A Local’s Guide to Oslo, Norway: Dumplings, Art and Floating Saunas | Holidays in Oslo


Norway is known for its hearty dishes and seafood, but Oslo also has a thriving food scene. For something traditional, try it raspeball (potato patties) with salted meat in Kaffistova, just near Rosenkrantz Gate, which has been around since 1901.

Smalhans in the St Hanshaugen district offers home cooking inspired by cuisines from around the world. The special of the day is always a good bet, or splash on the sixth course chrøsus menu, designed to share. Next to the Opera House is Vippa, a vibrant street food field with stalls from all over the world, including Syria, Poland and Morocco. My favorite is the fish and chips, with peas, from Fra Dypet.

At Vippa you can find food from all over the world.


In our grand new National Museum, which opened on 11 June, you can see works by national and international superstars (including Edvard Munch’s The Scream in a dedicated Munch room) and lesser-known pioneers. The collection’s 6,500 works span art, architecture and design from antiquity to the present day. The icing on the cake is the upper Hall of Light, with changing exhibitions. The opening show, I Call It Art, is a snapshot of Norway’s contemporary art scene today.

Nearby is the Astrup Fearnley Museum, with one of the most comprehensive collections of contemporary art in Europe. Other venues in Oslo’s gallery scene worth checking out are OSL Contemporary, Galleri Riis, Gerhardsen Gerner and Standard (Oslo). Another landmark worth visiting is the Opera House. Go to a show, or just take a walk on the roof and enjoy the view. While in the area, try one of Oslo’s floating saunas in the harbor opposite.

Edvard Munch's room in the new National Museum.
Edvard Munch’s room in the new National Museum. Photo: Geir Olsen/NTB/AFP/Getty Images

With all this plus the new Munch museum, the new Deichman library and the Vigeland and Ekeberg sculpture parks, Norway aims to become a global destination for arts and culture.


Oslo’s former industrial area, Grünerløkka, is a charming and thriving area on the east side of the Akerselva River. It has a bohemian vibe with great bars, flea markets and designer boutiques. I love used and vintage stores like Robot, Velouria Vintage, Fretex Arkivet Grunerlokka and Ny York Vintage. The district has many parks, such as Sofienbergparken, Birkelunden and Grünerhagen, and walking along the river is a pleasant way to reach the city center. This is where I lived as a youngster and I always visit Bar Boca for drinks, or Mucho Mas for a killer quesadilla.

Floating sauna
Oslo’s floating saunas

Green space

At this time of year, the botanical garden is in full bloom in early summer. There is a small rustic cafe on the grounds and large woven sculptures by British artist Tom Hare are dotted around the park. Alternatively, take the tram and see the city from above at Ekebergparken. The park has stunning views, and on display are impressive sculptures by more than 40 international and Norwegian artists. My personal favorite is James Turrell’s Skyspace.

Night life

Start the night at a classic cocktail bar in the city centre: try Andre Til Høyre or Himkok, Oslo’s first bar to make the list of the 50 best bars in the world, in 2020. For a final nail in the coffin, go to Papa Borracho, specializing in mezcal; The bar staff also has superior cocktail skills.


Coch Pensjonat (doubles from around £63), just behind the royal palace and Kunstnernes Hus art gallery, has been in operation for three generations; offers budget accommodation in pleasant surroundings.

Another good place to stay is the modern Scandic Hotel Vulkan (doubles from £115) at the foot of Grünerløkka, with the Mathallen food court as its nearest neighbour.

Rolf Yngve Uggen is director of COLLECTION management in Oslo The National Museum, the largest art museum in the Nordic countries

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