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Top 10 in Oslo – attractions, restaurants, bars and shops

If you're visiting the capital of Norway then this is the things you must see, do and experience.

Norway, the land of fjords and Vikings, has a capital with 650 000 inhabitants. It’s name is Oslo, which nobody really knows what means. This somewhat tidy and small capital has boths sights and experiences that are truly worth the trip.

We give you the top 10 attractions, the top 10 restaurants, the top 10 nightlife, bars and pubs and the top 10 shops. We’re also giving you the top 10 secrets of Oslo.

Top 10 attractions Oslo

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One of the sculptures in the Vigeland park. Photo: Paul Weaver/nabilder.no

1. Vigeland Museum and park

The name of the park is actually Frognerparken with a part of it called Vigelandsparken, but it is known for the abundance of sculptures of extremely lifelike men, women and children. 200 sculptures in bronze are selfie-heaven. The museum gives you more of the art from Gustav Vigeland, but also other artists.

OSLO - MAY 18: Statues in Vigeland park in Oslo, Norway on May 18, 2012. The park covers 80 acres and features 212 bronze and granite sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland.

Statues in Vigeland park in Oslo, Norway. The park covers 80 acres and features 212 bronze and granite sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland.

Inside the park you will also find Oslo Bymuseum, which also has a public restroom. This free museum shows the history of the city.

There are three places to eat inside the park, the Kafe Vigeland by the entrance and the two places by Oslo Bymuseum which are the best – but only open during the summer: Herregårdskroen and Frognerparken Cafe. One of the best restaurants in Oslo is near the park – Nodee. Also near the park you will find the largest THX-certified cinema in the world – Colosseum. In wintertime there will be ice-skating at Frogner Stadion. You can rent skates.

Dyna Lighthouse (Norwegian: Dyna fyr) is a coastal lighthouse located on a reef south of Bygdøy, in the Oslofjord in the municipality of Oslo, Norway. It was established in 1875.

The lightouse is called Dyna Lighthouse. The lighthouse in front of Bygdøy is now used as banquet facilites.

2. Bygdøy (Bygdoy), museums and beaches

This is not one attraction, but several. It’s the large open air museum that shows historical Norwegian buildings at Norsk Folkemuseum, it’s the Fram-museum which shows the history of the Norwegian Polar Expeditions, it’s the Kon-Tiki museum that holds the raft that crossed the Pacific Ocean, the Viking Ship Museum that olds old Vikingships, The Norwegian Holocaust Centre and the Norwegian Maritime Museum. By the way, take the boat to Bygdøy from city centre (Aker Brygge) in the summertime.

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The Opera House is built upon a fake island in the Oslo fjord. The architects were Snøhetta.

3. The Opera

Well, not the Opera as inside the Opera. You can, of course, if you like opera, but what should attract you to the building is walking on the roof to get a fjordside view of Oslo. Should you start somewhere in Oslo then this would be it. The cafe inside the Opera is insanely expensive, so bring a take-away coffee from Oslo Sentralstasjon (the train station).

4. Norwegian Technical Museum

This is a huge favourite for the young ones, and is the closest thing you will come to a theme park inside of Oslo. The museum is a hugely interactive experience with everything from original planes, trains and automobiles to models of the human body and much more. Even adults will be entertained by the old phones and all of the experiences, maybe so much that the kids will be left to fend for themselves inside the different exhibitions. It’s a bit off the centre of the city and therefore sadly overlooked by many, but you can actually take the train from the centre. It takes 12 minutes. Check it out here (you want to go from “Oslo S” to “Kjelsås”). The shop inside the museum is great, the cafe not so.

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The Royal Castle behind the University. Photo GenN/nabilder.no

5. Karl Johans Gate

It’s a pedestrian shopping street like so many others, but the main interest for you as a tourist is starting at Egertorget which gives you a splendid view to the Royal Castle. Walking towards it you will pass the Stortinget (Big Thing) – the parliament of Norway. Down the street you will also pass TGI Friday’s (expensive), Hard Rock Café Oslo and other such establishments.

As a inside tip we’d recommend stopping at Paleet, one of the best shopping centre-like places in Oslo City Centre. If you like tacos you should eat at Taquiera, and if you like coffee you can buy one at Stockfleth’s which has operated as a coffee shop in Oslo since 1895. Looking down while walking you will see quotes from Henrik Ibsen in the pavement, and you will also pass the original building of the University of Oslo which now hosts the law studies (the other parts of the University is situated elsewhere).

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Aker Brygge with Oslo Rådhus (Town Hall) behind. The town hall plays popular music every hour from the belltower. Photo: Paul Weaver/nabilder.no

6. Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen

This is also an area. It starts with the Nobel Peace Center and ends with the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. In between there are posh restaurants, shops, ice-cream in the summer, a public beach, some very nice scenery and much more in what used to be an old shipyard. Any way you slice it – Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen is worth the visit.

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7. Holmenkollen

This is the ski jump you’ll see from the center of Oslo, but it also much more. In the winter you can hire a sled and have a super time going down Korketrekkeren (The Corkscrew). You can also visit the Ski Museum. If you visit the nearby Holmenkollen Park Hotell you can eat very well, especially their wonderful Sunday brunch. It’s expensive, but worth every single crown (krone). Traditional Norwegian setting and food is also available at Frognerseteren. You can take the subway from city centre.

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View over Oslo from Grefsen. Photo: Lars Flågen/nabilder.no

8. Oslomarka

This is the huge forest north of Oslo, well to be more specific it’s IN Oslo. You can start around Holmenkollen, but if we should choose – and that is probably the point of a travel guide (to choose, that is) – we’d choose to start at Grefsenkollen and Trollvann. You can take the bus up here, and there is food (and expensive beer) to be had. The lake (Trollvann means troll-lake) is beautiful, summer and winter. And if you ever wanted to walk in what feels like an enchanted forest, this is it.

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Grünerløkka is the closest thing you’ll come to the bohemian lifestyle of larger metropolitan cities, but it has been named one of the coolest places in the world by several magazines. Maybe it’s the coffee (try Wendelboe)

9. Grünerløkka og Mathallen

Hipster united over one part of Oslo, and Grünerløkka was it (don’t worry about the pronunciation, Norwegians don’t get it right either. The artsy feel of this working class-area (at least it used to be) maybe started with Edvard Munch living there. It’s not what many call gentrified with several small shops, pubs, bars, restaurants and, well, a McDonalds. You can get an excellent burger at Døgnvill Burger, and a real Italian pizza at Villa Paradiso. The coolest places change, follow the crowds – they won’t go to McDonalds. And, stop at Mathallen, a culinary heaven if there ever was one.

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The botanical gardens. Photo: GenN/nabilder.no

10. Munch and Botanisk Hage

Edvard Munch, the Scream-guy, wasn’t from Oslo. He was born in Løten, which is also famous for it’s liquer (akevitt). He grew up in Christiania (which was the name of Oslo then), and his paintings are many from parts of Oslo. The big Munch-museum maybe moved, but at the moment it’s situated right next to the Botanical Gardens of Oslo (with the Natural History Museum). Both in the eastern part of the city centre. A bit too far to walk, but the subway takes you there.

People waiting in line at the restaurant entrance

Like Spinal Tap our list goes to 11. This is number 11. The best outdoor dining – Olivia. Pizza and pasta.

Top 10 Restaurants in Oslo

There is, of course, a constant shifting debate of what is the best restaurant in Oslo. Taste is individual, but there are some restaurants that really sticks out. Instead of giving you a straight top 10-list we’ve identified restaurants based upon what kind of dining you might be after.

Best for fine dining: Statholdergaarden

Best for fish: Fjord

Best for a romantic, fun evening: Chez Colin

Best in city centre: Brasserie France 

Best for foodies: St.Lars

Best for Asian: Dinner

Best for view: Ekebergrestauranten

Best with kids: Yaya’s

Best for a cozy evening: Hos Thea

Best for the storytelling when you come home: Fauna

Busy street in Oslo, Norway

There are several places you can buy overpriced alcohol in the city centre of Oslo, but a tip is to try to get away from the places in and around Karl Johansgate.

Top 10 bars, nightclubs and pubs in Oslo

Bars, nightclubs, pubs. Some places are new, some are classic and some are just old. It changes. We’ve done the same thing here as for the restaurants. A list not in numbers, but in types of places.

Best for beer and food: Grünerløkka Brygghus

Best for drinks: Bar Boca

Best for fun: Tilt

Best for dancing: Skaugum

Best for a relaxed evening: Gaasa

Best for live music: Blå

Best for live sports: Bohemen

Best for gays and lesbians: Elsker

Best winebar: Dr. Kneipp

Best for rockers: Cafe Mono

OSLO GARDERMOEN, NORWAY - NOVEMBER 3:Duty Free Shop at Oslo Gardermoen International Airport on november 3, 2014 in Oslo. The airport has biggest passenger flow in Norway.

Maybe the greatest shopping that you’ll do in Norway will be at the duty free at the airport, but there are several great places to at least browse inside of Oslo.

Top 10 shopping Oslo

Oslo is a great city for shopping with everything from speciality shops to high-end fashion. We give you our 10 best tips for streets, places, malls and shops.

Best for high-end: Around Egertorget

On the hightes point of Karl Johan, Egertorget, you get a view of the castle. More important shoppingwise you’re only steps from Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Hermés and several other high-end brands, in addition to the upscale shopping you’ll find at Eger. It’s also convient that this smack down in the city centre, you’ll pass it any way you slice it if you visit Oslo.

Best for mall-shopping: Storo

You can go to Oslo City, placed directly by the trainstation. But the best mall for mall-like shopping, if you don’t really love crowds, is Storo. Outside of Oslo – a short train trip (30 minutes) you’ll find Sandvika Storsenter.

Best for geeks: Outland

Most of what you will find here is imported, but for a geek/nerd (you decide) it’s close to heaven anyway. Outland is also nicely situated near Karl Johan.

Best for souvenirs: Husfliden

This shop opened in 1891, and sells really traditional Norwegian… well, stuff. Den Norske Husfliden is worth a visit. By the way, right next door you can eat traditional Norwegian food at Kaffistova.

Best for toys: Riktige Leker

This toyshop is – translated directly – Correct Toys. It is a quality toy shop with something for every age. Riktige Leker opened in 1946.

Best for fashion: YME

If a shop could be called cool this would be it. Sort of like a trendy Urban Outfitters. YME is really worth just to check out.

Best for wine: Vinmonopolet

Trick. I’s the only place you CAN buy wine. Beer (up to 4,8%) is sold in grocery shops, but not wine. Or Liquer. There is several branches of Vinmonopolet in Oslo.

Best for outdoor: Stormberg

Cheap quality. CSR is great (they really care about you, the enviroment and the world). For people of all sizes and ages. This brand has a large shop near the centre – Stormberg should be one of your visits for shopping in Norway and Oslo.

Best for vintage: Grünerløkka

There are a lot of vintageshops around Grünerløkka, everything from the Salvation Army and designers that remake old clothes. Velouria Vintage is the original classic of them all.

Best for just browsing: Aker Brygge

In the summertime, when living is easy there isn’t many better places to be than Aker Brygge. Several good shops and a great place to be.

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Top 10 hotels Oslo

There is of course possible to sleep outside in Oslo. At least in the summertime it can be refreshing. Well, it’s also refreshing in below zero freezing temperatures in the winter, but not something we’d recommend to anyone. We’ve looked at the 10 best hotels in Oslo. Also in categories.

Best for families: Scandic Byporten

Best for modern luxury: The Thief

Best for classic luxury: Hotel Continental

Best for bargains: Xpress Central Station

Best for tranquility: Hotel Gabelshus

Best for view: Holmenkollen Park Hotel

Best for ease-of-travelling: Hotel Royal Christiania

Best for young: Scandic Vulkan

Best for apartments: Bjørvika Apartments

Read: 42 things every foreigner must know about Norwegians