep coming back it must be good.

Note: Oslo isn’t a great ‘budget friendly city’. If you are looking to save money supermarkets are likely to be your best friend. We found the cost for Australians to be around 30-50% higher than back home, and some Americans we met mentioned it was even expensive for them to travel here. Budget accordingly.

We love Oslo’s sauna culture:

A trip to Norway wouldn’t be complete without experiencing Scandinavian sauna culture. This was one of the things we were most looking forward to trying in anticipation of our trip, and after having experienced it for ourselves we would say it’s a MUST DO for your upcoming trip. While sauna’s are reported to have originated in neighbouring Finland, the Norwegian’s have adopted it as their own claiming numerous health benefits – both physical and mental. We booked an afternoon sauna experience with KOK overlooking Oslofjord and the Opera House at their Langkaia location. There are various options available including shared saunas, private saunas and even private boating saunas that float out into the middle of the fjord if you’re looking to level up. We chose the cheaper shared sauna option, which was still just as beautiful and pleasantly social with 6 others on board. Overall you get 90 minutes to enjoy frolicking between the sauna room (approx. 80 degrees Celsius) and then jumping into the refreshingly icy fjord. If you’re lucky enough to pick a sunny day you can even do some sunbaking on the roof while sipping on a Norwegian beer. Click here to see the prices and booking for KOK (https://koknorge.no/en/) – note this isn’t a sponsored post.

Check out Oslo’s city centre:

The image that comes to mind is one of an iceberg seamlessly rising out of the water. The building itself is unique in that visitors can walk from the front entrance all the way up to the roof via its sloped walkways and has won multiple architectural awards. While this part of the city is definitely the most touristy (especially given there were a number of cruise ships that arrived for the day), its busy for a reason and we would still stay its worth seeing for yourself.

Once you’ve admired the view from the top of the Opera House you can walk a little further to the Munch Museum which houses Edvard Munch’s famous ‘The Scream’ and just outside is a little man-made ‘beach’ where you can sit overlooking Oslofjord. Sleek, sophisticated and effortlessly cool – the true Scandinavian way.

Should I visit Oslo’s old town?

Oslo on the whole is a modern city, with its stylish Opera House and relatively built up (although still beautiful) CBD. We were interested to see Oslo’s ‘Old Town’ and decided to make the trek to see it on our last morning there. We came across some 1000 year old ruins from Oslo’s first cathedral and two main streets that are cute, but without much really happening. Unless you’re a real history buff you could probably give this part of the city a miss.

See some of Oslo’s cutest streets:

On our last night in Oslo we swung past two of the most idyllic streets we’ve come across on our travels – Telthusbakken and Damstredet. These streets are worth the visit, only 5 minutes apart from each other, 10 minutes from Grunerlokka and 5 minutes from iconic bar/music venue Bla. Interestingly, despite their beauty they weren’t ‘touristy’ at all. In our opinion, they’re more worth your time than the true ‘Old Town’ both being nostalgic in an ‘old town way’ and easier to get to.

Don’t miss the waterfall in Oslo:

Did you know there is a waterfall located in the heart of Oslo? Situated in Grunerlokka, we stumbled upon this beautiful waterfall after a morning walk along the beautiful river. Voyenfallene, is located on the edge of Grunerlokka, and is definitely worth checking out.

If you’ve made it this far you’re likely as excited to visit Oslo as we were during our stay! We hope this guide has given you a good place to start your Oslo itinerary.

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