In late August 2018 my brother Dan and I came to stay in Oslo for a couple of nights. We’d both been to the capital several times before (we are half Norwegian on our mum’s side) but it had been more than ten years since our last visit, so we were eager to see what had changed.
On our second morning we walked from our AirBnB in Grünerløkka to the Sentrum, the city centre area west of the train station, which takes in both castles and the waterfront. Our route took us past the Peer Gynt statues on Ankerbrua bridge and down Torggata, a famous downtown pedestrian street that has undergone a revival of late. Map of Oslo here, map of the Sentrum here.
First stop was Cafe Sør at 11 Torggata where I breakfasted on an open sandwich of ‘rokt laks’ (smoked salmon) with ‘kremost’ (cream cheese), capers, spinach and guacamole on wholemeal bread with a cup of orange pekoe tea which was top notch (all A) if slightly expensive at 135nkr, or about £13 at the time (London prices for us). But hey, man cannot live on hotdogs alone.
There are a few impressive buildings in Sentrum.
But the most impressive is the new Opera House at Kirsten Flagstads Plass down on the waterfront. The award winning building was completed in 2007, ahead of schedule and under budget which seems an amazing acheivement in itself. In the first year of operation, it was visited by 1.3 million people, which is a lot when you consider that Oslo’s population is just under 700,000.
The roof is angled down to pavement level, which allows pedestrians to walk up to the top. Video here.
From the roof you get excellent views out over the city, the Oslo fjord and the hills around. You can even see Holmenkollen, the legendary ski jump, on top one of the hills. Video here.
The imposing block opposite is Havnelageret, a commercial building that’s home to the Dagladet newspaper and the source archive of the Norwegian Intelligence Service.
The opera house is also very impressive inside. I’d love to see the auditorium .
The area is still a major construction zone with many new buildings springing up around the opera. Not surprising as Oslo is Europe’s fastest growing capital with its population projected to grow to around 800,000 by 2030.
If you’re interested in older architecture, I can recommend the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History which is right next door to the Viking Ship Museum (also worth a visit) out on Bygdøy. It’s an open musuem showing classic examples of timber buildings (including a traditional stavekirke, or stave church) that have been collected from all over Norway and reassembled here. The Munch Museum in Sofienberg is also worth a visit to see their version of the famous painting ‘Skriket’ aka ‘The Scream’.
I wish we’d had more time but work in Spain was beckoning…