Come to Oslo to pay homage to Edvard Munch and Henrik Ibsen, the city’s two most famous sons, by all means. But don’t leave without discovering something of its contemporary cultural life too. Explore one of its many museums, get to know its booming contemporary-art scene at one of its commercial galleries or just marvel at the work of its architects. You can also walk the neighbourhoods that may already be familiar via the works of Karl Ove Knausgård, whose autobiographical novel series Min Kamp are set here, along with the mean streets of Norwegian-noir crime writers Jo Nesbø and Anne Holt.
Oslo’s skyline might be crowded by cranes but this rapidly growing urban metropolis is also one of the world’s most overwhelmingly green cities. It has earned the honour of being named European Green Capital for 2019, via one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, excellent and well-patronised public transport, city planning that puts pedestrians first, and a real commitment to sustainable food production and green space. The city is blessed with a large number of bucolic parks, and the Oslofjord’s waterways and islands are just minutes away from the centre, as are the ski slopes and forests of Nordmarka.
Once known only for hot dogs and high prices, Oslo’s culinary scene is currently enjoying a Neo Nordic moment in the sun, and has become a culinary destination in its own right. This delicious change takes in everything from the most northern three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the world (Maaemo) to its deservedly hyped neighbourhood coffee scene to fabulous fusion (Icelandic-Korean is the hottest ticket in town) to the celebration of traditional favourites such as peel-and-eat shrimp, and, yes, even polse (hot dogs). The city also has a penchant for sushi and pizza, both of which can now compete on the world stage.
Has Oslo become Scandinavia’s late-night party hot spot? Wander Møllegata on a, well, Wednesday and you might be convinced it is. Whether it’s working your way through a list of the latest natural wine from Burgenland or Sicily, getting your hands in the air with local DJ acts such as Lindstøm and Prins Thomas or an international indie band, drinking a local beer over a game of shuffleboard or sipping cocktails made from foraged spruce or Arctic seaweed, you’ll notice that, with a grungier, wilder, realer edge than Copenhagen or Stockholm, this is certainly a city that knows how to have fun.