WELCOME TO OSLO
Oslo has been my home since January 4th, 2019. I moved here to follow the love of my life but, at the start, it was everything but easy. I will never forget those daily commutes to work, when I had to take the bus out of the city every morning to the L’Oreal Norge offices along the highway, spending my days by a desk with a view of Ikea. During my first winter, it was 20 minus degrees outside for an entire month, which neither I nor my wardrobe were prepared for. For months it was dark outside when I left for work in the morning, as well as when I returned home in the afternoon. And I f hated everything about it.
Fast forward 14 years, and it has been a strenuous journey to call this place my home. I have changed everything I knew in my life. My life, my career, my lifestyle. But Oslo has changed as well. In the past 14 years, Oslo has become a city full of great art and restaurants, yet funnily enough, that is not why I love it now. I love Oslo because of its proximity to nature, the sea, and the quality of life I have here. I have become an avid nature lover, and not a day passes without a walk in the nature surrounding the city – or a trip cross-country skiing in the winter. I don’t use a car, and I can focus on the two most important things in my life – my family and creativity. Oslo does not have a big creative community like for instance Copenhagen does, and I missed this during my first years here. In the long run, it has also allowed me to look deeper into myself. Instead of imitating, I can be my authentic self in my life and work. Last but not least, the solitude! I increasingly enjoy the headspace of spending time by myself.
I hope you will enjoy your time here in Oslo, and see the beauty of it. At least I hope this guide can provide you a dip into the Oslo I have learned to love over the past 14 years.
I recommend focusing on:
Nature and outdoor activities, rather than shopping and restaurants. This is really where the beauty of the city lies, so bring your running or tracking shoes to visit the beaches (don’t forget swimsuits, and don’t fear the cold water! It brings you alive like nothing else) and hilltops around the city. Bring warm clothes, too. Even in September, the weather can be cold (~15°c).
World-class art. It is incredible how much has been invested in culture in the city since I first moved here. We have a new Munch museum, a National Museum, and the new National Library – which are all architectural sites as well as collections worth exploring. They are all located in the city center, and almost needless of another mention. That is why this guide is mainly focused on outdoor activities and culture.
To bring you all here after all these years is a true celebration of life and art! Join me and enjoy:)
The new National Museum was opened in the center of Oslo in 2022, gathering several museums under one roof. From the National Gallery to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the museum holds the most extensive collection of art in the country, with over 400.000 pieces. You can go for historical Norwegian paintings by Christian Krogh and Harriet Backer, or contemporary classics by Ida Ekblad and Gardar Eide Einarsson. The museum also has a library with a calm atmosphere and an impressive collection of art books.
ZS: I could not wait until the new National museums opened, and was super proud to be invited for opening in June 2022. The architecture somehow really reminds me of my communist past, including the interior and my childhood memories always reappear when entering the building. The architecture has been wildly criticized for looking like a prison, but for me, it is just my past. My absolute favorite is the Munch Room – I have to admit I almost liked it more than Munch Museum itself. An absolute highlight was to see the Louise Bourgeois show this spring. It was one of the most magnificent shows I have seen, and visited it several times. It is a show I will never forget.
Brynjulf Bulls plass 3
0250 Oslo, Norway
Tuesday - Wednesday: 10:00 - 20:00
Thursday - Sunday: 10:00 - 17:00
The award-winning opera house designed by Snøhetta Architects was finalised in 2008 and has since been housing great ballet dancers, opera singers, and cultural experiences. The opera house is, in fact, Norway’s very first opera house. The house, with its characteristic white Carrara marble and sloped roof, has become one of Oslo’s main attractions.
ZS: For me, the Opera House is one of the strongest symbols of Oslo, and something I strongly associate with my move to Oslo as it was built around that time in 2007. I absolutely love the building, and its inviting character. In many ways, it is the opposite of most opera houses, which feels very exclusive. Despite being an inclusive building, it nonetheless feels like a very special occasion every time I enter the doors.
I like both the outside and inside of the building, and I often stop by just to see it when I am in the area. We also try to follow the ballet program and go as often as possible. I have seen so many performances within years in Oslo, and I truly cherish it. Visit it, it is an absolute must! Part of the opera experience is ‘She Lies’, the sculpture by Monica Bonvicini floating on the fjord outside the Opera House, which I personally love.
Designed by Snøhetta
Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1
0150 Oslo, Norway
She Lies is a public sculpture by Monica Bonvicini made of stainless steel and glass panels measuring approximately 12 metres by 17 metres by 16 metres next to the Oslo Opera House, in Norway.
A brand new Munch museum opened by the waterside in central Oslo in 2021, built to house the largest collection of works by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch in the world. With its 13 floors, the museum also hosts the Stenersen collection of modernist art, and exhibitions of emerging contemporary artists.
ZS: When I moved to Oslo back in 2010 I did not like Edvard Munch at all. I thought his works were pretty depressive – they simply did not talk to me. After many years in Oslo, observing nature – the changing of the seasons, bright summer nights, and dark winters – something has shifted in me. Today, Edvard Munch is one of my absolute favourite artists. I adore his works. His use of colours, the mood. I was once in the old Munch Museum, standing before the painting ‘Madonna’, and I started to cry. It has never happened to me, neither before nor after. Munch was not understood during his lifetime, and he spent the last years of his life lobbying for a museum of his own at Frogner, an area in Oslo. He never got it, and a rather modest museum was eventually built on the East side of Oslo after his death. I hope he sees the new one from above, and feels really proud. Finally, he got something as monumental as he is :) The new Much Museum opened in October 2021. In addition, the whole area around the Munch Museum is becoming increasingly trendy, replacing other hip areas such as Grünerløkka or St. Hanshaugen.
Designed by Herreros Arquitectos
Edvard Munchs Plass 1
0194 Oslo, Norway
Wednesday - Saturday: 10:00 - 21:00
Located in the peninsula 15 minutes outside Oslo, Henie Onstad is one of the leading arenas for modern art in Norway. The building, designed by Eikvar and Engebretsen in 1968, is a special piece of Nordic modernist architecture, constructed with close attention to the surrounding areas and nature. Henie Onstad also hosts a permanent room by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
ZS: This is one of my favourite museums in Oslo. Located a short drive outside, and surrounded by nature, it really reminds me of Louisiana outside Copenhagen – one of my absolute favorite museums in the world!
Designed by Jon Eikvar + Svein-Erik Engebretsen
An architectural attraction as well as a magnificent public library, Deichman Bjørvika opened in 2020. While most libraries are associated with old wooden furniture and signs telling you to keep quiet, the new public library in the city center of Oslo is a cultural hub, housing a cinema, an award-winning restaurant, festivals, and debates, in addition to a collection of over 1.4 million books. It is a great spot to reset, read, or watch the sunset over the Oslo Fjord.
ZS: Being one of my kids’ favourite places to visit, this library is – in my eyes – a true achievement. If a kid thinks a library is this cool, something must be right! The building is beautiful, interactive, and with an amazing view of the Opera House. You can spend a day working, reading, marveling in its many hidden nooks or with a view of the fjord. It has even been awarded the best public library in the world.
Anne-Cath, Vestlys plass 1
0150 Oslo, Norway
Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00
Peder Lund is a commercial gallery based at Tjuvholmen, Oslo, focusing on international, well-established modern and contemporary artists. Peder Lund founded his namesake gallery in 2009 after working as an art dealer for two decades, aiming to expand the conversation with the Norwegian and Scandinavian public and elevate Oslo’s standing in the worldwide art scene. The gallery represents artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Isa Genzken, Ida Ekblad, Ellsworth Kelley, and Wolfgang Tillmans.
ZS: The best gallery in Oslo for sure, and the venue of our event. Located next to the Astrup Fearnley Museum, I don’t think I have missed a single show in this gallery, and it is an absolute privilege and thrill to be able to use this incredible space for my work.Tjuvholmen allé 27
0252 Oslo, Norway
The museum was founded in 1993 and is one of Scandinavia’s most prominent collections of contemporary art. Originally located in an old bank, the museum moved to a new location by the Oslo harbour in 2012, designed by Renzo Piano. The museum holds a gallery for contemporary exhibitions as well as a private collection of works by artists such as Cindy Sherman, Olafur Eliasson, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, and Trisha Donnelly.
ZS: I have been going to the Astrup Fearnley Museum since my move to Oslo, and have dragged my children along to almost every show. We have some incredible memories and funny stories from this museum, and it will always be the place I think of reminiscing when my boys were really young. Their exhibitions always impress me but it is also worth visiting their permanent collection – I love their Damien Hirst pieces. The outside area is another favourite. The Franz West papier-mâché outdoor sculptures were a big inspiration for me when designing my collection for Arket. It is also a fantastic area to take a morning swim. It is Oslo summers at their best – the combination of art and bathing! The Louise Bourgeois sculpture ‘Eyes’ is also a must.
Designed by Renzo Piano.
0252 Oslo, NorwayMonday - Wednesday: 11:00 - 17:00
Thursday: 11:00 - 19:00
Friday - Sunday: 11:00 - 17:00
Tjuvholmen skulpturpark is a sculpture park in the Tjuvholmen neighborhood of Frogner borough in Oslo, Norway right next to Astrup Fearnley Museum. It consists of seven pieces of art created by notable international contemporary artists.
Things for a House on an Island by Peter Fischli & David Weiss
Eyes by Louise Bourgeois
Edge II by Antony Gormley
Untitled by Anish Kapoor
Untitled (Totem) by Ellsworth Kelly
Moonrise by Ugo Rondinone
Spalt by Franz West
0252 Oslo, Norway
The Royal Palace in Oslo was built in the first half of the 19th century as the Norwegian residence of the French-born King Charles III John, who reigned as king of Norway and Sweden. The palace is the official residence of the current Norwegian monarch King Harald V of Norway and Queen Sonja of Norway. The palace is located at the end of Karl Johans gate in central Oslo and is surrounded by the Palace Park with the Palace Square in the front.
0010 Oslo, Norway
ZS I believe the true beauty of Norway lies in the nature, and at Kistefoss you will find world-class art in beautiful surroundings. Located an hour from Oslo, it requires more time and planning than the other museums on my list. At the same time, it is so worth visiting. I was lucky enough to recently visit it on a private occasion, and will never forget dancing in the museum surrounded by sculptures.
3520 Jevnaker, Norway
Tuesday - Friday: 11:00 - 17:00
Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 - 17:00
The Palace Park, surrounding the Norwegian Royal Palace, is a public park and garden located in the centre of Oslo. Built during the 1840s, shortly after the Royal Palace was finalised, the park marks the beginning of Norway as a country independent from Danish influence. Today, the park is considered part of the Norwegian cultural heritage.
ZS: This park is very close to the French school in Oslo, where my children go, and naturally becomes a place where they spend lots of time. For me, it will forever be remembered as a place where I saw the Louise Bourgeois ‘Maman’ sculpture being installed. Truly a Once-in-a-lifetime experience! The opening ceremony was very emotional, it was during(raining?) as hell, and her Majesty Queen Sonja, an avid art enthusiast herself, held a very beautiful speech. I also like how the park has its own sculpture park made by children.Slottsplassen 1
0010 Oslo, Norway
Frognerparken is the largest park in Central Oslo, located in the western part of the city. It is also known as Vigelandsparken after its extensive collection of over 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, one of Norway’s most famous sculptors. There is also a Gustav Vigeland museum located next to the park, holding an extended collection of the artist's work and life.
ZS: This is the largest park in Oslo and I am lucky enough to live close by. The park is my happy place, and where I go for relaxation and reflection. There isn’t a day when I don't walk here, and many of the ideas come to me while walking here. I observe how nature changes and enjoy looking at the statues of Gustav Vigeland. I especially love the area where all the statues of babies are. Please look at the map, and don’t miss those sculptures – they are very womb-like!
0268 Oslo, Norway
Located in the hills along the city center, the Ekeberg Sculpture Park consists of classical and contemporary sculptures from 19th to 21st-century artists, including everything from Auguste Rodin to Damien Hirst. Since it opened in 2013, it has become an important contribution to the public art scene in Oslo and Norway.
ZS: A sculpture park that we will have a chance to visit together on the 12th of September for a sunset in James Turrell Skyspace. Ekebergparken is a short tram ride from the city center with a beautiful view of the city. We go there very often, and it is the perfect weekend activity when you want to be in nature and look at art at the same time. Don’t miss the Louise Bourgeois sculpture ‘The Couple’, which is a tightly embracing couple hovering between the trees. It is about the relationship between people, just like couples can stay together throughout life – for better or for worse.Kongsveien 23,
0193 Oslo, Norway
With its sandy beaches and proximity to the city, Huk is one of the most popular spots in Oslo on a sunny day. Located along the peninsula at the tip of the residential area of Bygdøy, it can also be a quiet getaway for walks and runs off-season. Here, you can also find the large bronze sculpture ‘Large Arch’ (1963-69) by Henry Moore, which is considered one of his most dramatic works.
ZS: Is the second most visited beach on Frogner for us. I prefer Bygdøy Sjøbad, as it is less windy. The bus 31 takes you to Huk directly, so it is more easily accessible than the Sjøbad, which is only accessible by foot or car. It is definitely worth visiting when the sun is out of you want to understand what Oslo people do on sunny days.
ZS: My absolute favourite area in Oslo is Bygdøy! I usually walk in Frognerparken, but when I have more time and want to clear my head even more, I head to Bygdøy. Located in the Oslo peninsula, only a 30-minute walk from my home, it is the home of a forest, many beaches, and a fantastic view of the sea. The closest beach to my home is Bygdøy Sjøbad where I go swimming as often as possible – some people even swim there from April to October.
ZS: Oslo has the perk of having ski slopes only a 15 min drive away from the city centre. We go here all the time in winter. Even on weekdays, as it is super easy to access after work, either for an evening of cross country or alpine skiing. In the springtime it is a perfect place for hikes!Kongeveien 5,
0787 Oslo, Norway
I absolutely love my coffee. I am down to one cup per day but it takes a great effort not to drink more. (I cannot - will have problems sleeping then:) Coffee in Oslo is great and take great pride in it.
Mocca is a local coffee bar in the Briskeby area. They have been serving high-quality coffee since the year 2000, and is still a go-to spot in the area. The café may be small, but the atmosphere is relaxed, and the charm lies in squeezing up next to a local on the bar in the window or the pavement outside.
ZS: Mocca is the closest coffee bar to where I live, and very close to the Sommerro hotel. Located in a central neighbourhood, close to two schools, it is always full of locals. Even the Majesty Princess of Norway can be spotted there sometimes! They serve a small selection of pastries but don’t expect anything big. If the weather allows for it, try their iced coffee, sit on the benches outside, and enjoy the noise of kids playing in the schoolyard across the street!
Niels Juels gate 70,
0259 Oslo, Norway
Monday - Friday: 7:30 - 17:00
Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 - 16:00
ZS: This is a local coffee chain which does not feel like a chain, which I also like a lot. They have cafés all over the city, and the first one opened at Adamstuen in 1994, inspired by the coffee bars of the American West Coast. My local one is located at a corner in Skovveien, so it is perfect to spot the locals in my neighbourhood. I usually don’t eat there but I love their sweet, pink chia pudding called “kald grøt”. It is a favorite of Sakura and I.
ZS: Java is another neighbourhood coffee bar and the sister café of Mocca. Located in the hip and charming area of St. Hanshaugen, it is literally a coffee bar in the sense that you either have your coffee by the counter or at the high tables along the window. Or, if the weather allows for it, try to get one of the spots outside. A perfect spot for people-watching or for eavesdropping on local gossip over a drip coffee. You can also buy a bag of coffee to bring home or take your coffee to the top of the park next door for an amazing view over the city.
ZS: This is an institution I believe, I always take my guests there. The high-end spot is led by the namesake world-champion barista, Tim Wendelboe, and going here for coffee always feels like a special treat. The spot, located at Grünerløkka, is simultaneously a coffee roaster, a barista training center, and an espresso bar. Until I visited Tim Wendelboe, I did not know one did coffee tastings. I love the decor and the staff uniforms of the baristas and how they serve it. The cappuccino alfredo, an unusually chic iced coffee, is worth trying. It is a true must for every coffee lover! Don’t forget to buy coffee for home or as a gift.
Grüners gate 1,
0552 Oslo, Norway
Monday - Friday: 8:30 - 18:00
Saturday - Sunday: 11:00 - 17:00
0164 Oslo, Norway
Monday - Wednesday: 9:00 - 22:00
Thursday: 9:00 - 23:00
Friday - Saturday: 9:00 - 1:00
Sunday: 9:00 - 20:00
Norwegians love their breads and baked goods, and it is a big part of their food culture. You have probably already picked up the cinnamon bun craze from following Scandinavian influencers – people are crazy about them! There are bakeries all around Oslo, from more traditional bakeries like Baker Hansen and Samson to more fancy ones, like Ille Brød (if you want to pick up a loaf of the city’s best sourdough) and Farine, a cozy lunch spot in the eastern area of Gamlebyen.
My go-to bakery is Åpent Bakeri, located on a quiet street close to my children’s school [Is that the one you were thinking about?] Try their ‘bolle’, which is the favourite of every child in Norway, and people often bake it at home. As Norwegian as it gets.
0655 Oslo, Norway
Tuesday - Friday: 8:00 - 16:00
Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 - 17:00
Babboo is an artisanal baby bakery and eatery located in the bottom of Parkveien. Their belief is that when you are small everything needs to matter. Babbo is a concept following the dream of bringing people who believe that quality should be accessible to everybody.
0254 Oslo, Norway
Monday - Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday - Friday: 9:30 - 23:59
Saturday: 10:00 - 23:59
Sunday: 10:00 - 16:00