Grünerløkka’s main high street, lined with bars and restaurants. Even in winter, when temperatures drop below –10C, you’ll be amazed to see Norwegians sitting outside drinking beer - as Norway has a public smoking ban, smokers have to go outside to get their fix. Pubs provide blankets and gas heaters.
Oslo’s green belt, a paradise of pine and birch trees, dotted with lakes you can cross in winter. Pitch a tent, stay in a cabin, go fishing or just enjoy a day communing with nature. It doesn’t get more Norwegian than this.
Metro line 1, Frognerseteren station; Metro line 3, Sognsvann station
500 metres above sea level on a hill opposite Ekeberg restaurant, Frognerseteren offers a higher vantage-point of the city, with a superb panorama of the fjord and its islands. And you can get there by tube in just half an hour.
Metro line 1, Frognerseteren station
Set in a beautiful functionalist building that could be the set of a Hercule Poirot mystery, Ekeberg offers breathtaking views of the city, the Oslo fjord and the surrounding hills. Enjoy a beer on the terrace or a delicious dinner inside.
Kongsveien 15; Tel: 23 24 23 00; Tram lines 18 and 19, Ekeberg station; www.ekebergrestauranten.com/
The super-quick Flytoget train leaves every 10 minutes and takes around 20 minutes to get into central Oslo (160 kroner) - Stansted Express take note. Alternatively, the Scandinavian Airlines leaves for the city centre every 20 minutes, the journey takes 40 minutes (100 kroner one-way, 160 kroner return).
Check out Natt & Dag, a free weekly magazine available in bars, shops and restaurants or Aften, the evening edition of the daily Aftenposten. Another option is Fredag, the Friday cultural supplement of the newspaper Dagbladet.
This is mainly an outdoor museum, though there is an exhibition of local history and artefacts from the last 150 years or so. Outside, over a fairly large area, they’ve brought regional traditional buildings mostly dating back to the 18th century and constructed a ‘village’ containing houses and farm buildings.
It also features a tiny 12th century stave church – I had a very memorable experience here. I was on a guided tour of the open air buildings and our guide, a small blonde woman dressed in a typical peasant costume, took us into this small building which has no windows, so when the door shuts it’s pitch black. She stood in front of us and lit a candle, held it up to her face and then sung a hymn in Latin, as would have been done in this church hundreds of years ago to the ordinary churchgoers. She sung it very beautifully, and though we had no idea what the words meant, it was one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had on a guided tour, so if you visit, ask for Elin and get her to give you her performance.
Not far from the harbour is this shop which is fascinating if you want to see, or even buy, traditional Norwegian clothing and learn all about the bunad. It also sells wooden toys and handicrafts.
PastaSentalen. A cheap (by Norwegian standards) Italian resturaunt. Lots of pasta and pizza at reasonable prices.
Across the road from the bus station, you will need to through a underpass. It is near the council building, which is very big and has a digital clock on its top
Gamle Stavanger, as it's known, is built on a hillside to the west of the harbour. The 18th century, regulation-white wooden houses are criss-crossed by cobblestone alleys where you'll now find a number of artist's shops and studios. You'll be tempted to wonder about buying one of the residences, but you'd probably have to marry into one of the families to do so and have plenty of money too, so just concentrate on the walk and the view across the harbour.
Gamle Stavanger, west of the harbour
You can spend a good few leisurely hours just ambling around the harbour, boat watching, people watching and exploring the little shops and houses that surround it, especially if you enjoy photography. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants of course.
The harbour area
An excellent and very reasonably priced restaurant, serving sushi, noodle dishes and other Asian-inspired cuisine made with the best local ingredients. At less than half the price of many competitors, it can't be recommended highly enough.
Dronning Mauds gate 1, near the Town HallTel: +47 22 83 1818
Theatre in an old chocolate factory showcasing the most exciting performances in Norwegian and European contemporary theatre, music and dance. And before and after enjoying the mostly neither smug, chin-stroking or humorless shows, you can get pissed in the bar with the performers and crew.
Carl Berner Tube
on the outskirts of the Grunerlokka area
A comfortable, child-friendly hotel, centrally located. Practical, convenient - does what it says on the tin. Free ice-cream for children is a nice touch. Doubles start at 990 kroner.
Biskop Gunnerus gate 3, Tel: 23 10 80 00
“A culinary experience” in the words of a friend, who still raves about his time at the two Michelin-star-rated restaurant. Dishes are French with a Norwegian twist, the service is attentive and the wonderful wine selection helps cushion the blow when the bill comes. A three-course menu is 680 kroner, but if you want to blow your mortgage, go for the full 1,250 kroner menu. Prices do not include wine.
Bygdøy alle 3; Tel: 22 12 14 40; www.bagatelle.no/
Public bikes are available from racks dotted around the city. You’ll need a chip-card to get access, available at the tourist offices at City Hall and the train station. A 24-hour pass sets you back a mere 60 kroner, though you’ll be asked to leave a 500 kroner deposit.
This newly opened venue dishes out grilled fish and meat in a light and airy space, with a leafy terrace just above the river Akerselva. The house tiramisu is spoon-lickingly good (98 kroner).
Trondheimsveien 5; Tel: 23 35 30 70; www.sydost.no
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