The mix of urban and natural landscapes is what gives Oslo its charm, other than its distinct cleanliness — something you will notice from the moment you arrive. For one, there’s the Flytoget train that takes you on a one-stop journey through the idyllic rural surroundings, stopping right on time at Oslo S — (which could stand for Seamless). The city centre is alive without being overcrowded, and you’ll note that the air feels immediately fresh and unpolluted.
Other than its reputation as a stylish metropolis brimming with innovative rooftop restaurants and sleek bars, Oslo also happens to be the European Green Capital in 2019. The city’s approach to sustainability means that it has benefitted from a number of redevelopment projects and the chance to conserve its natural areas. Urban projects, including Losæter, a large city community garden, have been put in place to reduce Oslo’s carbon footprint. One of the most congested motorways in the capital was recently replaced by the prestigious Opera House as well as a brand new set of squeaky clean walkways for walking and cycling.
These alternative sustainable methods have been implemented into daily tasks and activities, from culture to transport. Whether you fancy a glamorous bottomless brunch or a soothing swim along the Oslo Fjord, this city’s got both.
1. Floating Saunas
Located right across from the Opera House, Kok Oslo offers relaxing, wood-fired saunas and refreshing ice baths in the inner Oslo Fjord all year round (except July). The water was relatively cold but can get up to 24°C in the summer months. It’s the ultimate ‘detox moment’ being able to sit back and enjoy the fjord view in a noise-free environment owed to the electric engines and solar panelled roofs. Unless you fancy popping on some soft acoustic sounds whilst staring out contemplatively across the water, then this is also an option. Further along the promenade is SALT, an experimental sauna experience involving music and intriguing art installations that might send you into a state of deep thought (in a floral bikini).
2. Rooftop beehives at Scandic Vulkan
Though there’s an abundance of suave rooftop bars sprawled out all around Oslo, there’s another rooftop trend in town — one that can be dubbed the ultimate “when in Oslo” moment. Turns out urban beekeeping is a huge deal in Norway’s capital, taking place out of plain sight on the tops of various “green” rooftops to protect endangered bees. This is a must-see if you want to try something completely out of the ordinary and witness Oslo’s spectacular green initiatives occur right before your eyes.
3. Food and culture at Vulkan
The Vulkan area was recently redeveloped to combine sustainability and culture. Dance theatres, cafés, shiny food halls and some of the best parties abound in this area. It’s the British equivalent of pub gardens, but sleeker and more pristine whilst still being urban and cool. The innovative architecture gives off a warehouse vibe similar to Bushwick (Brooklyn, NY), with the added bonus of sustainable features, including an extensive solar water heating system. Casual beehives, designed by Snøhetta architects, can also be seen perched above and beyond this exciting eco playground. Stop for a late lunch at Vulkan Fisk inside Mathallen food for the tastiest salmon in town, before heading over to Radegast Wine Bar situated across the river for a sophisticated rendez-vous.
4. Vigeland 150th Anniversary
The Vigeland park is monumental, adorned abundant flowers beds and symmetrical trees that could be artificial clones of one another they’re so alike. 212 nude sculptures are dotted around the park in celebration of the 150th anniversary of sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Some sculptures, like The Monolith, an erect entanglement of male and female bodies, are so large you can’t help but stare in awe at their magnitude. It’s possible to delve deeper into the world of Vigeland’s artistry at the Vigeland Museum which will be exhibiting his work until the 25th September 2019.
5. Nordmarka Forest
It’s alien to think that a tram journey can transport you out of the city and into vast areas of untouched nature within minutes. Other than being surrounded by mountains and the sea, Oslo is also encircled by woodland and large lakes that stretch far beyond your eye’s reach. This otherworldly aspect to the capital is enough to make you fall back in love with the regular bustle of most urban landscapes, letting you swap shopping trips for a swim, and the stuffy gym for a refreshing hike.