Best Luxury & Boutique Hotels in Oslo

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.

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View from The Thief rooftop terrace. Photo: Oslolux.com
  1. 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

  2. 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

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    The Grand Hotel facade decorated in Christmas lights. Photo: Oslolux.com.
  3. 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.

  4. 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. 

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    Art and design detail, Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz. Photo: Oslolux.com.
  5. 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.

Guide to New Year’s Eve 2019 in Oslo – What to do, Where to eat, What you should know

Get the most out of your New Year in Oslo with our tips to events, restaurants and more.

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Fireworks by the Oslo Opera House. Photo: VisitOSLO / Nancy Bundt

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.

Fireworks
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.

Weather
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.

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Photo: VisitOSLO / Nancy Bundt

Transport
Ruter has service throughout the New Year. You’ll find more info on special timetables on the Ruter website or their app.

Vinmonopolet
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.
  • Restaurant Asia offers great Asian food and one of the best views of the fireworks. Read more and book your table.
  • Ekebergrestauranten has a special 4-course New Year’s Menu and probably the best view over the entire central Oslo, with its many fireworks. Read more and book.
  • Grand Café in the heart of the city center also has a special 4-course New Year’s menu. Read more and book.
  • Restaurant Festningen (“The Fortress”) offers panoramic views of Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen, and a festive 4-course menu. Read more and book.
  • BAR Tjuvholmen, a restaurant and lounge bar, is also open on New Year’s Eve, and London-based DJ Ask is coming to keep guests going into the early hours. Table booking is required. Read more.

Looking for something fun to do on New Year’s Eve? How about relaxing in the sauna by the Oslo fjord? Check out culture hub SALT’s New Year’s event. 

Guide to Christmas in Oslo – Top 5 Things to Do

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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).
    Baerums Verk

  3. 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.

    Vision of the Fjords
    Vision of the Fjords, the hybrid ferry, pictured by the Akershus fortress in Oslo.

    Engebret Cafe
    Engebret Cafe.
  4. 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.

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    Christmas platter at Engebret Café. Photo: DN.
  5. 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.

3 Best Views in Oslo

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:

Frognerseteren restaurant
The Frognerseteren restaurant. Photo: Skiforeningen.no
  1. Frognerseteren

    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.

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    Night view from Ekeberg. Photo: VisitOslo/NLE Film
  2. Ekeberg

    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.

    Grefsenkollen
    View from Grefsenkollen. Photo: Skiforeningen.no
  3. Grefsenkollen

    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.

     

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    View of Frognerkilen from a ship. Holmenkollen to the right, Bygdøy to the left. Photo: Oslolux.com.

    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.

Oslo Airport Gardermoen transport guide

Oslo Airport Arrival Transport to City
Continuing your journey from Oslo Airport Gardermoen is easy. Photo: Avinor.

Oslo airport is located some 50 km (30 miles) outside of Oslo, and was opened in 1998. Since then, the airport has been through a significant expansion, also in terms of services. The airport offers a range of transport options to travellers from near and far.

Private driver / chauffeur

For a stress-free ride all the way to your hotel door, choose a private car or limousine. Many of them offer fixed rate transfers. Oslo Chauffeur Service  and Private Driver offer various car types depending on your need. A car ride from the airport to the city center takes approximately 30-45 minutes. The cost of private driver services vary, but typically start at 2500 NOK for one way (about USD 300).

Car rental

You will find several car rental companies in the parking facilities. Read more on Avinor website.

Taxis

Most taxis operate with a flat fee from the airport to Oslo city center, but we recommend that you always check this before you start your ride. You will find taxis outside the terminal. Prices for a taxi ride vary by company, time of day and number of passengers, but the cost of taxi from Oslo airport to city centre typically starts at 800 NOK for 2 people during the daytime on a weekday.

Train

In addition to the national railway operator NSB, the privately owned airport express train Flytoget operates between Oslo Airport and Oslo city (and beyond). There is direct access to both train operators from the terminal building. Flytoget leaves every 10-20 minutes, but late at night every 30 minutes. Trains to the city center take some 20 minutes. One way tickets are around 110-200 NOK, depending on which company you choose.

Bus

There are several bus companies that operate between the airport and Oslo city, and many of them cater for areas outside the city center, so do make sure to check before you get onboard a bus. SAS Flybussen operates between the airport and the city center. You will find timetables and can purchase tickets in the terminal. Busses take up to 1 hour to reach the city center. One way tickets are around 200 NOK.

How to Get Around in Oslo – Taxis, Public Transport and More

Oslo tram Aker Brygge
Photo: Ruter

Oslo is a fairly compact city with an extensive and efficient public transport system. This means that you’ll likely reach your destination on a train, bus, tram, a ferry, the underground, but more options are available.

Uber in Oslo

While ride-hailing apps such as Uber are under scrutiny in Norway, you can still get an Uber Black, Lux or XXL.

Uber X, Uber POP and Uber Pool are currently unavailable in Norway.

Public Transport in Oslo

The public transportation in the Oslo region is operated by a company called Ruter. The most convenient way to purchase tickets for public transport is through their app called RuterBillet, which is also available in English.

You can purchase single tickets or period tickets (24 hours, 7 days and 30 days) for yourself and your travel companions in the app – be aware that everyone travelling with Ruter is required to have a valid ticket on them, not on the phone of someone else on the other side of the town. The Ruter tickets are valid on local busses (red ones within Oslo, green ones outside the city borders), trams, the underground, some fast ferries (those operated by Ruter are clearly marked) and trains within the chosen zone. Read more on Ruter’s website.

Did you know that the underground – T-bane – takes you all the way to Frognerseteren, which offers a breathtaking view over Oslo?

Oslo Ferry Town Hall
Photo: Ruter/Fartein Rudjord

Taxi

A large number of taxi companies operate in Oslo, and prices vary. Taxi app Mivai has several companies on their platform, which means that you will be able to compare prices while ordering.

Oslo Taxi is one of the biggest taxi companies and has their own app in addition to booking possibility on their website.

Another taxi booking app is NorgesTaxi, which also allows Paypal payment in their app. You can pre-book transfers on their website, also airport transfers. In addition to Oslo, NorgesTaxi are present in Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger.

 

Rental car

Prefer sitting on the driver’s seat? Most international car rental companies are present in Oslo. However, be aware that the inner city area is very compact and offers relatively limited parking possibilities. Hotels, especially those in the city center, also often have limited offering for parking.

Oslo City Bike (Bysykkel)

As a compact city, it’s possible to explore Oslo by foot or bicycle. There are some bicycle rental places. wWe recommend you ask your hotel, as many hotels actually offer free bikes for their guests. The locals and many visitors love exploring the city by Bysykkel, the Oslo city bike. For 49 NOK a day, you have access to unlimited number of bike rentals (do note: one ride is maximum 45 minutes). The network of stations for rental and drop-off is extensive. Real-time updates for availability can be found with the Bysykkel app which is required for renting a bike.

The Bysykkel season continues until now and ice cover the streets, and begins again when the winter has literally melted away. In other words, it is closed from some time in December to approximately April.

 

Looking for tips on airport transfer from or to Oslo Airport Gardermoen?

Read our Oslo Airport Gardermoen transport guide