Oslo, like most cities, is a city of neighborhoods. The central area, which contains a number of the city’s most historic buildings, is a tasteful blend of historical, traditional and modern. Many of the other neighborhoods, however, have their own, very distinct characters. Among those that we found particularly interesting were:
Aker Brygge, an old shipyard on the harbor, has been completely renovated into a modern, upscale, mixed-use complex. The attractive harborside development, which is lined with upscale apartments, condos, offices and shops and marinas is also home to a number of popular restaurants, cafes and bars. It has been so successful that it has already spawned Tjuvholmen, an even more upscale adjoining development.
Tjuvholmen, a former prison islet, has been connected to the end of Aker Brygge and has become home to some of the most modern and upscale apartments, restaurants, hotels (The Thief) and museums (the Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum) in the country. And as if these aren’t enough of a draw, the community also has its own beach (a wading pool-like section of the harbor) and swimming area (complete with a mini-diving board.
Bjorvika Quarter, in which the Opera is located, used to be a rundown industrial port area. The Opera has spurred redevelopment of the entire area, with residential and commercial towers springing up all around and a public library, another showcase building that will carry over much of the Opera’s white marble appearance and some of its inviting architectural themes, is now under construction.
Although many of the city’s most popular neighborhoods are located along the waterfront and in city center, there are a number of other interesting areas spread throughout the city, with each having its own distinct character. Some of the more interesting include:
Grunerlokka is Oslo’s answer to Greenwich Village. The former working class community has been gentrified into a trendy neighborhood. The area around its main street, Markveien and its park is packed with casual restaurants, bars, coffee shops, clothing boutiques and for a city with so many babies and children, many toy and child’s clothing stores.
The neighborhood now has its own foodie mecca. Vulkan is a food-oriented complex with its own hotel, sports arena, many restaurants and the Mathallen Food Hall that is filled with upscale food shops (fresh meat, fish, fruits/vegetables, cheese, etc.), food stalls (tapas, sushi, burgers, etc), kitchen and cooking appliances shop (from pasta makers to Big Green Egg outdoor grills).
As if this weren’t enough, “a river runs through it”. The small meandering river, that runs north and south through the city, runs through the center of Grunerkooka. In addition to a tranquil footpath that runs along the river, the neighborhood section of the waterfront has evolved into something of an artist community, with studios, informal galleries, graffiti and a fun, large-scale outdoor chandelier made of scrap glass and other materials.
Gronland, a lively multi-ethnic community that is filled with shops ranging from those that sell everything from kimonos to saris and casual restaurants that offer everything from kebabs to chop suey.
Westside Quarter is probably the most upscale neighborhood in the city. Located between the Royal Palace and Vigeland Sculture Garden (see the next post on Oslo Museums), it is home to a number of lovely 19th-century mansions that serve as private homes, embassies and consoles and even the official government guest house.