Oslo is the smallest of the three Scandinavian capitals, but it has a lot to offer. Its most striking feature is probably the fact that it's in the middle of a fjord and surrounded by beautiful green countryside, but you can also find art, modern Scandinavian design (the design industry in Norway is booming), eat the new Nordic cuisine and be seduced by the informal and easy going atmosphere.
Watch The City Wake Up
I love to start my mornings at the Ekeberg restaurant. It doesn’t open until 11am, but watching the city wake up from this vantage point is pretty spectacular. So bring your own "matpakke" and enjoy the view (don't forget your camera!). I drive past this place on my way to work every morning, and often I have to stop my car and take five minutes to enjoy the view and snap some pics. Well worth it! Behind the restaurant, is a popular small forest which is actually a sculpture park, with the works of both national and international artists.
From Ekeberg, I would continue to the Botanical Gardens at Tøyen, about a 10 minute drive away, or 15 minutes by public transport. The gardens offer a huge range of beautiful greenery, and I especially love their collection of Ginkgo balboa trees and the Victoria House, a green house built in 1876 especially for the Victoria lily.
Where To Eat
One of the most exciting things happening with Norwegian cuisine these days is the combination of traditional and local produce, heritage and history, but with a modern and sophisticated twist. The most famous restaurant is definitely Maaemo with its two Michelin stars, and of you're a foodie, you must go there. I have to warn you, it is crazy expensive, but according to some, well worth it. My favorite place, Palmen, is a little more reasonably priced, has a fantastic atmosphere, and is a hidden gem in one of Norway's most interesting hotels, The Grand Hotel Oslo. Fantastic food, beautiful and serene surroundings and friendly staff ensure a great experience.
What To Do
From the Grand Hotel Oslo's Palmen restaurant, I stroll down to Aker Brygge to get close to the fjord. You can sit down on one of the dozens of orange benches (and daybeds!) dotted around the area, and enjoy the fantastic view, either towards the Akershus Fortress, or the smaller islands. Watch the ferries slowly pass, watch the people, have an ice cream, and just enjoy life. The benches are designed by Norwegian designers Lars Tornøe and Atle Tveit for Vestre and are a beautiful contrast against the modern and mundane architecture. If you have time, I highly recommend that you go island hopping, which can be fun both during winter and summer.
The National Gallery has a great permanent exhibit with a really interesting approach to the colours on the gallery walls (not a single white wall, and lots of bright choices, that does wonders for the art), and its current exhibition Dahl and Friedrich. Romantic Landscapes is absolutely stunning.
Where to stay
The Grand Hotel Oslo is my favorite hotel in the city (I have collaborated with them several times) and it's not only perfect for visitors from abroad, it's also a perfect spot for a staycation as it’s located in the centre of Oslo. The Mikado suite is a project I did back in 2013 and the goal was to showcase Norwegian design, and a Norwegian use of colour in historical and "grand" surroundings. The suite is filled with designs by Andreas Engesvik, Magnus Pettersen, Norway Says, Vibeke Skar and Wik & Walsøe.
Where to shop
Oslo is pretty much like any other capital when it comes to shopping, but smaller in size. However, if you are interested in Scandinavian design, there are some places you should visit:
Norway Designs - a combination of Norwegian and Scandinavian design, that supports younger designers
Pur Norsk - Norwegian design only
A. Huseby - Norwegian and Scandinavian furniture
Kollekted by - A small curated shop by super stylists Kråkvik & D'Orazio, focusing on tradition, design and craftsmanship with a modern and chic approach.
Article written by Dagny Thurman-Hoelseth taken from the December 2014 issue of Heart Home magazine.
Dagny Thurman-Hoelseth is one of Norway’s most popular independent colour experts, and a well know face from magazines and TV. From 2010-2014 she worked as Creative Director for retail chain Fargerike (paint & home decor), where she managed projects like Colour of the Year, colour collections, colour trends, PR, their magazine and cross industry collaborations. She now has her own business, working with colour and trend forecasting, concept development and creative direction for different brands.