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I’m not gonna lie, Oslo is definitely the most expensive place I’ve visited in the world. I mean, so expensive you might find yourself cursing at your bank statement afterwards.
But, like Zurich, the city is brimming with ridiculously good-looking, well-dressed people…hot, blonde, Adonis-like creatures. To the clueless foreigner they may seem a little weird, but earning those Norwegian Krone means they can afford to stay looking good. The more I travel I realise I have a thing for clean, efficient places like Norway and Switzerland- I guess I have expensive taste!
The city itself sits on the Oslofjord and is a mixture of old and new. The most attractive part of Oslo is the modern, regenerated area of Tjuvholmen, which is packed with museums, galleries, modern architecture and top notch restaurants. Most of the things to do in Oslo centre around museums- you can view Edvard Munch’s The Scream at the Munch Museum, see an enormous ship at the Fram museum or scratch your head in confusion at Damien Hirst’s cows in formaldehyde at the Astrup Fearnely Museum.
There are some things that are just so damn confusing about Oslo though…like how ALL the shops are shut on a Sunday. What decade are we in, the 90’s? In the UK I’m used to being able to buy alcohol from a store whenever I like, but in Oslo you have to buy your beers from the grocery store before 8pm on weekdays and 6pm on Saturdays. Want hard liquor or wine? You gotta go to the Vinmonopolet (wine monopoly), which closes even earlier.
I told you Norwegians are weird, but they do like a good party. The nightlife in Oslo is pretty good, especially if you go out in the area to the east of the city.
I developed a soft spot for Oslo and ended up spending a total of 6 nights there. I discovered a way to pretend it’s cheap too…just pay for everything on credit card and don’t convert the prices in your head! I’ve compiled a list of some cool things to do in Oslo should you have the bank balance to go there:
1. Astrup Fearnley Museum
The Astrup Fearnley Museum is a contemporary art gallery that houses works from artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Located next to the water in Tjuvholmen, the museum is split into two parts- one building houses the permanent collection, while the other houses rotating exhibitions. There are lots of naked bodies and weird installations such as half a cow in formaldyhde.
2. Walk Around Aker Brygge
On a sunny day it’s nice to walk along the waterfront and look at the boats in the harbour. Aker Brygge is a modern, car-free area with nice shops restaurants, cafes and bars. This is a pricier area of town but if you have the cash it’s nice to eat dinner outside one of the restaurants and watch people strolling by.
3. Oslo Opera House
In my opinion, Oslo Opera House is even more impressive than the opera house in Sydney. The best thing about it? You can walk all over the thing! Grab a coffee-to-go and sit on the roof to enjoy the fantastic views over Oslo.
4. Omakase at Alex Sushi
Alex Sushi is considered to be the best sushi restaurant in Oslo, and since I’m addicted to the stuff I had to give it a try. If you go there in the evening you can only get Omakase so for 450 NOK (£45) I had the smaller version. I was so full I was nursing a sushi baby at the end of it!
5. Coffee and Cocktails at Fuglen
Fuglen (“The bird”) serves high quality coffee and tea during the daytime, then transforms into a cocktail bar by night. Open since 1963, the interior features Scandinavian design from the 1950s and 1960s and everything in there is for sale. A pretty cool spot!
6. Take a stroll in Frogner Park
To get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, take a stroll in the beautiful Frogner Park. On a summer’s day Oslo’s biggest recreational park is full of people, so pack a picnic and enjoy the sunshine. Here you’ll also find the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which is full of the strangest statues I have ever seen. A naked boy crying, a naked man and woman holding each other, a naked man battling babies…you get the picture, they’re rather disturbing. The most iconic landmark in the park is a 46ft monolith made up of 121 human figures rising towards the sky.
7. Munch Museum
When I was in school I remember having to draw Edvard Munch’s The Scream in art class. Well this time I got to see it in real life at the Munch Museum. Here you’ll find a large collection of impressionist paintings and art works from Norway’s most famous artist.
8. The Royal Palace
Situated in the city centre, the Royal Palace is the official residence of the reigning Norwegian Monarch. You can simply take a photo from outside, or you can arrange to do a one-hour guided tour through the beautiful State Rooms during the summer months.
9. Fram Museum
The Fram Museum is dedicated to the story of Norwegian Polar expeditions. The central feature of the exhibit is the ship they used for these explorations, aka the Fram. You’ll find the museum on the peninsula of Bygdøy, and around here there also a number of other museums including the Kon-Tiki Museum and the Viking Ship Museum. I have to admit I’m not a museum kind of person, but if you’re a history buff then I’m sure you’ll like this.
10. Visit Grunerlokka
To the northeast of Oslo you’ll find Grunerlokka, an up-and-coming neighbourhood full of vintage stores, design shops, cafes and restaurants. There’s a bohemian, urban vibe here, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you want to switch things up a bit.
Where to Stay
Hotel Continental– The Hotel Continental is a centrally-located, luxury hotel with 155 rooms and suites. Each room is unique and features a blend of traditional decor and contemporary design. The hotel also boasts five restaurants that are open to guests and the general public.
The Comfort Hotel Grand Central– This hotel is inside central station and each room is completely different since it is a listed building. The Comfort Hotels in Norway are always a decent mid-range option. There’s a free breakfast 24-hour gym and you are only 2-minutes from the airport express train.
Smarthotel Oslo- If you’re on a budget, the Smarthotel Oslo is a new hotel situated only a short walk from the Royal Palace. It features cleverly-designed, compact rooms that make the most of the small space.
Citybox Hotel Oslo– CityBox is located just a short walk from Central Station and offers clean, modern rooms at an affordable price.