People in Karl Johans gate in Oslo in summertime

Things to do in Oslo

Green parks, food from all corners of the world and a bustling art and cultural scene. Oslo is the capital city that never ceases to surprise. Here are our best tips for things to do in Norway’s capital city.

"Poor little big Oslo city", sang the deLillos in the 90s, but it’s not really too bad for Europe’s greenest capital. Oslo has a rich history behind it, from Viking times to bohemian Kristiania, and in recent years the Bjørvika development has really put the capital on the cultural map.

Thon Hotels has 16 hotels in Oslo, spread across the capital from east to west. Here are some tips for things to do when visiting Oslo:

Food and drink

Vippa Oslo

Vippa Oslo is an international melting pot in the food world, perfect for those who want to explore new dishes. In the food hall of over 1,000 square metres, you will find a number of food stalls from different corners of the world, all of which focus on sustainability and the environment. Enjoy Syrian street food or Polish pierogi, either among the stalls in the hall or out on the pier overlooking the Oslo fjord.

Solsiden

Solsiden serves delicious seafood in the old soap factory at Akershuskaien. Here you have orchestra seats to the port city of Oslo, with views of Aker Brygge and the Oslo fjord. The restaurant is known for its "shellfish plateau" - a sumptuous platter with lobster, crabs, shrimp and oysters.

Maaemo

Maaemo is an organic gourmet restaurant that made history in 2016 when it was awarded as the first Nordic restaurant with three stars in the Michelin Guide. Here you get 25-30 appetisers made from local produce with a Nordic twist. A rare experience!

If you’re a foodie on a lower budget, Maeemo’s sister restaurants The Vandelay, Kafeteria August and Mon Oncle are good options. Oslo also has several gourmet restaurants to offer. For example, check out Katla, Villa Heftye, Arakataka, Le Benjamin or Restaurant Eik for quality food at a more reasonable price.

Mathallen

At the Mathallen in Vulkan, Oslo, you can surprise your taste buds with a good meal or a fun food shop. Several of the stores also offer tasting samples. The food hall also has several events and is connected to the culinary academy, which holds several wine and food courses.

Alex Sushi

There are plenty of sushi places in Oslo, both restaurants and quick take-away options. Alex Sushi is one of the oldest and most luxurious sushi restaurants in the city, with premises on the western edge of Oslo, not far from the National Library and Astrup Fearnley.

Villa Paradiso

Just a stone’s throw from the bustling Bogstadveien shopping street, you’ll find a little bit of Naples – or a whole pizza if you want. Inside, under the high ceiling, it smells of Italian culinary delights. You can also sit outside at small cafe tables with checked tablecloths, which offer a real summer atmosphere. Villa Paradiso also has branches in Grünerløkka, Lilleborg, Frogner, Fredrikstad and in the centre of Oslo.

Oslo Street Food

Don't quite know what you want to eat, but want good food and a continental atmosphere? Then Oslo Street Food is the perfect choice! You’ll find the food hall in two places in central Oslo: In beautiful premises on Torggata, which previously housed Torggata Bad, and in Barcode. Here you’ll find a range of food stalls offering everything from Mexican to Japanese, Italian and Korean food.

Ostebutikken

If you walk up along the tram tracks at Grünerløkka, you will find Oslo’s smallest and perhaps best preserved hidden gem. This charming little restaurant is also a cheese shop and delicatessen. Among other things, the cheese shop can tempt you with moules fries, bouillabaisse and cassoulet, as well as a platter with mature cheeses, the house’s cheese jam, biscuits and nuts.

Hotel Bristol

As well as hosting the Bristol Grill steak restaurant, Hotel Bristol is known for both its hot chocolate and its afternoon tea. The latter is a British tradition with roots dating as far back as the 19th century. Here, treats such as mini sandwiches and pastries are served on tiered plate stands – complemented by your choice of tea. A historical concept in historic premises provides maximum experience!

Photo: Alex Asensi

Coffee shops and bakeries

Farine

If you like cardamom buns, this is the place for you. Farine is located right next to Kampen church, and is both a bakery during the day and a restaurant in the evening. Kampen is also an area worth exploring, with its old wooden houses and exciting local environment. End the evening at the traditional Kampen Bistro.

Grains

French temptations are Grain’s speciality, and both the savoury and sweet pancakes have become their trademark. Grains make everything themselves, including the beer! They also offer larger cakes to order. You’ll find them both in the middle of the bustling Majorstua and just behind the castle on fashionable Frogner.

Supreme Roastworks

Supreme Roastworks is known for its excellent coffee and informal atmosphere. Part owner Odd-Steinar Tøllefsen has won the NM in coffee brewing for a number of years, and in 2015 he also won the World Brewers Championships. Come here for a friendly chat with the staff and taste real coffee brewed with passion.

My Ugly Baby

In the middle of Youngstorget you will find My Ugly Baby – a hole in the wall that serves exactly what you need to survive a hectic day in the city: Namely juicy, big donuts! They also have home delivery and can be booked for larger events. Check out their branch at Vika Terrasse, a stone’s throw from the Nationaltheatret station. Maybe you can get one last donut before you move on to the next city?

Tim Wendelboe

"World-class coffee", according to The Lonely Planet. Tim Wendelboe is one of Norway’s most renowned baristas, who became the Norwegian Barista Champion in 2004. He runs a coffee roastery and coffee shop and has even developed his own espresso blend. Tim Wendelboe at Grunerløkka is a must for coffee lovers.

Arts and culture

MUNCH

MUNCH is the capital's art museum you don't want to miss. There are over 200 of Edvard’s Munch’s works, as well as a number of temporary exhibitions featuring art from all over the world. The building itself is in excess of 25,000 sqm, and is therefore considered one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to one artist.

As well as exploring MUNCH’s art, you can eat, drink and shop at MUNCH. The top floor includes the cocktail bar Kranen, which gives you a view of the approach to the Oslofjord. You can also see the Opera building from above from here.

Astrup Fearnley

Astrup Fearnley’s art collection is considered one of the best in Northern Europe, and the design of the museum is worth a visit in itself. Here you can see Astrup Fearnley’s own exhibition, as well as several other exhibitions from international artists.

The building is located at the far end of Tjuvholmen, and was designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Narud-Stokke-Wiig. In addition to having several different exhibitions, the museum offers tours for seniors, baby tours and Sunday tours. And don't forget to have a look in the great museum shop!

Also check out the new National Museum just a few hundred metres away.

The House of Literature

The House of Literature Foundation opened its doors in 2007 and is a national arena for literature, knowledge and debate. Bring a book and sit in the cafe, or take part in year-round talks and events. You can find the programme on the House of Literature’s website.

Botanical Garden

The botanical garden at Tøyen in Oslo is one of the city’s green spaces, which is definitely worth a visit. The garden consists of a total of 45,000 plants of around 5,500 different species and varieties, which offer a tropical and scientific experience – right in the heart of the city. Also check out the cafe Handwerk, Norway’s first organic sourdough bakery. From the small bakery you can buy buttery "handwiches" or sweeter temptations such as banana bread or cinnamon rolls. Perfect to bring along for a walk in the park.

Opera House

The opera house was designed by Snøhetta and is one of Oslo’s most iconic buildings. If you don't have time to see a performance, it’s also possible to take a guided tour of the building. The Norwegian Opera & Ballet offers guided tours for anyone interested in seeing and learning more about the opera. The tour takes approx. 50 minutes and is carried out in groups of max. 25 people. Tickets can be purchased here. Bonus: Right behind the Opera House is the beautiful Deichman Bjørvika library.

Gimle cinema

The venerable Gimle cinema has been in the same location, at Bygdøy allé 39, since 1939. Before the cinema you can buy snacks, wine, beer and coffee in the small foyer. You can later bring these into the cinema and place them on the small tables next to the cinema seats. Gimle is known for showing selected quality films and also shows live opera and ballet.

Odeon Oslo at Storo

A lot has happened at Storo in recent years, and the area is now home to the country’s largest cinema centre, Odeon Oslo. The cinema houses 14 different cinema auditoriums, enough to fill 1700 seats. The largest auditorium is an IMAX screen, with a screen the height of a five-storey house. The cinema centre is also the only one in the world with laser projection and a DOLBY ATMOS sound system in 13 of the auditoriums. A world-class movie experience.

Check out our tips on what you can do in Storo: Oslo’s new urban city centre

Urban art along the streets of Oslo

VisitOSLO has created a guide to the city’s street art and graffiti – an art form that has turned Oslo’s streets into one of the city’s most interesting and vibrant arenas. We recommend starting the tour of Tøyen – the district that aims to become Scandinavia’s largest outdoor gallery.

Oslo also has an increasing number of outdoor art installations, and some of the most exciting are Eli Gabrielsen’s "Play in the air", "Rudolph the Chrome Nosed Reindeer" or Ola Enstad’s "Dykkar Installation". 

Wandering production from the war at Akershus Fortress

"The destinies of war" is an outdoor production about the time when our country was an occupied military dictatorship. Author and actor Ross Kolby talks about the price the people paid when the Norwegian democracy fell, and the fight they waged to become a free country again.

The performance lasts for approx. one hour and 20 minutes. Kolby takes the audience on a tour of seven stops around Akershus Fortress and brings these central events to life – where they happened.

Book your ticket here.

Activities and nature experiences

Sauna in Bjørvika

Oslo is the big seaside town – even in the winter. KOK and Oslo Badstuforening offer both individual tickets and rental of private saunas. With KOK you can also go on a sauna cruise, and right around the corner you will find SALT, an art village with a rich cultural programme, delicious dining and six saunas, located on the quayside by the Oslo Fjord, opposite the Oslo Opera House and Sørenga.

Tips! In Bjørvika you will also find Barcode and Oslobukta. In Barcode you will find exclusive shops, exciting art galleries and award-winning restaurants. Facing the fjord from Barcode lies Oslobukta, an area with a modern and varied selection of eateries, unique buildings and canals, a water playground for the children and a large jetty for bathing.

Bouldering, kayaking and yoga at Sørenga

Friluftshuset of the DNT (The Norwegian Trekking Association) is located at Sjøbadet on the far end of Sørenga. Here you can climb in the bouldering room without a rope, rent a kayak, go to yoga and kayaking classes, attend inspirational evenings and listen to lectures. They also sell hiking equipment in the store.

Swimming in the middle of the city

If you’re a water baby, you’ve come to the right city. Oslo offers several great swimming opportunities, whether you want to try one of the urban sea baths at Sørenga or Munch Brygge in Bjørvika, or stick your feet in the sand at Operastrand in Bjørvika or on one of the beautiful beaches at Bygdøy. The latter is a popular destination to get to on a bike. The route is probably at its best as you ride through the beautiful alleys and see the cows grazing on Bygdøy Kongsgård.

Summit hike to Grefsenkollen

North of Oslo city centre is Grefsenkollen – one of Oslo’s best lookout points. Here you’ll also find Grefsenkollen restaurant and the OverOslo Bar outdoor restaurant, known for its tasty Italian pizzas. The mountain has also become a popular hammock spot for the city’s hikers and those who want to experience an overnight stay outside close to the city. Other mountains that can be just as good to visit are Vettakollen, Gaupekollen and Kolsåstoppen.

Art walk in the forest

Only a few tram stops from the city centre, you will find Ekebergparken. Here you can walk through Ekeberg’s sculpture and cultural heritage park, eat at the Ekeberg restaurant and visit the history and nature museum at Lund’s house. Ekebergparken is also an excellent spot for picnics with the city’s best views.

Discover Oslomarka

Even for the most urban city dwellers, the Sunday walk in the fresh air is a must. Wear comfortable shoes and hiking trousers and visit Nordmarka or Østmarka: The outdoor areas around the city offer a variety of hiking opportunities and marked trails all year round. The trails in and around Maridalen, Lillomarka, Barlindåsen and Østmarksetra are good examples of trails that take you through lush forest and offer great swimming opportunities in the summer months.

Park life and island hopping

Want to go hiking but avoid a long journey? Tøyenparken, Torshovdalen and Frognerparken are some of the city’s leafy city parks that offer a sense of freedom in the middle of the asphalt jungle. If you love a sea breeze, we recommend a trip to Hovedøya,gressholmen or Langøyene, with frequent departures from Aker Brygge.

Sightseeing tours on two wheels

Few modes of transport are as comfortable, green, efficient and inexpensive as bicycles, and Oslo’s city bikes make it possible for everyone to experience the capital on two wheels. We’ve gathered some great sightseeing tours in Oslo that are perfect for two wheels. Here are three of them:

1. Along Akerselva: 7.7 km

The hiking trail along Akerselva is popular with cyclists, hikers and joggers alike. If you start at Kjelsås and cycle down, on the way you will pass bathing spots, museums, eateries, cafes and pretty green areas where it is nice to take a short break along the way. Along the way you will also find signs that give you an insight into the industrial history of the buildings along the river. The route is almost exclusively downhill and is suitable for both young and old. Be aware that the section down past Hønse-Lovisa’s house is very steep and not suitable for smaller children.

2. Harbour promenade: 9 km

Love the sea? Then a bike ride along Oslo’s new harbour promenade is right up your alley. Here you get the wonderful combination of stunning views, fresh sea air and a number of sights along the way. The promenade is nine kilometres long with an uninterrupted footpath and cycle path, connecting the city from east to west. Along the stretch, tall orange "beacons" have been put up, showing the way and giving you information about the different locations.

3. Bygdøy: 7.5 km

How about a tour around idyllic Bygdøy? Here you’ll find everything from cows, the sea, swimming areas, lush meadows, villas, a royal farm and a small castle. Also, don't miss the many museums on the peninsula, such as the Norwegian Folk Museum and the Fram Museum. After a long bike ride, a hearty meal of seafood in Lille Herbern will go down perfect.

Fashion and shopping

Valkyrien

In the middle of Valkyrie plass in Majorstua, you’ll find one of Oslo’s finest shopping centres. Here you will find shops such as & Other Stories, the Soho Urban Eatery, Maanesten and Moniker. The latter is a mecca for all fashionistas and carries brands such as Faithfull the Brand, Acne Studios, Ganni and Victoria Beckham.

Tronsmo Bokhandel

If you love books, Tronsmo is a must on the Oslo list. Here you’ll find books from the world literature both past and present, as well as knowledgeable booksellers who can point you in the right direction. Tronsmo also takes orders, if there is something specific you are looking for.
There are several independent bookstores in Oslo. For example check out Gullberg and Bostadløkken and Cappelen’s Forslag.

Velouria Vintage

Oslo has many vintage shops, and Velouria Vintage on Grünerløkka never disappoints. If you like cool t-shirts and nice 50s dresses, then this place is worth a visit. Here you can also find rare vintage treasures from brands such as Fendi, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

Vestkanttorget

How about spending your Saturday in Oslo’s oldest market? Since 1989, Vestkanttorget has been a meeting point for shopping enthusiasts in Oslo. Located on the corner of Professor Dahls gate and Neubergsgate close to Frognerparken, the market offers everything from antiques to food and clothes. Open from March to December.

Going out

Rouleur

Do you need to fix your bike and perhaps have a glass of wine at the same time? Then Rouleur is the place for you. When the workshop closes at 6:00 p.m., the place is transformed into a cosy bar that serves beer, cocktails and other quality drinks. Rouleur also offers rental bikes from FARA, and also arranges guided cycling tours in the beautiful Nordmarka.

Oslo Mekaniske Verksted

The Oslo Mekaniske Verksted is located close to the bus terminal and is known for its distinctive atmosphere. Inside, the interior is vintage and homely, and outside you can sit among colourful string lights, green plants, long tables and benches.

Blå

Since opening its doors in 1998, Blå has been Oslo’s hotbed for jazz and experimental music. They have a number of events and concerts across genres, as well as fantastic outdoor dining along the Akerselva River. On the other side of the road you’ll find Ingensteds, which also offers concerts and club nights all year round. Oslo is also Scandinavia’s major concert city, so don't miss the city’s many music offerings from east to west.

Andre til Høyre

Love drinks and stylish interior? In that case, Andre til Høyre at Youngstorget is a great option. As well as delicious drinks, they also earn extra points for the city’s finest menu design and exceptionally beautiful interior design. If wine is more to your taste, stop by Territoriet just a few streets away, or Nektar at Fredensborg.

Sukkerbiten

Oslo’s own "summer island", Sukkerbiten, is located midway between the Oslo Opera House and Sørenga. Sukkerbiten is used for a variety of artisitc and cultural activities, non-profit purposes, a restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining, a concert area, sports and activities for all ages.

Bygdøy Allé 3 – BA3

If you love being on the dance floor, Bygdøy Allé 3 (BA3) is the place for you. Frogner’s venue has a high IT factor and club music for everyone. If you need food beforehand, you can also enjoy lunch, brunch, afternoon tea and dinner in the restaurant.

Indoor mini golf and darts

Oslo Camping on Møllergata 12 offers 18 mini golf courses indoors and cocktails from a slushie machine. The place is perfect if you want to do something social and active while enjoying yourself in good company. The venue is in campsite style and the golf courses are creatively designed around the interior.

Oche Dart Club on Torggata 26 is also a newer nightlife concept in the capital, where you can share 85 action-packed minutes with friends and colleagues in their very own darts booth. During the social game you can enjoy food, drinks and snacks delivered by the waiter. Known for playing music from the 50s to 70s, it provides a unique atmosphere in the heart of Oslo.

Prindsens Hage

Inside the gates of the idyllic Prindsen Hage you are surrounded by sunflowers, herbs, green lawns, sun loungers, playing fields and outdoor dining with both food and drink. The backyard has a total of 4,000 square meters, where you can have fun playing games such as petanque, croquet, table tennis, four in a row, ring toss game and kid’s bowling. This is a pure social oasis in the city centre, which has become popular for both young and old alike.

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