Urban comforts and green retreats in St. Hanshaugen

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

St. Hanshaugen—Sahnkt Hahns-how-en, as it's pronounced in Norwegian, offers the best of both worlds.

You can spend hours wandering the narrow residential streets and stopping in cute, locally-owned shops in the main commercial district. Or you can escape to one of several parks, where you’ll find tranquility, stunning views of the city, and endless opportunities for people-watching.

St. Hanshaugen begins immediately east of OsloMet’s downtown campus, Campus Pilestredet.

Whether you're considering moving to this part of town or you just want to get a feel for the area around campus, OsloMet student Simen has put together a little tour of some of his favourite neighbourhood spots.

Simen surrounded by trees on a quiet street. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Simen walking along a wooded fence and trees. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

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A morning jog

Oslo is a very jogger-friendly city. There is relatively little car traffic and no shortage of jogging trails. One especially scenic place to head on your morning run is called Idioten. This patch of green is popular among joggers and dog-walkers—nearly all of whom, we’re happy to report, clean up after their dogs.

The hill at the top of the park offers views of the surrounding neighbourhood and the mountains in the distance.

Pro tip: Idioten is one of the best spots in this part of town to catch the sunset.

Dogs playing at Idioten park. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Steep green hills and blue skies at Idioten park. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Beautiful old house covered in ivy next to Idioten park. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

A corner café

On mornings when he doesn’t have class, Simen heads to his favourite café, Åpent bakeri. This coffeeshop is perfect for getting some reading done over a cup of coffee and a bolle, a Norwegian baked good that Simen compares to a cinnamon bun, just without the cinnamon and unnecessary sugar.

Åpent bakeri is one of several neighbourhood cafés that attract a mix of students, young professionals and retired people. The music is never too loud and the friendly staff will let you hang out as long as you like.

What really sets this particular coffeeshop apart for Simen is its corner location on a street lined with beautifully restored late 19th century buildings.

"This place has atmosphere,” Simen assures us.

A little café on the corner of an old and well-restored building. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward The interior of a café with high ceilings and tall windows. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Simen with coffee, a book and a cinnamon bun at a café. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

Cheeses, meats and pasta with an international flair

Supermarkets in Oslo are numerous and typically open until 11 in the evening. On the down side, you may find the selection a bit lacking and, well, Norwegian. 

Specialty shops, while usually more expensive than the regular supermarkets, can help you track down that specific cheese or cured meat you miss from back home.

The first thing that hits you when you enter Gutta på Haugen—The Guys in St. Hanshaugen—is the aroma of fresh food. This small but lovingly curated shop offers one of the best selections of vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses you’ll find anywhere in Oslo.

The pasta selection and the tomatoes are what keep Simen coming back, but for you it may be the familiar flavours from home that draw you in.

Simen getting a tasting sample at the bountiful counter at Gutta på Haugen. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Cured hams and aged cheese stored on shelves. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Flowers, produce and signs advertising different kinds of meat in front of Gutta på Haugen. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

Picnics and people watching

Like many students at OsloMet, Simen moved to the capital to study. A native of the small town of Kvam four hours north of Oslo, he is used to being surrounded by nature.

On days when he needs a break from the city, Simen heads for St. Hanshaugen, a sprawling park that shares a name with the surrounding neighbourhood.

St. Hanshaugen park has a laid-back vibe. It is big enough that there is plenty of space for solo parkgoers relaxing with a book and small groups sharing a bottle of wine, eating a picnic dinner or tossing a frisbee. And like other parks in Oslo, it is completely safe, free of litter and open 24/7.

While you're here, be sure to check out the view of the Oslo Fjord from the hill at the top of the park. 

People walking amongst tall trees and green lawns in the park. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Simen reading a book and eating biscuits on the green grass. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Gorgeous views of downtown Oslo and the Oslo fjord from the top of St. Hanshaugen park. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

Pizza with personality

Jungel Pizza, Simen’s go-to spot for a late lunch or dinner, combines fresh, local ingredients and student-friendly prices. This charming hole-in-the-wall attracts vegans and vegetarians from all over the city who swear by the cashew-based cheese and sour cream, fresh herbs and veggies.

Jungel’s owner, Aleksander, is part of a local food scene that has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Using herbs picked from nearby forests, vegetables from urban gardens and meats from nearby farms, Aleksander is committed to sustainability. It doesn’t hurt that the pizza he whips up tastes out-of-this-world good.

In Simen’s words, “you can tell they care about the food they make.”

A couple with a bike walk by the entrance to Jungel Pizza. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Alexander at Jungel Pizza in front of his pizza ovens. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward Simen enjoying a slice of the pizza he made. Photo: Benjamin A. Ward

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