Celebrating my 40th birthday in Oslo

23rd March 2018

I’m just going to come straight out and say it, we had a fantastic time in Oslo last weekend celebrating my 40th birthday.

I didn’t want this post to be just the usual list of what to see, do or eat when spending 48 hours or so in a new city. For one, far better bloggers than me have already done this, and secondly, we travelled with our two year old son which rather limits how much you can realistically achieve and take blog-worthy photos of!

That said, I did want to share our amazing experience and hopefully give you a feel for a city we will certainly be heading back to as soon as we can.

1. A warm welcome

The temperature gauge may have been at -19 but we couldn’t have received a warmer welcome. My husband and I spoke to so many locals on this trip and each and every one of them was super helpful and friendly.

Maybe it was the iconic waterfront, the exciting redevelopments taking place or the local lapskaus, but we felt Oslo had a very similar atmosphere to our home city of Liverpool.

2. When nature calls

I’ve lost count of how many well-known Scandinavian brands refer to be being influenced by the Nordic landscape; but this trip has really brought home to me what an integral part of life it must be in Norway.

The views flying into Oslo were simply breath-taking, especially with everything covered in a thick layer of crisp white snow. From the early morning mist on the surface of the icy fjord and the lush green forest that hugs the city, through to seeing locals buying a pint of milk with skis in hand; these are all are memories that will stay with me for a very long time.

3. The best street food market in Scandinavia

Controversial I know, especially given how much we adored Copenhagen Street Food, but the Mathallen Food Hall was fantastic.

With 30 shops, cafes and eateries, even the fussiest eater amongst us found something delicious to try. Also there are lots of sofas and seating areas to relax or nap on.

If you are travelling with a small person, the changing facilities are also great here and there is a lovely playground just over the footbridge opposite the main entrance too.

4. An architectural feast for the eyes

We stayed in the eastern area of Bjorvika which has been completely transformed from its former life as a container port. Sorenga, and the whole Barcode Project is such a visually exciting place.

It’s also a stone’s throw from the iconic Opera House designed by the renowned Norwegian firm Snohetta (they also designed the interior of the Oslo Aesop store) and the creative hub of the city, Grunerlokka.

In contrast to that, the Westside of the city has tree lined promenades and the Royal Palace. Plus there’s the 17th century Cathedral and the art deco City Hall.

5. More accessible than you think

When doing my pre-holiday prep I read a lot about how expensive Oslo was to visit but we’ve actually been pleasantly surprised.

I may have popped into one or two of my favourite stores, but found the prices comparable to Copenhagen. Alcohol wasn’t cheap, I bought my birthday fizz in duty free, but as a heads up, you can’t actually buy any booze from a store after 6pm on a Saturday or all day Sunday.

Public transport on the other hand is less than half the price of Copenhagen. Like the Danish capital, the buses, trams and trains are all super-efficient and easy to navigate. All you need to do is download the RuterBillett app and hop on and off all day.

A few of my favourite reads if you’re planning a trip to Oslo …

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