This Nordic capital city is an underrated must-visit, teeming with one-of-a-kind hotels, a burgeoning art scene, and a spa culture that incorporates fjord jumping and floating saunas.
Where to Stay:
Located in the renovated headquarters of The Norwegian America Line, Amerikalinjen is a surprisingly quirky boutique property, just a five-minute walk from the Opera House. Inside, find the perfect clash of historic architecture and eccentric modern design, sprinkled everywhere from its award-winning cocktail bar to its 122 rooms and suites. Perhaps the most charming aspect of the hotel, though, is its New York-inspired basement jazz club.
Arguably the most design-forward hotel in Oslo, Sommerro is a Wes Anderson-esque dream, with Art Deco flair that is present throughout the ten-story space. Dine with a view at Japanese-Norwegian restaurant TAK, or book yourself a spa treatment at the Vestkantbadet, their painstakingly renovated historic bath and wellness area.
Where to Eat:
Don’t know what you feel like eating? That’s no worries at Mathallen, located on the riverfront across the water from the hip neighborhood of Grünerløkka. Inside the industrial chic building, find stalls featuring over 30 unique vendors, from local specialist grocer Gutta på Haugen to dim sum, gelato, homemade pies, and more.
This contemporary Norwegian restaurant is not only the perfect spot for a treat-yourself multi-course dinner but also holds a Michelin Green Star, meaning it finds innovative ways to inject practices of sustainability into a luxury dining experience.
The ideal cozy rest stop during a long afternoon of exploring Oslo, Hønse-Lovisas Hus is a charmingly unassuming cottage cafe at the top of a waterfall in the city (you heard that right). Inside, a toasty fireplace and simple, rustic dishes make for a perfect lunch respite.
Where to Drink:
You can’t beat a good lobby bar, especially when the cocktails are this good, and served by a crackling fireplace. The modern Nordic space can be found in the up-and-coming waterfront neighborhood of Tjuvholmen. Pro tip: every other Thursday the bar hosts THIEF Noir, featuring jazz legend Richard Bowers, who takes the mic to perform crooner classics.
This distillery and bar is one of the most popular watering holes in the city and is also ranked on the World’s 50 Best Bars List. When it opened back in 2015, it helped bring life to Oslo’s cocktail culture and continues to sling innovative cocktails—many utilizing its own Aquavit, vodka, and gin.
Where to Visit:
Visiting the spa while on vacation is one thing, but experiencing one while floating on a Norwegian fjord is an entirely different experience. These attractive wooden platforms from a women-owned company each house a sauna to get warm and cozy within, especially after taking a brave plunge into the cold water.
Exploring this sprawling art museum is an easy and enriching way to spend an afternoon in Oslo, with everything on exhibition from fashion and interior design to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and kooky installations by local artists. Downstairs, find a delicious cafe that’s several notches above your average museum food offerings.
Nordic grunge meets Scandinavian hygge in this eclectic neighborhood, teeming with unique street art, cute cafes, and independently owned boutiques. Come here by day to shop for vintage goods and stroll around with a craft latte, or by night to dance at one of the area’s many bars and clubs. Shop Scandinavian-sourced wares curated by former stylist Marte Økelsrud at Ensemble, try on jewelry from Norway’s Setesdal Valley at Hasla and pop into Dapper: a menswear boutique, barber shop, and bike shop.
If you’ve seen the movie Frozen, you might be surprised to see the fortress that inspired the castle of the fictional kingdom Arendelle while strolling around Oslo. This medieval castle, which was built way back in the 1290s, is open for guided tours during the summer.
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