I’ll say this at the outset; I LOVED Oslo (probably wouldn’t be doing this post if I didn’t, would I). So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m super enthusiastic in my recommendation of it as a destination, but it seems to be somewhere people might not necessarily think to visit – and having now been myself, I honestly think it should be on everyone’s list. It’s beautiful, there’s plenty to do, and it’s one of those places that just has a really nice atmosphere. Here’s why I loved it so much:
It’s close to nature and very green
Surrounded by hills, forest and sprawling Norwegian countryside, Oslo’s proximity to nature is certainly one of its strengths. It may be strange to begin a post about why you should visit the city by saying how easy it is to get out of it and into the country, but those gorgeous wild landscapes being within easy reach means that hiking, boating, and generally enjoying the great outdoors can be worked into your trip. The city itself is a very green one though even if you don’t plan on leaving; there are plenty of green spaces, from the pretty botanical gardens to the enormous Vigeland Park to little patches of greenery throughout. It’s one of my favourite features a city can have.
It’s a centre of architecture and design
Even if you know literally nothing about architecture (like me), it’s easy to appreciate the buildings in Oslo – and I imagine if you are an architecture and design buff it’s all the more interesting. Many of them are seriously impressive; including the gorgeous white marble Opera house, which you can walk on top of for 360 degree views of the city. There’s a brilliant mix of old and new throughout, from Akershus Fortress, a medieval castle, to Aker Brygge, a redeveloped area of the harbour which quite literally gleams with shiny, new and interesting buildings – including waterfront restaurants with outdoor seating which looked pretty dreamy.
It’s super clean
A pretty simple one but always nice; Oslo is really clean. Despite a distinct lack of bins, you barely see any rubbish on the streets, and it seems that keeping the city clean is just part of local life. It’s not just the streets either – the air itself feels clean and fresh. That’s one of the great positives of all of that nature and greenery I guess, and strange as it might sound just breathing in that sort of air is something I always really appreciate for how pleasant and nourishing it feels.
It’s got a great food scene
Some of my favourite food from our 12 day trip was in Oslo. There’s a lot of choice, so whatever your culinary preferences there’ll be something for you, from traditional specialities to an indoor food market (Mathallen) to innovative Norwegian gourmet to various world cuisines. We had great falafel at Gazakjokken, seriously tasty burgers, and one of the best meals I’ve ever had: a sharing dish at a vegan café and restaurant called Funky Fresh Foods. It was the most delicious selection of hot and cold dishes including lentil kebabs, tofu omelette, roast potatoes, several salads (including an incredible apple, fennel and dill one) homemade nachos and dips and lots more. Everything was flavoured to perfection and I’m not even ashamed to admit I still daydream about it sometimes.
There’s plenty of art, history and culture
If you’re really into museums and art galleries then you’re in for a real treat when visiting Oslo because it is truly excellent in that area. However even if you’re not generally a culture vulture, there’s sure to be something you fancy seeing, since much of it holds serious world prestige or importance and there’s a huge variety. The National Gallery houses Edvard Munch’s The Scream, and in the Astrup Fearnley Museum you can see pieces by the likes of Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. Oslo is also home to The Nobel Peace Center, and a whole host of museums covering different topics or aspects of Norwegian life and history.
It’s safe and welcoming
Oslo is generally considered to be a very safe city, so it’s suitable for any traveller; whether you’re going as a couple, as a family, with friends or solo. From the moment we stepped off the train it felt friendly and welcoming; the lady who sold us our bus tickets was friendly, the bus driver was friendly, people in the street were friendly. And it wasn’t just the people themselves; it’s a vibe that pervades the city, making you feel comfortable and at ease there from the outset. We stayed in an AirBnb (the most beautiful loft apartment), owned by a truly lovely lady called Siss. She was without a doubt the most wonderful, welcoming and charming host we’ve ever had (we’ve stayed in quite a few AirBnbs now, all with fab hosts) and completely illustrative of the general welcome we got to Oslo.
It’s just really , really cool
I might be a tremendously uncool person, but I’m certainly not averse to a touch of hipster trendiness in a city (although anything too pretentious and I just feel so out of place I need to run away). Luckily for me, Oslo’s aforementioned friendliness combines perfectly with cool in Grunerlokka, a previously working-class district which has now become the city’s quirkiest, hippest neighbourhood. Grunerlokka is home to cafes, restaurants and vintage shops a-plenty and boasts many of the city’s best food and drink spots – including Tim Wendelboe, which if you’re a coffee enthusiast, you’ll probably want to put on your list. That specific area aside, I think we can generally agree that all of Scandinavia is pretty damn cool, and Norway’s capital is no exception.
Have you ever been to Oslo – and did you love it as much as me? Or would you consider going? I’d love to squeeze in a couple more trips before the end of the year, so chuck any city break recommendations my way!