If you follow me on Social Media, you might have noticed that I went to Oslo at the end of November with my good friend, Africa. We’d been toying with the idea for a while of going on a winter European break, and after putting the dates we were free into Skyscanner, we found ourselves booking flights to Oslo’s Torp Airport for £30 return (thank you Ryanair!) The airport itself isn’t Oslo’s main one (and technically, it isn’t even the second biggest…) and is about a 1h 30 coach ride away; but when the flights to get there are so cheap and quick, it didn’t bother us at all. I’ve never really thought about going to Norway before, but the country was absolutely beautiful and the people were so friendly.
I’m not sure how much you know about Oslo, but it has a reputation as being one of the most expensive cities in the world (especially for alcohol) so we went prepared. After researching some of the cheaper places to eat in the city, so we didn’t splurge all our money on the first day, I felt as though we were well equipped for our 3 day stint. We booked Oslo Apartments through booking.com which only cost us £65 each for two nights, so already we were onto a winner. Also, after discovering at the airport that Norway isn’t in the EU, we found ourselves boarding our 7am flight with two litre bottles of alcohol to see us through for only £22. If you want my advice, you’ll do the same…
Because we went to Oslo at the end of November, we knew it was going to be cold, so I packed plenty of layers, jumpers and tights for the time we were there, which is also a little tip if you find yourself visiting in winter. After arriving in the city, we tootled off to pick up the keys to our apartment and then headed back the other way to drop off our bags via the Christmas market. The market itself was nice because it wasn’t overly big, but had enough stalls to suffice the average bratwurst need (except not us as Africa is a veggie!) as well as an ice rink, carousel and Ferris Wheel.
After dropping our bags off, we ventured back into the city to find some food and get our bearings. As our apartment was on a road just off Karl Johan’s Gate (the main shopping street) we were right in the midst of all the shops, bars and restaurants so it didn’t take us long to figure out where everything was. In order to save money, we decided to visit a local supermarket (which I’m pretty sure was called kiwi) and stocked up on bits and bobs for the next couple of days. The one thing I found quite interesting about Oslo was how clean it was as a city, even though it was quite busy: I have been to Scandinavia before (Iceland back in 2009) and I remember that being the same.
After watching the sunset and stocking up on supplies, we went back to the apartment and started getting ready whilst obviously listening to Abba (I know, wrong country, but kind of close) having a few drinks, and eating lots of random food that we’d picked up. A couple of hours later, and slightly more merry, we walked back into the town to go to the Ice Bar which had been recommended on Trip Advisor, but unfortunately Africa had forgotten her ID so they wouldn’t let us in. We stayed out for a bit, but after a 5am start, we got back to the apartment about 11pm.
The next day started with us eating strawberry yoghurt in bed, trying to find an English TV station (and failing…) before heading out to Joe and the Juice for a smoothie. Another tip… ask what is in your smoothie before you order one with ginger because your Norwegian is more than substandard… After this we went back to the markets and bought tickets to go on the wheel, but as the queue was quite long as this point, we decided to come back in the dark. I’d read on another blog that the guards change at the palace every day at 1:30pm so we went to go and watch this outside the palace in the sunshine.
One of the places we had researched that came up as not being too overpriced was a pizza parlour called Mama Pizza, which just happened to be around the corner from our apartment. We went here and shared a vegetarian special and a margarita, which were both huge and delicious. The whole meal cost us about £30 (for two drinks as well) which we thought was quite reasonable for the quality of the food. After zoning out in a pizza coma for a good 30 minutes, we went to walk up the opera house which lies on the harbour where you can see the most amazing sunset.
After a quick outfit change, which mainly involved putting on more layers so I would be able to feel my legs, we went back to the markets to have our go on the Ferris wheel. From the top, we had a great view of an ice skating performance going on below, but that did mean they stopped us at the top for a good 5 minutes. From here we took a walk into Grünerløkka, the Northern Quarter/Shoreditch version of Oslo and had an expensive, almost pint, at Brew Dog and then onto another retro bar round the corner. After we had a little buzz on, we had some of the best Mexican food I have ever tasted, at a restaurant called Mucho Mas… and Mucho food there was! We shared some nachos and dips, and I had a chicken burrito, and Africa got mushroom enchiladas. We got speaking to the owner, who happened to have relocated to Oslo from Nottingham, (small world eh?) who came over and gave us even more nachos.
Once we came out of yet another food coma, we had a walk to the Mathallen market to have a look round as it had been highly recommended. The market itself is basically a huge food hall with loads of different cuisines around the edge and upstairs, and a communal seating area in the middle. It was absolutely packed so we took ourselves on a walk back into the city, without Google maps because my phone had decided to turn itself off by this point. When we got back to the apartment we chilled and watched some stuff on the iPad… and I may have Facetimed Simba.
On the final morning, we had to pack and be out by 11 so we wandered about the city again and ended up in a cafe for a couple of hours eating delicious blueberry pastries and drinking lots of tea. After this we dropped our bags off at the apartment’s reception so we were free to explore. We went back to Grünerløkka to have a look around in the daylight and back to the market for some lunch. We found a Japanese ramen takeaway where I got a salmon terriyaki noodle box (Africa had tofu) and then went back out into the brisk winter day to have a look around the shops and bars that we didn’t see the night before.
As we still had time to kill, we thought this would be a great opportunity to go to the ice bar with ID and to kill some time before we had to get the coach. I’ve been to a few different ice bar’s in my time, and I think this one might have been my favourite, mainly because you didn’t have a time limit on how long you were in there, and because the sculptures, chairs and tables were more impressive. On our walk back to the reception, we stopped off at another bar (funnily enough, ran by another Brit) which was lovely and warm and cosy.
From here we picked up our bags and made our way to the coach station, went back to the airport and back to England. Overall, I had such a good time in Oslo, and I would definitely like to explore more of Norway and Scandinavia in general – I quite fancy Stockholm next!