Discovering Oslo’s hidden gems

As one of Europe’s fastest growing capitals, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for independent businesses to carve out a niche in Oslo. But those that do, truly offer something of the unique. To help you get the most out of your Oslo holiday, we’ve handpicked the best cafés, rooftop bars and art galleries. Enjoy craft roasts in coffee houses that showcase mid-century design, nurse a cocktail to views across the city or cool off with a drink in an art gallery entirely constructed from ice.


Dating back to the 1960s, this art-house favourite is part artisan coffee shop, part trendy bar and all design classics. By day, baristas treat the humble brew as a Michelin-starred art with beans sourced from Norway’s best roasteries and tea leaves from across Asia. Then, come the evening, the same attention to detail is applied to mixologist-created cocktails with the venue converted into a speakeasy bar complete with vintage vinyl. Every ingredient from syrups and juices to spices and fruits is sourced fresh while seasonal wines and craft beers round off the drinks menu. However, it’s the design concept that truly marks Fuglen apart. Everything is for sale – the chair you’re sitting on, the table you’re balancing your dink on and that classic lamp in the corner. And, with a focus on fifties and sixties second hand design masterpieces, you won’t be disappointed.

Here are our top picks for classic interior design items to bring back from Scandinavia.


This rooftop bar cum restaurant is among Oslo’s finest. Set on the 12th floor of a folk theatre – itself the result of a 1935 architectural competition – Stratos commands views that are shepherded by Oslo’s mountain ring, out across the city to the vast waters of the Oslofjorden beyond. Expect ice-cold beers, bar snacks, yummy cocktails and open-air barbecues. And, at night, DJ-led entertainment gives starts to local hopefuls and sees international stars test out new material. The downside? It’s only open over the oh-so-ephemeral Norwegian summer – from June to August.

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Magic Ice

Tucked away just off Oslo’s main street, Karl Johans Gate, this innovative offering gives you a taste of northern Scandinavian’s famed ice hotels. Magic Ice is a veritable gallery of sculptures, exhibits and, if you’ll pardon the pun, friezes, constructed entirely from glassy ice and lit by ethereal blues and dramatic reds. Even the walls are formed from sub-zero blocks. Watch as macabre themes such as childhood tragedy and unrequited love are explored in this unique medium as you enjoy drink from the ice bar, served, of course, in an ice glass.

Café Mono

Mono – as it’s affectionately termed – has been Oslo’s go-to venue for intimate live music, literary events and political debate since 2001. Designed to connect the audience with the performance, artists are staged just a few feet away from you as feel-good vibes are the order of the day. Check ahead for listings with country, electronica and jazz all represented. Alternatively, simply soak up the atmosphere with a couple of local beers or tuck in some gourmet food. The vegetarian selection is especially good.

Discover the best of Norwegian food in our next post.

The Thief

Now that you’ve worked out where to go, for an independent Oslo, The Thief makes it easy to choose where to say. Set the tone with an iPad check-in as this contemporary classic combines modern art sensibilities with a selection of boutique amenities. Whether you’re sipping on a gourmet cocktail on the rooftop bar, enjoying degustation menus inspired by the best in Scandinavian cuisine or relaxing in the lounge to the strains of a live jazz band, your stay is going to be anything but ordinary. And, when you’ve had your fill, retire to the balcony of your chic room for views over its fashionably reclaimed dockland setting and out to the vast waters of Oslofjorden. Alternatively, take some time out with its carefully curated art gallery or in its superb spa.

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