Updated 2019 – Michelin Star Restaurants in Oslo offer unforgettable journeys through the Nordic nature as well as classical gourmet.
I know Noma in Copenhagen is on countless bucket lists, but also Oslo has many great options for those that enjoy Michelin star culinary experiences. Hardcore gourmet fans might be tempted to try all Michelin star restaurants in Oslo during one visit – after all, you can count the restaurants on one hand.
Maaemo – 3 Michelin Star restaurant in Oslo
Distinctively Nordic, Maaemo is Oslo’s only 3 Michelin star restaurant. Prepare for flavours, textures and combinations that push the limits of imagination. You’ll also experience familiar ingredients with a new Nordic twist. Langoustine with spruce butter? Yes please.
Contemporary architecture lover? The Nordic minimalistic interior has a luxurious feel to it thanks to dark tones. You’ll also enjoy the architectural eye candyjust outside the restaurant.
Fun fact: The name Maaemo is in fact Finnish (the language that is not related to Norwegian) and means Mother Earth.
Statholdergaarden – Classic Michelin Star restaurant
Having trouble pronouncing that name? So do I, even after nearly 10 years in Oslo. Name aside, Stathodergaarden is without a doubt the best classical gourmet restaurant in Oslo. The interior is charming with details such as chandeliers and old plasterwork.
Housed in a building from 1640, the restaurant has an extensive wine list and focus on seasonal Norwegian ingredients, such as meat and seafood. The menu varies by season, but you’ll likely find a nice mix of classics and modern dishes, however I have always let the chef delight me with the menu of the day.
Kontrast – Modern Scandinavian Michelin star restaurant
Located a short ride from the city center, in the Vulkan area, Kontrast serves seasonal, local ingredients with a modern twist. The interior is the epitome of what I call Nordic Luxury, with mostly dark colours, raw brick walls and concrete floors. Wood and soft fabric upholstery soften the look.
Kontrast is moving the needle when it comes to the texture and coupling of ingredients: perhaps the most memorable dish I’ve had at Kontrast was bone marrow ice cream.
Fun fact: The restaurant has as rooftop garden where they grow the flowers that are used for decorating dishes.
“Nothing wrong with this restaurant” would be a funny thing to say in Norwegian. That’s because Galt translates as “wrong”. This restaurant, which falls under the category Modern European, surprised everyone in 2018 by gaining its first Michelin star under one year after opening.
Similarly to Kontrast, Galt has a very simplistic Nordic interior with rough brick walls, concrete floors and bare wooden tables – no white tablecloths or chandeliers.
The ingredients are sourced mostly from small producers in Norway, so an evening at Galt will be like a flavour journey through Norway.
Looking for the perfect restaurant for a romantic dinner in Oslo? Here are our top 5 choices.
When you’re planning a special evening or want to surprise someone (wink wink: Valentine’s Day is happening this year too), what would be better than a romantic dinner in a restaurant that has a special atmosphere. Maybe it’s sitting by a fireplace, the service that makes you feel special, or the surroundings. Oslo has something for every occasion and taste. Here are our recommendations for romantic restaurants in Oslo.
Statholdergaarden – Classical gourmet in Oslo
The Michelin star restaurant is located in a 17th century building right in the heart of the city. You can even book a private dining room. There is a lot of local flavours on the classical menu, and the wine list is impressive. The chandeliers and the outstanding service are just some of the elements that create the perfect atmosphere for a special night out. One of the best restaurants in Oslo. Statholdergaarden holds a Michelin star Our tip: Make sure you book a table in advance. Statholdergaarden, Rådhusgate 11.
Fjord offers a great selection of fish and seafood and a nice selection of wines to wash it all down with. The interior is on the dark side, dominated by tones of blue – like the night sky in the winter before it gets really dark. A good choice if you want to experience a romantic atmosphere and local flavours. Restaurant Fjord, Kristian Augusts Gate 11
Let’s start with a small personal disclosure: This is where me and my significant other had our first date, so Cru will always have a special place in my heart. But it’s not just me: the place comes highly recommended by many food connoisseurs in Oslo. It has also made its way to the Michelin guide. The wine list is guaranteed to satisfy even the most demanding guest, while the British-inspired menu (the manager is originally from the UK), rustic interior and knowledgeable team ensure that your evening is memorable. Highly recommended! Do also check out their wine bar which is downstairs. In addition to wine, they also have a seasonal 3-course menu. Cru, Industrigata 51.
Eik Annen Etage
Located in the same building as the Continental hotel, the restaurant Annen Stage is decorated in dark colours such as black, red and gold for a feeling of contemporary luxury. The menu has focus on Nordic ingredients, such as seasonal root vegetables, fish and meat. The wine list will also please even the connoisseurs, and among other things includes a wide selection of top champagnes. Great choice for that special night out. Eik Annen Etage, Stortingsgata 24.
Hos Thea – One of Oslo’s hidden gems
This is a charming little restaurant that you probably won’t come across by accident. Located in Skillebekk, a central residential area, the restaurant is equally popular among the locals and visitors. A touch of classical, old fashion charm and a menu boasting local flavours (especially seafood) with a a French twist are the ingredients for a memorable evening. The restaurant is fairly small, so do make sure you book your table well in advance. Hos Thea, Gabels gate 11.
A dinner or lunch at Aker Brygge is never a bad idea. We put together a list of 10 great restaurants to consider – something for every taste.
“So much food, so little time” fits perfectly with Aker Brygge: the wining & dining possibilities are fantastic, and whether you’re after fine dining or a super juicy gourmet burger, you’ll find it here. Here are our top picks for every occasion.
1. Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin – Seafood
I’ve been to this restaurant on all types of occasions: an informal lunch with friends, a date night and a business dinner, and it really works for every occasion. The interior is light, simplistic and Nordic, and the big windows allow you to soak in the views and atmosphere of the Aker Brygge / Tjuvholmen area while you eat.
Situated just by the canal, Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin has a seasonal menu that offers many local, seasonal flavours (for example root vegetables in the winter) and ingredients in addition to a good selection of seafood. Try the Norwegian King Crab if you want to try a local alternative to lobster (which they also have on the menu, of course). Another local speciality is the shrimp, which often comes from Norway, and is peeled by hand (by you that is). There is also something for the meat lover and the vegetarian. The wine list is also very good. Ask for pairings with food, as the staff really know their wine.
If you prefer a young, hip restaurant with a rustic interior, you’ll love Delicatessen. It’s a a super popular, Spanish-inspired restaurant that offers small tapas dishes and a nice selection of wines. In addition to the regular menu, there is always a selection of seasonal flavours. Whether you’re a meat lover or a vegetarian, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.
Delicatessen is almost always crowded (read: booking an advance is highly recommended), and there is a reason for that: the dishes are perfect for sharing with your date, family or friends, and the atmosphere is perfect for meeting friends. Delicatessen has two other locations: Grünerløkka and Majorstuen.
3. Le Vin Wine & Food – The Hidden Gem with French Twist
While not literally in Aker Brygge, Le Vin, opened in late 2018, is worth an introduction. As the name suggests, this is the place for wine lovers. The food menu combines French and Norwegian flavours (mostly meat and fish) , and there is nice selection of bar snacks if you feel like just having a glass of wine and a small bite to eat. The charming restaurant has become a favourite among the locals after it opened in late 2018 and is on the small side – make sure you book a table in advance. They also have a wine cellar – Le Cave – for private groups up to 20 people, the perfect place for a celebration with a larger group or business associates.
Hot tip: Next door to Le Vin sits another hidden gem, Barotto, a small bar that is run by the team behind Le Vin. They serve good cocktails and have an impressive wine menu (also top champagnes) – the perfect place for pre-dinner or post-dinner cocktails.
Hanami is a favourite among those that love Japanese food. The restaurant has two kitchens: one dedicated to sushi and another for warm fusion food. There is also a nice cocktail bar that has many cool Hanami signature drinks. The menu consists of a large variety of Japanese small dishes, various meat types from the grill and salads for those that prefer a lighter meal – in other words, something for everyone. If you love food that also looks beautiful (read: Instagram friendly), you’ll enjoy a visit to Hanami.
The restaurant is located just by the waterfront, and a dinner on the popular terrace on a warm summer evening is one to remember. It’s a popular restaurant throughout the year, so book your table in advance.
If you’re into architecture, you’ll love dining at Ling Ling, “the naughty little sister” of the world-famous Hakkasan restaurants. The hip restaurant is located in a landmark building in Aker Brygge. It’s not just a place to see, but also a place to be seen: it’s known as the venue for many celebrity parties. Those who are familiar with Hakkasan, won’t be disappointed with Ling Ling. Ling Ling is a good choice for a special night out with someone special or friends: there is a DJ every night from Thursday to Saturday.
Hot tip: request for a table with a view over Aker Brygge or Akershus festning, because the views are that great. Read more about the restaurant building here.
6. Lofoten Fish Restaurant Oslo – For seafood lovers
Lofoten fish restaurant in Aker Brygge, opened in 1992, specialises in seafood only, and does it really well – the restaurant is mentioned in the Michelin Guide. A particularly popular choice for business lunch or dinner, the restaurant has a minimalistic Nordic interior and the menu consists of a wide variety of seafood. Try their signature fish soup (starter) and fresh lobster from the tank for specialities, or order the shellfish platter (they request that you order this at least a day in advance) to taste a little bit of everything. We recommend meat lovers and vegetarians to consider other restaurants.
Book a table on the heated terrace for a great view towards the Aker Brygge promenade and for some people watching while you eat.
Lofoten Fiskerestaurant, Stranden 75, Oslo.
7. The Thief Foodbar
If you’re staying at The Thief, this is where you’ll have breakfast, but for lunch and in the evenings this restaurant turns into a modern food bar.
This is a great place if you are not up for fine dining, but want to enjoy a stylish environment and good service. During the day, there are many small dishes you can combine for a full meal, and in the evening the menu is a balanced combination of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes.
Looking for the perfect place to dine on a warm summer evening? Try the rooftop bar at The Thief – it offers one of the best views over the Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen area.
8. Louise – Norwegian flavours in a nautical atmosphere
Louise is a true classic and many locals remember this place from company dinners, but it’s a great restaurant for a lunch, a romantic evening or even a dinner with the family. The menu has something for everyone – including vegetarians – and has a lot of fresh local ingredients such as fish to choose from. Generous seafood platters are their signatures – pick one with lobster for that little extra.
9. Vingen – The Astrup Fearnley Museum Cafe & Restaurant
Let’s face it: Vingen, especially the terrace, has one of the best views in the Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen area, although it’s rarely mentioned among places to visit.
The café and restaurant closes early (depending on the day, 6 pm or 7 pm), so it’s most suitable as a lunch place, and actually because of its location, the perfect place for a little break if you’re exploring the area or sightseeing in Oslo. The menu and drinks are partially inspired by the museum exhibitions, so expect signature drinks you won’t get anywhere else. In the summer time, the terrace is the perfect place for a lunch or a drink.
Hot tip: Sunsets on the Vingen terrace are lovely as you’ll have a good view over the Oslo fjord.
Wondering where to find the juiciest burgers in town? Try Burger Joint. It’s a small, rustic American style burger joint that relies much on local ingredients. Try one of their classics such as the Juicy Lucy, Bacon Supreme or Holy Smoke and their Fries Royale (black truffle mayo & parmesan) and wash it all down with a shake for a meal that will keep you going all day.
Hot tip: In the summer, grab your burger to go and enjoy it by the waterfront in Aker Brygge or Tjuvholmen.
Luxury comes in many flavours in Oslo. The classical 5-star, the sustainable, or perhaps the choice of rockstars – check out our recommendations.
Oslo is a compact city, which means that you’re never really that far from the city centre or attractions regardless of which hotel you choose. And there is plenty to choose from – although global chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, Sofitel or Marriott are missing. Here are our top pics for a great stay in downtown Oslo.
The Thief – The trendy luxury design hotel
When rockstars come to Oslo, they stay at The Thief. It’s the flagship hotel of the Nordic Choice hotel chain and uniquely located in Tjuvholmen (the name literally stands for “the thief islet”, hence the name), and was opened in 2013.
Dark colours, design details and light, wooden floors are the trademarks of this trendy hotel, and they have a nice lobby bar that is popular not only among hotel quests but locals alike. If you happen to visit the hotel during the summer, a visit up to the rooftop terrace is a must – the views are breathtaking. The hotel also has a high-end spa with a swimming pool. There is also a hotel restaurant, but for dinner you’ll find several excellent options within a few minutes walking distance in the Aker Brygge area. Landgangen 1, 0252 Oslo
The Grand hotel – The symbol of classical luxury hotel
This hotel, which received a full face lift a couple of years ago, represents classical continental 5-star glamour. The hotel is managed by Scandic, a large Nordic hotel chain, and regularly hosts state heads, celebrities and even Nobel Peace Prize winners. The Grand hotel is located on Karl Johans Gate, perhaps the best known street to visitors. The hotel faces the Norwegian Parliament building and has a fantastic location for anyone looking to explore the city by foot or the public transport.
The Stortinget tube station is just one minute away, and the luxury shopping district, Promenaden, within 3 minutes walking distance. If you’re looking for a hotel with a spa and a swimming pool, you’ll enjoy the Artesia Spa at the Grand Hotel. There is a rooftop bar (Eight) with a view towards the Parliament, a restaurant (Palmen) and a lobby bar (Othilia). Karl Johans gate 31, 0159 Oslo
Carlton Hotel Guldsmeden Oslo – The cozy hidden gem
For some reason, this charming boutique hotel is not among the first you’ll see mentioned in conventional travel guides, however it’s a lovely hotel with a great location.
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice about this hotel is the unique style, and those who care for the environment will appreciate the hotel’s throughout dedication to sustainability (and the breakfast is organic). If you have an eye for details, you’ll enjoy staying at Guldsmeden. This hotel is what you get when you combine cosy with luxury. The location is in Vika just behind Aker Brygge, with some 5 mins walk to the Astrup Fearnley museum. Parkveien 78, 0254 Oslo.
Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Oslo
While not a 5-star hotel, Rosenkrantz is a regular at the top of list of the best hotels in Oslo. And it’s no wonder: it’s a solid 4-star hotel with a great location in the heart of the city (across from the Court House), a fresh, colourful design, good service and perhaps the best hotel breakfast in town in the restaurant Paleo.
It’s the small touches that make this hotel a tough competition for 5-star hotels: free coffee and often also bakery products in the reception area, protein bars for gym guests, free (simple) dinner and even hand lotion in the reception area restrooms (we have an eye for details).There is no room service, but there are plenty of restaurants, bars, kiosks and cafes around the hotel. Thon hotels is a Norwegian-owned hotel chain, and here is a fun fact: the owner, Olav Thon, is still very visible despite his 90+ years. Rosenkrantz’ gate 1, 0159 Oslo.
Hotel Continental Oslo
Just like the Grand Holte, the hotel Continental is located smack in the middle of the city center. In addition to having many of the attractions, shopping and culture around the corner, you’ll find a tram stop, a bus stop and a tube station across the street.
A classical 5-star luxury hotel, the Continental hotel hosts one of the top restaurants in the city: Eik Annen Etage. The food and beverage offering doesn’t stop there though: on the ground floor you’ll find restaurant and cafe Theatercafeen (their weekend brunch is highly recommended, but only served a couple of months a year) and lobby bar Bar Boman, which is popular among the locals as well.
Most of the hotel rooms, including the suites, have recently been fully refurbished. This hotel has a guest garage, which is convenient if you are planning to get around by a rental. Stortingsgaten 24/26, 0117 Oslo.
In case our top 5+1 reason to travel to Oslo didn’t already convince you to visit the capital of Norway, we put together a list of 10 events that will be happening in 2019. There is something for everyone: for the sporty one, for the foodie, for the music lover and so on.
Oslo Wine Festival 1-3 February 2019
Let’s face it: Norway is not a wine producing country, but we do love our wine. The great thing about not being a wine producing country is that the selection of top wines from literally all over the world – not just one or a few countries – is impressive. The Oslo Wine Festival is located in the Aker Brygge / Tjuvholmen area. There will be over 100 events happening in 20 different restaurants in the area, ranging from quick courses to guided tours. Learn more (only in Norwegian – sorry!)
Biathlon World Cup
The annual, international event takes place at Holmenkollen and gathers tens of thousands of winter sport and ski enthusiasts. In addition to a great sports event atmosphere, you also get to experience the unique closeness of the hills of Holmenkollen – just a short tube ride from the city center. As a bonus, you get to admire the amazing views over entire Oslo. For program and tickets, visit the Holmenkollen Ski Festival website.
Norwegian National Day
This is a day worth experiencing. It’s a day that, to many, begins very early: a festive breakfast, often enjoyed with a glass of champagne, is an important start of the often long day. To Norwegians, 17th May means school and marching bands, ice cream, getting dressed up in traditional outfits (bunad), meeting friends, overdosing on cake and waving small Norwegian flags to anyone and anywhere. This is the day when you’ll see the streets filled with people, regardless of the weather. If you’re planning to dine out, make sure you book a table well in advance. It’s also good to know that 17th May is a public holiday, meaning all shops and most services are closed (except for the public transport).
Every two years, the global maritime industry gathers in Oslo for a 4-day event called Nor-Shipping. The actual fair is in Lillestrøm, some 10 minute train ride from the Oslo city center, but there are maritime and shipping related events all over Oslo, especially in the Aker Brygge area. Read more.
Jun 14 – Jun 23
Oslo Pride is the biggest Pride event in Norway, and brings together tens of thousands of people to celebrate and enjoy arts, diversity and culture. The highlight of Oslo Pride is the parade which is 22 June. For full program, visit the Oslo Pride website.
The name literally stands for “the island festival”, and while the event moved onshore many years ago, it really started off as a festival on island called Kalvøya outside Oslo. It’s now one of the biggest urban music festivals in the Nordics, and is held in Tøyen Park, some 20 min walk from the Oslo city center. There are also tens of events and concerts around the city. Some of the names for 2019 have already been announced: Robyn and the Cure. For more info and tickets, visit the Øyafestivalen website.
Oslo Jazz festival
Each year, thousands of jazz lovers gather in Oslo to enjoy up to 90 concerts around the city. The festival is well established with a history that dates back 30 years. The program for the 2019 festival will be published soon.
Foodies have a good reason to visit Oslo in September when the biggest food festival Matstreif takes over Rådhusplassen between Aker Brygge and the Akershus Fortress. There will be some 200 exhibitors, and you can pamper your taste buds with flavours from all over Norway and the world. The program and info for the 2019 event will be announced soon.
The timing of Oslo marathon is actually quite ideal: in late September, the chances for the weather being too warm are minimal, and the risk for rain and cold weather is not too high. For runners this means good weather conditions. The running event offers several other distances too, including half marathon and kids marathon. You’ll find more info and registration on the Oslo marathon website.
Opens 30 November
The Christmas fair – Winter wonderland – seems to get bigger and better each year, and is a must for anyone visiting Oslo in December. It’s a great place for Christmas shopping, tasting through Norwegian specialities, trying your luck on ice skates and much more.
Get the most out of your New Year in Oslo with our tips to events, restaurants and more.
Here’s a funny fact: Going out in Oslo on New Year’s Eve has gained popularity only during the recent years. In fact, the first public fireworks in Oslo was in 2008! Today, Oslo has many options for those wanting to ring in the New Year in the city.
If you’re keen to see the fireworks, make sure you are in the Aker Brygge / Tjuvholmen or City Hall (Rådhuset) area. The best way to get there is with public transport: for example the tube to National Theatre station (the station is served by all metro/tube lines). From there it’s only some 5 minutes walk down to the waterfront where you’ll get the best view. Do note that private fireworks are not allowed.
As a rule of thumb, the colder it is, the clearer the sky gets… and the better for fireworks. But it also means that you want to add warming layers before you head out. Check the latest forecast at Yr website.
Ruter has service throughout the New Year. You’ll find more info on special timetables on the Ruter website or their app.
Good news: all Vinmonopolet stores are open on New Year’s Eve (so you can get your bubbly), but they close earlier than normally. Check the opening hours of your store on the Vinmonopolet website.
Dining and going out
While some restaurants remain closed throughout the holidays, many have a special New Year’s events. As the offering is limited though, we recommend you book in advance. Here are some restaurants that have a special New Year’s menu or an event:
Olivia restaurants (several locations in Oslo, in terms of the fireworks the one in Tjuvholmen is recommended) serves a selection of their most popular dishes. Read more and book your table.
Planning on spending the holidays in Oslo? Check out our guide for best Christmas activities and what you need to know.
Are you planning or considering spending the holidays in Oslo? It’s a great time to visit the Norwegian capital, and experience snow, the cold dark evenings that make you crave for a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoy the seasonal attractions.
First a few practical things you might want to be aware of:
In Norway, Christmas celebration happens on Christmas Eve (yes, we’re that impatient).
If you are one of those people that leave Christmas shopping literally to the last minute, do keep in mind that most shops are closed on the 24th, and remain closed on the 25th and 26th (your wallet will be grateful)
Only a few restaurants are open on Christmas Eve, and you are most likely going to find an open restaurant in a hotel
Public transport operates with limited service, however taxis operate throughout the holidays. For public transport, see Ruter’s Christmas service guide.
Many restaurants remain closed between Christmas and the beginning of January
Vinmonopolet, the only alcoholic beverage retailer in Norway, is open on the 22nd December and closed 23-26 December.
Here is our list of top 5 activities for Christmas time in Oslo
Winter Wonderland in Oslo
The Winter Wonderland Christmas Market in Spikersuppa, by Karl Johans gate.
Put your balance to the test in the ice skating rink, enjoy a gorgeous view over the city from the top of the Ferris wheel, taste your way through the numerous stalls with all types of Christmas treats, warm up with a cup of hot mulled wine (which, ironically enough, is not part of the Norwegian Christmas tradition) and snap a few selfies in the season’s most Instagram friendly spot, the light tunnel, which you’ll find on the Stortingsgata side of the market. Free entry. Open until 30 December. Hours vary by day, check the day’s hours here.
Christmas market at Bærums Verk
Some 45-minute bus ride or a half an hour car ride from central Oslo takes you to Bærums Verk, a small village nestled in a valley by the river Lomma. It used to be the home of a factory producing metal castings, and is now a popular residential area with some 40+ shops, art galleries, a sculpture park, restaurants and cafes in the historical surroundings. There is a Christmas market until 23rd December and various Christmas activities suited for grown ups and especially families, such as a choir, horse riding and so on. Take the bus number 150 from Oslo, or the E18 towards Sandvika. Bærums Verk website (available only in Norwegian).
Christmas Cruise by the Oslo Fjord to Drøbak
Another great way to get into Christmas spirit is a fjord cruise to Drøbak, a small, cosy costal town where you can visit Santa’s house. Many of the town’s old wooden houses date back as far as the 18th century, when the town established as a local hub for shipping and fishing. While Drøbak is a great destination for a summertime day trip, a cruise along the Oslo fjord is guaranteed to get you in festive spirit in no time. The cruise and a couple of hours in Drøbak takes approximately 5 hours. Cruises depart from Langaika (across the Opera house) until 30.12. Advance booking is recommended. Read more.
Traditional Norwegian Christmas platter (juletallerken)
In case you’re wondering what Norwegians eat for Christmas, there really is no national consensus. Lamb or mutton is popular In the West and North of Norway (dish called pinnekjøtt), while in the East you’ll likely see ribs. But what’s even more popular before Christmas is a traditional Christmas platter “juletallerken”, which is essentially a little bit of everything, typically sausages, ribs, braised red cabbage, potatoes, meat cakes and gravy. You’ll find juletallerken in many traditional restaurants, but Bristol Grill and Engebret Cafe are among the local’s favourites. Wondering what to drink with your Christmas platter? Try aquavit (akevitt), a Scandinavian distilled spirit for a classic pairing with your meal.
Christmas Concerts in Oslo
What would Christmas be without appropriate music? It’s busy days for music fans as there are several concerts around the city each day. Oslo Philharmonic Christmas concerts are among the most popular (find available tickets here), but there are options for each taste. Check out upcoming concerts here.
Unlike many other European capitals, Oslo is far from flat. This means that there are also plenty of great viewpoints that offer breathtaking views. Here are our top pics:
Situated at the top of the same hills as the Holmenkollen ski jumping tower, Frognerseteren is also the last stop of the tube line that carries the same name. It’s fair to say that Frognerseteren is the vantage point for many visitors, and it’s not just that: there is a traditional restaurant, several hiking and skiing tracks, a 2 km (1,24 miles) toboggan run and much more, depending on the season. You’ll get there by car (parking area just outside the Frognerseteren restaurant) or the tube (the Frognerseteren line). We recommend taking the tube and admiring the views of the city on the way.
Frognerseteren restaurant: Holmenkollveien 200.
Ekeberg refers to a residential area, a sculpture park, a recently renovated restaurant in funkis style and a viewpoint across from Holmenkollen and Frognerseteren. Ekeberg is closer to the city (some 10 minutes on the tram #18 or #19, or 5 mins by car) and offers a great view of the most urban Oslo, as well as probably the best view of the entire Holmenkollen area. The sunsets from Ekeberg are worth the trip up, but you will also want to experience the top restaurant and the sculpture park just behind the restaurant.
A fun fact: The restaurant and the sculpture park are initiatives by the art-loving brewery heir Christian Ringnes who believes that art belongs to everyone, and has donated art to public places on several occasions. He was also the person who took initiative to restore the worn-down funkis style building that now hosts a top restaurant.
Ekeberg restaurant: Kongsveien 15.
The viewpoint that really deserves more attention is Grefsenkollen. It’s some 20-30 minutes drive from the city center, but the view is definitely worth the visit. If you are depending on public transport, you’ll need to change busses on the way (our recommendation: check instructions with Google maps or the Ruter app), but you should reach your destination in no more than 1,5 hours. Aside from a viewpoint, the Grefsenkollen restaurant is definitely worth the trip up, but we strongly recommend you check the opening hours before you leave feeling hungry, as the restaurant is not open all evenings.
Grefsenkollen restaurant: Grefsenkollveien 100.
Bonus view: Oslofjord
Many visitors arrive Oslo on a cruise ship, and therefore get to enjoy an unusual view of Oslo: from the fjord. This will allow you to see large areas of Oslo, including Holmenkollen, the city center, Bygdøy with its many museums and the Aker Brygge and Akershus Fortress area.
This view is reserved for the ones arrive on a ship because most of central Oslo, including the areas just mentioned, is no-fly zone for drones, so you won’t be able to capture the same views with a drone camera. Check out our Instagram post for more footage of the 4th perspective to Oslo.
We put together a list of top Norwegian and Scandinavian brands that can be hard to find elsewhere.
The international luxury shopping scene in Oslo has definitely evolved during the last few years, but aside from the well known designer houses there are some local – or Nordic – brands that you might want to know about. Here is a list of Norwegian and other Nordic brands that might be hard to find elsewhere.
One of my personal favourites, Aphru is what you get when you couple Norwegian comfort with Italian design and quality. Timeless pieces for women in high quality materials, designed in Norway and made in Milan, Italy. I adore the simple, timeless designs and the trademark Italian finishing. This is a brand you will not find anywhere else, but will fall in love with if you are into minimalistic design and functional materials. Why not grab one of their dresses or tops for your flight home. The store is located in shopping center Paleet, Karl Johans gate 37-43.
2. By Timo.
The feminine, vintage-inspired dresses from by TiMo have taken the fashionistas around Europe and beyond (their designs are available at Barneys in New York) by storm. The brand was founded by Ms Tine Mollatt, who is still the heart and soul – creative director – for the company. A visit to their store in Oslo (in the same shopping center as Aphru) is like a little escape: the boutique is decorated with plants and vintage items for a unique experience. Paleet, Karl Johans gate 37-43.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, it’s actually quite logical that the people that wanted to make galoshes (those rubber things you pull on your shoes on rainy days) orange come from Norway: it’s a country where you wear galoshes a lot. Any time of the year. However, it was while he was studying in New York that founder Johan Ringdal came up with the idea to start Swims. Swims is a living proof that weatherproof can be stylish, and with their galoshes, shoes, coats and other accessories for men and women, rain won’t ruin your day or style. The Swims brand store is in Prinsensgate 25.
4. Illums Bolighus
This Danish design department store Illums Bolighus is not a Norwegian brand, but carries several Norwegian lifestyle, fashion and home brands among a large number of other Nordic and international designers (for example Georg Jensen, Decadent, Iittala, Alessi). From Norwegian brands, you’ll find here for example the minimalistic ceramics from Meant, watches from the Oslo-based watchmaker Harper & Brooks and beautiful, stone-like soaps from Stone Soap Spa. Being Danish, Illums Bolighus carries a large number of Danish kitchenware, home textile, fashion and accessory brands. Definitely worth a visit! Address: Haakon VIIs gate 10.
5. Filippa K
Known for its minimalistic designs and high quality, Filippa K offers both trendy and timeless fashion for men and women. Øvre Slottsgate 11.
The Finnish design icon known for its colourful print textiles and stripe t-shirts also has tableware and accessories, such as canvas bags. Marimekko truly has redefined “timeless” when it comes to design: for example their classical stipe shirt design is over 50 years old, yet never gets old or outdated. Øvre Slottsgate 17.
If there is one thing the Scandinavians do better than anyone, it’s definitely outdoor gear. And it’s not a surprise, as nature is an integral part of the Nordic lifestyle – whether it rains or shines.
One of the top brands is Norwegian Norrøna. High quality, functionality and cool design come together in their collections that are designed by activity: skiing, biking, hiking, surfing and so on. They are also committed to sustainability and offer services for fixing their products, so you don’t have to buy a new one. The Norrøna flagship store is located in Akersgata 30.
Another Norwegian outdoor brand is Bergans, which manufactures everything from clothing to tents, backpacks and hiking equipment. Bergans flagship store: Kronprinsesse Märthas plass 1.
9. Haglöfs Haglöfs is a Swedish outdoor brand that makes clothing, backpacks, dry bags and also has footwear. Grensen 8.
The Kånken backpack was designed in 1978, and is still the best selling product from the Swedish outdoor brand Fjällreven. Karl Johans Gate 19.
What makes Oslo so special from Stockholm, Copenhagen or Helsinki?
Oslo is a city that many tourists merely see as a stop on their way to the fjords on the west coast, the Midnight Sun in the North or the breathtaking nature on the Lofoten islands.
Then there is also competition from other Nordic capitals: Stockholm being the biggest and perhaps the best known, Copenhagen known for its Little Mermaid Statue, and Helsinki, which is particularly known among design and architecture lovers (disclaimer: my previous home town for almost 10 years). But having visited all those cities several times, I can reveal Oslo has something unique: it really has it all.
Here are our top reasons for visiting Oslo:
You only need a day or two
Got only a day? Or maybe 2? No problem. If you’ve ever been to London, Paris or New York for the first time (let’s not even begin with cities such as Shanghai or Delhi), you know how meticulous planning it takes to ensure you get to cross just a thing or two off your list because of long distances, complex public transport, long queues to sights or simply just because of the overwhelming amount of things to see or do. Oslo is super compact, which means that those with limited time will be able to get a taste of everything: the nature, culture, shopping, sightseeing and literally tasting Norway – even if you’ve only got a day.
Architecture, design and art in Oslo
The new Oslo Opera House was opened in April 2008 and has since then become, to many, the symbol for the entire city. Designed by the Oslo-based architecture firm Snøhetta (they are located just some 10-15 minutes walk from the Opera House, behind the Akershus Fortress), the Opera House is not only a stunning example of contemporary public architecture, but also houses a cafe and a restaurant that are both open to public.
Another Great example of contemporary architecture is the Astrup Fearnley Museum of modern art. Designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, the museum is located in Tjuvholmen, an area entirely built after 2010, offering several other pieces of interesting architecture, such as the hotel Thief.
If you’re into funkis architecture, you will get a 3-for-1 deal by taking a trip up to Ekebergrestauranten: the building is a fantastic piece of recently fully refurbished funkis architecture and offers one of the best views in Oslo, as well as local flavours on the menu.
On the other side of the city, Vigelandsparken is a short tram ride from the city center and the world’s largest sculpture park with works from only one sculptor, Gustav Vigeland.
While Stockholm consists of a large number of islands, Helsinki covers a wide area and Copenhagen is where the Nordics meet Continental Europe, Oslo is densely populated and surrounded by hills that offer unique spots for sightseeing. It’s also a capital where you can literally “ski in and ski out of the tube”.
The Oslo people love outdoor life, and the public transport system extends to locations that would normally not be within reach by a bus or the tube. In Oslo, a nature experience really doesn’t require a daytrip out of the city.
Frognerseteren and Holmenkollen are popular tourist attractions, however if you feel like a walk in the woods, you can still take the same tube up to Frognerseteren and follow one of the marked trails or ski tracks to enjoy the forests that surround Oslo (“marka”). Another option is to take the tube up to to Sognsvann, which is a lake and a very popular place for family outings, running, hiking or skiing in the winter. You need a total of 2-3 hours for a the tube rides and quick lunch at Frognerseteren, or a walk around Sognsvann. Just remember Sognsvann doesn’t have a restaurant.
A walk along the river Akerselva is always a good idea – just remember that the walk is heavier if you start from the city center. Summer: If you enjoy long walks, head all the way up to Brekkedammen with a towel and packed lunch for a refreshing swim in the lake or just to enjoy the lovely lake view.
Similarly, the many islands just outside the Oslo city are great for a picnic and you get there conveniently on boats that are part of the public transport system.
In terms of shopping, Oslo offers something for everyone. In addition to a growing number of international designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermés and Burberry, there is a particularly good selection of outdoor clothing, watches, lifestyle shops, vintage, sustainable clothing, design and much more. What is best, you really don’t need an entire day for shopping as the main shopping areas are close to each other. See our high end shopping guide here.
What would a holiday or trip be without food? Regardless of your preferences – seafood, French, local, fine dining, Asian – there is more than plenty to choose from.
For visitors on a schedule, restaurants at the Oslo opera house, Ekeberg and Frognerseteren offer a great opportunity to combine sightseeing with a great dinner or lunch. If you are looking for seafood, restaurants Fjord and Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin have great menus and wine lists. Summer-only restaurant Solsiden (the sunny side) is a popular classic among the locals for a reason: it’s one of the best seafood restaurants in town.
For those looking for Michelin star or near Michelin star level experiences, there is an option for any occasion: Maaemo for the ultimate Michelin experience, Kontrast with their modern Scandinavian take on fine dining or Statholdergaarden for those who prefer classical gourmet.
It doesn’t get much more down to Earth than this
Those of us that are used to travelling know that queues and ever-tightening security comes along with it. So visiting buildings of importance, museums and other attractions usually comes with thorough security. In Oslo, you are actually able to for example take a stroll in the same park that surrounds the Royal Palace, the King’s and the Queen’s majestic home, without it creating a police alert. There is security, but you won’t get into trouble by snapping selfies in front of the palace. Or perhaps you’ll walk past one of the top politicians on Karl Johans Gate, next to the Parliament House, without any sign of their position.