Off the top of their heads, people instantly think about Kreuzberg in Berlin, Nørrebro in Copenhagen, Hoxton and Shoreditch in London, and Sødermalm in Stockholm, as the trendiest and most exciting places in Europe. If you don’t have Oslo in your list, you’re missing all the fun.
In recent years, the city of Oslo has been undergoing a transformation to shed its long-running reputation as Scandinavia’s sober sibling. The capital of Norway is making intensive efforts in backing large-scale architectural ventures such as the Barcode and Opera House. Many of their shabby neighborhoods along Akerselva River and the waterfront are being revamped.
These changes had started an upsurge of ingenuity and modernization in the city. It has inspired numerous young Osloites to come up with new ideas like establishing their own bike shops, craft breweries, coffee roasteries, New Nordic bistros, vintage record shops, and retro clothing stores. With the city’s rapid transformation, and even though there is still much work to do, people cannot deny how much Oslo has become one of the trendiest destinations in Europe.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
First stop is in Grünerløkka, or as locals call ‘Løkka, the hipster central of Oslo. What was once primarily a former working-class neighborhood has now become the stomping ground for designers, artists, students, and creative types like Edvard Munch. This trendiest zone in Oslo features a four-sided block of streets surrounded by Sofienbergparken in the east and the Akerselva River in the west.
The formerly industrial neighborhood of Grünerløkka is now a site to an assortment of burger bars, microbreweries, and of course, numerous vintage clothing shops. It’s a wonderful experience to stroll along ‘Løkka’s grid of streets that surrounds the beautiful square, Olaf Ryes Plass.
If you are looking for the best vintage stores and independent shops, the gates: Markveien and Thorvald Meyers, is a good place to start. You’ll find almost everything from collectible Hermes scarves and Levi’s at the Velouria Vintage. You can also search for retro collectibles, vintage dresses, check shirts, or denim shirts at Robot. Another must-see place is the Fransk Bazaar that is jam-packed with gorgeous antiques and design pieces from its French expat owner’s collection.
However, if you are not interested in vintage and you want something more modern Scandinavian design you can hear over to Ensemble. This charming clothing and accessories store offers swanky womenswear from various brands. For men’s wear, you can go to Dapper. This boutique also doubles as a bike and barbershop.
A great place to have your bike fixed is at OsloVelo. The shop has a café where you can enjoy brunch and a cup of coffee brewed by their in-house barista while you wait.
Cheers to Good Food
Most people know that it’s expensive to dine out in Norway. But, in Grünerløkka, there are a few places where you can get an affordable meal.
No neighborhood is hipster enough without its own burger joint. At the Nighthawk Diner in ‘Løkka, you’ll find a classic burger bar that features 50’s décor with booth seats and jukeboxes. It was named after the famous painting by Edward Hopper. Also, a good stop, if you are craving for a burger, is the Munchies. Here you can choose from their six classic burgers and a burger of the month.
Aside from burgers, Tapas is another cheap but good food option in Grünerløkka. At the Delicatessen, you can get a taste of excellent selection on classic dishes. The Txotx, on the other hand, specializes in Basque-style pintxos.
If you like to take it up a notch, check out Markveien Mat & Vinhus. They serve the best Norwegian comfort food and hearty dishes like meatballs, clipfish, and lamb shank, paired with your choice of a glass of wine. The Norwegian diner Pila blends unique flavors of local ingredients with an exciting twist. They serve dishes like a lamb with roasted vegetables and sautéed reindeer stew.
Other places to hang out are: Villa Paradiso, which offers excellent wood-fired Italian pizzas and Le Benjamin for cassoulet, fondue, and other French bistro dishes. For Asian-inspired cuisines like sushi rolls, crispy wonton, and crazy duck pancakes, SüdØst Asian Crossover can satisfy your cravings.
Grünerløkka has tons of places to drink, especially if you have deep pockets. The Grünerløkka Brewery is the place to be if you have a taste for craft beers. They make a range of handmade home-brews like ales and wheat beers.
For a connoisseur of wines, Territoriet is a trendy wine bar that has a selection of vintages which you can purchase by the glass. You can even get a tasting lesson from their highly skilled staff. Get your cocktails from Bettola’s mixologists that crafts specially made colorful creations in a retro Scandinavian style bar.
The best venue for live music is at Blå, but a for music fans, their most preferred destination is the famous Parkteatret. It is where you can watch performances and acts from emerging young and indie bands from across Norway and beyond. And, for those who are brave enough to take to the stage, Syng is the perfect place to enjoy a regular karaoke night.
Wander to the west edge of Grünerløkka, to Vulkan which is situated along the banks of the Akerselva River. Its winding streets was previously a bustling center of heavy industry. Through an urban renewal project, the neglected structures and aging factories were reinvented and turned into eco-friendly offices, design studios, boutique hotels, and apartments.
This part of the city is also now home to the new food hall, the Mathallen. The giant, airy structure holds thirty food stalls that sell anything like Norwegian cheeses, Asian street foods, and more. You may also like to pay a visit to the neighboring coffee shop, Hendrix Ibsen, which also serves as a record store and craft bar. Or have dinner at the Smelteverket pub that has a great view of the river and the Bar Social Eating for some meals to share.
Restaurant Kontrast is also another famous establishment in Vulcan. They are one of the few venues in Vulcan that serve the finest New Nordic and Michelin star winning cuisines that are well-known for their ingenious flavors and eccentric presentation of assortments of jellies, ices, foams, and foraged ingredients.
When visiting Youngstorget, near Torggata and Møllergata streets, you can check out some of the newest venues, clubs, and bars that have been increasingly showing up in the area for the past couple of years. The Kulturhuset is a famous location for art exhibits, theatre, and stage gigs which also has an excellent bar. Café Mono is a favorite venue for bands as well as drinks. If you are looking for a much different experience, go to Oslo Camping for a great round of mini golf and beer. Also, in the area is the Den Gamle Skobutikken, which means The Old Shoe Shop, for some fantastic cocktails.
HIMKOK is probably one of the best places you shouldn’t miss. This popular craft distillery and cocktail bar is a mixture of a science lab and a retro bar. They make their own gin, aquavit, and vodka here. Some say that it is pretty hard to find, but it also adds to the experience.