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10 insider tips for what to do in Oslo
Tired of tourist traps, chain restaurants and bars that all look the same? If you’re wondering where to go for a unique experience in Oslo, you’re going to love our guide – featuring only the very best insider tips. Go ahead and experience Oslo like a local!
The lower part of Torggata used to be little more than a dull and grey pedestrian-only street – but those days are long gone! After a remarkable facelift the street is now teeming with cyclists, eateries and pubs. If you’re looking to enjoy a cold beer in a cosy setting, then Crowbar – or “Kråka” as it’s known among locals – is the place to go. With its range of wooden tables in varying sizes arranged over two dark, rustic floors, “Kråka” is frequented by people from all walks of life – from beer-guzzling students to couples on Tinder dates and colleagues meeting for an after-work drink (or three). Perhaps you’ll even manage to find the secret room? It’s almost always empty too – just make sure not to wear stiletto heels if you want to find it!
Enjoy a range of beers from Kråka’s very own brewery while you enjoy a delicious home-made kebab or falafel. Photo: Hanne Kristine Vederhus
2. Torggata Botaniske
If fancy drinks are more your thing, make sure to check out the Torggata Botaniske cocktail bar. The atmospheric premises are filled with large, green plants hanging among the chandeliers, and the stylish interior is infused with the smell of fresh herbs.
The bar fills up quickly at weekends, so arrive early to grab a table! Photo: Hanne Kristine Vederhus
3. Smia Galleri
The most memorable places are often found a little off the beaten track, and Smia Galleri on Vålerenga is no exception. Behind its wrought iron gates, this yellow stone building dating back to 1878 houses a fantastically welcoming restaurant. It’s a particularly good place to visit in winter, as you can watch the evening darken and the snow fall outside the huge windows while enjoying a hearty meal by the open fire.
Another memorable eatery is Klosteret, located in an old cellar vault on Fredensborgveien. At the bottom of the stairs you’ll find a rustic, candlelit space with brick walls and a great atmosphere. The wine list is extensive, and the dishes are made using the fines seasonal produce available.
A cozy atmosphere awaits in Klosteret`s cellar vault. Photo: Klosteret Restaurant
The district of St. Hanshaugen, offers an abundance of great places to hang out, inkluding Smalhans, an ideal venue for lunch, a drink at the bar, or a relaxed Norwegian-inspired meal. All wines served at Smalhans are organic, biodynamic or natural wines.
Smalhans. Photo: Hanne Kristine Vederhus
It’s impossible to visit all the great places on Youngstorget in just one evening, but you really mustn't miss Himkok. Its unassuming entrance in a blue wall down a side street from the square is easily missed, so you'll need directions. Covering an area of over 700 square metres, with a distillery and an exceptional selection of drinks, this hidden gem is the only Norwegian bar to have made it onto a list of the world’s top 50.
When we say ‘Youngstorget’, we’re actually also referring to the side streets that stretch out from Oslo’s main square in the centre of the city. Himkok is located in Storgata. Photo: Michal Rohal
Youngstorget is also where you’ll find the new Kulturhuset cultural centre, which offers three floors of fun! Go ahead and explore the coffee bar, library and shuffleboard tables – or perhaps you’d rather enjoy a beer, see a concert or hit the dancefloor? At Kulturhuset the choice is yours, from morning to night.
Kulturhuset. Photo: Hanne Kristine Vederhus
You can enjoy a glass of wine almost anywhere in the city, but the quality and atmosphere on offer vary considerably. If you’re a wine aficionado looking for a place with a great atmosphere – where the staff will appreciate your questions about grape varieties and vintage – steer clear of the chain restaurants and head over to Astral in Lilleborg. Many of the wines on their 300-strong list are served using the Coravin method, which means that you can try more expensive and exclusive wines than would otherwise be available by the glass. This is an absolute must for wine lovers – and the food is just as fantastic!
Astral is situated right by the Akerselva river, between Sagene and Torshov. Photo: Astral
9. Grefsenkollen restaurant
High above the city you’ll find the Grefsenkollen restaurant – offering Oslo’s finest views. During the day you can enjoy freshly baked goods and a cup of coffee, or sit outside with a slice of pizza and take in the views of the glittering fjord below. The highlight, though, is a three or five course evening meal, served in the magnificent old timber building. Here, you’ll dine surrounded by dark wood, candlelight and the comforting crackling of the fire. Try to get a window table, so you can enjoy the dark evening sky and the twinkling lights of the city as an added bonus.
Grefsenkollen restaurant. Photo: Sune Eriksen
Havnepromenaden (the harbour promenade) stretches all the way from just east of Sørenga to Frognerkilen in the west, making it possible to walk along the seafront the whole way. There’s a range of places worth stopping off at along the way, and one of the best is Naustet, part of the SALT nomadic art project. This small, mobile cultural centre is a real boathouse, constructed from materials found along the shore. Admire the 1960s interiors, listen to songs on the record player and warm yourself by the log burner. And best of all? There’s a sauna with its very own bar! Book the sauna in advance and enjoy a unique, hot experience with a view of the Oslo Opera House.
Naustet. Photo: Hanne Kristine Vederhus
Need more Oslo inspiration?
● Top festival, leisure and food tips
● A guide for first-time visitors to Oslo