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Dwarfed by the trendy European cities of Copenhagen, Berlin and Paris, Norway’s capital city has been snubbed as Scandinavia’s most forgettable location. However, a cash injection over the past few years has helped pull the city away from its staid chains.
Reinventing a city is difficult, but new architectural projects such as Oslo’s futuristic Opera House and the regeneration of Bjorvika with the Barcode Project has given Fjord City a contemporary edge. Run-down neighbourhoods have been given much needed TLC and there is now a modern and creative edge to the city.
Young Osloites who are used to a more traditional Nordic lifestyle have whole heartedly embraced the change, with many seeking new opportunities to run their own vintage clothing stores, restaurants, and bars. Oslo is becoming trendy and it is set to take on other European cities as a destination for hip 20-somethings.
Located on the banks of the Akerselva River, Vulkan was once a Norwegian industrial centre. After being somewhat left to ruin, a regeneration project has seen the urban area given a new lease of life. Old factories and engineering units have been reinvented as apartments, offices and hotels.
A real draw for many is Mathallen; a humungous indoor food market filled with thirty stalls. Many who work in the area head to Mathallen for lunch. You can get your hands on traditional Nordic food to Asian street cuisine.
If you are a complete foodie, you could not head to popular Vulkan without a trip to the premier Restaurant Kontrast. The minimalist industrial space has a Michelin star and you will definitely need to book in advance to have any chance of securing a seat. The chefs at Kontrast are experimental, using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients in unique ways.
Nestled between Grunerlokka and the centre of Oslo is Yonstorget – the old city square. Like Vulkan, this area has been regenerated and is rich with cultural venues, bars and clubs which have become highlights of Oslo for the younger generation.
A hit with many is Kultuhuset. It is known as a ‘culture house’ and is spread across four storeys of an old building. It is a space to enjoy gigs, theatre and art exhibitions, but also has a popular bar. Despite having only settled in Oslo in 2017, the interactive venue is considered a landmark of the area.
If your perfect night out is live music followed by drinks, most gravitate to Café Mono, which is where some fantastic bands play. The night then carries on at Oslo Camping; a bar where you can play a round of mini-golf with your drinks. However, if you prefer to sit and relax with friends, Den Gamle Skobutikeen serves up some killer cocktails, as does renowned distiller HIMKOK.
Known as ‘Lokka by the locals, Grunerlokka was once nothing more than a solid working class residential area. However, like most post-industrial areas it has been adopted by creatives and is now Oslo’s trendiest region. It has it all; culture, nightlife, restaurants and shopping.
Dining out in ‘Lokka is not cheap, but there are places to indulge in a more affordable meal. Nighthawk Diner is a burger joint named after the Edward Hopper painting. The authentic 50s diner serves up burgers, shakes and hotdogs whilst the eras musical gifts play from the jukebox. Munchies is another burger restaurant and many head here to soak up any alcohol from a night out. The menu is simple, just point at one of six burgers (and a burger of the month) and take a seat.
If you do have the budget for a more refined dining experience, Norwegian comfort food such as lamb shank or meatballs are served up at Maekveinen Mat & Vinhus. For French bistro dishes such as fondue or cassoulet, nowhere does it better than Le Benjamin, Keeping it strictly European, Villa Paradiso is the place for sumptuous Italian pizzas.
When it comes to shopping, Grunerlokka is all about vintage clothes, antiques and bicycles. Streets such as Markveien and Thorvald Meyers are best for independent stores such as Velouria Vintage and Robot. Fransk Bazaar is owned by a French expat and is an Aladdin’s cave of antiques and quirky design pieces for the home.
If gems of times gone past are not to our taste, there are plenty of modern shops in ‘Lokka too. Ensemble is a very popular store for women, whereas the very hipster Dapper is a clothing store, come bike shop, come barbers.
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