The capital of Norway is often regarded as an expensive place to spend a European city break, but with the right planning there’s no reason why it has to be. The scenic city of Oslo regularly ranks highly in the survey that considers quality of life, even topping the report in 2012. Whether you visit during the winter, when a liberal dusting of snow creates a magical feel, or in summer, when the locals enjoy water sports and relax in outdoor swimming pools; you’re sure to enjoy your trip to Scandinavia.
There are three airports in the Oslo area, two of which are a great choice if you are staying in the city centre. Oslo Airport in Gardermoen is by far the largest and easiest option, with British Airways and Norwegian offering regular direct flights from Heathrow and Gatwick respectively and it only being 30 miles from the city centre.
The second choice is Moss Airport in Rygge, which is slightly further away from Oslo but is Ryanair’s airport hub for flights to and from Stanstead. The third airport in the area is Sandefjord Airport, but very few direct flights land here from the UK and it is much more difficult to get into the city centre. If you wish to depart from anywhere other than London, Scandinavian Airlines provide a direct flight on most days of the week from Manchester to Oslo Airport.
Once you have arrived at either Oslo or Moss Airport, getting to your hotel should be a simple affair. Trains operated by Flytoget and NSB (cheaper and only slightly slower) will connect you from the former and a shuttle bus/train combined offering from NSB will take you to Rygge station and then onto Oslo if you arrive at the latter.
Where to stay
In a city that is regularly listed as one of the most expensive in Europe, it is difficult to find a budget hotel that represents real value. However, this central option does exactly that, providing everything you need on a city break without the price tag. You will be positioned mere minutes from the main train station and the trendy Grünerløkka district, with not one but two metro stops on your doorstep. The rooms are comfortable, modern and offer facilities such as a TV, safe, en-suite and hairdryer. Expect prices of around £60 per night in peak season.
This mid-range hotel may be situated outside of the city centre, but the glorious views and natural surroundings make it worthwhile. You can wake up every day to beautiful mountain scenery and look down on the city that you are about to explore. The nearby Voksenkollen metro station will connect you with the major sights in less than half an hour and the hotel itself offers a bar, restaurant, outdoor pool, sauna and free Wi-Fi. It’s a great choice for avid skiers, with the Tryvann Ski Centre and Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Ski Museum close by. Rooms start from around £75 per night.
If you are looking for a five-star option during your Oslo city break, the Grand Hotel is a great choice. This is one of the most famous and prestigious hotels in the city and will give you a great starting point from which to explore your surroundings. The luxurious rooms offer a Nordic charm, with the best of them featuring a separate living room, walk-in wardrobe, roof-top terrace, expresso machine and Jacuzzi. The suites are named after famous Norwegian figures, such as playwright Henrik Ibsen and the Christian Radich sailing ship.
From the start of April, the Oslo metro system will consist of five different lines that can take you all over the city. You can also make use of the various buses, trams and boats which are all part of the same ticketing system. However, perhaps the best way to explore Oslo is on two wheels. A green initiative has been introduced in the city over recent years and the ‘Bysykler’ system means you can pick up a bike from 100 different places. Drop by the visitors centre to rent a 24-hour pass for as little as £8 plus a small deposit.
Where to eat
For delicious, no-nonsense food at reasonable prices, this place is a must. Munchies is located close to the main train station and offers some of the best burgers in Oslo. It’s a very popular spot for lunch and a taste of their burger of the month is sure to help you understand why.
You shouldn’t leave Norway without trying some of the traditional delicacies that are on offer and Kolonihagen gives you the perfect surroundings in which to do this. The atmosphere is always a jovial one and the food is always freshly sourced from the local area. With a seven-course evening taster menu that is likely to feature reindeer, seafood and black truffles and a real disdain for microwaves, the food here is sure to hit the spot.
Oslo, and indeed Norway on the whole, does gourmet dining better than most places. Therefore, if you get the chance, it is definitely worth sampling some of the upmarket offerings in this culinary city. A visit to Feinschmecker is never a stuffy affair though, as the restaurant prides itself on an informal atmosphere and friendly service. So much so, many of the locals love to drop by for a spontaneous glass of wine and are always welcomed with open arms. The food offers a European twist on traditional Nordic cuisine, featuring fresh seafood, mouth-watering meat dishes and indulgent desserts.
Top 3 things to do
The Norwegians are proud of their maritime heritage and so many of the museums here show this off to great effect. Whether you choose to visit the Fram Museum, the Kon-tiki Museum or the Viking Ship Museum, you will learn how explorers from these parts conquered the seas and wrote their names in history.
Your Oslo city break will be dotted with various forms of architecture, creating an interesting mix of styles. From the modern and impressive opera house to the 17th-century cathedral and the various pieces within the Vigeland Sculpture Park, there’s plenty to interest lovers of this art from.
The Holmenkollen ski jump is the newest in the world and is a state-of-the-art facility for professionals of the sport. However, novices and those who are interested in skiing but don’t want to practise it will also love the activities available at this out-of-town attraction. There’s a ski museum, ski simulator and even the opportunity to zip-line down the length of the jump. That’s without even mentioning the spectacular views over the rest of Oslo.
If you are interested in embarking on your own Oslo city break, call us today and we will tailor-make your trip.