A Local Guide to Oslo, Norway: Dumplings, Art and Floating Saunas | Holidays in Oslo



Norway is known for its hearty stews and seafood, but Oslo also has an emerging food scene. For something traditional, try raspball (potato dumplings) with salted meat in Kaffistova, right next to the Rosenkrantz gate, which has been around since 1901.

Smalhans in the St Hanshaugen district offers home cooking inspired by cuisines from around the world. Dish of the day is always a good bet, or splash out on all six courses krosus menu, designed to share. Near the Opera House is Vippa, a bustling street food court with stalls from around the world, including Syria, Poland and Morocco. My favorite is the fish and chips, with mashed peas, from Fra Dypet.

Dishes from all over the world are available at Vippa.


In our huge new National Museum, which opened on June 11, you can see works by national and international superstars (including Edvard Munch’s The Scream in a room dedicated to Munch) and lesser-known pioneers. The 6,500 works in the collection include art, architecture and design from antiquity to the present day. The icing on the cake is the high Light Hall, with temporary exhibitions. The opening exhibition, I Call It Art, is a snapshot of the Norwegian contemporary art scene today.

Nearby is the Astrup Fearnley Museum, with one of the most comprehensive collections of contemporary art in Europe. Other places on the Oslo gallery scene that are worth checking out are OSL Contemporary, Galleri Riis, Gerhardsen Gerner and Standard (Oslo). Another monument that deserves a visit is the Opera. Go see a show or just take a walk on the roof and enjoy the view. While in the area, try one of Oslo’s floating saunas on the harbor opposite.

The Edvard Munch room of the new National Museum.
The Edvard Munch room of the new National Museum. Photograph: Geir Olsen/NTB/AFP/Getty Images

With all of this, plus the new Munch Museum, the new Deichman Library and the Vigeland and Ekeberg sculpture parks, Norway aims to become a global destination for arts and culture.


Oslo’s former industrial area, Grünerløkka, is a charming and prosperous neighborhood on the east bank of the Akerselva River. It has a bohemian vibe with great bars, flea markets and designer boutiques. I love second-hand and vintage shops such as Robot, Velouria Vintage, Fretex Arkivet Grunerlokka and Ny York Vintage. The area has many parks, such as Sofienbergparken, Birkelunden and Grünerhagen, and walking along the river is a pleasant way to get downtown. This is where I lived as a young adult and always visit Bar Boca for a drink or Mucho Mas for a killer quesadilla.

Floating sauna
Oslo’s floating saunas

Green area

At this time of the year, the botanical garden is in perfect bloom at the beginning of summer. There is a small rustic cafe in the park and large woven sculptures by British artist Tom Hare are scattered around the park. Alternatively, take the tram and admire the city from above at Ekebergparken. The park offers stunning views and exhibits impressive sculptures by more than 40 international and Norwegian artists. My favorite is James Turrell’s Skyspace.

Night life

Start the evening at a classic cocktail bar in the heart of the city: try Andre Til Høyre or Himkok, Oslo’s first bar to make it to the 2020 list of the world’s 50 best bars. Papa Borracho, who specializes in mezcal; the bar staff also have superior cocktail skills.


Coch Pensjonat (doubles from around £63), just behind the Royal Palace and Kunstnernes Hus art gallery, has been around for three generations; it offers budget accommodation in pleasant surroundings.

Another good place to stay is the modern Scandic Hotel Vulkan (doubles from £115) at the foot of Grünerløkka, with Mathallen food court as its nearest neighbour.

Rolf Yngve Uggen is Director of collections management in Oslo National Museum, the largest art museum in the Nordic countries


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