The capital of Norway is one of Europe’s most inviting and pleasant summer destinations. It contains a city bursting with cultural and culinary pleasures, yet it is also small and compact. Surrounded by large tracts of forest, and a fjord dotted with picturesque islands, the options for outdoor activities are endless.
French Sandwiches at Open Bakery
For a short weekend break, the following culinary guidelines are recommended: For lunch, head to Open Bakery in Parkveien, just behind the Royal Palace. It is a good place to relax and soak in the sun. The turkey and avocado sandwich is simply fantastic: Three layers of gently toasted bread, smooth and creamy texture to the avocado and bacon for an extra touch of smokiness. Add a cup of coffee and pancakes and you have yourself the sweet treat of the day. Just around the corner, you will find Hegdehausgveien, which leads up to one of the primary shopping hotspots in town. If you are so inclined, a whole afternoon can be spent shopping or simply browsing.
For dinner, the best of what Oslo can offer tends to involve seafood, and some of the best spots are along the harbour. The throngs of tourists tend to be thicker here, but one of the best options, Solsiden, lies in splendid isolation in an old warehouse under the bulwarks of the city fortress. The name means Sunnyside, and though the structure is somewhat lacking in stature, the food is not. The seafood platter itself is a grand concoction.
Alternatively, for a less isolated spot, a good choice would be Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin. This place is in the middle of a recently completed modern development area. It faces directly across to a new façade by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, which will house a museum of modern art. Set on small islands punctuated by canals, the new area is a modern take on the charm of Venice and Amsterdam and has already become extremely popular. It is also a growing Mecca for excellent seafood.
For the hipper atmosphere, the eastern borough of Grünerløkka is a nightlife haven. The bar Ryes gets crowded on weekends, but it is an excellent place to spend the wee hours of summer dusk. The music is funky, retro and up-beat, so be prepared for a hipster crowd.
In terms of art, the collection of Norway’s most famous painter, Edvard Munch, is housed in a museum in the east of Oslo. Munch founded the expressionist school of art, and his work is characterised by broad and intense brushstrokes conveying an expressive sense of anguish and passion. The intensity of it almost bursts forth from the canvass. As such, Munch’s work is quite unique in the context of Norwegian art. Plans are in the works for the collection to be moved to a new location, which is to be built on a promontory next to the newly built and highly acclaimed Opera House. For now, however, the museum lies at the edge of a leafy park, offering good views, picnic opportunities and a short walk to the botanical garden.
For a sense of the great outdoors, the peninsula of Bygdøy is conveniently located at the doorstep of town, and is easily reachable by a short ferry ride. The peninsula houses a series of museums of interest, including the Viking ship Museum and the Folk Museum. It is also home to small coves and cosy beaches and winding forested pathways. To burn of some of that excess food, nothing is better than a brisk jog followed by an even brisker swim in the fjord. You could even rent a kayak, to really get a sense of the local idea of leisure.