Experience the captivating charm of Oslo in winter through this alternative route, where hidden gems await discovery amidst the city's snowy landscapes and cultural treasures, providing a unique and unforgettable journey off the beaten path.
Winter has always been my favorite season, with its snowy landscapes reminiscent of scenes from Christmas movies. Despite Thomas's occasional reluctance, I consistently persuade him to join me on winter getaways. Thus, for the winter of 2018/2019, we opted for Oslo, the Nordic and modern capital city of Norway, renowned for its picturesque winter wonderland.
In this second post about Oslo, we unveil an alternative route showcasing off-the-beaten-path gems, including tips on skiing in nearby mountains and exploring urban art in trendy neighborhoods. Get ready to dive into Oslo's vibrant culture, with highlights on Grunerløkka and the iconic Holmenkollen.
While Oslo's main attractions are undoubtedly captivating, the city's alternative neighborhoods offer a different perspective, brimming with unique charm and local flair. One such neighborhood is Grünerløkka, a vibrant district known for its artistic vibe and eclectic atmosphere. Here, you'll find an array of trendy cafes, cozy pubs, and quirky boutiques tucked away among colorful street art and historic buildings.
Grünerløkka is a haven for creatives, with its bustling markets, lively street performers, and lively nightlife scene. Wander through its labyrinthine streets to discover hidden gems like vintage shops, artisanal bakeries, and cozy bookstores. Take a break at one of the neighborhood's many cafes, where you can indulge in freshly brewed coffee and delicious pastries while soaking in the local ambiance.
Beyond Grünerløkka, Oslo's alternative scene extends to Holmenkollen, a picturesque area renowned for its outdoor activities and stunning natural beauty. Here, you can ski down world-class slopes, hike through scenic trails, or simply enjoy panoramic views of the city from the iconic Holmenkollen Ski Jump.
Whether you're a culture vulture, outdoor enthusiast, or simply seeking a taste of local life, Oslo's alternative neighborhoods offer a refreshing escape from the tourist crowds, providing a glimpse into the city's vibrant and dynamic soul. So, venture off the beaten path and discover the hidden treasures that await in Oslo's alternative neighborhoods.
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INGENS GATE AND ITS MARKET
Changing the historical mood, you should go North from the city center to find the Ingens gate (Nobody's Street) at the banks of the Akerselva river. This little peculiar laneway located in a bohemian neighborhood has every wall covered in colorful and modern street art contrasting with the bucolic river bend scenario. Although it is a bit hidden and maybe hard to find, it hosts an art market on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Nonetheless, taking a stroll alongside the river will give you magnificent perspectives of the area.
A bit upriver lies the perfect spot for a lunch break: the Mathallen Oslo. This indoor food market nested in a nice industrial shed combines more than 30 shops, cafes and eateries offering high-quality products from local small-scale producers and also international delicacies. It can be a little overwhelming with the deliciously-smelling options but you won't be disappointed. We chose to have a duck sandwich with mustard in Galopin and it was absolutely delightful. For dessert, try some of the yummy cupcakes from The Cupcake & Pie Co. with coffee to warm up before getting back to the cold.
| Opening hours - from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. |
| Admission - free of charge |
Once warm and well fed, you can adventure yourself again into the cold to discover two little traditional gems of Oslo. Telthusbakken, which means "tent house", is a street where once the stood a military storage and is just below the medieval church Gamler Aker - the oldest existing building is Oslo. However, what makes this street special is the small colorful wooden houses from the 18th and 19th century which are still inhabited. A large allotment garden area and the romantic Kjærlighetsstien ("The Love Trail") also help to set the bucolic and picturesque mood of this area, making it a perfect getaway from the crowds of tourists of downtown.
If you liked Telthusbakken, then you will love Damstredet. Although 100 meters shorter, this cobblestone street is narrower and has a better perspective due to its curves and greater inclination. The cute little wooden houses from the first half of the 19th century and their colorful facades are the last ingredients to make it so unique you will spend a great load of time trying to get the perfect shot to capture all the delicacy of Damstredet. We liked it better and a stroll around the neighborhood is a lovely way to finish your tour for the day.
You can start this extra day in grand style in one of the world's most visited sports facilities: the very heart of Norwegian skiing tradition, the Holmenkollbakken Ski Jump. Located with a 20-minute subway ride from downtown (line 1, direction Frognerseteren), the story of this sport center starts over 100 years ago when a two-day ski competition brought 12.000 spectators for a 18-km cross country ski race on the first day and a jump of 21 meters on the following day. Though for this first ski jump contest it was just a natural hill with a takeoff ramp built out of show and wood, throughout the years the structure was rebuilt 19 times up to the colossal construction inaugurated in 2010.
It also hosts the oldest Skiing Museum of the world which tells more than 4.000 years story of this national passion (since Stone Age and also Viking times). The museum is open 365 days, the opening hours can be seen here and price is 150 NOK per person (around 15 EUR). If you visit Oslo in early March, do not miss the annual Holmenkollen Ski Festival.
Even if you are not a sports fan, we promise you Holmenkollen is still worth visiting. Besides the amazing nature all around it, the location offers an astonishing view to Oslo in clear days due its location on a hilltop. Other nice feature of this area is the Holmenkollen Kapell, a chapel rebuilt in the early 1990's with new stave church features in massive planks and clip walls which bring a very Nordic vibe and contrast with the white snow all around it. If none of these has convinced you yet, the residential neighborhood of this area is one of the cutest winter scenarios you will ever see with the colorful houses and pine trees on the background.
OUR FINAL THOUGHTS
Exploring Oslo's alternative neighborhoods has been an unforgettable journey. From the artistic charm of Grünerløkka to the outdoor adventures in Holmenkollen, we've discovered the city's hidden treasures. Despite the winter chill, Oslo's vibrant energy and warm atmosphere have left a lasting impression. Want to discover more about Oslo?! Check out here our post about the 12 best things to do when in Oslo! Until next time, happy travels!
Oslo, the vibrant capital of Norway, welcomes travelers from around the globe with its diverse transportation options:
- By plane: Arriving at Oslo is convenient with two main airports. Oslo Gardermoen Airport (OSL), located 50 kilometers northeast of the city, serves as the primary international hub, offering direct flights from various destinations. Travelers can reach the city center from Gardermoen via the Airport Express Train (Flytoget), completing the journey in 20-30 minutes. Additionally, Oslo Torp Airport (TRF), situated about 115 kilometers south of Oslo, caters mainly to low-cost carriers and charter flights.
- By train: Norway's extensive rail network connects Oslo to major European cities. Oslo Central Station (Oslo Sentralstasjon) acts as a pivotal transportation hub, providing domestic and international train services. From neighboring Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark, travelers can enjoy seamless train journeys to Oslo. Notably, from Bergen, renowned for its fjords, travelers can embark on a scenic train ride to Oslo, taking approximately 6-7 hours.
- By bus: Long-distance bus services offer convenient travel options to Oslo from neighboring countries such as Sweden and Denmark. The Oslo Bus Terminal (Oslo Bussterminal) serves as the city's main bus station, conveniently located adjacent to Oslo Central Station.
- By car: Accessing Oslo by car is feasible via well-maintained highways like the E6 and E18, connecting the city to regions in the south and east. However, travelers should anticipate toll roads and parking fees within the city center.
Regardless of your chosen mode of transportation, reaching Oslo is a seamless journey, ensuring you commence your Norwegian adventure with ease.
In Oslo, where the cost of living is high, finding a comfortable yet reasonably priced accommodation is essential. During our visit, we enjoyed our stay at the Forenom Serviced Apartments Oslo Royal Park. Priced at 123 EUR per night, the apartments offered clean and comfortable rooms, along with a prime location just a 5-minute walk from the Royal Palace and main attractions. Another excellent choice is the Scandic Oslo Hotel, known for its pleasant ambiance and convenient location near the train station. Guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet included in the price, making it a great value option. For those seeking a more local experience, neighborhoods like Grünerløkka and Frogner offer a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops. Grünerløkka is particularly known for its trendy vibe and artistic flair, while Frogner boasts upscale boutiques and green spaces.
Oslo's culinary scene boasts a variety of dining options, but it's important to be mindful that eating out in Norway tends to be quite expensive. Here are some noteworthy eateries to consider, along with price indications:
- Illegal Burger: Indulge in gourmet burgers at Illegal Burger, where creative toppings and juicy patties are the norm. Burger meals typically range from 15 to 20 EUR, reflecting the quality of the ingredients and the unique flavor combinations.
- Syverkiosken: For a taste of traditional Norwegian snacks, Syverkiosken is a must-visit. Enjoy savory hot dogs and other quick bites for around 5 to 10 EUR, offering a budget-friendly option for a quick meal on the go.
- Godt Brød Grünerløkka: Satisfy your craving for freshly baked goods at Godt Brød Grünerløkka, known for its delicious bread, pastries, and sandwiches. Prices vary depending on your selection, but expect to spend around 5 to 15 EUR for a satisfying meal or snack.
- Dalat Cafe: Experience the flavors of Vietnam at Dalat Cafe, serving authentic Vietnamese cuisine including pho, banh mi, and spring rolls. Prices range from 10 to 20 EUR, offering affordable options for those craving Vietnamese flavors in Oslo.
- Fiskeriet Youngstorget: A popular spot for seafood enthusiasts, Fiskeriet Youngstorget offers a selection of fresh fish dishes, such as fish and chips or seafood platters. Expect to pay between 20 and 30 EUR for main courses, reflecting the quality and freshness of the seafood.
While dining out in Oslo may require a bit of budgeting, these establishments offer quality food and memorable dining experiences worth the investment.
Now it's your turn to let us know what you think of visiting Norway in winter. Have you already done it? Did you like it? Let us know! We look forward to reading your comments in the section below.