Article updated on October 21, 2021
Text: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen
Photographs: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen
The off the beaten path Akerselva River
Past the ultramodern Bar Code architectural project, and a few streets in the vibrant Grønland district, reach the Akerselva River to walk its banks and explore the industrial past of Oslo. This stream used to provide power to the factories of the capital long before Oslo became one of the wealthiest cities on the planet: back then blue collars struggled to make a living to feed their families and child labour was common. Today, this bucolic path is a local’s favourite with a few bars, restaurants, art schools, and alternative galleries popping along it, and the famous Mathallen food market (you may want to grab a bite and buy a few things for this evening’s pick nick). This scenic path along the Akerselva River is also a great run if you feel sporty.
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The Oslo Opera House
Whether you are a lyric arts fan or an architecture enthusiast, you will greatly enjoy a behind the scenes visit of the stunning and ultramodern Oslo Opera House, the most famous landmark of the city.
Pop in one of the great museums around Aker Brygge
Go museum hopping in the city hall and Aker Brygge area. Whatever your centres of interest are, you will find something to your taste:
- the Nobel Peace Center with its temporary exhibits focusing on the year’s laureate,
- the National Gallery (Nasjonalgalleriet) with maybe the most famous Norwegian painting – the scream – and other must-sees,
- the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art with its provoking art and beautiful architecture,
- or even the city hall (Rådhuset) with Munch’s painting Life as well as motifs from Norwegian history, culture and working life by other in Norwegian artists from 1900 until 1950, such as the Telemark sculptor Anne Grimdalen.
Enjoy the sunset and some drinks & food on an island on the Oslo Fjord
As you are close to the ferry terminal in Aker Brygge, take a boat for some island hopping. Get off as you please to explore and make sure to visit Gressholmen Island. Then either wander on a quiet hiking trail in the forest and find a pick nick spot with an unbeatable view, or just order food and drinks at Gressholmen Kro to take in the relaxed atmosphere and grasp the Oslo Fjord from the seaside, only a short boat ride away from the heart of the capital.
Don’t forget to check the timetable for the boats to not get stuck on the island at night!
As mentioned, the Akerselva River is a good option and you can decide when to turn back and your specific mileage. However, if you feel really sporty and want to explore Oslo further, we have another great running route for you taking you through the landmarks of Oslo, along the fjord, all the way to the Vigeland Park and back via the Royal Castle. Just download the track on the interactive map below.
Indulge your sweet tooth for breakfast
After this run or sleeping in, nothing beats a kanelbullar (cinamon roll) and a coffee, best enjoyed on a terrace.
Mixing nature and food for your brain
Now that you are fuelled up, it is time to hop in the tram and go to the excellent Munch museum by the university botanical garden or the ski museum with its expansive views on the Oslo Fjord or take the ferry to stroll through the Norwegian past at the open air museum.
Relax at Aker Brygge
Grab a drink and sit at a trendy terrace at Aker Brygge overviewing the fortified Akerhus Castle and watch locals showing off on their powerful speedboats.
If you are in luck or have planned for it, catch an opera or ballet at the Oslo Opera House. It is the best way to enjoy its fantastic acoustics. The recesses by the Oslo Fjord with a glass of champagne have something very special too.
The nearby Østbanehallen food court is a good place to catch a late night dinner.
If you feel less lyrical, the Elias mat and sånt restaurant is a great way to discover Norwegian gastronomy, either from the sea or from the land with a tempting menu of organic favourites.
- The Oslo Pass allows you to explore all of these museums for free, including transport, even by ferry!
- To make it easy for you to explore Oslo, here is our interactive map, downloadable for free showing places to eat, drink, run and visit, from must-see cultural visits to low-key and off the beaten path spots. Zoom in on the area of interest, and check out the black pins: each of them corresponds to an article.
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