According to Julie


2 Comments

What to see if you have less than one day in Oslo

This post is dedicated to the international dancers visiting Norway for Winter White West Coast Swing this year.

If you’ve never been to Oslo, and have a few extra hours, or up to a day, to get a feel for the city, here is what I suggest you do:

I recommend starting your city center exploration from Stortinget metro station or alternatively Nationaltheatret train or metro station.

From Stortinget, walk up Karl Johan, the main street. You will pass the Norwegian parliament, Stortinget, and the street will take you up to the Royal Palace. (If you start at Nationaltheatret station you can have a look at the palace and then walk down Karl Johan.)

Walk from Nationaltheatret, via the town hall Rådhuset and the Akershus fortress to Aker Brygge and then out to Tjuvholmen. You will experience the contrasts between the 700 year old fortress, and the brand new buildings surrounding the contemporary art museum Astrup Fearnley. You will also get nice views of the fjord and plenty of opportunities for good photos.

This walk will show you the nicest parts of the city center, in my opinion.

Karl Johan street

Oslo

Oslo

https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/6789041914

https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/6789036666

Oslo Parliament, Norway

Oslo Perspective

The area around Oslo Central Station (Oslo S or Jernbanetorget) will not give you the best first impression of Oslo. Like most central stations, it’s a chaotic, stressful place, and it is currently surrounded by roadwork.

However, the Opera House and the strip of new buildings known as Barcode right by the Central Station are the kind of new architecturally interesting developments that have given Oslo international press over the past few years. If you have some extra time while you’re at Oslo S, get out of the station and take a look.

Oslo Barcode

Oslo Opera House

The Opera House is one of my top three Oslo summer attractions. But you can’t walk on the roof in winter. For this reason, (in addition to construction, road work and traffic) I prefer seeing this area from above right now. If you have time, you can take the tram 18 or 19 to Sjømannsskolen or the 34 bus to Utsikten (which literally means the view). Or take the elevator to the top of the Plaza Hotel’s Sky Bar.

Good Morning, Oslo

You can get a different view of the city, this one from the west, at the Summit bar at the top of the Radisson Blu Scandinavia.

If you have more time, you can see another one of my favorite attractions in Oslo: Vigelandsparken/Frognerparken. This park by Majorstuen metro station goes by two names. Technically, the first refers to the sculpture park by Gustav Vigeland, also known as “the park with all the naked statues”, and the second is the rest of the area. Vigelandsparken is a unique art experience. Also, it’s free, and you can climb on the art. In summer, this is a good chance to do a touristy thing that real Oslo people actually do, as the sculptures will be surrounded by beer drinking locals enjoying the park.

Vigelandsparken

210/366 Vigelandsparken

One of the best things about Oslo is that it has so much variety between neighborhoods, and it’s compact size allows you to take in all those contrasts without traveling long distances. Neighborhoods like Tjuvholmen, Frogner, Grünerløkka and Grønland look and feel very different from each other, and from the city center. With a public transport day pass, or a good pair of shoes, you can explore all these areas if you have a full day.

If you have an evening in Oslo and want to explore a new area, I recommend Grünerløkka. Take a tram to Olaf Ryes plass or Birkelunden and explore the great selection of bars. Drink beer at Grünerløkka Brygghus or Schouskjelleren, wine at Dr. Kneipps, and cocktails at Bar Boca. Expect to be shocked by the prices for these drinks, but remember that they are much more expensive in the center or western parts of Oslo. Another alternative is Torggata, where I recommend Crow Bar and Café Sara. The beer selection in Oslo’s bars has become pretty interesting over the past few years, thanks to several Norwegian micro-breweries. Advertizing for alcohol is illegal, but here’s a vintage ad encouraging you to drink Norwegian beer:

Ølkurs med Ølakademiet

Enjoy Oslo!

All photos are borrowed from photographers who post their work on Flickr, under CreativeCommons licensing. The photos link back to the photographers’ Flickr photo streams.

Related post: 4 things you should know if you are visiting Oslo

Advertisements


1 Comment

4 things you should know if you’re visiting Oslo this summer

Here are four things you need to know about Oslo, if you’re visiting this summer (especially if you’re a student or otherwise on a budget).

Oslo utsikt Oslo, as seen from a hike.

1. Whether you are arriving by boat or train (including airport express train ) your very first impression of Oslo is not likely to be amazing. It will get better. Revisit in a few years, and this part of the city could be very nice, but at the moment, it’s a mix of drug dealing, construction work and bland chain stores. With the exception of the new Opera House, get out of that central train station/lower half of Karl Johan street area fast. Go east, west, north, south – it will be a step up from this no matter what.

2. Norwegians never get enough sun. If it’s a sunny day, parks will be filled with people getting as much of it as they can. Norwegians believe that being indoors on a sunny day is sinful. I’m sure 80% of the summer activities Oslo-dwellers will recommend happen outdoors. About half of them will be variations on the drinking-beer-in-a-park activity. See rule number 3.

3. Alcohol in Norway is tricky. Because of taxes and regulations, it will be more expensive than you are used to, and harder to find. This is not really a problem if you get used to it. Actually, this is really annoying. Beer can be bought in grocery stores until 8 PM on weekdays and 6 PM on Saturdays. Wine and spirits must be bought at “Vinmonopolet” (literally, The Wine Monopoly), the one “chain” of stores allowed to sell this. These stores usually close at 6 PM on weekdays and around 3 on Saturdays. And you can’t buy anything on Sunday, of course. Bars don’t follow these rules, but they will be more expensive than you are used to. Again, get away from Karl Johan, or think like a Norwegian and drink grocery store beer in a park. This is technically not legal, but no one cares as long as you’re not being a nuisance.*

beer in Oslo Want this? Plan ahead!

4. Norwegians do not eat out much. Although you’ll probably find every kind of coffee shop, sandwich place and restaurant in Oslo, the Norwegian way to eat is to have breakfast and dinner at home and bring sandwiches wrapped in paper to work/school or eat in the office cafeteria. Coffee shops are excellent, but there are limited options for simple lunches and dinners, and anything a step up from fast food is likely to be expensive. This is because restaurants cater to people who are out for a special treat, not yet another every-day dinner. So if you’re on a budget, you can’t afford to not visit grocery stores. In a pinch, you can buy quick ready-made meals at 7-Eleven or DeliDeLuca – they are everywhere – but it will be cheaper and healthier to shop in a supermarket and prepare your own sandwich or salad.

* I’m sure some readers are rolling their eyes at how much space I’m giving this alcohol issue. But if you’re a student from a country where you’re used to just buying a bottle of wine whenever for whatever price you feel like paying, and you’re arriving in Oslo at 2 PM on a Saturday, you’ll be glad you read this.

This post was originally published on this blog in 2008, but it’s still relevant. You should also check out my top 3 Oslo tourist attractions.


2 Comments

How to buy West Coast Swing shoes in Norway

If you found this post, and you’re not a West Coast Swing dancer, you should of course learn some West Coast Swing as soon as possible. But in the meantime, read this instead: a blog post about the stupid things clueless people say when they buy dance shoes, written when I was a shop assistant at LaDanse.

Continue reading