Forget Copenhagen and Stockholm, Oslo is now the home to Scandinavian cool, with inspiring restaurants, vibrant food markets, and world-class museums ready for the long days of summer.
Having arrived the night before on one of SAS’s connections to Asia and the US, you’ll wake up to spectacular water views at the newly opened boutique beauty The Thief. Located in the heart of Tjuvholmen, an area of the city’s waterfront that was once a den of thieves – hence the name – and is now being revitalised as part of the new Fjord City project, the Design Hotels member boasts 119 rooms and suites decorated by the likes of Antonio Citterio, Bruno Rainaldi, Tom Dixon, Anne Haavind and StokkeAustad.
Spoil yourself with a stay in the Oslo Suite; named for Sir Peter Blake’s unique art project, it features its own private roof terraces, the perfect spot from which to enjoy the splendour of summer on the Oslo fjord.
After an innovative breakfast created by executive chef Kari Innerå at The Thief’s Fru M restaurant, explore the canals and waterways of modern Tjuvholmen, home to chic galleries and trendy restaurants, until you reach the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (above) which recently moved to a new Renzo Piano-designed home on the cusp of the fjord. Dedicated more to outstanding, eye-catching, thought-provoking and sometimes outright scandalous pieces of art rather than entire movements, art lovers and newbies alike will love the thoroughly visual collections.
Follow your tastebuds down the tramline from the waterfront to Oslo’s bohemian heart, Grünerløkka. Located only minutes from the city, this is one of the capital’s fastest emerging districts as its former warehouse and factory buildings benefit from some much needed TLC. The high street – Thorvald Meyers Gate – is home to quirky boutiques, tea emporiums, Kitch furniture collections and streetside cafes.
Hidden away in a former metal mill, Mathallen, the city’s newest gourmet food market, recently opened and has become the place for the indecisive and intrepid to graze. Home to 33 mini-restaurants, many of whom focus on authentic and innovative Norwegian cuisine using the finest local produce – including Stangeriet, home to arguably the world’s best chicken sandwich – pick and choose from a variety of culinary trends and then eat collectively under a canopy of steel beams and chandeliers.
Walk off your meal among the captured creations of the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Arrangement, which lies at the heart of expansive Frogner Park, a beautiful greenbelt made up of long walkways, fountains, bridges, and of course, sculptures. The park is an Oslo must-see in any weather, but as the sunny months arrive, its shaded parklands become a hub for locals, while the sculpture arrangement, the largest in the world by one artist, sees between one and two million visitors a year.
Wind through the 212 human figures sculpted by Gustav Vigeland and marvel at the Monolith, a crowning sculpture of humanity carved from one piece of stone that reaches 14 metres into the sky. If you’ve got an eye for sculpture, the Vigeland Museum is located five minutes walk away.
In summer the days are long in Oslo, and the views over the fjord are fantastic in the golden light, so order something zesty and take a perch on the open-air terrace at the Ekeberg Restaurant. An icon since 1927, the restaurant is located high up on a peak overlooking the city and offers spectacular views across the new Fjord City development and the city’s breathtaking new opera house. The menu is modern Norwegian, with the likes of locally-caught lobster ravioli with fennel and dill; and Holte Farm chicken breast with sweet corn cream married with an enviable wine list. Be sure to book ahead for a coveted terrace table.
For the city’s best live music experience, head back to Grünerløkka and Blå, an iconic venue that hosts concerts in electronic, hip-hop, pop, and rock but is best known for its jazz nights. Dimly lit and thoroughly industrial, expect appearances from some of Europe’s top talents as well as plenty of up-and-coming local artists.
9 am (the next day)
Hit the pavement early with a takeaway coffee and take a brisk walk to Oslo’s stunning opera house. Even if you’re not seeing a performance here – and you should – the angular architecture makes it a marvel for the eyes, especially as the first rays of sun reflect off the fjord in front. Cut through the leafy parklands surrounding the ancient Akershus Fortress, once a castle and now used for formal occasions by the Royal Family, on your way back to the waterfront.
Get an early start with a ferry from near your hotel across to Bygdoy, on the far side of the Oslo Fjord. The peninsula is home to some of the city’s best museums, including the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and the Kon-Tiki Museum, dedicated to the expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl. Be sure to take your swimming trunks for a dip before lunch at trendy Hukodden Beach Restaurant before diving into the fjord’s rich history with a visit to the acclaimed Viking Ship Museum.
For more Destination inspiration click here.