Experience Downtown Oslo Like a Local

Olaug Marie Baade Aamlid and her friend eating street food at SALT. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.

Downtown Oslo is small, compact and walkable. Home to many of Oslo's best known landmarks, like the Opera House and the Royal Palace, the city centre is also dotted with hidden gems popular with Norwegians and internationals alike. 

We asked Olaug Marie Baade Aaamlid to take us to some of her favourite spots in central Oslo. All of the stops listed below are within walking or biking distance from OsloMet's Pilestredet campus. 

Olaug Marie Baade Aamlid foran Folketeater-bygningen på Youngstorget.

"Coming from a small and quiet village in the western part of the country, I love the buzz and range of activities the centre has to offer," the 22-year-old tells us. "Everything is within walking distance and there’s always something to do." 

Want to experience life in Oslo?

Every year, OsloMet welcomes hundreds of international students from all corners of the globe.

Whether you pursue a master’s degree, a PhD or spend a semester on exchange, you can look forward to a high-quality education at a modern university located in the centre of Oslo.

Explore study opportunities at OsloMet

SALT is the perfect place to get that summer feeling. – Olaug Marie Baade Aamlid
Olaug and her friend walk beneath art hanging from the roof of Salt. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.

Art, street food and a sauna

Oslo is a maritime city, so it's fitting that our first stop is right by the fjord. If you’re looking for some street food, a quick dip in the Oslo Fjord or some relaxing hours in a hammock, SALT Art & Music is definitely worth a visit.

This colourful menagerie of wooden structures is a nomadic art project that got its start in arctic Norway. For the past few years, SALT has made a home for itself on a dock across from the Opera House, a short bike ride from campus. 

The dining area at Salt by the waterfront with a large ferry docked next to it. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.

"SALT is the perfect place to get that summer feeling. It almost feels like you’re on a holiday in a different country. This is my go-to place to get a break from reading for class when the temperature goes up," says Olaug, who is working on her bachelor's in media studies. 

During the summer, SALT offers a range of concerts and art exhibitions, with the massive triangular sauna being one of the most popular attractions. After working up a serious sweat, a refreshing dip in the Oslo Fjord is only steps away. 

Minigolf with friends or a date

There are many great places for a first date in Oslo, but if you’re looking to test the competitiveness of your potential partner, consider heading to Oslo Camping. 

Located on up-and-coming Møllergata, Oslo Camping is Oslo's most popular indoor minigolf course. The two-story 18 hole extravaganza will put your putting skills to the test, with the added bonus of delicious pizza made on course. This place fills up quickly on the weekends, but if there's a wait when you arrive, you can always grab a beer at the bar.

Minigolf in action. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward. Assorted vintage camping equipment at Oslo Camping. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward. Olaug Marie Baade Aaamlid and her friend laughing in a photo box. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward,

A hub for nightlife and political demonstrations

Just a few minutes' walk from Oslo Camping you’ll find Youngstorget. This big, open plaza is known around the country as the site of political demonstrations and outdoor markets, but is also home to some of Oslo's coolest student-friendly restaurants, bars and cafés. 

Overview of Youngstorget with market stalls and food trucks. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.
I often use the fountain on Youngstorget as a meeting spot before an evening out, since there are so many cool places to get food or a drink nearby. – Olaug Marie Baade Aaamlid
Olaug in front of the large fountain at Youngstorget. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.

Get your culture fix

Want to experience the theatre, a musical or some standup comedy while you're here? Olaug's top spot for getting her culture fix is Folketeateret, or "The People's Theatre," located just off Youngstorget. While many performances are held in Norwegian, this cultural hub attracts a growing number of international performers. 

Coming from a small, quiet village in the western part of the country, I love the buzz and range of activities downtown Oslo has to offer. – Olaug Marie Baade Aaamlid
Olaug and her friend posing with a large statue of Kate Moss outside Folketeateret. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.

Have a drink in a welcoming atmosphere

As one of the most LGBTQIA+ friendly cities in the world, finding a welcoming place in Oslo to have a coffee or a beer is not hard. Two of the bars most popular with the LGBTQIA+ community, «Elsker» and «London», are located on the same block.

"Both Elsker and London offer a warm, inclusive atmosphere where you’re free to be yourself 100 percent," Olaug tells us. "If you come from a country where being gay isn’t accepted, I’m sure these bars will feel like a free place for you."

Throughout the year, both bars feature special events like drag evenings and parties during Eurovision, with the obvious highlight of the year being Pride Month. And it goes without saying that you don’t have to be gay to go to a gay bar. 

"Many of my straight friends have joined me for an evening out at Elsker or London, and they’ve had the time of their life. Everyone is welcome!"

Olaug and her friend sitting in the lounge at London Bar. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward. Rainbow flags and the Norwegian flag at London Bar. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.

Dress like a Scandinavian

Want to shop sustainably and add some local touches to your wardrobe? Olaug's go-to spot to shop secondhand is Fretex. The shop on Universitetsgata is packed with good quality secondhand clothes and accessories at affordable prices. If nothing catches your eye or you can't find your size, you can try your luck at one of the other five locations in the city. Fretex is owned by The Salvation Army, so the money you spend on clothes benefits people in need. 

The entrance to Fretex in Universitetsgata. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward. Olaug at Fretex. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.

Support your local independent bookstore

Just up the street from Fretex is our final stop, the iconic Tronsmo bookstore. While Oslo has no shortage of chain bookstores, Tronsmo is one of the few independent ones. This book lover's oasis features a carefully curated selection of literature and non-fiction in English, Norwegian and other languages, as well as comics, graphic novels, art books, posters and unique gifts.

"I love the fact that Tronsmo is not a chain bookstore," says Olaug. "It’s such a relaxing and aesthetically pleasing place to spent some time. Considering it's located less than a ten-minute walk from OsloMet’s downtown campus, Campus Pilestredet, it’s a wonderful place to stop by on your way home after class."

Olaug browsing for books at Tronsmo. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward. The entrance at Tronsmo. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward. The staircase and upper floor of Tronsmo. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.

Read more about life in Oslo

Simen walking through the park called Idioten. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

Urban Comforts and Green Retreats in St. Hanshaugen

This popular neighbourhood near OsloMet has it all—independent shops and restaurants, narrow, colourful streets and plenty of green space.

Three students walking along a quiet street with small wooden houses. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward.

Want to Enrich Your Stay in Oslo? Learn Norwegian!

By learning some Norwegian, you’ll become more integrated into Norway’s culture and begin to discover Oslo in a whole new way.

Julia sitting in front of a graffiti art wall.

Oslo Has the Perfect Mix of City and Nature

“In Oslo you can go hiking in the woods during the day and go out partying in the evening, ” says Julia, an exchange student from Germany.