I am slightly appalled at how long it’s taken me to write this. It’s a piece I have been meaning to write for ages but never felt like doing or got round too. I have an afternoon at home, my to do list is looking satisfyingly empty and the rain is pouring down outside. Now is as good a time as any!
In May last year, we were enjoying the last month of our travels in sunny Chicago when Ed came across cheap tickets to see Bon Iver play in Oslo. Bon had accompanied us on many, many long and winding car journeys thus far on the trip and we thought it only fair we pay him our respects and enjoy his music live! Loads of people haven’t even heard of Bon Iver, he is pretty niche but I highly recommend you check his music out if you like a chilled mellow sound.
The catch though, to these tickets, they were for Oslo. I jumped on Ryan Air and just as suspected, flights to Oslo were going for less than train tickets from Leeds - London. Sold. We went with Josh and Kara, my brother and sister in law, equal Bon Iver and Scandinavia fans. They had already been to Oslo on a recording trip not long before and were keen to explore more!
November, at this pointed it seemed ages away, but of course we blinked and it arrived, summer long gone and darker days drawing around us. Time for another, albeit smaller, adventure.
We arrived in Oslo after a 2 hour flight and very conveniently got the train from the airport right into the centre of town taking less than half an hour. After a very early 4am start we were all pretty tired and hungry so opted for an Uber to our airbnb rather than the bus (which we later learnt was a much cheaper and still quick option). The über costed a fortune, but we were inside the doors to our lovely little apartment within 20 mins. We had managed to get a sweet little place in a nice, quiet but fun part of town called Sagene, for a pretty good price. It had one double room and one sofa bed, kitchen and bathroom. It was clean and minimal in the lovely Scandinavian way. Our vibes exactly. We dropped our stuff and headed in search of food. Not far from us we found a funny diner, kind of American style, and quite expensive, for breakfast. Again, tiredness and hunger leading the way we sat down to eat and realised after an okay breakfast that Oslo was going to be pricey.
We mooched around our little neighbourhood and enjoyed all the quirky and independent shops. The streets of Oslo were beautifully quiet, all pastel colours and pretty buildings. Shops full of warm winter wear, cosy homey boutiques, expensive clothing and jewellery, plants, lamps, chocolate and coffee. Josh did his coffee research and found a well known, speciality coffee just round the corner. Turns out Tim Wendelboe is pretty well known for coffee, Google it! We dipped out of the cold and ordered lattes and filters and sat in the warmth. After thorough exploration of our local area, we bought supplies and headed back up the hill towards home. At this point is was lightly snowing and beautifuly picturesque. We spent the afternoon chilling, reading, resting and trying to get onto Netflix!!
Early evening approached and we all wrapped up again in search of food. We wandered back down to the central square of the neighbourhood where we had been earlier and found a nice welcoming, albeit quite pub / restaurant. We played cards and enjoyed burgers and beer in the cosy space before all hitting the hay. A long, but lovely day.
Day two Ed headed out early in search of food. Bringing back fresh bread from a nearby bakery we had bacon and eggs whilst planning the day. The Bon Iver concert being in the centre of town in the evening, we decided to take the morning slow at home and head downtown to explore for the afternoon before the concert. En route we stopped at the same coffee shop then grabbed a taxi into town. We had a few places on our list to see, but on tight budgets and not loads of time decided to skip main touristy attractions. We found a huge interiors shop, full of homeware, clothing and art, It also had an incredible section dedicated to paper, journals, cards and gift wrap. A place I could spend hours in! We wandered down the main cobbled high streets dipping in and out of more shops and had a quick snack at a busy cafe. Now not far from the water front, we decided to make our way down, however it was heavily raining and getting dark, and did I mention, freezing?! We headed for the harbour and were met by a lovely, moody view of the sea, big wooded ships in dock, grey skies ahead. We took a few snaps before hurriedly rushing to a bar in search of cold beers. We found a place with blankets, heat lamps and an open fire outside where we could watch the rain on the sea and the rush hour of the city pass us by. We played more cards, drank our beers and relished in the hygge of it all. Our food stop that night was a delicious pizza place I found on TripAdvisor, not far from the arena. We got in straight away and ordered great food, I had pasta and the others got pizza. Still expensive at around £20 per meal, but Mamma Pizza was the best food of the trip. We all loved the gig and got home late, after what was a fun day in Oslo!
Josh and Kara had to leave early, giving us an extra day and night. We woke up late, and headed to the bakery for food. We ate the most delicious Chocolatey, cinnamon buns alongside lattes and planned the day. We toyed with heading downtown to the Viking ship museum but unfortunately Ed was beginning to feel under the weather and so we decided to keep it simple. We spent the morning in our lovely neighbourhood again, bought dinner supplies and walked home. After a chilled afternoon in we cooked at home and headed out for a hot chocolate and more cards. Thankfully the neighbourhood we stayed in was so lovely we easily found some cosy places for drink. Another spot with heated lamps and blankets, we sat outside with our steaming mugs and relished our last night.
Our experience of Oslo was lovely and pretty quiet. We all deliberately opted for a slow and simple trip rather than packing the 3 days full of activity. We could have seen a whole lot more, the Viking ship museum, boat trips, local scenery and other neighbourhoods, but money being tight and the gig being our main event we enjoyed a quiet few days. I would definitely love to see more of Norway, and Oslo was a lovely introduction. My main take aways
It is a quiet city with not a huge amount to do, this suited us but may not be a typical city break place
It’s incredibly expensive and not a cheap option even for just a few days
It certainly does not feel like a capital city, it felt safe, homely and local which I liked
It’s very attractive with the harbour, wide cobbled streets, squares, pastel coloured buildings and lovely architecture
Travel to and from the airport is very easy from the main train station in the city centre. I think it was about £20 per person.
Travel by bus is also very easy which we only did on our last day but far cheaper than an Uber, you can get an app on your phone for tickets
Our flights were less than £50 return from London through Ryanair
We got an Airbnb staying in the neighbourhood Sagene which was lovely and peaceful but still close to good food and shops, as well as lots of bus links into the downtown area.
The apartment cost us £211 this was for 4 people for 3 nights
We would all recommend Tim Wendelboe for speciality coffee in Sagne
Mamma Pizza for great Italian in downtown Oslo
Self catered definitely works out cheaper
Try any of the delicious pastries from local bakeries
Have you been to Oslo? Or hoping to go? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or drop me an email.